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Issue no: 1051

• MAY 25 - 28, 2018



In this week’s issue... Check out PAGE 14 to see What’s On this weekend to celebrate Georgia’s 100th Anniversary Independence Day on MAY 26!

Members of the Georgian National Council, Tbilisi, 26th May, 1918

Members of the European Parliament on Georgia’s First Democratic Republic & the 100th Anniversary POLITICS PAGE 4




See inside for exclusive interviews and related news!



s Georgia prepares to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Democratic Republic of Georgia (DRG) declaring independence on May 26, 1918, everyone’s attention is focused on Noe Jordania, the man who led his country for three short, but very productive, years, until February 25, 1921, when Soviet troops annexed the fledgling First Republic. Jordania’s government left the country and lived in exile in France, working tirelessly towards restoring Georgia as an independent state. The son of the First President and Head of the Democratic Republic of Georgia, Redjeb Jordania, is visiting Tbilisi this week from New York, where he lives with his extended family, to celebrate this day in the capital of Georgia, Tbilisi. We meet in the lobby of his hotel. The 96-year-old man walking towards me looks remarkably fresh after the long transatlantic flight the day before. Continued on page 6

On May 26, we celebrate 100 years since the formation of the First Democratic Republic of Georgia.

100-year-old Petition Linked to Georgian Independence Discovered & Digitized by Oxford University’s Bodleian Libraries POLITICS PAGE 7

80% of Early Land Works of Anaklia Port Completed


Uniting Nations through German Language Month SOCIETY PAGE 11

Kunsthalle Tbilisi – First Mobile Exhibition Promoting Contemporary Georgian Art





MAY 25 - 28, 2018

The National Interest Magazine Tbilisi Mayor: City Hall Cannot Focuses on Georgia BY THEA MORRISON


he National Interest (TNI), an American bimonthly international affairs magazine published by the Center for the National Interest, has dedicated an article to Georgia, after the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, met with the Georgian Prime Minister, Giorgi Kvirikashvili in Washington this week. The TNI reads that Georgia represents a key test on the possibilities of reform in the former Soviet space, adding that at the meeting with the PM, Pompeo stated President Trump “stands by the 2008 Bucharest declaration,” which affirms that Georgia “will become a member of NATO.” “Pompeo’s remarks underline the quarter-century of strong US support for independent Georgia, which this month is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the first Georgian Republic. A democracy, it embraced a liberal constitution and sought a European future but survived

Source: The National Interest Photo source: trend.az

only a few years before being invaded and annexed by the USSR,” the article reads. The authors of the article underline that after separatist conflicts, corruption, extreme poverty and threats from Russia, Georgia has overcome many of these challenges and now stands as a “striking example of a reforming and Westernoriented country transcending the limitations of decades of Soviet rule.” However, the article reads that Georgia could do more on its own to achieve its European and Euro-Atlantic ambitions. “Overcoming political and economic vestiges of the former Soviet system— one-party dominance; weak institutions; outsized importance of individual leaders who attain their influence based on charisma, populism, or wealth—requires sustained effort,” the authors note. The article also mentions that visa-free travel to many EU countries, and other benefits from the EU-Georgia Association Agreement, offer a wider window into Europe and encourage Georgians to persist on a westward course. It also says that the country's Western military training and equipment, and combat experience in Afghanistan and Iraq, have bolstered Georgia’s defense capacity. According to the authors, Georgia’s substantial force contribution to the NATO mission in Afghanistan demonstrates its dedication to the purposes of the Alliance. “Georgia represents a key test of whether it is still possible to reform countries in the former Soviet space to become integral parts of the EuroAtlantic community,” the TNI reports.

Increase Salaries of Metro Employees BY THEA MORRISON


bilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze says City Hall has no funds to increase the salaries of Tbilisi Metro employees, who plan to go on strike on June 3, if they do not get a raise in their salaries. The Mayor explained that the average salary of metro workers is 1400-2000 GEL, and that the Mayor’s Office cannot afford to increase this even in the near future. “It is impossible to increase their salaries when we have some workers employed in very responsible positions who get not more than 700-800 GEL,” he stated. Kaladze says around 400,000 people use the metro every day and claims the ultimatum of the metro workers is unfair. He added that if the workers go on strike, City Hall will do its best to avoid suspension of the underground transport. Deputy-Mayor Irakli Khmaladze says City Hall would be happy if they could increase the salaries of the people. “We appreciate the work of the metro employees: they are professionals and serve thousands of people every day, but the municipality has no funds to increase their salaries. This is the reality,” he told Georgia’s Public Broadcaster. Khmaladze explained that first the economic situation in the country has to be improved in order to manage and increase the salaries of people employed in the public sector. “At present, we really have no resources

Photo: Metro employees will strike on June 3. Source: tbilisicore.online

to increase the salaries of metro staff,” he reiterated, and expressed readiness to meet the metro workers once again. The Deputy-Mayor says City Hall will file a lawsuit in court if the metro workers really go on strike. On May 21, Tbilisi City Court made a decision which reads that metro workers may go on strike only during out-ofoffice hours. The union of metro workers ‘Unity 2013’ says the decision of the court is the equivalent of a restriction of their right to express protest, as the strike itself means workers refusing to perform their duties as a form of protest. This is the third time Tbilisi City Court has ruled against the metro workers, saying that a strike during working hours would paralyze traffic in the capital. Union 2013 claims they will not obey the “unlawful” decision of the court and will strike on June 3. The Chair of the trade union, Rati Kapanadze, says their strike will be legal, because it is their right as granted by the Constitution. He says the workers suggested Tbilisi Transport Company gradually increase their salaries but the answer was no. “We are going to appeal the decision of court, which restricts our right to strike in working hours. This decision is absolutely absurd and unlawful,” Kapanadze stated. The collective dispute of Unity 2013 started in March 2016, with the workers

asking for improved labor and safety conditions in Tbilisi Metro. After they failed to win the case at court, the metro workers announced a large-scale strike. The Chair of Unity 2013 says in 2016 they reached an agreement with the Mayor’s Office and Tbilisi Transport Company regarding the salaries and improved working conditions, but noted that nothing has changed since then. Georgia’s Public Defender Nino Lomjaria released a statement saying the decision of the Tbilisi City Court, by which the right of the employees of Tbilisi Metro (Unity 2013) to strike has been restricted, is “a harmful and dangerous precedent” for labor rights. Lomjaria says that metro drivers planned a strike on May 3, but the strike was postponed for a maximum period of 30 days on the court’s decision. June 3 was announced as the new date of the strike, although this time, the court restricted the Metro drivers’ right to strike during working hours for an indefinite period of time. “The Organic Law on the Labor Code of Georgia provides for a one-time postponement of strike only for a maximum period of 30 days. The Organic Law is a superior legal act and it also contains special norms related to striking,” the Ombudsman stated. The Public Defender considers that the restriction of the right of Metro workers to strike for an indefinite period of time contradicts the law and violates the essence of the right to strike.


GEORGIA TODAY MAY 25 - 28, 2018


Foreign Minister: Georgia Ready to Take Further Steps to NATO BY THEA MORRISON


eorgia’s Vice Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mikheil Janelidze, says that Georgia has all practical instruments necessary to become a NATO member. The Minister made the statement at the Second Annual US-Georgia Strategic Partnership Conference in Washington ‘100 Years of Georgia's First Republic.’ Janelidze participated in the Panel Geopolitics and Security: US-Georgia Strategic Partnership in Action. In his speech, Janelidze talked about Georgia's First Democratic Republic as one of the first democratic states in Europe. He also emphasized the importance of Georgia in the aftermath of the independence of Georgia in 1991 and the role of Georgia in today's world. He underlined the special efforts of the United States which have contributed a lot to Georgia's democratic development after the declaration of independence. “We have done a lot of things to reach the point where we are now; we are proud that Georgia is a strategic partner of the United States and the main ally in the region," Janelidze said. The Minister emphasized the geopolitical significance of Georgia, which has attracted much attention from the West since the 1990s, adding Georgia is "a gateway and plays an important role in the development of transit and energy routes between Europe and Asia, as well as the security of the Euro-Atlantic space." He says Georgia, which is located in a

Photo: Foreign Minister Janelidze at the Second Annual US – Georgia Strategic Partnership Conference in Washington

Kvirikashvili: Georgia Is Honored to Be US Strategic Partner BY THEA MORRISON


difficult and a conflictive region, makes a significant contribution to regional and global stability and security by participating in NATO peacekeeping missions. Janelidze also focused on the recent meetings of the Georgian delegation in Washington, whereby US officials praised Georgia’s reforms and noted their belief that soon it will become a NATO member. “Georgia will become a member of NATO; we have all practical tools to lead us to Alliance membership. We have more tools than NATO membership candidates and we believe that we are quite well prepared to take further steps on the path of joining NATO,” he said. According to the Georgian Vice-PM,

individual regimes today try to discredit the Euro-Atlantic space and challenge its security, which requires additional effort to ensure peace and development in the Euro-Atlantic community. "In such a period, Georgia's integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions is very important. Georgia is among the most advanced and we should not allow forces to cut Georgia from this family. Now it is time to take new steps in both bilateral and multilateral formats, "Janelidze said. The Minister also spoke about the Russian occupation of Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, saying restoration of territorial integrity through peaceful means is the main priority of the Government of Georgia.

eorgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili spoke about the Georgia-America cooperation while opening the US-Georgia Strategic Partnership Conference in Washington. “Georgia is honored to be one of America's strategic partners. And we are extremely pleased that this annual conference will strengthen and deepen the understanding of our partnership to everyone's benefit,’’ the PM stated. The main topic of the conference was 100 years of history of independent Georgia, which celebrates its Independence Day on May 26. “100 years ago this month, Georgia took a leap into the future. We gave birth to the Democratic Republic of Georgia, as turmoil, revolution, and civil war swirled around our small country, powered by forces much larger than ourselves. Our predecessors may or may not have realized at that exciting moment that Georgia's independence-our freedom-would be delayed still further, for nearly twothirds of a century more. The Red Army swept into Georgia just three years after we reclaimed our statehood, and, at least temporarily, swept our independence away,” the PM said. He underlined that United States was

among the first to recognize Georgia's independence in 1991. “America supported us when we most needed it - during some of the most trying episodes of our own national consolidation. In the last 27 years, since our declaration of independence, Georgia has had no greater friend than the United States. Together we have crafted what may truly be called a strategic partnership,” he added. According to Kvirikashvili, for its part, Georgia understands and contributes to the US developing and defending its interests in this region, and democratic values everywhere. “Georgia honors its part of the partnership bargain by fighting alongside America and its NATO allies in hotspots like Iraq and Afghanistan, where Georgia has suffered more casualties per capita than any NATO country except the United States. We are proud to do so, and to support our common security agenda. We are stronger together than apart: the literal meaning of partnership,” he claimed. The Georgian Prime Minister expressed hope that the significance of Georgia's unique position and the importance of its strategic partnership with the US will only grow. “Now is the time to pursue a bilateral trade agreement that will bring economic and security benefits to both our nations. Partnership and strategy go hand-in-hand with peace and stability,” he stated.




MAY 25 - 28, 2018

Members of the European Parliament on Georgia’s First Democratic Republic & the 100th Anniversary BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE


o celebrate Georgia’s Independence Day, we pass on to the Georgian people the messages of congratulations from numerous Brussels-based MEPsmessages of support, admiration, fond memory and recognition of the struggles Georgia has gone through and is still battling with on its path to European integration. The material was prepared in the scope of the “Messages from Brussels” series, a project of the European Alliance for Georgia, a Brussels-based NGO aiming to bring more Georgia into Europe.

ROMAIN STRASSER, SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE EU & GEORGIA FRIENDSHIP GROUP IN THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT The 26 of May 2018 is an important date in Georgian history. 100 years ago, the act of independence was adopted and the First Democratic Republic of Georgia was established. I express my warm congratulations to all the citizens of Georgia on this important event. Georgia’s history was and still is not an easy one. Therefore, the country decided to fight for freedom and democratic values and has undertaken lots of reforms with the aim of coming closer to the EU and NATO. The EU welcomes this process and gives its moral political and financial support to assisting Georgia on its path to EU integration. The visit of the EC President Juncker, together with high-level

delegation, once more indicates the respect and support that the EU has for Georgia and its European aspirations. Let me congratulate you once again and say that I hope to see Georgia as an EU member state in the not so distant future.

GUNNAR HOKMARK, MEP, SWEDEN I would like to congratulate Georgia on the establishment of it as a Democratic Republic 100 years ago. Georgia was one of the first countries to enter real democracy. Then followed the interventions from the Soviets, the repression and the dictatorship, but now we see a new Georgia emerging and I can only say that all of us in Europe hope that Georgia is on a stable path of development to being more democratic and more stable in its rule of law. Georgia belongs in the European family we are forming today, and I would like Georgia to be as close as possible. I’m not talking about geographical distances, I’m talking about the community of democracies.

URMAS PAET, MEP, ESTONIA Dear people of Georgia, I congratulate you on your Independence Day! Coming from Estonia, I know very well what the value of being free is, and what the value of being independent is. Georgia has not had the easiest history, even during the 20th century where there were difficulties which we Estonians also shared. The value of freedom, the value of liberty, be it freedom of expression, press freedom, economic freedom, citizens’ rights: are all of utmost value and utmost importance for Georgia’s future. I hope that the proud people of Georgia work

every day to secure that freedom, to secure the liberties in your society. I congratulate you on your independence!


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My congratulations to the Georgian people on the anniversary of the first republic. My congratulations also on the European future for which Georgians clearly demonstrate a desire. It will be a future of freedom, of democracy, accountability, good governance, respect for the rule of law, and respect for the rights of all citizens of Georgia. We all know that Georgia lives in a very, very rough neighborhood, under the weight and dark shadow of its northern neighbor, which is occupying the Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. But it’s only through the will of Georgians, through their desire, that they can prevail and live up to the European values. There are forces that do not want change, forces that don’t want to relinquish old allegiances, but I trust that the people of Georgia, judging from the experience of the very first republic and from the more recent past, will remain strong on the path leading towards Europe and democracy.

CLARE MOODY, MEP, UK I want to congratulate Georgia on the centenary anniversary of the Parliament that was set up in 1918. Reading about how it was at the time, there were multiple comments from my country, from countries across Europe, celebrating what that government did for the people of Georgia, the laws that it brought in: it was seen as an incredibly progressive government. As I know, it also involved full voting rights for women, which didn’t happen for another 10 years in the UK; so there’s a lot to celebrate about that 1918 government, and I think it’s right that you are doing so; and in celebrating that, celebrating your current democracy as well!

REBECCA HARMS, MEP, GERMANY Let me tell all the Georgian citizens that I feel very honored that I can support your commitment, your development towards European integration, which Georgians want so much. Especially on the occasion of your anniversary, I wish you a very successful future. Kvelaper Kargs Gisurvebt! (Georgian: “I wish you all the best!”)


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You Georgians have a long tradition of fighting and overcoming your obstacles. You’re celebrating the 100th anniversary of your country’s independence as a republic. You should and are rightfully proud of what you’ve achieved so far. I hope

the future brings years of prosperity and good governance to you!

ANDREJS MAMIKINS, MEP, LATVIA Dear citizens of Georgia, I wish to congratulate you on the anniversary of your country's independence! I sincerely wish your country prosperity, liberty and peace. Your country firmly overcame all the difficulties, defended its values, built a successful democratic country, and created a happy and free society with formidable infrastructure. Georgia has really become a visiting card of the Caucasus region. For a century, the proud Georgian people have proven the strength and the independence of their soul. Georgia and the EU have long maintained intensive friendly relations. That is why Georgia is an important partner of the European Union both in the framework of the European Neighborhood Policy and the Eastern Partnership. The Association Agreement signed between the EU and Georgia four years ago and the visa-free regime to the Shengen Zone prove it. I’m confident that Georgia and the EU are moving to a new level in their relationship.

JAROMIR STETINA, MEP, CZECH REPUBLIC: Dear Georgian friends! I was born in Prague. Why is this important? Because I was born in the former Czech Republic and the fates of our two countries are very similar. We too celebrate the 100th anniversary of our own country this year. We have common enemies, too; both countries had to endure the rule of great totalitarian regimes, be it one of Hitler or a soviet one. But I’m sure we share a common future too! I hope that in several years, we’ll be meeting in the European Union. All the best to you!

HEIDI HAUTALA, MEP, FINLAND (VP OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT) We are celebrating the centennial of Georgian independence. My country, Finland, celebrated the same date one year ago. We were the lucky ones: we retained our independence. But I think the three years of the independent Georgian Republic were hugely important: it established a new parliament where women were allowed to vote and stand as candidates in elections. Unfortunately, this period didn’t last long, but I was very happy and privileged to visit the new Georgia, in 1992, when I was invited by your former PM Zurab Zhvania, who was my good friend. And I have seen spectacular progress towards freedom in Georgia ever since. My warmest congratulations and I am sure this year will prove to be very important for EU-Georgia relations.




MAY 25 - 28, 2018

EXCLUSIVE! Redjeb Jordania on Georgia, Past & Present Continued from page 1

He’s been in touch with Georgia, despite not having visited it since 2011. The first time he ever visited Georgia was to address the democratically elected statesmen in 1990, and he wrote a passionate speech to all Georgians on May 26, 2015. “After that first visit in 1990, I have been to Georgia many times, for various reasons,” Redjeb tells us. “It was always a part of my life: my daughter and grandson lived here. Myself, I was looking for ways to help a restored Georgian state. It’s been several years since my last trip, though: in 2011, I suffered multiple broken bones as a result of an accident, and for a long time was in no shape to travel. Then, Nicole [his daughter] and her family moved to NYC, and there were fewer reasons for me to make this long journey. But my heart was always with Georgia,” he confesses. He has published books and articles, participated in conferences – just a couple of weeks ago, in Washington, and this April, “The Forgotten Father of Georgia’s Modern State” was published, with a preface from Molly Corso, an article by Prof. Stephen Jones, and an excerpted memoir from Redjeb’s book “All My Georgias.” In it – and among many other memoirs, Noe Jordania is described as a very imposing figure, larger than life; an intellectual transcending his time; authoritative, but not authoritarian. One gets a sense that one of the biggest things that defined our first president, was charisma. “Well, people said that he would seem taller when he was in Georgia, and I saw that when the important visitors came to our place in France, he would change,” Redjeb says of his father. “But my personal impression was totally subjective – as a child, I regarded him just as a father; tenderly and with love that doesn’t need analysis.”

ON WOMEN IN POLITICS All his life Redjeb Jordania was surrounded by strong women- all very independent and determined, starting with his grandmother. His mother Ina, who was the first woman of any nationality to be enrolled in Sorbonne Law school, and her sister Felichka, who was a Professor of Math in Tbilisi, were not just independent, but exquisitely educated. So, the tradition of strong professional women in Georgia is not news to Redjeb. We asked him how he viewed the chances of their being a female president in the upcoming elections. “Georgia has a way of surprising,” he replies. “It’s a field of personality politics. So, who do you have here? Who can be the contenders? I don’t know the personalities, I don’t know the situation in Georgia well enough to even attempt to answer. But let me bring in the angle that is not discussed much in modern Georgia. Every time the state is under a strong influence from the religious circles or authorities, there’s never a woman in a top-power position. In order for this to happen, as a pre-requisite, the religion has to loosen its grip on people’s lives. Virtually everywhere, organized religion is supporting male domination and doesn’t let women get ahead.” The conversation turns to the Constitution of 1921 and the role of women who, for the first time, were given the right to vote. “Georgia was one of the first states that allowed women to vote from 1918,” Redjeb confirms. “Norway had universal voting rights from 1913, Sweden, and several states in the USA (until the 19th Amendment in 1920 took it to the federal level). Another very interesting and

proud moment for the DRG was that the first time in the world that a Muslim woman was democratically elected to the assembly, was in Georgia.”

ON MINORITIES That brings us to yet another chapter in the 1921 Constitution: protecting minority rights. Both the concept and the wording are decades ahead of even welldeveloped countries, for example: ‘It is forbidden to bring any obstacle to the free social development, economic and cultural, of the ethnical minorities of Georgia, especially to the teaching in their mother language and the interior management of their own culture.’ “Yes, the whole chapter on ethnic minorities was very progressive; no restrictions of any rights, civil or political,” Redjeb says. “But I want to tell you something else: I don’t like the current Georgian flag. I like the old one [points to his lapel pin]. This is my flagI was born and raised with it. In 2004, when Saakashvili changed the national flag, I thought, what is it that I don’t like about it? It’s a wonderful banner, very joyous – so what’s wrong? And I realized, it’s because Misha’s flag has all these crosses, and it carries a subliminal message: if you are not a believing Christian, you are not a Georgian: this is not your flag. If you are a Jew or a Muslim, or anybody else, you cannot be a Georgian, and it’s priming people’s mind to be less tolerant to non-Christians.”

ON THE CHURCH The DRG Constitution had a chapter dedicated to the separation of the Church and State, putting all confessions in an equal position before the law. But after the collapse of the Soviet rule, the Church took the leading position in Georgia, and every government since seems to be very dependent on their support. We wondered if Redjeb thought that Georgia had perhaps regressed from the principles of the 1921 Constitution. “You noticed that the same thing is happening in Russia? Despite claims that Georgians have turned their back on the ways of Russia, they are doing the exact same thing,” he tells us. “The Church is very strong both in Russia and in Georgia. This is understandable as a reaction against the years when it was forbidden under Soviet rule. In Article 144, it states, ‘It is forbidden to make any levies on the resources of the state or the bodies of self-government for the needs of any religious order.’ In 1918, the Church as an organization owned significant properties in Georgia, and Jordania’s government took that land and distributed it among peasants.”

ON FINANCES His father, when he was in exile, had very limited sources of income, so the financial situation of his family was quite difficult. Despite that, Noe Jordania was very discriminating about who he would accept money from. In many developed countries, there are debates about campaign financing. We asked Redjeb what his thoughts were of the money in politics and why it was imperative for a man like his father to keep integrity, and why it isn’t commonly seen in today’s politicians. “It seems to me that back in the day, money was not that important,” he replies. “Politicians didn’t have to pay for TV time, or media, or take advertising. The idea of money wasn’t essential to politicians in 1918: discussions were centered around platforms.” Noe Jordania came from a modest background, and supporting a large family, and the activities of the exiled government, came first. “There were not too many options:

writing articles, support from the party members. When we were living in exile in France, our means were very restricted,” Redjeb remembers. “As I explained in my book, there were regular payments from the Polish government for repatriation of a large number of Polish soldiers stranded on the Turkish front post-WWI, which Georgia took upon itself. Those funds financed the activities of the Georgian Government in Exile and provided modest pensions to its leaders, all the way till 1939, when Poland was annexed in WW2.”

PERSONALITY POLITICS & CULT In Georgia, there’s more personality politics than platform politics. Redjeb’s father seems to have had both, and was probably the last president, the last political leader, that Georgia has had who had both the personality and a political platform that he stuck to. “If the personality doesn’t have a solid platform, it doesn’t work for long,” Noe’s son says. “In the First Republic, my father, and everyone around him, had a platform of Social Democrats, which sometimes scared people of the 1990s. But Georgians in 1918 didn’t have the view of what they knew in 1990, the failure of the USSR that called itself a socialist country. So, to judge 1918 from todays’ standpoint is wrong; at that time socialism was on the rise everywhere. The 20th century was a triumph of socialism in terms of instilling socialist institutions: social security, insurance – the types of institutions that didn’t exist a century earlier. Progressive countries like France had the systems protecting its citizens and even Americans, who hate the word ‘socialism:’ they had socialist institutions there that they wouldn’t give up, like social security.” The First Democratic Republic of Georgia platform was very progressive, some even called it idealistic, and it only had very few months to test itself out. We wondered if, hypothetically, the First Republic had not lasted three years, but 13, where Redjeb thought Georgia would be positioned among the countries that take social issues more seriously than others, like Scandinavian states. “I’m glad you mentioned Scandinavian countries. There’s a good example for Georgia to consider: small countries, very prosperous, not particularly rich in terms of natural resources. Except for Norway, but even then, 30 years ago, Norwegians didn’t have them, and were still doing very well. Another similar state is The Netherlands. All of these states boast excellent social institutions, so, yes, Georgia, could have been among them, if not for the Soviets.” Georgians are prone to the cult of personality. Even in post-Soviet years there was Gamsakhurdia, then Saakashvili. “The reason is possibly that the Tsarist Empire didn’t leave room for personal development. It lasted for many years, and continued with the Soviet rule, which didn’t help, either,” he notes. “It is interesting that of all the Georgians who have emigrated to the USA, 90% vote Republican- they still want the strong figure, the strong hand. But going back to Gamsakhurdia, compared to the First Republic, which had a difficult local situation, collapse of the empire, civil war in Russia, WWI, he inherited an ideal situation: a peaceful environment, support of all big powers like the US. And he managed to fail, brought the country to civil war, was ousted out of office in few months, lost Abkhazia. Also, I want to mention the contrast, the difference in people in the time of the Democratic Republic and Jordania Government, and the 1990s, Gamsakhur-

Redjeb Jordania, 96, son of Noe Jordania, the First President and Head of the First Democratic Republic of Georgia

dia’s time. In 1918, people supporting my father. Many of them had been abroad, they studied and learned from the institutions in progressive countries. In contrast, the Gamsakhurdia electorate was a product of the Soviet rule, of the “iron curtain:” they had never been abroad, they were afraid of progress, and pushed ultra-nationalism as their platform. Gamsakhurdia was very adamant in calling himself the First President of Georgia, as if he was competing with my father; saw him as a rival, not as a statesman whose institutions restored an independent state. And another President, Saakashvili: he replaced the flag of the DRG with his own banner, it was a part of his cult, instilling his symbol.”

THE SOVIET EFFECT “The DRG, albeit short-lived, managed to create a sense of nation, to build institutions,” Redjeb says. “For centuries, Georgia had not been a united independent state. My father told me that in the 1900s, people had the sense of belonging to a very limited, local community- within the village, maybe, or province. There was no ‘nation.’ And that’s what the First Republic managed to change in three short years. The Soviets inherited this and kept the institutions created in 1918. “This fit into their desire to erase the memories of the 1918 Republic, and yet feed the historic pride that Georgians carry within themselves,” Redjeb continues. “This substitution of a narrative

started at the end of 1960s-70s, that’s where the nostalgia in Georgia became clear (after the clashes tied to the use of Georgian as a state language, the Soviet system had to back down and bury the idea of instilling Russian instead). For the USSR Bolsheviks, the biggest enemy was not the capitalism, but the social democrats of the DRG, because their appeal was to the same base.” As the interview draws to an end, we agree to meet on May 25, to go to the museum offering a lecture on an original coat of arms from 1918. Redjeb is intrigued: he wants to hear the story behind it, and this youthful curiosity in a 96-year-old is unmistakably sincere. The 1918 coat of arms that he used for the cover of his book “All My Georgias: Paris-New York -Tbilisi” (2011), he likes more than the current one. More optimistic, he says, and less aggressive. Indeed, on the current coat of arms, St. George is slaying a dragon; on the old, he’s portrayed on horseback but just holding a spear. The background is simplistically elegant, without being overburdened by decorative elements. This is the way of Noe Jordania’s son: reflection instead of hasty judgement, optimism with a healthy dose of reality, simplicity of wisdom over convoluted innovation. As we celebrate 100 years of independence proclaimed by the First Republic, these are the qualities that Georgia, restored to independence, could certainly use.


GEORGIA TODAY MAY 25 - 28, 2018


100-year-old Petition Linked to Georgian Independence Discovered & Digitized by Oxford University’s Bodleian Libraries


o mark the centenary of the independence of the Republic of Georgia on 26 May 2018, a ‘lost’ century-old ‘Petition of the Georgian People’ to the 1907 Hague International Conference has been digitized and made freely available online by the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford. The 29-page petition details an important moment in Georgia’s struggle for national autonomy and is the first documented instance of Georgians from all backgrounds coming together to petition the international community to uphold Georgian rights and autonomy. The historic petition has been held in the Bodleian’s world-class Georgia collection since 1920, and was catalogued in the 1970s, but its significance was only revealed in March 2018 due to the research efforts of two Georgian academics, Dr. Beka Kobakhidze and Dr. Nikoloz Aleksidze, and Dr Gillian Evison, Head of Oriental Collections at the Bodleian Libraries. The general principles outlined in the petition have been translated into Georgian, English and French and are widely known, but the original copy of the petition containing over 3,000 signatures has never been made public or been readily accessible to scholars until now. It can be viewed on the Bodleian Libraries’ Digital.Bodleian website: 1907 petition Signed by men and women from all regions of Georgia, at great personal risk, the petition was presented at a conference at The Hague in 1907, when ‘subjected races’ had the chance to air their grievances on an international stage. The petition outlines Georgian grievances against Imperial Russian Policies, protesting at Imperial Russia’s annexation

The 1907 petition of ‘the people of Georgia’ presented at the International Conference on ‘subjected races’ at The Hague. Source: Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford

of Georgia in 1801, in violation of the 1783 Georgian-Russian Treaty, and calls on the Great Powers to stop Russian atrocities and pogroms in Western and Central Georgia. Although the petition itself didn’t directly lead to the independence Georgia would enjoy in 1918, it marks the first time that people across Georgia, from all social classes, came together to speak up for the rights of Georgian citizens. The Georgian petition was instigated by Georgian nationalist, Varlam Cherkezishvili, who had escaped from Siberian exile in the 1870s and settled in London, where he continued to campaign for

Georgian rights. Cherkezishvili became a close friend of siblings Oliver and Marjory Wardrop. At a time when most people were unaware of Georgia, much less spoke the language, the Wardrops developed a remarkable passion for Georgian history, culture and literature and are still revered in Georgia for the impact they had in widening appreciation of this country. In 1891, Oliver Wardrop entered UK diplomatic service and in 1907 informally helped Cherkezishvili draft the petition and circulate it among political and diplomatic circles. “At a time when there was no compul-

sory education and a high rate of illiteracy, the petition is the first documented instance when the Georgian national historic narrative of the Georgian-Russian relationship comes not from elite groups, but from ordinary people of all social classes,” said Dr Beka Kobakhidze Georgian Studies Fellow at the University of Oxford. “Men and women, entrepreneurs, workers, nobles, peasants, clergymen and teachers from all regions of Georgia put their signatures to this address to the political west.” The petition was bound and presented to The Hague in a way that gives no greater precedence to the signatures of well- known names than those of teachers, clergymen and workers. The petition’s format is something that particularly struck Dr Gillian Evison, Head of Oriental Collections at the Bodleian Libraries. “As a librarian, I’m always interested in the physical form as much as the content, and this petition is particularly striking,” she said. “Signatures have been collected on many different sheets of paper – accounting paper, on the back of the petitions, and written in ink, or pencil – so it tells its own story of how keen Georgians were to make their mark through whatever means were available to them.” Sir Oliver Wardrop later went on to become the United Kingdom’s first Chief Commissioner of Transcaucasia in Georgia, 1919-1920, and maintained a lifelong interest in the country. The petition came to the Bodleian Libraries with the donation of the Wardrop Collection, one of the largest collections of Georgian materials in the world. The collection was donated to the Bodleian between 1910 and 1948 by Sir Oliver Wardrop, in

memory of his sister Marjory Wardrop who died aged 40 in 1909. The Wardrop collection contains a wealth of many unseen letters and materials relating to Georgia’s 20th century struggle for independence, which so far have only been studied by a handful of scholars. Dr Gillian Evison, Head of Oriental Collections at the Bodleian Libraries said: “Marjory and Oliver Wardrop had a remarkable relationship with the country and people of Georgia. I’m delighted that the importance of this petition has been recognized and is now available to Georgians online in this special year of Georgian independence.” Dr Beka Kobakhidze, Georgian Studies Fellow at the University of Oxford added “I am honored for that part I’ve played in making these signatures and many forgotten names public after 111 years. Looking through the petition, I had a feeling that I was interacting with my ancestors, people who stood for national liberties while risking their lives. Over a century after these people made their mark on this petition, I realize that Georgia has inherited not only the legacy of their deeds, but challenges too. Today’s Georgians are eagerly awaiting the publishing of names of some 3000 signatories where they expect to find their great grandparents, relatives and the like, and I hope they will enjoy reading it in full online.” Richard Ovenden, Bodley’s Librarian said: “The Wardrop Collection is one of the Bodleian’s globally-significant collections and its long-overlooked presence of the Petition in our library shows the important role that libraries play in the preservation and dissemination of information on behalf of society. Continued on page 12




MAY 25 - 28, 2018

Idealism in Foreign Policy: More of a Myth than Historical Evidence? BY VICTOR KIPIANI


y stating in his 1905 inaugural address that ‘to us as a people it has been granted to lay the foundations of our national life in a new continent’, but that ‘we have [both] duties to others and duties to ourselves’, Theodore Roosevelt became the first leader to strongly argue in favor of the extension of international law. He was not, however, solely emphasizing the persuasive force of international law, but also the ‘power… in exceptional cases to stand up for the rights of others’. This newly emergent, idealistic facet of American foreign policy was later expressed by Woodrow Wilson, who proclaimed that the United States had not intervened in the First World War in order to restore the balance of power, but instead to make the world safer for democracy. Yet it still took time and the pain of two world wars for this idealism to become integrated within decision-making on international matters. This introduction is not accidental. Georgia's security is very much anchored to US foreign policy trends; a simple statement of truth, with no disrespect to any other meaningful partners, and so imagine for a second the potential magnitude of the damage which America’s ‘splendid isolation’ could inflict upon the global security system and mutual trust. That said, the key patterns that determine such a policy need to be carefully analyzed.

THE AFTERMATH OF WORLD WAR II: REBIRTH Idealism in foreign policy matters was given a new expression within the Truman Doctrine: in his speech to Congress, Truman stated his conviction that the US must ‘support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures. I believe that we must assist free peoples to work out their own destinies in their own way.’ The very first demonstration of this Doctrine in action was the Iranian crisis in March 1946, when the US pressured the Soviets to fully withdraw troops from Iran in accordance with the 1943 Tehran Declaration, and to dismantle the communist government in the Iranian province of Azerbaijan. This was followed by US dealings to counter communist influence in Greece and Turkey, while the very pinnacle of the Doctrine was expressed through massive financial aid under the auspices of the Marshall Plan. When considering the Truman Doctrine, it should be underlined that the entrenchment of idealism within it deviated somewhat from the views of George

Kennan. While the latter was advocating for a balance-of-power approach with an emphasis on containing and resisting Soviet domination in key geographical areas (the United States, the United Kingdom, the Rhine valley, the USSR and Japan), whereas Truman himself went beyond Kennan's conceptual boundaries in favor of a more global role for the US as a defender of the world liberal order, fighting against all forms of opposition to freedom, democracy and human rights. Moreover, the underlying principle of idealism under Truman's presidency was not only guaranteeing order in places in which liberalism was already firmly entrenched, but also promoting and advancing it even further; an approach which was in clear conflict with Kennan's preference for the defense of several geopolitically important and selected points or regions of the globe. It should also be mentioned that while Truman's idealism rewarded the pain which Greece and Turkey experienced joining NATO in 1952 and successfully containing the spread of Soviet influence towards Western Europe, the same idealism dramatically failed during the Korean War. There, US efforts at the head of a multinational UN force did not achieve their primary goal of rolling back communism, and instead only succeeded in containing it above the infamous 38th parallel. Yet regardless of its very limited success in Korea, the US continued to maintain an Asian "pivot" by committing itself to defending Taiwan against a possible communist invasion and by intervening in Indochina in support of French efforts to fight insurgency. Once again, all these events were expressions of the idealistic spirit of US foreign policy at the time. The same line of idealism was firmly maintained in Eisenhower’s ‘New Look’ policy, which adopted an even broader definition of a global communist threat. Whilst different in terms of strategy and means, relying as it did upon nuclear deterrence and a greater use of covert operations and military support to local anti-communist movements, Eisenhower's New Look was to avoid ‘losing the free world bit by bit’ by ceding the initiative to the USSR in the long run. America’s Basic National Security Policy (NSC-162/2) was to shape an enduring Cold War and have a strong impact on later foreign policy decisions to counter Soviet expansion through asymmetric (and not always flawless) actions (e.g. the 1954 and 1958 crises in the Taiwan Straits, toppling Mossadeq in Iran, etc.).

SETBACK: SHEER CALCULUS ONLY President Nixon came to power firmly believing in the need to redesign the principles of US foreign policy faced with the new geopolitical realities of the

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1970s. These policy goals were given a practical meaning by his trusted adviser Henry Kissinger through the Nixonian policy of Détente, but more importantly this policy deviated from the ‘containment’ vision of the 1950s and 1960s, which was strongly focused upon an ideological opposition to communism by a USled liberal world and rested upon the multipolarity of the international system. In practical terms, the Nixon-Kissinger strategy, shunning the ideological rejection of communism, called for a thaw in relations with the USSR and the construction of a new multipolar security architecture premised on ‘peace through partnership’. Besides, the US administration's vision of American global leadership involved greater reliance upon local allies to maintain the balance of power, and realpolitik power considerations were treated as more important than domestic policies or human rights records. As a clear testament of the shift in US foreign policy at that time was Nixon's Address to the Nation on the War in Vietnam, which spelled out a pragmatic, calculating foreign policy which held that ‘any nation today must define its interests with special concern of the interests of others. If some nations define their security in a manner that means insecurity for other nations, then peace is threatened and the security is diminished.’ Accentuating ‘coexistence’ in the spirit of a classical realpolitik attitude to international matters, Nixon’s détente called for ‘patient and precise efforts to reconcile conflicting interests on concrete issues’ and required ‘the definition of positive goals which can be sought and achieved cooperatively.’ For all its oddness and ambiguity, compared to previous ones, Nixon’s administration was more willing to work with allies without due regard for their democratic credentials and with less concern for democratic development, this policy was still somewhat successful thanks to its creative use of various sticks and carrots. Among its few successes were the slowing down of the nuclear arms race with the USSR through the signing of a number of important agreements, and the opening up of China. Fundamentally, however, it was to introduce precisely that chord into US foreign policy which is being strongly reinvented during the Trump era, albeit according to the characteristics of our times.

Ronald Reagan. Two basic documents of the Reagan era, NSDD 32 (US National Security Strategy’) and NSDD 75 (US Relations with the USSR), unequivocally signaled not just a return to Truman's strategic vision of containment, but also went beyond it with the goal of rolling back communism. The underlying premise of the newly proclaimed policy was a reversal of the idealistic vision of the United States as the leader of the free world engaged in a global struggle to fight repressive forces. All in all, Reagan's vision, so well encapsulated in his Westminster Address to the British Parliament in June 1982, when he boldly stated that ‘if the rest of this century is to witness the gradual growth of freedom and democratic ideals, we must take action to assist the campaign for democracy’, appealed to the allies to ‘be staunch in our conviction that freedom is not the sole prerogative of a lucky few, but the inalienable and universal right of all human beings’, and announcing ‘a crusade for freedom that will engage the faith and fortitude of the next generation ... for the sake of peace and justice’. The Reagan administration’s idealism was translated into a whole range of practical means which spurred the break-up of the Soviet Bloc and formally ended the Cold War. The follow-up period under presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton could be described as a kind of interim period which witnessed significant disruptions in the consistency of US foreign policy as well as attempts to switch from ad hoc dealing to a more cohesive and strategic approach (e.g. enlargement, assertive multilateralism, ‘armed humanitarianism’). This failure of sorts can also be partly attributed to the US becoming an uncontested global leader, and to the practically unimpeded expansion of free trade and market economies in the new world of ‘liberal hegemony’.



The interruption in the use of the principle of idealism as the yardstick for foreign policy making did not last very long, and the Kissingerian premise, referenced in his memoirs, of ‘purging our foreign policy of all sentimentality’ was later reversed by liberal presidents such as Jimmy Carter and, even more vigorously,

First Obama and then Trump's presidency highlight a high water mark different from previous policy lines, especially those which heavily emphasize idealism as the decisive factor. Yet even between those two presidents, a clear distinction remains: although he continued to adhere to the importance of pro-

moting universal principles of representative democracy and human rights, Obama mostly did so in words only and with strong reservations when it came to concrete actions (e.g. warning Assad ‘not to cross red lines’ but then deciding not to punish the Syrian regime when those lines had effectively been crossed). With hindsight, Obama's administration was from the very beginning dominated by the concern to ‘avoid another Iraq’, and in practice resulted in eschewing America’s post-World War Two mission as the guarantor of global security. The Trump administration paid this strategy of ‘retrenchment’ and ‘leading from behind’ even greater attention, and a nationalistic ‘America First’ policy poses serious challenges to the international security architecture, which is now practically hanging by a thread. Moreover, it is worth noting that, to put it mildly, the Trump administration’s ad hoc policies and improvisation, which overtly and unabashedly engage in trade-offs, appear to shun those very principles that the free liberal order was meant to rest upon.

HOW ARE WE TO RESPOND? By breathing new life into Georgia’s somewhat obsolete ways of addressing foreign policy concerns. We are historically famous for our proclivity to ideals and idealistic developments around us, yet whilst ideals should of course remain, seeing the world through the lens of idealism does more harm than good. Instead, a bias towards less conformist thinking that would result in a greater transactionality of action would be of real use. The lessons that can be learned from developments around the world tell us that any lack of ability to think and act ‘outside the box’ leads to the ossification of policy. Such an ossification is eminently perilous and threatens to engender national security risks. Appreciating the challenges ahead requires a maturity of thought among the rank and file as well as true leadership skills in terms of political stewardship (and not a mere ‘checks and balances’ approach to power). Idealism, as a policy factor, is seemingly approaching its end: it is high time for us to recognize this fact, and to change the lens we have become used to looking through when dealing with the world around us.

The Customs Headache awaiting the Swiss OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA


hile the people debated on who, where and when to celebrate May 17 in Tbilisi, whether those fighting against homophobia should head to Rustaveli Avenue or those protecting the holiness of the family in the churches, the Swiss SGS company started to monitor the RussoGeorgian border. Finally, Russia signed the agreement about control of the “trade corridor,” thus giving a green light to the new transit order in the South Caucasus. Georgia signed said agreement six months prior to this, so why did the Kremlin finally make up its mind now? Three years after the August War, in November 2011, Russia and Georgia signed

the agreement about customs monitoring at the borders, which concerned three trading corridors: Adleri-Zugdidi, NariGori and Zemo Larsi-Kazbegi. This was the tribute that Russia paid in return for Georgia’s agreement that allowed them to become members of the World Trade Organization. About seven years have passed in which Tbilisi and Moscow have read between the lines differently. Tbilisi believed that by signing the agreement, Russia recognized Georgian borders, because the document never stated names like ‘South Ossetia’ or ‘Abkhazia’ and was itself named “The Agreement Between the Government of Russia and the Government of Georgia,” while Moscow argued that it was Georgia that had recognized its borders by Enguri and Gori, because these locations are described in the document in geographic terms of "latitude" and "longitude" instead of their names. So what kept the Russians waiting?

The development of events shows that it was in the same period when Tbilisi and Swiss SGS made an agreement last year, that the so-called customs offices of the occupied territories started operating within the Russian customs system. This meant that according to the Kremlin documents, the Russian customs border begins not at Psou or the Roki Tunnel, but by the River Enguri and Ergneti village. Russian customs manipulations do not fall under any logic. Even if this combination were correct, it is still confusing why the Swiss monitors should be standing at the Northern exit of the Roki Tunnel or the River Psou and why they should give data about monitored cargo to the integrated database of the WTO, which will be sent to Official Tbilisi. In international political language this means indirect recognition of Georgia’s legitimacy to have information about what cargo is moving between Russia and

Georgia’s occupied territories. Kremlin’s imagination is truly boundless, but what they don’t get, or perhaps do not want to realize in Moscow, is well-known and apparent to those living in the occupied territories. The defacto leaders argue that not a single fly can get into the territories without their consent. “Someone must provide for the safety of cargo, transport and those people who are carrying the goods. Georgia cannot do this on our territory, nor can Russia do so because South Ossetia controls its own land,” said the “former Minister of Foreign Affairs of South Ossetia,” Davit Sanakoev. “Therefore,” he went on, “South Ossetia should be participating as a party in this agreement – this is logical in light of the said issues.” Sokhumi’s position is similar and local political analysts believe that Russia will face difficulties using the Abkhazian territory for transit. Izida Chania of

Ekho Moskvy wrote: “They can call Abkhazia a corridor, or a porch, but the prerequisite won’t be the dreams written in the agreement, but the polite treatment of friends and even ill-wishers. Otherwise, the Swiss company will have to monitor the flow of cargo from territory beyond Abkhazia: it will be hard to maintain the work of the ‘chips,’ if the Russian army dislocated in Abkhazia and Russia don’t turn from allies into prison guards.” Neither Tskhinvali nor Sokhumi are planning to let the goods over the border without negotiating first that Tbilisi and Moscow sign an agreement specifically with them as an “independent state”. Great headaches await the Kremlin regarding these “trade corridors” if it really wants to realize the agreement that it signed with the Swiss SGS on May 18. Otherwise, this document too will be just plain paper, like many others that the Kremlin has signed before.


GEORGIA TODAY MAY 25 - 28, 2018

80% of Early Land Works of Anaklia Port Completed


orks at Anaklia are on schedule, with 80% of the early land works of the first phase of the Anaklia Deep Sea Port already complete. The Anaklia Development Consortium (ADC) and land work contractor ‘Black Sea Group’ carried out the work. A 110-hectare area of fertile (humus) soil has so far been removed and 100% of the construction area has been cleared of waste, including buildings and other structures and hazardous waste. Construction works are ongoing. A 2.5 km amelioration channel has been dug and the construction of pipes and a water

pump station are underway. During all stages of land construction works, there is constant surveillance of flora and fauna in order to ensure the appropriate environmental conditions in the construction process. The construction works on the territory of the Anaklia Deep Sea Port are underway in compliance with both Georgian and international safety standards. Consortium representatives continue meetings with local residents about their safety rules and expected construction activities. Locals were employed in the phase of early land works. The Anaklia Port's early land works are being carried out by Black Sea Group,

chosen by the ADC in December 2017. As a result of an open tender, according to tender documents published on www. etenders.ge, the company was chosen from among 14 candidates. In the summer of 2018, the first marine construction of the port is planned. Specialized dredging equipment for marine and land works will be brought to the Anaklia territory. At this stage of works, 5 million cubic meters of material will be collected for the purpose of freeing 110 hectares of land from the sea bed. Completion of the first phase of the first deep sea port of Georgia and the beginning of operations is planned for late 2020.





MAY 25 - 28, 2018

Drug Policy Debate Continues BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE


n May 12, Georgia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs conducted a raid on two of Tbilisi’s most popular nightclubs, Bassiani and Café Gallery, while the Saturday night party was in full swing. Eight drug dealers were arrested before the raids were conducted. The clubs remained closed on the order of the Ministry of Internal Affairs while they conducted their investigation. Bassiani was reopened on Thursday, May 24, after more than a week of worries that it may be forced out of business due to financial pressure. On the 22, the Deputy Interior Minister, Nino Javakhadze, made a statement on the investigations, saying that strict sanctions should be imposed for drugrelated offenses. She said that the Ministry strives to “not to encourage drug use and not to make it a source of crime,” but that “discussion is underway about how humane the drug policy may be towards drug users.” This framing of drug users as criminals is still the most common perception in Georgia. Javakhadze said that it would be “wrong to relate this [investigation] to political processes,” but it is difficult to separate the two as the raids led to protests, then a dialogue on the drug policy between the protest leaders and the government. Akaki Zoidze, Chairman of the Healthcare Committee of Parliament, held an important meeting in the Georgian Dream central office on Tuesday, after which he said that the positions of members of the ruling party on the drug policy have moved closer to each other, but that discussions will continue. Zoidze claims that all members, including Party Chairman Bidzina Ivanishvili, support a humane drug policy. In fact, “humane” has been

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the key word used by the government throughout the discussions. Zoidze promises that by June 7, the party will have come to a unified conclusion, saying, "There has not been any principled confrontation, but we still have time to reach a final decision... Decision-making will not last forever. If necessary, an internal ballot will be held.” Zoidze supports toughening penalties towards drug dealers but humanizing the policy towards users and those suffering from addiction. He stated that the members of the internal party discussions agree that “people should not go to jail only for consumption.” Georgian Dream MP Kakha Okriashvili

proposed that “All drug addicts should be registered and there should be a number of restraining factors in terms of drug promotion, including in the field of employment. Drug addicts should not be able to get a job in state agencies, while the private sector should have access to information about whether the job seeker is a drug addict. In addition, there must be a constant information war against drug abuse.” Some of the most fervent anti-liberalization advocates include members of the government, police, and the Orthodox Church. On the opposing side, organizations such as the White Noise Movement have met with officials at the Ministry to look

for compromises on the drug policy reform. The Minister of Internal Affairs agreed to meet with opposition leaders to ease tensions during the May 13 raveprotest in front of the Old Parliament building on Rustaveli Avenue, Tbilisi, at which ultra-right activists attempted to break through police barricades in order to attack those participants in favor of liberalizing the drug policy. Chairman of Parliament Irakli Kobakhidze reported that progress was made at the May 14 meeting, saying, “We are intensively working on the draft law. Even though there are different positions in the ruling party, we also have resources for achieving an agreement. We want to

draft a bill and submit it in the next two weeks, which will be a precondition for adopting a law by the end of June. We have a clear vision about the general principles. The main task is to reduce drug use in Georgia and pursue a humanitarian policy.” Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili said that the final draft law will consider significant liberalization and a “more humane attitude, including medical services and psycho-rehabilitation commissions. It will also take a very strong approach towards drug dealers.” The meeting produced two working groups, one to work on the legislative reform of drug policy and the other to study the legality of the May 12 police action. Government representatives have refused to comment specifically on the issue of marijuana legalization, another hot topic. White Noise has been an active voice against what they call “repressive and inhumane” drug policies, holding various non-partisan rallies, including outside the capital, and is vocal on social media. The Movement calls for a more liberal drug policy, including de-criminalization of soft drugs and medical care and rehabilitation for drug addicts rather than imprisonment. White Noise claims that liberalized policies will bring 10,000 people out of prisons. For several years, Georgia had the second highest rate of citizens imprisoned per capita in the world, after only the United States of America, largely linked to harsh drug penalties. A Council of Europe report released earlier this year with data through the end of 2016 ranked Georgia as having the second highest percent of its population incarcerated in Europe, after Russia. Georgia also ranked first with the highest percentage of prisoners serving sentences for drug offenses, with 88.3 inmates per 100,000 inhabitants.

In Need of Those Aristotelian Virtues OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE


n May 26, Georgia will celebrate the centennial anniversary of its national sovereignty. The story of independence is long and widely told, so I will not deliberate on facts historical. I would rather wax philosophical this time. Life has certainly changed in Georgia in the last 100 years, as it has in the rest of the world, but the nature of our character - temperament, values, and attitudes - has gone through only a barely-noticeable modification, having remained almost the same, in fact. For instance, putting it a little jovially, the Aristotle philosophy stays still unappreciated in this country, and the

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great man’s moralistic values have not quite become a yardstick through which to measure our national character. To my unassuming mind, moderation is still mocked in this culture, where temperance, or self-control, has no considerable weight. If westernization still means anything to us, then the ceaseless daydreaming about NATO and EU alone will not promote our cause. The gist of the matter lies in our character, which is miles away from what we call “western.” On the other hand, what I’m going to say now is just a mere statement, devoid of facts and specific cases. My only concern is the Aristotelian virtues, concentrated on moderation: would it do this nation any good, if, by any possible presumption, such were put to life here? It is my belief that genuine courage as

such, oriented on reasonable purposes, would successfully work in our reality as a moderate feature of human character versus the commonplace foolhardiness that is killing the prospect of our steady development. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the excessive foolhardiness is a part of our character which does not uphold the purpose of our membership in the family of western nations. Foolhardiness is not what has moved the West forward. It was courage and wisdom taken together that did it. So please let us know well the difference between the courage preferred by Aristotle, and the foolhardiness utterly discarded by him. If we could add more temperance to our style of action, excluding the licentiousness often demonstrated in our everyday life, that might be helpful too.

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Proceeding with Aristotelian vocabulary, descriptive of our character, vanity is one of the epithets to be used here. The prudent Greek prompts us to equip ourselves with magnanimity instead. Irascibility is also conspicuous in the interaction among the Georgians, whereas gentleness would have been more rational to exercise with aims of achieving a consensus in our quarrels and clashes. We also lack truthfulness because we suffer the case of severe preponderating towards boastfulness and ambition. It would also be very winsome if the average Georgian managed to go more for kindhearted and well-meant wit rather than regular, and often wicked, buffoonery. The obvious obsequiousness and repulsive flattery should be rejected too, and friendliness be taken up as the best instrument to hit the cherished targets. It would also work in our own favor if we said no to bashfulness in favor of modesty. We must

also learn without delay that envy is mortifying and it curtails our lifespan, and only the righteous indignation can do the right trick. And finally, justice: the sum of all values, known to humankind, will have to be fully introduced and cultivated on our soil. All those Aristotelian virtues sound like theory that would either be defied or entertained by our people, who need a perpetual reminder of what is good and what is evil. This is the way I would congratulate Georgia and its good people with the rounded national day and wish my beloved nation to elevate itself to the values that are accelerating its admittance into western circles and structures that we so badly need to be part of. Our social culture is hungry for those Aristotelian values, based on temperance and moderation, making life easier, much easier for all of us.


GEORGIA TODAY MAY 25 - 28, 2018


Uniting Nations through German Language Month BY SHAWN WAYNE


he Embassy of Switzerland in Georgia, together with the Embassies of Germany and Austria, opened the Month of the German Language 2018 last week with a performance by the prominent Swiss artist Alexandra Prusa. H.E. Lukas Beglinger, Ambassador of Switzerland to Georgia, H.E. Arad Benkö, Ambassador of Austria to Georgia, and H.E. Heike Peitsch, Ambassador of Germany to Georgia, opened the evening with welcome speeches and introduced the program. the 6th edition of the festival, which brings together German-speaking communities under the slogan “Drei Länder, eine Sprache” (three countries, one language). “Thanks to these joint activities, the month of the German language has become a tradition in Georgia and a symbol of the importance of the German language for the relations and multifaceted exchanges between our countries and Georgia – not only in the area of culture, but in many other important fields such as education, science, business, etc. These exchanges are mutually beneficial, and the solid position of the German language in Georgian schools and universities, which we endeavor to promote throughout the year, is a major asset for Georgia and its German-speaking partners. Cultural events and performances are not only attractive as such,

they also convey ideas, perceptions and attitudes which stimulate dialogue and may promote change and reforms. For Georgia, which points its compass towards European culture and values, this kind of exchange is of great importance,” the Swiss Ambassador told GEORGIA TODAY. “German Language Month is a varied program of events when it comes to Austria; we are dedicated to meeting with writers and focusing on literature,” Ambassador Benkö told us. “Next year,

we plan to bring Austrian lecturers who will teach at Georgian universities.” “Almost 25,000 school children learn the German language, which helps to broaden the horizon for people, making it easier to find a profession. We have a very interesting program which we hope will raise interest amongst youth. We have great support from the Ministry of Education, and we thank all the other institutions who help us to promote the German language to the people of Georgia,” the German Ambassador noted.

German Language Month has been celebrated since 2013 and aims at fostering multilingualism with the spread of the German language through a diverse cultural program. Until 17 June 2018, mixed events including lectures, movie screenings and workshops will take place in various parts of Georgia, including Tbilisi, Telavi, Gori, Bolnisi, Zestaphoni and Kutaisi. The music-theater project “Abrazo Tango of Survival” presented last Thursday was about a poor, young Swiss girl

who migrated to Buenos Aires in 1935. Through synchronized music, theater and dance, the Swiss artist not only narrated the story of a girl and her struggle for survival, but also touched upon the issue of migration and the challenges related to it, an issue which is also familiar to Georgians today. “I love Georgia!” Prusa told us. “I think Georgia’s a great place with very nice people. I was afraid they might not like the performance, as the setup was quite different from what I am used to, but in the end, I think they did.” Georgia coming closer to Europe is a very long process, and the German Language Month is just a small part of a process which will ultimately lead to a better relationship. “One of the main goals of the European Union is to foster and support diversity,” Ambassador Benkö said. “On the one hand, the EU wants the unification of Europe, but at the same time they do not want people to feel afraid that they might lose their identity or culture, so these performances speak to the culture of all countries. It was fascinating to see how much more a part of European culture Georgia was, more so than today, before the occupation of the Soviet Union, and we wish to bring Georgian culture back to where it used to be.” We can look forward to many more performances, lectures, movie screenings and workshops during this German Language Month as we work on the unification of nations through culture, art, music and, of course, language.

Human Rights Court in Strasbourg Rules on Russia vs Georgia BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE


fter years of litigation, the final hearing in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) took place this Wednesday, May 23, in the case of Georgia v. Russia (II). A Georgian delegation attended the hearing in Strasbourg, headed by Deputy Justice Minister Gocha Lortkipanidze. Georgia is accusing Russia for the second time of violating the Articles of the European Convention on Human Rights, to which both countries are party. After the Georgia-Russia War of August 2008, Georgia filed an application with Europe’s top human rights court against Russia on August 11, 2008. On April 3, 2012, the case was sent to the Grand Chamber for consideration. Georgia accuses Russia of committing serious aggression during and after the 2008 war, and violating human rights and fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights and its Protocols, specifically the articles pertaining to the right to life, prohibition of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, freedom and security, and freedom of movement. At the final hearing on Wednesday, a lawyer for the Georgian side, Ben Emerson, argued that Russian forces bombed villages, burned down homes, and terrorized civilians during the war in Georgia’s Tskhinvali region. The brief but deadly conflict resulted in the occupation of Georgian territory and the establish-

ment of a barrier separating many Georgians from their lands, homes, and places of worship and burial. Georgian representatives used the term ‘ethnic cleansing’ to describe the forced expulsion of ethnic Georgians from their homes in South Ossetia, and the targeting of ethnically Georgian villages. Russia fully denies the accusations against them. On behalf of the Russian government, lawyer Mikhail Galperin emphasized South Ossetia’s right to selfdetermination, and claimed that the 2008 conflict was initiated by Georgia in an attempt to enforce South Ossetia’s status as part of Georgia, which was artificially created in 1922 by Josef Stalin. Galperin said, "no one asked the Ossetians if they wanted to become Georgians." After the 2008 war, Tbilisi and Moscow severed diplomatic ties as Russia recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states, although almost every other country in the world recognizes the territories as Georgian. In 2009, a European Union investigation found Georgia to be at fault for "illegally" starting the war with Russia, but said that Moscow then "violated" international law by invading its neighbor in response to the attack.” Both sides interpreted the investigation’s findings as positive. ThenMinister for Reintegration Temur Iakobashvili said, "The report proves that Russia was all the time preparing this war and August 7 and 8 were the culmination," while a Kremlin spokesperson said, "We can only welcome that the commission found that the war was started by Georgia."

The ECHR said it had heard from 33 witnesses: 16 summoned by Georgia, 12 by Russia, and six directly by the court. Chairman of Parliament Irakli Kobakhidze said that, “All relevant measures will be taken to ensure that the Strasbourg Court delivers a judgment in favor of Georgia.” Davit Bakradze, leader of the European Georgia political party, believes Georgia’s chances for success are high, but could be hindered by “the statements made by the current government of Georgia, according to which Georgia is guilty of starting the war. I hope that these statements cannot change the overall picture and I hope that the government and the Ministry of Justice will

Council of Europe

do their best to ensure that the European Court delivers a judgment that corresponds to the historical truth,” Bakradze said. A final verdict is not expected before the end of the summer. The first case Georgia brought against Russia concerned the mass arrests and collective expulsion of Georgia citizens from Russia in 2006, when more than 2,300 Georgians were detained and forcibly deported or expelled. Georgia argued that the deportations were in retaliation for the arrest of four Russian intelligence officers in Tbilisi in September 2006, while Russia argued that the deportations were a routine enforcement of its immigration policy. The ECHR eventually ruled in Georgia’s favor, and

Russia was ordered to pay compensation. While Russia is participating in the proceedings, the country is not expected to uphold the court’s ruling if it is unfavorable. In 2015, the Duma passed a law allowing Russia's Constitutional Court to disregard international court rulings if Russia believes they violate its constitution. The Council of Europe has little recourse to enforce its rulings. In March, the Russian RIA news agency reported that Russia was considering withdrawing from the European Convention on Human Rights and ending cooperation with the European Court of Human Rights, as many of its decisions run counter to Russian interests.




MAY 25 - 28, 2018

The Play’s the Thing: Etseri, Svaneti



t’s an amazing time to be in Georgia: on May 26, we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the declaration of the first Georgian Republic, along with many countries around the world acknowledging the jubilee in various ways. It was a tumultuous time, 1918, with the “War to End all Wars” concluding, the “Peace to End all Peace” beginning, the October Revolution recent and the USSR in chaotic formation. New ways replacing ancient ones; rules, powers, kingdoms, borders and so much more changing. Sadly, Georgia’s freedom from Russian domination was not yet to be, not by a long shot. Having signed itself into becoming a vassal of the Russian Empire at the beginning of the 19th century in order to prevent yet another Persian invasion and devastation, Georgia then saw its monarchy quickly dissolved and its territory absorbed by its younger but larger Orthodox brother. This period, forced entry into the USSR just over a century later after trying to throw it off, was no kinder. And now we still live in the shadow of that long bondage. Generations may be necessary to emerge

fully from under it and become our best, freest, truest selves. It’s also the time of year when schools release their grade 1 and 12 classes a month before everyone else, the “last bell” ritual for the latter as they close one door and walk through another, hopefully taking our pride with them. I can indeed be proud of my wife and our school’s other English teacher that not one of their grade 12 pupils has failed their final exam in English since Lali started there in 2011! Another English event impressed our school recently, too. My wife put on a play of “pipkia da shvidi juja” (“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”), with pupils from grades 3 and up taking part. Her university major was theater, so this is a good fit for her, and it was great fun. Some natural talents in acting emerged as the lines and roles were learned, and we have been asked to take the thing to Mestia as well, as one of several plays to be shown for Intellect Day celebrations on June 1! The grade 3s were well suited for the parts of the dwarfs, but Snow White, the magic talking mirror and the evil stepmother-queen were also of this tender age. The huntsman was a few years older, as was the prince; narrators were from the higher grades. We spliced in a few projected scenes from Disney’s cartoon

of the same name to advance the action, but almost all of the 45 minutes was our youngsters acting out their parts before parents, teachers and fellow students. Between stopping and starting the cartoon scenes on our laptop, I had the opportunity to squeeze off a few shots on my camera for posterity. Such a thing has not been seen in our school for quite some years, even in Georgian; this, in their third language, was even more of a challenge. But they pulled it off well, enthusiastically and with plenty of volume as required, facing the audience properly and not flubbing their lines. All enjoyed it despite the language barrier, as they knew the story and could follow along. The children got over any stage fright and jumped right in. Just as well, as they’ll have a considerably larger space and audience next week in Mestia… Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with nearly 1900 members, at www.facebook.com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri: w.facebook.com/hanmer.house.svaneti

100-year-old Petition Linked to Georgian Independence Discovered & Digitized by Oxford University’s Bodleian Libraries Continued from page 7

I hope the interest in this item will encourage greater scholarship on Georgia, the Wardrops, and this turbulent period of history.” "The re-emergence of this petition and the rich detail now available online is very exciting,” said Justin McKenzie Smith, British Ambassador to Georgia. “In many ways, the history of links between Britain and Georgia is still being written. The Wardrop Collection at the Bodleian Library is a treasure trove of information. Out of the friendships made by Oliver and Marjory Wardrop and their solidarity with the Georgian people has come the strong, fast-growing relationship that exists between our two countries today." *** About the Georgian collection at the

Bodleian Libraries: The nucleus of the Bodleian Library’s rich holdings of Georgian books and manuscripts is the Wardrop Collection, formed by Sir Oliver Wardrop and his sister Marjory. After Marjory’s early death in 1909, the Marjory Wardrop Fund was founded for the encouragement of Georgian studies and from 1910, through this fund, the Bodleian became the beneficiary of all Marjory Wardrop's papers, books and manuscripts. They were supplemented by further donations from Sir Oliver until his death in 1948. As a result, the Bodleian has become the major European repository of Georgian material outside of Russia and continues to add to this remarkable collection.


The Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford is the largest university library system in the United Kingdom. It includes the principal University library – the Bodleian Library – which has been a legal deposit library for 400 years; as well as 27 libraries across Oxford including major research libraries and faculty, department and institute libraries. Together, the Libraries hold more than 13 million printed items, over 80,000 e-journals and outstanding special collections including rare books and manuscripts, classical papyri, maps, music, art and printed ephemera. Members of the public can explore the collections via the Bodleian’s online image portal at digital.bodleian.ox.ac.uk or by visiting the exhibition galleries in the Bodleian’s Weston Library. For more information, visit www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk.


GEORGIA TODAY MAY 25 - 28, 2018

UK Celebrates 100 Years of Georgia BY ROBERT EDGAR


aturday May 19 was a particularly significant date for the United Kingdom; not only was there a major event which sent ripples through the national consciousness, finding its outlet in an intense outpouring of patriotism and country-wide celebration (in the end Chelsea beat Manchester United 1-0), but apparently some bloke with a beard married that actress off Suits which was pretty big news too. Deep in darkest Kent, however, away from the football and the Royal Wedding, there was another celebration of a rather lesserknown but historically significant event, held at the house of the late Sir Oliver Wardrop: the centenary of the First Georgian Republic. There is a tendency for Georgia-related events here to have a sense of having been thrown together much in the manner of a late-night dinner; chucking whatever’s left in the fridge together in a pan in the hope of an edible result. Sometimes it’s a disappointment, but occasionally one ends up with something intriguing, confusing on the surface, but ultimately somehow harmonious. This celebration was the latter. Lectures covering different areas of the tragically short-lived republic and its subsequent influence were broken up by readings from The Knight in the Panther’s Skin, a musical interlude from soprano Lali Chilaia, the reading of letters between Marjory Wardrop and Ilia Chavchavadze by pupils from the First Georgian Supplementary School, and a break for tea and cake. At first, I thought this last was a sop to our quaint English village surroundings, but of course the cakes were made according to Georgian recipes and the tea was Gurieli. I’m not joking when I compare the seminar with bubble and squeak: Professor Donald Rayfield – stalwart of all things Georgia – talked about the contributions from and characters of two English scholars of Georgia: William Edward David Allen and David Marshall Lang. A curious duo, Allen was from a wealthy family and had the leisure of following his interests wherever they led him. After a spell as a war correspondent during the GrecoTurkish War, he became a noted scholar on Transcaucasia, leaving a huge collection of research pertaining to the area when he died. His reputation was marred by his association with Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists, although evidence has emerged that he may have been an MI5 informant. Lang was another peculiar figure, a brilliant scholar whose writings on the region have been invaluable to future researchers, but a friend of

Inauri’s and someone whose reputation appears to have been compromised through association with the KGB. Gillian Evison gave a technical talk on the numerous efforts expended on cataloguing and collating Georgian historical documents at the Bodleian and British Libraries (putting my meagre day job managing a small lending-library into stark perspective!), whilst Nikoloz Aleksidze entertainingly plugged Georgia: A Cultural Journey Through the Wardrop Collection, a book intended for people like me; not too academic (read ‘bright’) but interested in the history. Most affecting though were the lectures from author and historian Eric Lee, novelist Dato Turashvili, and Dr. Beka Kobakhidze. Lee enthused over the idea that the First Georgian Republic proves that a democratic socialist revolution is possible and argued for its wider significance with reference to its effect on Ramsay MacDonald and the British labor movement; Turashvili remarked touchingly on difficulties faced after the Soviets took over, and the strange internal dichotomy felt by people such as he who experienced both the scourge of Soviet communism and the mixed blessing of successive liberalization. Kobakhidze explained that Oliver Wardrop’s important contributions to the Georgian story have been frequently eclipsed by those of his sister Marjory (redoubtable though she was) and that his significance is only just starting to become apparent, having been ‘covered up by Soviet historiography’. Taken together, there was a common theme running through the day: after the enforced ignorance of Soviet rule, Georgians are still enduring the arduous task of rediscovering and learning from their time before that appalling 70-year limbo, but the seeds are germinating and will hopefully flourish, given the right support. Justin McKenzie Smith, the British Ambassador to Georgia, rounded off the speeches with reference to the United Kingdom and Georgia’s “rock-solid relationship with a single worldview based on friendship.” If that statement is to have practical, real-world significance, then the relationship has to come from the bottom up. Politicians frequently wax lyrical about ‘deep and meaningful relationships’ or ‘deep and comprehensive partnerships;’ cotton wool words which mean nothing in themselves and can bring the frothing inner cynic out of the most meek and gentle soul. But if there is a will to cooperate, then events like these are a good way to start. There is a fund which has been set up to help the translation of Georgian non-fiction to English which this seminar was in aid of. Search https://mydonate.bt.com/charities/farig to support it.





MAY 25 - 28, 2018


Program: Venue: Freedom Sq. THE CEREMONY OF RECRUITMENT OATHS EXHIBITION OF MILITARY EQUIPMENT Start time: 12:00 Venue: Rustaveli Ave. CHILDREN'S CONCERTS Start time: 11:00 - 11:40; 12:30 - 13:10; 13:30 - 14:10; 14:30 - 15:30 QUIZ ON THE TOPIC OF THE KNIGHT IN THE PANTHER'S SKIN Start time: 13:10 - 13:30; 14:10 - 14:30; 15:30 - 15:50 ; 17:40 - 18:00 ELECTRONIC MUSIC Start time: 15:50 - 17:40 and 18:00 - 00:00 CREATION OF PAINTINGS BY ARTISTS Start time: 12:00 - 16:00 FUNDRAISING AUCTION OF PAINTINGS BY GEORGIAN ARTISTS TO SUPPORT SOLIDARITY FUND OF GEORGIA Start time: 17:00 Exhibition and sale. Archaeological activities for children. Painting in sand - illustrations of characters and scenes from The Knight in the Panther's Skin Construction of the Castle of Devils (Kajeti Castle) and children's area. Participation in parchment aging process. Large-scale royal chess with the images of the characters of The Knight in the Panther's Skin. Alley of loved ones, knights and friendship. "Free lessons" for children - fairytale area. Flash Mob with the participation of the young generation of Georgian National Ballet Ensemble Sukhishvili. Exhibition and sale of agricultural products. Exhibition and sale of products manufactured by around 80 entrepreneurs and cooperatives. Products manufactured by startupers featuring scenes from The Knight in the Panther's Skin Presentation of the Knight in the Panther's Skin using rare species of plants. Glasses for virtual sightseeing of the protected areas of Georgia. Exhibition of waxworks stored at the National Center of Manuscripts. 3 art cafes. Concert featuring the scenes of the Knight in the Panther's Skin. Installation featuring foreign editions of the Knight in the Panther's Skin and "Alphabet". Virtual animation of the characters

of the Knight in the Panther's Skin, performances of pantomime theater and Theater of Movement . Popularization of the lost recipes of ancient Georgian cuisine. Themed street art. Sports activities. Exhibition at the National Museumthe Knight in the Panther's Skin translated into 51 languages. Pavilion of the National Broadcaster: Intellectual game- "We Read the Knight in the Panther's Skin". Start time: 11:00-21:00 Venue: Rose Sq. GALA CONCERT Start time: 21:00 THEATER

TBILISI VASO ABASHIDZE MUSIC AND DRAMA STATE THEATER Address: 182 D.Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 2 34 80 90 www.musictheatre.ge May 29 WELCOME TO GEORGIA A musical, theatrical play and romantic comedy telling a story about Georgia and its people by combining song, dance, culture, traditions, history, national costumes and local cuisine. Musical Language: English, some Georgian (with English subtitles) Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 60-80 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 598 19 29 36 May 25 RECITATIVE IN THE CITY Movement theatre Band: El banda del "მუდო”Kakha Bakuradze, Sandro Nikoladze, Simon Bitadze, DaTo Kakulia, Irakli Menagarishvili Start time: 21:00 Ticket price: 10 GEL May 26 SILENCE! REHEARSAL! Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 15 GEL May 31 THE STORY OF A MURDERER Directed by Ioseb Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10-15 GEL GABRIADZE THEATER Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 May 27, 28, 31 An animated documentary film REZO Directed by Leo Gabriadze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL

May 25, 26, 29, 30 RAMONA Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL SHALIKASHVILI PANTOMIME THEATER Address: 37 Sh. Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 595 50 02 03 May 25 LIKE THIS Comedy genre novels based on Georgian national motives. Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL CINEMA

AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL May 25-31 SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY Directed by Ron Howard Cast: Emilia Clarke, Paul Bettany, Alden Ehrenreich Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy Language: English Start time: 19:15 Language: Russian Start time: 16:30, 19:30, 22:15 Ticket: 11-19 GEL DEADPOOL 2 Directed by David Leitch Cast: Morena Baccarin, Josh Brolin, Bill Skarsgård, Ryan Reynolds Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy Language: Russian Start time: 16:30, 19:45, 22:00 Ticket: 11-19 GEL AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR Directed by Anthony Russo, Joe Russo Cast: Karen Gillan, Josh Brolin, Letitia Wright, Chris Evans Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy Language: Russian Start time: 12:30, 22:15 Ticket: 10-14 GEL ANON Directed by Andrew Niccol Cast: Clive Owen, Amanda Seyfried, Colm Feore Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 22:10 Ticket: 15 GEL RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL May 25-31 SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY (Info Above)

Language: Russian Start time: 13:45, 16:45, 19:45, 22:30 Ticket: 9-14 GEL DEADPOOL 2 (Info Above) Start time: 22:30 Ticket: 11-19 GEL CAVEA GALLERY Address: 2/4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 200 70 07 Every Wednesday ticket: 8 GEL May 25-31 SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 19:30, 22:15 Language: Russian Start time: 13:30, 16:30, 20:00, 22:30 Ticket: 11-19 GEL DEADPOOL 2 (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 19:45, 22:15 Language: Russian Start time: 16:45, 19:30 Ticket: 11-19 GEL AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 13:45 Language: Russian Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 11-19 GEL ANON (info Above) Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 16-19 GEL MUSEUM

GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF 18TH-20TH CENTURIES NUMISMATIC TREASURY Exhibition showcasing a long history of money circulation on the territory of modern Georgia from the 6th century BC. to 1834. EXHIBITION STONE AGE GEORGIA ARCHEOLOGICAL TREASURE NEW LIFE TO THE ORIENTAL COLLECTIONS April 26 – September 1 UNKNOWN COLLECTIONS OF GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM– INDIA, CHINA, JAPAN IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA Address: 8 Sioni St. Telephone: 2 98 22 81 May 19-June 20 THE EXHIBITION OF KETI KAPANADZE'S ARTWORKS 8 MINUTES MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge PERMANENT EXHIBITION SIGHNAGHI MUSEUM Address: 8 Rustaveli Alley, Sighnaghi Telephone: 223 24 48 April 21 – May 31 EXHIBITION DOLLS OF JAPAN The exposition showcases traditional Japanese dolls - among them Hina Ningyo (girls' festival dolls) and Gogatsu Ningyo (boys' festival dolls) originating from ancient Japanese traditions and customs.


THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. www.museum.ge May 15 – August 5 For International Museum Day, GNM presents the Georgian National Museum festival, dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Democratic Republic of Georgia. Exhibition TITIAN - MASTER OF COLOR: THE VIRGIN AND CHILD KOLGA TBILISI PHOTO 2018 May 5 - June 3 Address: Tbilisi History Museum (Karvasla), 8 Sioni Str. THOMAS DAHMEN I Have Seen the Light MEINRAD SCHADE Unresolved JAN GRARUP And Then There Was Silence VANESSA WINSHIP She Dances on Jackson MUSIC

TBILISI CONCERT HALL Address: 1 Melikishvili St. Telephone: 2 99 00 99 May 31 GEORGIAN FIRE WITH NEW PROGRAM The Royal National Ballet Presents * Premiere THE FIRE OF GEORGIAN DANCE Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-40 GEL TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE Address: 8 Griboedov St. Telephone: 2 93 46 24 May 27 THE ANCHISKHATI ENSEMBLE Georgian Folk Singing Concert I DARE TO SING Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 7-15 GEL May 28 ANA MAMISASHVILI’S CONCERT Concertmaster- Inga Lobzhanidze In program: the works of H.I.F. Biber, W.A Mozart. P. Tchaikovsky, N. Milstein. B. Bartok, E. Chabashvili Start time: 19:00 Tickets: 5 GEL May 31 PAPUNA SHARIKADZE TRIO FROM NEW-YORK Start time: 20:00 Tickets: 35-65 GEL TBILISI EVENT HALL Address: 1 Melikishvili St. Telephone: 2 99 00 99 May 27 MAMUKA CHARKVIANI & FRIENDS Start time: 20:00 Tickets: 30 GEL MIKHEIL MESKHI STADIUM Address: 761 Chavchavadze Ave.gabr Telephone: 291 26 80 May 26 JAMES BLUNT With James Blunt in the festival are: The Parlotones, a rock band from South Africa Host bands: Young Georgian Lolitaz and Loudspeakers 18:30- LOUDspeakers 19:30- Young Georgian Lolitaz 20:30- The Parlotones (South Africa) 22:00- James Blunt (UK) Start time: 18:30 Ticket: 65-270 GEL ELECTRONIC MUSIC FESTIVAL4GB Venue: The Center of space constructions, Saguramo May 25, 26 4GB ELECTRONIC MUSIC FESTIVAL MICHAEL MAYER AND MORE Start time: 23:00


GEORGIA TODAY MAY 25 - 28, 2018


Kunsthalle Tbilisi – First Mobile Exhibition Promoting Contemporary Georgian Art BY LIKO CHIGLADZE

Co-founder of Kunsthalle Tbilisi and Free University Tbilisi Dean, Irena Popiashvili, told GEORGIA TODAY more about the mobile exhibition.



rt has no frames and no boundaries, so one can go as far as one’s mind wishes. This year, from May 18 – July 14, for the first time Tbilisi is hosting a moving exhibition that will be without one specific location. The exciting and revolutionary project ‘Kunsthalle Tbilisi’ rolled out its very first inaugural exhibition through presenting two expositions by Georgian artist Nika Kutateladze and Paris-based artist Angelica Mesiti. The two distinct shows were presented at two separate locations. Strange as it may sound, Kutateladze brought an authentic watermill from Georgia’s Guria region part by part and set it up in an old Soviet-era apartment on Kazbegi Street, while the Sydney-born artist unveiled video installation Relay League in partnership with Protocinema in collaboration with Artspace Sydney that was followed by a public talk at a former wine factory on Petriashvili Street. Kutateladze, with his installation Watermill On Former Pavlov Street, embarked on an ambitious exercise with his trilogy to slice up and display elements of Georgia’s recent Soviet past where they intersect with his own. They are monuments that are both public and personal, infused with the artist’s emotion. This was not the first experiment of bringing architecture into art by a Georgian artist, as his previous exhibitions include: Wall, Coarse calico, Parquet, organized by the Iare Pekhit organization in 2016, and Minibus and Playground in My Old Apartment at 20 Mickevich Street in 2017. His work has also been shown in group exhibitions, including Festinova Garikula 2014-2015. Additionally, Nika participated in residencies at La Station in Nice, France, in 2015 and the Yarat Contemporary Art Center in Baku, Azerbaijan in 2017. Angelica Mesiti, an internationally renowned artist, will represent Australia at the 58th Venice Biennale in 2019. Mesiti’s work can be found in major collections throughout Australia and internationally, including: the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney; Kadist Art Foundation, Paris, San Francisco; Deutsche Bank, Frankfurt; and in the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Space, Tokyo. Within Kunsthalle Tbilisi, her three-dimensional show, created in 2017, utilizes as its medium the Morse Code from a 1997 emergency message sent out by a group of French sailors in 1997.

The idea of Kunsthalle Tbilisi came as a result of discussions I had with KT co-founder Lika Chkuaseli. I was thinking of an institution with museum-level exhibitions that does not necessarily have a permanent collection. Also, we wanted a contemporary art space whose title would immediately reference the art of today – thus, the Kunsthalle. Anyone with a knowledge of the western art world would know the meaning of the word. In short, we wanted to start a space where one can look for contemporary art in Georgia.

Morse Code message sent by the French Navy on January 31, 1997: ‘Calling all. This is our last cry before our eternal silence’.



Kunsthalle Tbilisi opened with two parallel exhibitions that set the model we would like to follow. One local artist’s project (Nika Kutateladze’s Watermill) on Former Pavlov Street at 53 Kazbegi Avenue, and one internationally acclaimed artist’s show (Angelica Mesiti’s Relay League presented by Protocinema at Kunsthalle Tbilisi, commissioned by Artspace, Sydney with support by Commissioning Partner the Keir Foundation and the Australia Council for the Arts) at 1 Petriashvili Street in a former winery building. Kutateladze’s Watermill on Former Pavlov Street is final part of a trilogy and making it happen seemed as unlikely as opening Kunsthalle in Tbilisi. We helped the artist realize his project to buy, transport and install an actual watermill from the mountains of Guria in a typical soviet studio apartment in Tbilisi. The work addresses many issues, among them the abandonment and dying out of Georgian villages. The watermill is the heart of the village: once you take it away, it’s like taking the heart of the village out. The artist followed the river down from the mountains of Guria. There is only the foundation left of some watermills; some roofs have caved in and the watermill that was in the best shape was the one Kutateladze had transported to Pavlov street. The soviet studio apartment is very much a part of the work itself. Angelica Mesiti’s new 3-channel video installation Relay League 2017 engages with the language of Morse Code as an extinct form of communication. In this case, a musician-composer, a dancer and two dancers who have developed their own movement-sign-language, each interpret the final

The aim of Kunsthalle Tbilisi is to put contemporary Georgian art in the wider context of the international contemporary art scene, to put Tbilisi on the map of the contemporary art scene with parallel exhibitions of established international artists and by doing projects with regional artists. Kun-



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sthalle exhibitions and the idea of Kunsthalle in itself is very community-oriented. The current shows will continue till July 14 and Kunsthalle plans weekly public talks and guided tours in both locations. Kunsthalle Tbilisi has an advisory board that includes curators from MoMA New York. With the support of Goethe Institute Tbilisi, I organized an Artforum panel discussion for TAF, inviting curators from Kunsthalle Vienna, the Director of Kunstverein Hamburg, and the Curator of Lenbachhaus Munich to share their experience with us and a Tbilisi audience.


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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1051  

May 25 - 28, 2018

Issue #1051  

May 25 - 28, 2018