Page 1 georgiatoday

Issue no: 821 Iss

• FEBRUARY 26 - 29, 2016



In this week’s issue... Read. Learn. Enjoy. Introducing Georgia Today/ Education NEWS PAGE 2

UK PM Strikes Deal over Special EU Status, Possible Brexit Looms POLITICS PAGE 5


Kim Chang-Gyu, the acting Ambassador of South Korea to Georgia explains how South Korea became the success it is today, and what Georgia could learn from it


Personal Data Protection in Georgia Approaching World Standards BY MAKA LOMADZE


Lying in Wait: Camp Burjanadze POLITICS PAGE 6

Meet the AlphaMedic Consortium Members BUSINESS PAGE 9

Child Brides, Child Mothers SOCIETY PAGE 10


ecently, a number of videos were shown on TV to educate citizens about personal data protection and their rights. The Personal Data Protection Inspector’s Office has existed in Georgia since 2013. According to the statistics of 2015, around 120 people applied, over 1200 consultations were given and 65 trainings and public lectures were delivered in which 1600 citizens took part. GEORGIA TODAY interviewed Nino Tsagareishvili, representative of the Foreign Relations Department of the Inspector’s Office. Continued on page 2

Artist of the Month: The Animal Portraits of Tama PopkovaKapanadze CULTURE PAGE 15




FEBRUARY 26 - 29, 2016

Read. Learn. Enjoy. Introducing Georgia Today/ Education


ear friends and future readers, For us the process of learning is so important that we’ve decided to dedicate an entire publication to it. Now this is unusual, actually it is an anomaly when it comes to global trends, because every year, every day, there are fewer and fewer newspapers in print on the planet. News is becoming digital. And that is a good thing because it indicates progress in technology. It is the difference between the world that you’ve grown up in and the one that we (we’re 30-something years old!) have watched change and evolve so quickly. Just imagine this: antibiotics, perhaps the most important medical technology, did not exist until World War II. We were around ten years old when we first heard about the internet. We marvel at the technology that for so many of you is just normal. We also know that not all of it is a good thing. You see, so much tech, data and sheer information came into our lives so quickly that sometimes we have to take a step back and really talk about what it means for the people we care about the most. Also we want to tell you this: There is power in the printed word, in holding something like this very newspaper in your hands. It means that not just one person wrote their feelings on Facebook or in a Wordpress blog, but that a lot of people- the writer, the editors, the publisher, the designers, etc., all believed in the power of those words too, believed enough to print them. That is why this article is sitting in front of you right now. We wanted to say “Hello” on paper and to make it official, to connect with you and tell you a little bit about what we are going to do in our new monthly publication, what we hope to do together. This paper is

about education, hence the title. Sure, this means that we hope that students are going to read it—we even hope that this may end up in some classrooms. But here’s the thing about being a student, or what in English slang we call “the

rub”: It never ends. We think that every human being on earth is still a student. The cleverest people out there already know this, and they never stop learning. We at GEORGIA TODAY are students, too. We may have some grey hairs and remember what life was like before cell

phones, but it is for that very reason that we continue to learn. Each month we are going to bring you stories about people, about technology, about innovative new kinds of business in Georgia and even sometimes about how it all fits into the larger global picture— what fancy people call ‘foreign policy.’ We are going to include an English dictionary at the bottom of the page to explain the words you see in bold, an Info Box to explain about the company or person in the article in more detail, and a Food for Thought box to get you thinking and debating “outside the box.” And we are not going to write long pedantic articles to try and convince you that we are smart. We simply are going to share some exciting

stories. We hope that you will interact with us and become more than just readers through Twitter, Facebook and email. The bottom line (another English term) is that we want to connect with you and to share some stories each month that we find fascinating. Sure, it’s strange to be reading about technology in a printed newspaper, but irony can be a beautiful thing. It reminds us that the world around us is not constructed in binary code: black and white, off and on, right and wrong, one and zero. So if you find yourself reading about technology in a newspaper or about Lebowski on a laptop, we hope it brings a smile to your face and that you know we are smiling, too. Until next time, Will Cathcart and Katie Ruth Davies Editors, Georgia Today/Education

Personal Data Protection in Georgia Approaching World Standards Continued from page 1

WHY WAS IT DECIDED TO ESTABLISH THIS SERVICE? The Law of Georgia on Personal Data Protection, which entered into force in 2012, foresees the establishment of a supervisory authority - The Personal Data Protection Inspector in order to supervise and monitor the lawfulness of data processing and the implementation of data protection legislation. The establishment of this institution was also an obligation under the 2001 Additional Protocol to the Council of Europe Convention 108 regarding supervisory authorities and crossborder data flows. Further, the visa liberalization process with the European Union necessitated carrying out comprehensive reforms in the field of data protection, including the adoption of relevant legislation, its practical implementation, effective operation of the Inspector’s Office and raising public awareness.

HOW IS IT POSSIBLE TO APPLY TO THE PERSONAL DATA INSPECTOR? An individual can submit a complaint regarding an alleged violation of data protection rights online (by sending an e-mail or via Facebook) or call +995322421000.

WHERE CAN SOMEONE FIND INFORMATION ABOUT THEIR PERSONAL DATA? Generally, one can get such information from the organization that processes the data. Various categories of data processed by public or private organizations are also available online on the Inspector’s website through the Filing System Catalogues. If someone is interested what is implied by personal data and how to control such data, he/she can apply to the Inspector’s Office for a consultation.

CAN A PERSON UPDATE THEIR PERSONAL DATA? A data subject is entitled to request the

data controller to update the data if the data is incomplete, inaccurate, not updated, or was illegally collected and processed. Sucha request may be submitted either in writing, orally or by electronic means. Within 15 days of the request being received, a data controller is obliged to update the data or to inform the data subject of the grounds for refusal. The service is free of charge.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE APPROACHES TO FOREIGNERS AND GEORGIANS IN YOUR SYSTEM? There is no difference between foreigners and Georgians in our system. We treat each and every complaint and case equally, without distinction.

HOW CAN WE BE SURE OUR PERSONAL DATA IS WELL-PROTECTED? In case of alleged violation of data protection rights, the Law of Georgia on Personal Data Protection provides sev-

eral remedies to data subjects: this could be through the Court or the Office of the Personal Data Protection Inspector. The latter mechanism is cost effective and of course takes less time than cases dealt with in Court. The Inspector can utilize different measures to enforce the Law, such as: • Force the elimination of the violation and the deficiencies related to data processing;

• Insist on temporary or permanent termination of data processing; • Insist on termination of data processing, their blocking, deletion, destruction or depersonalization; • Insist on termination of data transfer to other states and international organizations; • Give written advice and recommendations; • Impose fines.

MESSAGE FROM THE EDITOR I would like to apologize for the incorrect photograph which accompanied the article “Polish Foreign Minister on Ukraine, Georgia and Russia” in this week’s printed issue of GT/Business (#820/15) which showed Frank-Walter Steinmeier instead of the interviewee, Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykovsky.



Ownership of Paris Leuville Let’s Chateau to Be Transferred to Georgia

Read Aloud





he ownership of the Leuville Chateau, which is located near Paris, is expected to be transferred to Georgia on the county’s Independence Day. The announcement came during the visit to the Georgian Embassy of France of State Minister for Diaspora Issues, Gela Dumbadze, and Minister of Justice of Georgia, Tea Tsulukiani, mid-February. Descendants of the members of the first government of the Georgian Democratic Republic, Members of the Board of Trustees of Leuville, attended the meeting along with the ministers. The final meeting and the agreement regarding transfer of ownership of the Leuville Chateau is expected in April. The Georgian Government first acquired the Leuville Chateau at the beginning of the 20th century, when members of the Menshevik government left Georgia due to the Sovietization of the country, emigrating to France in March 1921. Also on the territory of the estate is a Georgian cemetery ‘Leuvillesur-Orge,’ where the remains of hundreds of immigrants have been laid to rest. “This is tremendous progress for us to be able to talk about the possibility of

signing a contract. And it would be significant to have the moment of transfer coincide with the 25th anniversary of Georgia’s independence, which will be celebrated on May 26,” said Minister Tsulukiani. The first information about the Leuville Chateau’s return to Georgia came in 2004, when the Board of Trustees of Leuville sent a letter to the Georgian government in which they said that they had never considered the Leuville as their property. “According to the decision of the first government of the Georgian Democratic Republic, we only temporarily owned the estate until the restoration of our country’s independence,” the letter said. The Office of the State Minister of

Georgia for Diaspora Issues announced that the Leuville Chateau is to be turned into a Georgian academy for Georgian artists and historians. “It will be a kind of analogue of the Roma’s Villa Medici,” stated the Ministry. Minister Dumbadze himself noted that the Leuville Chateau is a place of extreme importance for Georgia, a little part of Georgia in France. The Government of Georgia has allocated more than EUR 100,000 to maintain the venue and carry out works towards the above-mentioned future project.


or the first time Georgia joined the World Read Aloud Day, which is celebrated in more than 100 different countries on February 24. Thirty-five Georgian authors visited schools, universities, bookstores, libraries and read their works aloud to audiences. The World Read Aloud Day was first organized in 2010 by the Lit World organization. The main aim of the project is to motivate children, teens, and adults worldwide to celebrate the power of words and create a community of readers taking action to show the world that the right to literacy belongs to all people. The organization does not have strict rules of how this day should be celebrated; each country does it in its own way. “Naturally, our main goal is to raise the issue of the promotion of reading and its importance. In addition, many are not familiar with our modern authors who write excellent works. That is why we decided that these people should read their works on that day,” said Gvantsa Jobava, organizer of World Read Aloud Day in Georgia and the Head of the Georgian Publishers and Booksellers Association. Georgian writers read excerpts from their books, and then initiated lively discussions with audiences in Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Batumi, Zugdidi and Telavi on February 24. Jobava also noted that their project has aroused such interest among the citizens that where they were unable to arrange a meeting, people themselves gathered, invited local authors or just read their favorite books aloud. According to one of the participant

writers of the project, Toresa Mossy, it is a unique opportunity for authors to meet their readers and potential readers. “Mostly, reading a book is a relationship between reader and book, the writer is always somewhere apart. However, today we had an opportunity to communicate with the readers and understand what they like or not and their experiences,” she said. In the framework of World Read Aloud Day in Georgia, besides public readings, the puppet show ‘Travelling through Books,’ was organized, with one actor performing parts from different children’s books. “When we were children, all of us dreamed of travelling into the worlds that books opened to us. Perhaps today we don’t read aloud, but we will bring books to life and hope that after the performance children be tempted to read the books themselves,” said Magda Revishvili, the creator of the Travelling through Books project. At the end of the day, the winner of the Best Book Supporter Award was announced in the Writers House, Tbilisi. It was given to a person who has been most actively involved in the process of popularizing reading in recent timesGeorgian politician, Doctor of Philology, and Professor, Levan Berdzenishvili, who conducted about 150 lectures in different universities of Georgia as well as in public spaces in 2015. “Psychologists have proved that while reading, a person experiences the same emotions as if they actually took part in the story. Thus, reading gives you a unique opportunity you should not miss,” said Berdzenishvili. Organizers of World Read Aloud Day stated that it is to become an annual event in Georgia and they are going to reward book supporters each year from now on.




FEBRUARY 26 - 29, 2016

America and NATO Supporting Georgia’s Security Giorgi Kvirikashvili Prime Minister of Georgia, and Milos Zeman President of the Czech Republic

A Brew of Interest: PM Visits Czech Republic BY ZVIAD ADZINBAIA


eorgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili met with his counterpart, Czech Prime Minister Buhuslav Sobotka and President Milos Zeman, as part of an official two-day visit to the Czech Republic on Monday. PM Kvirikashvili and PM Sobotka discussed deeper political and economic cooperation between the countries, as well as the EU’s upcoming visa liberalization process for Georgian citizens. At a joint press conference following the meeting, PM Sobotka reaffirmed Prague’s support for Georgia’s territorial integrity as well as Tbilisi’s Euro-Atlantic integration aspirations, saying Georgia had proved its reliability as a stable partner. PM Kvirikashvili stated that his government values more robust political and trade relations with the Czech Republic as part of the EU’s Eastern Partnership. Along with the government and the President, the Senate of the Czech Republic expressed its full support toward Georgia’s European and EuroAtlantic aspirations. The Georgian delegation and Chair of the Senate, Milan Stech, discussing prospects of deepening relations between the two states. Stech emphasized the reforms implemented in Georgia and the country’s success achieved on the path to European integration.

During the visit to the Czech capital, the PM-led Georgian delegation also held a working dinner with leading Czech companies that plan to invest in Georgia. In the informal environment, Georgia’s economy and the investment opportunities were broadly discussed. For one it was decided to build a Czech brewery and a factory in Georgia. In addition, as part of the visit, the Georgian PM met with Georgian students studying in the Czech Republic. The dozens of undergraduate and graduate expat Georgians enrolled in the top Czech institutions, spoke with PM Kvirikashvili about various social, political and economic topics. “You are vitally important to our country and we think that you should engage in the development of your country as soon as possible,” the Georgian Prime Minister told the Georgian youngster. “This is inevitable, since our country is becoming increasingly interesting to youth who have acquired education in Western universities.” The PM briefed the future leaders about economic and infrastructural projects in Georgia and discussed adopted foreign policy related measures. He added that considerable success achieved by Georgia in the visa liberalization process is positively assessed by the EU member states including the reforms conducted by the government. The PM declared that the reforms, namely, the 4-pillar plan will move the Georgian economy to a new stage of development.

The White House. Source:



n February 11, the US White House announced that the US will spend USD 4.3 billion in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union in 2017 to combat Russia’s aggressive behavior in the region. The statement said that the decision comes as a response to Moscow’s increasingly confrontational and bellicose approach to its neighbors, most of whom were once Russian imperial dominions. The White House said the funds will be spent on shoring up the US’ political, economic and diplomatic leverage in the region. The funds also provide for increasing military support to the countries most at risk from Russia’s aggressive posturing, such as Georgia. Known as the European Reassurance Initiative, the plan will enable the US to expand its number of military exercises and training, sustain a larger continuous rotational presence in Eastern Europe, enhance its preparedness to reinforce NATO allies through the prepositioning of equipment and build the defensive capacity of partner states in the former Soviet Union to enhance their inter-operability with the US military and NATO in order to strengthen regional security. “This will include bolstering our capabilities across the region to counter Russian aggression, with a particular focus on Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova,” the White House document says. According to Euro News Georgia, the amount will, along with democracy promotion, economic development and Euro-Atlantic integration, help Georgia resist Russian aggression. The information says the financial aid will be focused on enlargement of energetic and economic possibilities for the population that tend to Russia’s influence.

At an August 2015 meeting between Georgia’s Defense Minister Tinatin Khidasheli and US Defense Secretary Ash Carter, the US announced plans to allocate USD 20 million to assist in the development of Georgia’s armed forces. “This includes more US troops in Georgia, more support to the Georgian army, Georgian defense and security, in order to be ready for all the challenges that exist in our region – that’s the main pledge of this partnership. Every day brings more progress and results in this regard,” said Minister Khidasheli. Meanwhile, amid the Middle East tension and Ukraine’s hybrid war with Russia, NATO has sent four naval war ships to Georgia’s Black Sea port of Batumi as part of a scheduled month-long training mission. The naval contingent is part of NATO’s Rapid Response Forces (RRF), which is currently undergoing an Alliance-wide overhaul of its defensive capabilities in light of Russia’s belligerent actions in Ukraine and Syria and Moscow’s ongoing major military buildup in the Black Sea region. The ships are participating in joint exercises and training missions with Georgian naval and marine forces. NATO’s United Naval Forces commander Giorgio Lazio said in Batumi on February 12 that “the mission has come to demonstrate NATO’s support as well as stress our strong and mutually beneficial cooperation with Georgia.” Late January, the Washington Post in a publication stated that Georgia is not on the verge of a Kremlin-inspired political takeover, but nor is growing Russian influence a fantasy. According to the publication, the government in Tbilisi is doing just about everything right. “But expansion fatigue in the United States, and especially Europe, is breeding fatalism in Georgia, and incubating a political environment where proRussia factions’ anti-west crusades are gaining traction.

“NATO Does Not Need To Be Everywhere” BY ANNA KALANDADZE


he Washington DC-based expert community gathered at the Heritage Foundation to discuss new ways NATO could defend its member states and show more support to non-member countries. Voice of America’s Georgian team were able to catch some exclusive comments regarding this topic and more specifics on Georgia:

GEORGE BENITEZ, ATLANTIC COUNCIL I think NATO needs to have a more proportionate response to Russia’s threat in Europe. It needs to

10 Galaktion Street

deploy permanent bases in its frontline states because of the gross nature of threats. And while I do not t h i n k N AT O should provide Article 5 protec- George Benitez, Atlantic Council tion to non-member states, it should help them to more actively increase their defense capabilities, strengthen domestic resilience and help them protect their national sovereignty, because its in NATO’s and in Europe’s interests to keep the national sovereignty of all states in Europe. Continued on page 8

Tel: (995 32) 2 45 08 08 E-mail:



UK PM Strikes Deal over Special EU Status, Possible Brexit Looms BY NICHOLAS WALLER


K Prime Minister David Cameron emerged from marathon negotiations in Brussels last week with a deal that gives Britain an unparalleled amount of autonomy within the European

Union. Cameron walked into the negotiations with a bevy of demands and came away with promises, but not legally binding agreements, from other members of the world’s most powerful economic bloc. The drawn-out continuous talks with sceptical continental EU members ended with several concessions from Brussels that would keep the UK out of the EU’s doctrine of ‘ever closer union’, allow it and other non-Eurozone countries to trigger debates over European economic policy and an immediate seven-year moratorium on in-work benefits for EU citizens residing in the United Kingdom. Cameron faces a stiff uphill battle as he attempts to sell the package of agreements to the British public in the race towards a June 23 referendum on Britain remaining a constituent part of the EU. Opponents who advocate for the UK to leave, a so-called ‘Brexit,’ argue that the European court of justice could overrule Cameron’s EU deal. Downing Street steadfastly claims the agreements are legally binding and can be only overturned with the full consent of the British government. Opposition to Britain’s continued membership in the bloc is led not by the opposition Labour Party and its resolute leftist leader Jeremy Corbyn, but by Cameron’s own Conservative Party, with London’s flamboyant Tory mayor Boris Johnson leading the ‘No’ campaign. Cameron and his supporters, including the top brass in the military, warn that leaving the European Union could hinder the UK’s ability to deal with global threats including Vladimir Putin’s Rus-

The question for British voters this coming June will be whether they see the country’s future through the prism of imperfect 21st century cooperation or 20th century isolationist sovereignty, Source: independent.

sia and the Islamic State while Britain’s business community has warned that a Brexit would severely harm the UK’s position as a global financial center, isolate the country from its lucrative trade with the EU and diminish the pound sterling’s privileged position on the global currency market. Further compounding the problem, nationalists in Scotland, who were trounced in a September 2014 referendum on the country’s independence, have said a Brexit would immediately trigger a new drive to dissolve the United Kingdom. Johnson, one of the country’s most popular politicians, and the No camp argue a Brexit would restore Britain’s historic sovereignty and democratic accountability for governmental decisions, both deeply rooted institutions that many in the country believe have been compromised by the bureaucratic nature of a Britain-skeptic European Parliament. The No’s can point to widespread support for Britain opting out of its EU membership. Recent polls have shown that roughly half the voting public has a viscerally negative view of the European Union. Cameron has called the impending referendum a watershed moment in recent UK history. The question for British voters this coming June will be whether they see the country’s future through the prism of imperfect 21st century cooperation or 20th century isolationist sovereignty.





ino Burjanadze was in Moscow. Again. For the former Speaker of Parliament, this is already the fourth meeting with the Russian authorities in the last seven months. Although this time Burjanadze didn’t meet Vladimir Putin, she did have time to visit high ranking officials during her week-long stay. Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister – Giorgi Karasin, for example, who is overseeing Georgia, and

FEBRUARY 26 - 29, 2016

Lying in Wait: Camp Burjanadze

Nino Burjanadze’s decision is not to ‘leave the battlefield’ but rather to ‘lurk’ and wait for the favorable moment when the UNM and Georgian Dream will once again annoy the majority of voters



also the Speakers of Duma and the Federation Council. Burjanadze claims her frequent visits merely serve the purpose of “melting the ice” that has formed between Tbilisi and Moscow since 2008. Nevertheless, it is obvious that her visits serve a completely different purpose: the upcoming Parliamentary elections. If we closely observe the political moves that Nino Burjanadze, the leader of the Democratic Movement-United Georgia takes, we will see that she is the only active politician who openly and undeniably cooperates with the Kremlin. Unlike leaders of other parties who secretly express their fondness yet openly

stand on a completely different political platform. Patriotic Alliance and its leader Irma Inashvili would be a good example, not to say anything about the retrograding wing of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD). It seems that the electorate that is oriented towards the Kremlin really appreciates the straightforwardness of Ms. Nino, as the December NDI polls showed- a solid 4% for Burjanadze over Inashvili’s Patriotic Alliance. Obviously, 4% is not enough for success in the Parliamentary elections. However, for such an experienced political figure as Nino Burjanadze, it still means a lot, especially if we take into consideration that the same NDI poll revealed some 36 % of voters have not yet decided who to vote for. Political analyst Gia Khukhashvili says that if we imagine that today’s government is somewhere in the street, it is not unimaginable that exactly Nino Burjanadze would be that leader to pick up at least part of the majority from the pro-Russian camp. The sincerity of a politician about what his or her goal is and how he or she wants to achieve it makes it easier for voters in any country to make their choice. Therefore, everyone who thinks that Nino Burjanadze is a politician of the past is deeply mistaken. The ex-Speaker’s decision is not to “leave the battlefield” but rather to “lurk” and wait for the favorable moment when the National

I always say that Saakashvili was a sadist, but he had a goal and a target. He had a figurative gun and fired at his enemies. Today, this gun is in the hands of GD, but due to their mentality, they neither fire it at others nor want to give it up. That is why, from time to time, they accidentally shoot themselves in the foot

Movement and the Georgian Dream will once again annoy the majority of voters with their squabbling in the Kutaisi Parliament, voters who like certainty and unambiguousness. This, plus some general confusion and obscure political moves from the ruling party added to the mix. As Gia Khukhashvili says, exactly this obscurity might lead to failure for GD because if the ruling political party does not know what it really wants, it is surely doomed to be defeated. “I always say that Saakashvili was a sadist, but he had a goal and a target. He had a figurative gun and fired at his enemies. Today, this gun is in the hands of GD, but due to their mentality, they neither fire it at others nor want to give it up. That is why, from time to time, they accidentally shoot themselves in the foot,” says Khukhashvili. It is truly hard to guess what the governing Party really wants. Not so for Burjanadze, who has made a clear point of her choice in favor of the Kremlin. Therefore, it is too early to “write off” Nino Burjanadze: she hasn’t gone anywhere far – she is merely lying in wait for an ambush. For four years already, the 60 % - 40 % proportion, formed in October 2012, has been creating turbulence and a constant sense of controversy which adepts of democratic romanticism call ‘pluralism” and what in reality is categorically unacceptable to the socio-psychology of our people. Just the right moment for the ex-Speaker to appear on the stage holding her Russian vector with a big chance of a successful hunt!




FEBRUARY 26 - 29, 2016

In Endurance, Grow Strong: A South Korean Lesson for Georgia BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE


f there is a genuine success story of 20th century state-building, it has to be that of South Korea’s, a war-torn country without any natural resources or geographical advantages, armed only with the iron will and desire to improve - rising to prominence and becoming one of the world’s most advanced states. South Korea’s is an example Georgia could learn much from. The diplomatic residence of South Korea was recently opened in Tbilisi, and GEORGIA TODAY sat down with the Kim Chang-Gyu, the acting Ambassador of South Korea to Georgia, to discuss what the two countries can offer each other.

WHAT IS YOUR COUNTRY’S POLICY IN GEORGIA? WHAT IS THE MESSAGE YOU BRING TO THE GEORGIAN PEOPLE? There are a lot of historical similarities between the people of Georgia and the people of South Korea. Both nations are thousands of years old, the geography is very similar, and we both had to fight constantly for our survival throughout our history. Like Georgia, South Korea doesn’t boast a lot of natural resources that you could build on in modern times, but we both have heart and brains to fight for a better future. That, I think, sums up the message I bring. As for our policy here, we are

looking to deepen our cooperation with the public and civil sector, share experience, and learn from each other. We are working in several fields, among them export of Georgian goods to Asian markets, improving aspects of public transportation here, and sharing know-how in technology. An interesting aspect of our collaboration could also be the tourism sector – for example, South Korea, like Georgia, is a mountainous country. We have a modern, well-developed winter resort system – in fact, we are preparing to host the 2018 Winter Olympics. We are ready and eager to share our experience in this field with our Georgian colleagues, as winter sports and tourism happens also to be one of Georgia’s chief tourism priorities. All in all, I believe our cooperation will only result in success for both countries.

THE RISE OF SOUTH KOREA FROM A DEVELOPING COUNTRY TO ONE OF THE WORLD’S MOST ADVANCED IS INDEED A GREAT SUCCESS STORY. HOW DID IT HAPPEN? Back in the 1950s we were presented with an existential dilemma: we realized that we had to either significantly change our mentality, the way we viewed the world, or we would cease to exist as an independent nation. And this realization, and the subsequent choice we made to adapt and survive, brought about that rise. Great economic reforms were introduced that led to an export-oriented

economy. What made us achieve that? I think the safest bet would be to say that we relied on the brains of a young, open-minded generation. In the sixties, the government asked every South Korean student that was studying abroad, mainly in the US, to come back to teach what they’d learned. We created a very attractive environment for them – the salary of a university professor was at times higher than that of a minister and the President! South Korea became an education-driven country, which in turn led to the success in the field of technology that our country is so proud of today.

SPEAKING OF TECHNOLOGY, YOU’VE RECENTLY PAID A VISIT TO TBILISI TECH PARK. WHAT WERE YOUR IMPRESSIONS? I was impressed with how driven and energetic people were there and it is indeed a step in the right direction. We created our analogy to the Tech Park almost half a century ago, in the 60s. It was an investment in the future and it paid off greatly – I think you could say that all those world famous South Korean companies that you hear so much about, such as Samsung and Kia, owe their existence to this technocratic wave that happened back then. I am more than certain that, with correct management, it will pay off greatly for Georgia, too.

DESPITE BECOMING AN ADVANCED, WELL-DEVELOPED COUNTRY, SOUTH KOREA STILL SUFFERS FROM TERRITORIAL DISPUTES WITH ITS NEIGHBORS. WHAT IS THERE FOR GEORGIA TO LEARN FROM THE EXAMPLE OF SOUTH KOREA? As I said earlier, throughout their history, both Georgia and South Korea had to fight for survival. Our lands are situated in a geographical position where there are some big actors playing their games. The ability to maintain your policies in such a situation is a big challenge, but I would like to think my country is doing that and would advise Georgia to do so, too. Neighbors, friends, third parties can offer valuable advice, share their experience and so on, but they cannot dictate what to do – you, Georgian society, must make up your own mind about what direction you want your country to go and evolve in.


– WOULD YOU ALSO SAY THAT THERE LIES ANOTHER LESSON FOR GEORGIA? I would say it is only natural to assume that you should be ready to defend yourself. In South Korea, it’s mandatory to serve several years in the army in your youth. Of course there are young people who don’t share the enthusiasm, but it is a generation which didn’t have to go through the hardships of war and rebuilding as their parents and grandparents did, so maybe there is a lack of ability to see the big picture playing a role here.

NORTH KOREAN MISSILE TESTS AND THE RECENT ROCKET LAUNCH IS ENOUGH OF A STERN REALITY TO KEEP PEOPLE IN CHECK. WHAT IS YOUR GOVERNMENT’S POSITION ON THIS? IS THE INTERNATIONAL CONDEMNATION SEVERE ENOUGH PUNISHMENT? First of all, I would like to thank the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their statement condemning North Korea’s actions. It’s a very important step for us, it means people realize how big a threat it is; that it is not a danger that is confined to just one country and one region- it should be a cause of alarm for the whole world. I’d like to underline that the satellite rocket launch was preceded with hydrogen bomb test earlier that month. This is a challenge for the whole international community and we are cooperating closely with international forces to devise a mechanism of punishment and prevention of such actions in the future. After the emergency meeting at the UN Security Council, a consensus was achieved over further sanctions on North Korea. The world’s major powers, including the United States and China, are right now negotiating over the scale of the sanctions. As for us, I think our President’s response sums up our stance perfectly: She said that Seoul is determined to make North Korea realize its nuclear ambitions will result only in accelerating its “regime collapse”. That is our agenda and we will rely on the international community to achieve it.

“NATO Does Not Need To Be Everywhere” Continued from page 4

A NATO training facility for Georgia was agreed upon at the Wales NATO Summit in 2014. It became operational last year. Now there is a tangible NATO presence in Georgia that did not exist before, and I think such signs of cooperation are good steps for NATO but also positive developments for Tbilisi.

LUKE COFFEY, HERITAGE FOUNDATION First of all, NATO needs to get back to basics, to its original founding document, the Washington Treaty of 1949, and start thinking about preserving territorial defense and the territorial integrity of its member states. NATO does not need to be everywhere, doing everything, but it needs to be able to defend its members’ territory in the north Atlantic region. That said, NATO needs to pursue a policy, and offer the right equipment and troops for its members in this region, for example to the Baltic States where there is a potential for confrontation. But NATO should also keep the door open for countries like Georgia who aspire to join the Alliance some day. We must make sure that Georgia remains on a path towards eventual NATO membership.

I know GeorgiaandUkraine are often lumped in the same category but, frankly, they could not be more different. Ukraine is nowhere near Luke Coffey, Heritage Foundation that goal, not even close whereas Georgia has been progressing for membership for several years. Now, NATO needs to send a political signal that the NATO enlargement dream is still alive. The Alliance did the right thing to send Montenegro an invitation but it also needs to show that it is serious about Georgia’s membership. I think US and NATO allies could provide advance anti-tank missiles to Georgia to show that it cares about Georgia’s defense. So I think its time to send Georgia a strong signal: “You’re on the right path, be patient, we will get you there - the door is not closed.” Link:



Georgia in, Britain out? Ogden on EU Membership OP-ED BY TIM OGDEN


he European Union is a house party being hosted by the father of a teenage girl trying to be cool by letting her awful friends run riot around his house. Dad tried: he ordered pizza and set the Nintendo Wii up on the television; he even provided a few bottles of alcopops and concealed his surprise when the kids produced vodka and bourbon whisky from school backpacks. Yet the pizza was devoured without thanks, the Wii ignored, and as the children go mad and show no respect for his home and possessions, Dad does his best to pretend to his furious wife that it’s alright, really, it’s just kids. Actually, it’s cool…but then he hears the ominous creaking of bedsprings upstairs just before a window is smashed, and then the front door bursts open as more teenagers rush in. Wait, though, these aren’t friends of his daughter, these are the rough kids from down the road who haven’t even brought a cheap bottle of vodka with them…best not admit what a terrible mistake this was, though, and take the wife on a cruise this year…

The only thing that I am sure of about the European Union is that the damn thing is far too big and comes up in conversation and my Facebook feed too damn frequently. The latter is hardly surprising; the United Kingdom will soon vote whether to stay in the Union or not, and every day I read or hear about Georgians pining for membership. What generally seems to be forgotten (by the British, the Georgians, and almost everyone else) is that the EU began solely as an economic union, branded at the time as the European Economic Community [EEC]. When the UK joined back in the ‘70s, there was no mention of continental laws that would supersede its own legislation; indeed, the possible introduction of European law was flatly denied by thenPrime Minister Edward Heath. Subsequent claims that Heath admitted in later years that he had lied to the public and knew in advance that European legislation would take hold in Britain have never been strongly challenged, and the notion that the founders of the EU had supranational ambitions from the EEC’s inception is difficult to quell; if the EEC was never intended to evolve into some form of a European Federation, then all-encompassing laws would never have been introduced. We are frequently told by multicultural


The European Union is a house party being hosted by the father of a teenage girl trying to be cool by letting her awful friends run riot around his house. Source:

maniac friends that we are all humans, and differences in nationality and culture no longer matter. This, of course, is tripe. I resent being referred to as ‘European’ by Americans; our islands are on the continent, but historically we have strived to be independent from the mainland, and I would not feel at home in Lisbon, Athens or Warsaw. Not that I wouldn’t like to visit, of course, but were I a politician, I would not think to dictate laws in Portugal, Greece or Poland, since I am not one of their people and understand little and less about the subtleties of their culture and way of life. As things stand, EU institutions can meddle in national legislation, such as the way in which the European Court of Human Rights can block the deportation of ter-

rorists to countries in which they are wanted, as in the case of Abu Qatada. EU will is being similarly imposed in the context of the current refugee crisis. There are benefits to EU membership, such as visa-free travel throughout the continent, but neither Norway nor Switzerland are members of the European Union, and one never hears of Norwegian or Swiss citizens being stranded at passport control with a crowd of Syrian refugees. Neither are Norway and Switzerland prevented from trading with the EU despite not being members. Interestingly enough, when voting against EU membership in the 1970s and again in the 1990s, Norwegians listed ‘sovereignty’ as the primary reason for voting ‘no’. On reading this, you might get the impression that I’m anti-EU. Far from it. I am against the creation of a supranational European state and the fact that EU countries are limited as to how much trade they can do outside the Union, as well as the obligatory financial bailout of countries who might be more careful if they knew they didn’t have the economic EU net to save them when they fall. However, I’m all for visa-free travel and easy continental residence; who wouldn’t be? Some form of the EU could work; the

UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Scandinavia are close enough in economic terms to be productive. It is unlikely that one would have to bail out the other, as EU member states have been forced to do with Spain, Greece and Ireland. Yet conflicting ideas over immigration and security would still render the model unworkable. Though Georgia’s love affair with the EU is waning (due to years of rhetoric and undelivered promises from Brussels), the majority of Georgians still want their country to become a member state. It is not hard to see why when one considers the annoying necessity of visa travel and the ease of working in a country with a more productive economy. However, it is debatable that the EU would protect Georgia from future Russian aggression; Moscow has made it quite clear that it is not afraid to rattle the sabre at Poland and the Baltic states, but it is unlikely that the world would risk a major confrontation with Russia in their defense. Besides which, it isn’t hard to imagine Georgians marching down Rustaveli Avenue protesting that EU laws are nothing to do with Georgia. The year could prove interesting. Georgia in, Britain out? As the Russians have it, ‘time will show’.


Meet the AlphaMedic Consortium Members


s part of the cooperation between the public and private sectors, three Tbilisi-based hospitals will be rehabilitated by investing about 0.5 billion GEL. Namely, Tbilisi Children Infectious Clinic Hospital, the former Republican Hospital and the Universal Medical Center (the former oncology center) will be rehabilitated. Georgian Minister of Health, David Sergeenko and Partnership Fund Executive Director, David Saganelidze attended the presentation of the medical clinics development project. Working meetings

and discussions at the Health Ministry, with the participation of heads of the mentioned hospitals, were held on February 9-11. Three companies submitted offers for the state-announced tender as part of the medical clinics development project. However, only the Austrian-based AlphaMedic Consortium submitted the right proposal. The Georgian Health Ministry positively appraised the medical clinics development project submitted by AlphaMedic. “The high-level investors are interested in this project. In Georgia, the Consortium is represented by the world’s

distinguished companies with numerous years’ experience and stable financial resources. They will combine and integrate the West’s best practices into this project. We will receive the best unity of clinics that will become the region’s leading complex,” representatives of the Georgian Ministry of Health said. “This 21st century project absolutely differs from all other previous projects.” The Consortium provides a supply of health services and other options in the infrastructure field. It implements PPP Projects on a global level. AlphaMedic was founded in Vienna, Austria. The company will supply both medications

and equipment to patients and various facilities in the field. “Our Consortium is able to develop financially valuable projects. Other companies frequently submit their projects, but those projects are not valuable and balanced and therefore are destined for failure. AlphaMedic does its best to make its projects vivid and direct finances into the correct bed to implement realistic processes,” Leo McKenna, the AlphaMedic Consortium tenders development manager, noted. AlphaMedic is a consortium of partners that operate in the healthcare infrastructure and service supply field. The Consortium develops projects for cooperation between the state and private sectors (PPP). The AlphaMedic Consortium members are Keppie Architects, The Health Partnership, MFK, FESP, which are famous for their professionalism and proficiency on the global level. Keppie Architects operates in the healthcare, education and commercial sectors. Founded in 1854, the company has 100-year experience of operation in the hospital sector and records a history of PPP model cooperation for many decades. The company is specialized in engineering management and development. From the recently developed projects we should stress Scottish major NHS infrastructural and Forth Valley Royal clinics. All facilities of the company are oriented on sustainable development with a scope of constructing efficient, economic, long-term, energy-efficient and adapted facilities and complexes. Moreover, all projects are special by functional and social component in that they call for a creation of job places and development. The Health Partnership is a consulting company in the health sector that gives

recommendations to government offices, developers, architects and offers the best solutions in the healthcare sector. The professional team of the company has implemented many projects in the USA, Great Britain, Ireland and many other countries in Europe and Asia. The company consultants have carried out USD 1.3 billion projects in the healthcare sector. The company holds unique experience in implementing such health projects, where it has to overcome major challenges in terms of both medical equipment and developing investment projects and operation performance. MFK, with 20 years of experience, is specialized in world-standard medical equipment. MFK operates in environmental, healthcare and labor safety directions. Consumer-oriented MFK provides the best offers in the field of medical equipment. The company operates in the healthcare sector with qualified experts that, along with expert knowledge and skills, enjoy strong technological support in all projects. Besides services, MFK offers the models based on the best solutions that are adapted to the local interests. The company is oriented on developing cost-efficient projects jointly with partnership policy and this enables partners to develop business and receive the best results. FESP has been operating in the field of production and construction projects since 1994. The FESP team is famous for models adapted to traditional and exclusive and special requirements worldwide. The company outlines specific requirements of the consumers, manages the processes and risks and provides absolute guarantee for achieving the determined goals. The very special methodology for process management enables the company to affect the final outcomes and business success.




FEBRUARY 26 - 29, 2016

Child Brides, Child Mothers reduced in the past years but it is also important to raise public awareness about this issue.” Expert of the Civic Development Institute, Tamar Mosiashvili, said educational activities would be most effective with both girls and their parents. “A director of one of the local public schools in Marneuli district gave a lecture about the health problems that may be caused by early marriages and invited experts to speak about it,” Mosiashvili said. “After a while, a parent approached the director and told him that they had postponed the marriage of their engaged daughter – the lecture helped to hinder at least one early marriage and make an immediate impact.” Nargiz already lives with the life her parents have

Following an emergency cesarean, 15-year-old Nargiz, lying in the room of a maternity house, is full of maternal joy. She does not know yet that her baby was born dead



fter delivery Nargiz, lying in the room of a maternity house, is full of maternal joy. She does not know yet that her baby was born dead and is choosing a name for her. Nargiz lives in Marneuli municipality. A year ago, at the age of 15, she married Orkhan, who is ten years older than she (not their real names). Nargiz, like many other girls in her village, got married after finishing the ninth form of school. She was taken to hospital with heavy bleeding and doctors were unable to save her baby. Gynecologist Vazha Baramidze, who performed the caesarian section on Nargiz, said he hardly managed to save the life of the mother. The doctor said pregnancy and child-delivery at an early age is dangerous for young girls. “Nargiz was 27 weeks pregnant and her baby had already died when Nargiz was brought to the hospital. Pregnancy is particularly difficult for girls at the age of 13-15 before the pelvis is well-developed. For that reason we often have to do caesarian sections. Three years ago a 13-year-old pregnant girl was brought here; she had her second child at 15, and third at 16. We did caesarian sections each time.” Early marriages often result in birthing children with disabilities or child mortality. In accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of a Child, a person under the age of 18 is a child and marriage under 18 is classed as an earlymarriage or a child-marriage. According to UN data, annually up to 14 million girls get married under the age of 18 worldwide. In 2014, 17% of women in Georgia got married under 18. Early marriages mostly happen in the Autonomous Republic of Adjara and Kvemo Kartli region, which are inhabited by religious and ethnic minorities. Since the marriage of under-age girls is prohibited by law, ethnic Azerbaijani people living in Georgia marry underage girls with the support of a Mullah. “When you see a 15-years-old girl wearing engagement earrings, you know that the boy’s family has already received consent from the girls’ family,” one of the Imams of Iormuganlo village said. Zina Shahverdieva, 70, recalled that she was engaged at the age of 15. “Two years later we had a wedding. At that time parents’ word was law for children and early-marriage was a tradition. Nobody

wanted to marry a girl older than 18. Men prefer to marry young girls: they do not know much about life and it is easier to govern them.” Official information states that 341 girls left school for the purpose of marriage in Marneuli municipality in the past 5 years. Jabrail Mirzaev, who received a religious education in Turkey and then returned to Georgia, said that he, along with a number of other Imams in Georgia, does not give permission for early marriages. However, he said it had yet to have a positive impact. “In the face of our refusal, they find mullahs to bless them in marriage.” In the Civil Code, the minimum age for marriage in Georgia is 18. Before December 2015, girls aged 16-18 could get married with permission from their parents. On the initiative of the Ombudsman of Georgia, the law was amended and now 16-18 years old girls must get permission from the court as well as from their parents to get married. The single school in the village of Mskhaldidi, which is inhabited by ethnic Azerbaijani people, only operates to grade nine. Kheyala, 15 (false name), said her parents do not want her to continue education in the school of the neighboring village. “We don’t have a doctor in the village and I wanted to study well and become one, but to do that I have to finish public school and then go to University. I know my parents won’t let me do it. I expect they’ll arrange a marriage for me once I finish ninth form.” In accordance with Article 150 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, a person who supports underage marriage is punishable by community labor for 200-400 hours. Head of the gender equality department at the Ombudsman’s Office, Ekaterine Skhiladze, said that Article 140 of the CCG states that sexual intercourse or other acts of a sexual nature with a person under 16 is punishable by imprisonment for up to 7-9 years. “Not long ago a person was imprisoned who had married an under-age girl. Now they have a child, but the marriage took place when the girl was under 16. Their marriage can be registered under law but sexual intercourse with a 15-years-old girl is not permitted,” Skhiladze said. The Marneuli district police unit refused to give us statistical data related to the kidnapping of under-age girls for the purpose of marriage. Chairperson of the organization ‘Azerbaijani Women,’ Leyla Suleymanova, said that the stricter law has already had a positive effect. “Restriction of parents’ rights to give permission for underage marriages has reduced the number of marriages. The number of kidnapping of girls has significantly

The English - Speaking Union ინგლისურ ენაზე მოლაპარაკეთა კავშირი Creating global understanding through English Patron: Her Majesty The Queen President: HRH The Princess Anne Invites 16-20 year old young Speakers to take part in the

Public Speaking Competition SPONSORED BY

The theme of the competition is “Integrity has no need of Rules”. Speakers may interpret this theme in any way they see fit, but they should not use the theme as their title. Each speaker will be allocated 5 minutes. The competition will be held in two rounds. The first round, March 14, at the English Language Centre “British Corner” (Vake Park). The second round will be held on 29th of March. The theme of the second round will be announced later. The competition is sponsored by the Bank of Georgia and British Petroleum ESU – Georgia will send the lucky winner to London in May to take part in the finals and organize 5 day stay in England. The deadline for registration is March 11. Contact us: The English Language Centre “British Corner”, Vake Park (entrance from I. Abashidze St.). Tel.: 557 400033, 5 77 477050; 5 55 302512 E mail:;

chosen for her. She is married and, despite her young age, has already endured the tragedy of a child-death. Her friend Kheyala still dreams of becoming a doctor– but it is up to her parents to decide whether she will wear a white wedding gown or to let her dreams come true and allow her to go university. The publication was prepared in the frame of a project implemented by the Human Rights House Tbilisi with financial support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Tbilisi. Human Rights House Tbilisi is responsible for the content of the article and the views within do not necessarily reflect those of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.




Helping the IDPs: One Student’s Story BY TINATIN MESKHI


very child has the right to be protected from harm. These rights are among the ones set out in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Agencies such as UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) are committed, in Georgia and world-wide, to ensuring special protection for the most disadvantaged children- victims of war, disaster, extreme poverty, all forms of violence and exploitation, and those with disabilities. In Georgia in the early 1990s, the conflicts in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions resulted in the displacement of over half a million people. Further displacement took place in 2008 following an armed conflict with Russia. The majority of ethnic Georgians who fled Abkhazia and then Tskhinvali region/ South Ossetia, have not yet been able to return. In accordance with data from the Ministry for Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees of Georgia (MRA), there were 256,528 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Georgia as of 31st December 2010, of which 65,412 were under the age of 18. Most IDPs originate from Abkhazia and over 60 percent live in the cities of Tbilisi, Zugdidi and Kutaisi. Internally displaced children can be found living in very poor conditions, suffering the psychological trauma of displacement. Not fully integrated locally and facing social stigma that leads to feelings of inferiority and further isolation, they also need health care and education. Following the 2008 war, the Government of Georgia quickly realized that returning the IDPs might not be feasible in the foreseeable future and that measures needed to be taken to promote their

social-economic integration; improve their living conditions; reduce their dependency on the State, and to coordinate activities with the international community. The government then began to develop standard operating procedures with the assistance of the UNHCR, aimed at improving the protection of IDP rights. IDPs from both groups receive monthly cash benefits disbursed by the Social Services Agency (SSA). Most children displaced as a result of the war in August 2008 were enrolled in new schools within three months. To date the author of this article has made a great deal of investigation into the topic of Internally Displaced Children in Georgia but also by fundraising for Internally Displaced Children. On 19-21st October 2015, the author organized a three-day football tournament with accompanying ‘bake sales’ in order to raise money for IDP children, carried out with the involvement of many volunteers. The funds raised (500 GEL) were transferred to the No2 IDP school in Vashlijvari. The author also visited said school where she met the director, Nana Jalagonia, to discuss conditions and problems within the school. At school there are 28 certified and qualified teachers. Pupils there study the Georgian curriculum with the addition of studies in the Aphazian language, which is an elective subject from Grade 10. The school is small, occupying just one floor, and is attended by 107 students of which 77 are IDPs from Abkhazia and South Ossetia. As the director highlighted, the mix of IDPs and local students is essential for the IDPs to better integrate and to establish their place in society. Director Jalagonia’s desire is to make the lives of these children a little easier through her school and students. On the second floor of the school was the place where the IDP children were growing up (following displacement). Over 10 families

Natakhtari to Allocate 150,000 GEL Bonus Budget to the National Rugby Team

were forced to share one bathroom. The school, as Director Jalagonia rightly points out, is their life. While the funds raised were initially set out by this author to buy encyclopedias for the school, Director Jalagonia explained that the number of books currently at the school is sufficient as the government annually provides them a variety of books.

THE AUTHOR SAYS: “I’ll never forget the happiness of the school director- she wasn’t before able to imagine such kindness. I know that 500 GEL is nothing for these people, but I think the feeling that they have someone willing to help them is very important. We (myself and my school-mates) went into every class

and saw the kind, happy and thankful faces as the children heard about my own school and its aims to raise money for them. While talking to them, I thought I was talking to students who were being educated in the most expensive schools. Despite the poverty of their current ‘home,’ they had something special- the richest imagination and steady belief in the future. I hope that our school contribution will be supported by other organizations and I do believe that other schools will follow our steps to help the No.2 IDP School in Vashlijvari. Tinatin Meskhi is a 10th Grade student at the New School International School of Georgia. She participated in the 5th Platon School Model United Nations conference in Athens (Greece) on Children’s Rights in the 21st Century.

Getting their Tongues around the Georgian Language OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE


eorgian national rugby team and Natakhtari company have signed a sponsorship agreement under which the Georgian National Rugby Union will receive 1 million GEL from the company for 4 years. “Natakhtari believes in the higher potential of the Georgian rugby team and I thank the rugby players, the Rugby Union and all people who have contributed to the development of rugby in Georgia,” said Tornike Nikolaishvili, Natakhtari marketing director. This agreement has extended the 8-year cooperation between Natakhtari and the Georgian Rugby Union by an additional 4 years.

Moreover, under the Memorandum, Natakhtari will allocate an additional 150,000 GEL bonus budget for the 2019 world cup, The aim of both donations is to boost the motivation of the rugby players and the development of the sport as a whole. Rugby is our game and this is expressed in the various formats of our cooperation, including in sponsorship. I hope many other Georgian companies will join in this manner,” said Gocha Svanadze, Georgian Rugby Union President said. “This is a great stimulus and responsibility for us. This is not only our merit. We believe rugby will be further popularized because of it,” Rugby Player Merab Sherikadze said.

t is some sort of taboo in Georgia – as incomprehensible as it seems to be – to remind a certain category of Georgian citizens of the desirability, if not the necessity, to speak Georgian in Georgia, where the Georgian language is constitutionally recognized as an official state language. The segment of citizenry of Georgia I am talking about does not speak Georgian, has no desire to learn it, and often gets irritated if you try to speak Georgian to them, answering you back in Russian, the language of communication in the former Soviet Union. Yet, they were all born in Georgia, have grown up here and have no intention of moving elsewhere. Surely nowhere else in the world would this happen. It is considered normal everywhere to speak the language of the country you are living and trying to survive in. If the main law of the land has ruled it that Georgian be the state language, why is it deemed acceptable that some of our citizens are not ready to use it in everyday life, and do not even make an attempt to have at least a smattering of it. How come somebody has the right to defy this constitutional provision so openly and persistently? An even more regrettable fact is that the Georgian non-speakers are isolated from the local culture and national goings-on. The impression is that they are living in a totally different country with absolutely different ideals and aspirations.

What’s the hub of the matter here? Is it that the Georgian language does not deserve to be recognized as the language of communication, and thus be spoken? Maybe it is the unconcerned attitude of this nation about the nonchalance of certain citizens towards the state language of the Republic. Maybe we are afraid to exacerbate separatist attitudes – let the vicious sleeping dogs lie! How about the government which entertains not enough will and means to have its subjects operate with the help of the language of the state they are in charge of. It could also be the politicians who do not want to overly ‘bother’ their electors, thus securing their valuable votes. Continued on page 12




FEBRUARY 26 - 29, 2016

Torch Time: Etseri, Svaneti BY TONY HANMER


amproba again, the Festival of Torches. I’ve celebrated this important annual Svan event in a few different communities over the years, each with its own version and even date: Ushguli, Mestia and central Etseri. Once, even, on the shores of Tbilisi Sea. That counted because it was still hosted by Svans. But this was my first time in lower Etseri, starting from the ancestral home of my blood brother, despite my having lived here all these years. And he came up from Tbilisi for it, too. We were remembering an important military victory won here because of exactly the same sort of burning brands. I also had guests, in particular a young Canadian family based for the moment in Latali. He’s studying the local music and songs for a doctoral thesis in Ethnomusicology. His wife has also worked as a music teacher; and the little girl, just two years old, had her singing debut on the Mestia stage, the last New Year... They walked down to Ladreri with me, taking a big shortcut through a field on the nice firm snow of this frosty dark dawn for a 7 am start. My friend had cut me the required sharp-ended birch torch, with its other end cut and splayed out a bit for a nice easy burn—one per male household member. We joined the bonfire which was just starting, added our pieces into the hard snow, and enjoyed the crispness while other men came from nearby, in family units, each with its burning torches to add. Slowly the day lightened.

When all were assembled, we faced east. The elders held up specially prepared round flatbread loaves and bottles of moonshine for each family, and beseeched the local powers (here personified in St George) for a good year for each family in turn, ending each with a sung “Haaaaaa-men!” The bonfire was a much needed respite from the chill of below-freezing weather, and it slowly sank its way into more snow than anyone there could remember there being for a late-February date, not being put out by the snow but winning over it in a circle several feet across. My blood brother’s guest, a refugee from Tskhinvali who has had to completely reinvent his life in Tbilisi and Agara, told us of the deep woe of not being able to visit his parents’ graves in his homeland for the past eight years. But materially he’s done all right the second time around. This was his first visit to Svaneti. I couldn’t stay or even return for the

feast later that afternoon as I still had other guests, plus a barn of animals, needing attention at home; and why should my wife have all this burden to herself? So with regrets, I said my goodbyes and plodded off. My Canadians, however, sent their man to the feast, where he joined most of the local men’s choir, Riho, and even led quite a few of their songs. More on him, and them, in another article soon. He made quite an impression there, knowing so many Svan songs. And he may well write a book on the subject, the first ever in English. If there’s one thing this part of the world is rich in, it’s culture. Tony Hanmer runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 1300 members, at He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri:

Getting their Tongues around the Georgian Language Continued from page 11

Understandably, if a politician pushes the electorate too hard with a pesky demand to learn the state language, the irritated elector, shrugging their shoulders, might decide to change horses right in the midstream. What politician needs that?! To compound the puzzle, the possibility of shunning the state language is rooted deeper: those who want to use this land for survival must know the language both formally and informally spoken in the country, but the gist of the matter is that they can easily get by without the Georgian language, using Russian in its stead in most cases, and

use their own native tongue to communicate with friends and family. As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. So, when Georgian becomes indispensable for survival, it will be widely spoken by every citizen of this country. Let us create such indispensability! According to Western democratic ideals, towards which this nation is energetically and decidedly propelling itself, minorities should not be discriminated against on linguistic grounds. Granted! But the question is if the Georgian culture in general and its unique Georgian language in particular should be discriminated against. There is also an economic side to the

problem. Nothing good and useful comes without money. If you want something, you have to spend time, money and energy on it. There is little money in Georgia’s state budget allocated for the purpose of promoting our cultural and linguistic inheritance. You want your people to speak Georgian? Then go ahead and unlock the state coffers to open special centers, schools and courses for teaching the Georgian language, like the British and Americans do- operating extensively around the world under the well-known common name of ESL. Who knows? The current non-speakers might become fluent some day if GSL – Georgian as a Second Language – becomes accessible and affordable to them.

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Address: Airport settlement, Samgori district, Tbilisi Tel: +995 599 529 529



School Online Consultation Now Available for Foreigners BY EKA KARSAULIDZE


on-Governmental Organization ‘The Schools Research Center’ has been involved in school education issues for the past three years. It launched an Online Consultation project for parents, students, teachers and school administration in September 2015, not only serving locals, but also foreign residents and guests in Georgia. In recent years, the number of foreign visitors coming for long-stays in Georgia has grown. When moving to an unknown city parents face the challenge of finding and choosing the right school for their children. Questions they typically ask: Which school to choose? Are there any specialized schools? Are there any which teach in my native language? Where are they? What conditions do they offer? “In fact, there are so many nuances to take into consideration. Not only each country, but even each school may have its own rules and conditions. Our goal is to answer the questions of all our potential pupils and their parents and to give them the right advice,” said Mukhran Guliashvili, Director of the Schools Research Center. “For example, a while back, the State did not fund the education of foreign citizens in public schools. It turned out that the parents of these children had to pay in both private and public schools. Now this rule has been abolished and public schools are free of charge for foreigners, too. But there is still a lot of information that foreigners need to know,” Guliashvili said. The Schools Research Center began operating in Georgia in 2013. They began by studying the school system, local as well as foreign institutions. Accord-

The Online Consultation service covers all areas and is able to provide advice in legal issues, school administration management and offer psychosocial support

ing to the director of the Center, what they found out gave them the competence to create the Online Consultation service. The staff of the Online Consultation service includes specialists of all structural divisions of the school, including amongst others a former director of one of the leading schools of Tbilisi, the representative of school administration, a psychologist, and a foreign specialist. Thus, the Online Consultation service covers all areas and is able to provide advice in legal issues, school administration management and offer psychosocial support. All you need to do is visit the official website of the Schools Research Center (, fill in the form and staff will promptly contact you. “We always try to have an individual approach to each question we receive. If it’s a ‘frequently asked question,’ we immediately respond. If the issue requires a detailed study and consultations with experts, we provide an answer within ten days,” said Guliashvili. The idea of creating the Online Consultation service came because the school staff, parents and pupils were clearly lacking information. During the Center’s operation, it repeatedly received questions about a variety of topics, and therefore it was decided to structure the process. “It turned out that consultation is needed even for the simplest things. We help teachers to deal with the changes in the education system, make better class management, acquaint them with foreign examples, and inform them about innovations,” noted Guliashvili. “Pupils ask as about exchange programs, many parents want to know detailed information about different schools in Georgia, where to go in case of problems and many other issues,” he said. “We are there to answer their concerns.”





FEBRUARY 26 - 29, 2016


GRIBOEDOVI THEATRE Address: 2 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 93 43 36 February 26 THE ELDER SON Alexander Vampilov Directed by Gogi Margvelashvili Small Stage Start time: 12:00 Ticket price: 5 Lari February 27 THE GOVERNMENT INSPECTOR Nikolai Gogol Directed by Avtandil Varsimashvili Grand Stage Start time: 18:00 Ticket price: 5 Lari February 28 MOROZKO After Russian Tale Directed by Linda Urbonavichute Small Stage Start time: 12:00 Ticket price: 5 Lari TBILISI VASO ABASHIDZE MUSIC AND DRAMA STATE THEATRE Address: 182 D.Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 2 34 80 90 February 28 KOLOBOK Directed by Anatoli Lobov Grand Stage Start time: 16:00 Ticket price: From 6 Lari CINEMA

AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 2 99 99 55

Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 Lari February 26 – March 3 DEADPOOL Directed by Tim Miller Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Karan Soni, Ed Skrein Language: English Start time: 17:00 Language: Russian Start time: 14:30, 22:00 Ticket price: 9-14 Lari BY THE SEA Directed by Angelina Jolie Genre: Drama Cast: Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Mélanie Laurent Language: Russian Start time: 22:00 Ticket price: 13 -14 Lari SPOTLIGHT Directed by Tom McCarthy Cast: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams Genre: Biography, Drama, History Language: Russian Start time: 16:45 Ticket price: 11-12 Lari ALL ROADS LEAD TO ROME Directed by Ella Lemhagen Cast: Sarah Jessica Parker, Rosie Day, Raoul Bova Genre: Comedy Language: Russian Start time: 14:30 Ticket price: 11-12 Lari MON ROI Directed by Maïwenn Genre: Drama, Romance Cast: Vincent Cassel, Emmanuelle Bercot, Louis Garrel Language: Russian Start time: 19:30, 22:15 Ticket price: 13-14 Lari

RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 Lari PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES Directed by Burr Steers Cast: Lily James, Sam Riley, Jack Huston Genre: Action, Horror, Romance Language: Russian Start time: 22:15 Ticket price: 13-14 Lari GODS OF EGYPT Directed by Alex Proyas Genre: Adventure, Fantasy Cast: Gerard Butler, Nikolaj CosterWaldau, Abbey Lee Language: Russian Start time: 14:45, 17:50, 20:15, 22:35 Ticket price: 9-14 Lari



March 3 ARTISTS FOR LIFE CHARITY EXHIBITION Supporting Mari Burduli Participants: Avtandil Gakhokidze, Andria Dolidze, Anton Balanchivadze, Gia Bugadze, Gia Gugushvili and others. Time: 13:00 – 19:00 MUSIC




GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21

ILIA STATE UNIVERSITY Address: 3/5 Cholokashvili Ave.

GALLERY “VANDA” Address: D. Chonkadze str. #14 Telephone: 2 93 42 86 Gallery works daily, 12:00 – 19:00

TBILISI CONCERT HALL Address: 1 Melikishvili St. Telephone: 2 99 00 99 February 27, 28 CHRIS BOTTI featuring STING (“SOLO”) Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 200-600 Lari RUSTAVELI THEATRE Address: 17 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 72 68 68 March 2 PRESENTATION PROJECT MUZAME SOAP & SKIN Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 30, 40, 50, 60 Lari

February 13-26 UKRAINIAN ARTIST, MATVEY VAISBERG’S SOLO EXHIBITION BESTIARY A showcase of his famous series of animalistic paintings

BLUE VELVET Address: 22 Abashidze Str. Telephone: 555 70 17 01

MACHABELI 17 Address: 17 Machabeli Str.

BUDDHA-BAR TBILISI Address: Rike Park Telephone: 577 153 520


February 27 ROBI KUKHIANIDZE Start time: 20:00

March 3 NIAZ DIASAMIDZE 33A Start time: 21:00




Artist of the Month: The Animal Portraits of Tama Popkova-Kapanadze BY LILY FÜRSTENOW


ith wild colours, the animal figures against landscapes boldly standing out against vibrant backgrounds speak volumes about the flora and fauna around us. The animal portraits by selftaught artist Tama Popkova-Kapanadze are sincere, naïve, full of energy and love of life. The small format pictures in gouache executed with bright, bold brushstrokes evidence a love for minute details. The artist, Tama Popkova-Kapanadze, using direct colours, expresses the realistic characters of the portrayed animals. They appear in paintings as well-known protagonists of folk tales, reinterpreting the long tradition of

animal related mythology in Western cultural history: calling into question bestiarium animals, signs of the zodiac, animal representations in the prehistoric caves of Lescaux, animals as archetypes standing for evil, love, strength and trickery. Popkova-Kapanadze represents animals as belonging to the world that humans never entirely understand except for defining them in scientific theories and describing them metaphorically in cultural mythologies. Various animal species are for her mysterious creatures, whose soul she tries to open up by giving them painterly representation, respective colouring and by putting them in characteristic contexts. A bibliographer by profession, artist Tama PopkovaKapanadze was born in Moscow in 1927. She spent her childhood in Kutaisi with her grandparents as her parents fell victim to the Stalinist political repressions. She later received higher education in Tbilisi where she met her husband, an outstanding book illustrator and artist in his own right, and gave birth to her two children. In 2006



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she became severely ill and lost movement in her right hand and leg. Due to illness TV animal shows became her only inspiration, prompting her to embark at the age of 80 in a painterly career. As an autodidact, self-taught artist, she started with a simple colour palette, copying well-known masters such as French primitivists and impressionists whose pictures she admired. Unable to use her right hand, she paints only with

her left hand with a special technique that took months of training. It would be an exaggeration to claim that these animal pictures would raise spectator attention to ecological problems and animal protection issues. These are neither realistic representations of the animal world the way we know it from TV programs, scientific magazines or visits to the Zoo. Yet it’s the artists world that counts, opening up untapped

resources of energy, enthusiasm and the ability to see hope against hopelessness of illness, old age and limited physical mobility. Tama Popkova-Kapanadze shows us animals that we think to know from an unfamiliar perspective: fantastic and realistic at the same time. It is planned to organise an exhibition of her works in one of Berlin’s art galleries in the near future.

Musical-Poetic Performance dedicated to Mandelshtam BY MAKA LOMADZE


n the 20th of February, the Russian Club – International Union for Culture and Education - organized an intermedia performance of poetry and music at the Alexander Griboedov Russian Drama Theater to mark the 125th anniversary of famous Russian poet Osip Mandelshtam. “I Have Dreams about Mountainous Tbilisi” was the title of the soiree in which it was demonstrated that a significant part of the creative life of the Russian poet was connected with Georgia, the Georgian environment inspiring him to write one of the most famous poems about Tbilisi with the namesake title (In Russian: Мне Tифлис горбатый снится»). From this verse, the composer Tengiz Jaiani created a song specifically for the evening. The performance was staged by Levon Uzunian, director of the Adamian Armenian Theater, with the leading actors of both the Griboedov and Adamian theaters participating, including Irina Meghvinetukhutsesi, Archil Baratashvili, Oleg Mchedlishvili, Merab Kusikashvili, Ashot Simonian and Sergo Saparian. Explicitly for the soiree, the book by researcher of

Journalists: Tony Hanmer, Tamar Svanidze, Zviad Adzinbaia, Beqa Kirtava, Meri Taliashvili, Eka Karsaulidze, Zaza Jgharkava, Maka Bibilashvili, Nina Ioseliani, Karen Tovmasyan, Dimitri Dolaberidze, Maka Lomadze, Tim Ogden, Ana Akhalaia, Robert Isaf, Joseph Larsen, Will Cathcart, Vazha Tavberidze, Nugzar B. Ruhadze

Tbilisi history, Vladimer Golovin, who happens to be a writer and journalist too, was printed about Osip Mandelshtam from the series called “Russians in Georgia” and given out as a gift to all attendees. Osip Mandelshtam was born in 1891 in Warsaw. He spoke French, German and English fluently and spent a lot of time on translational work. He translated into Russian the verses of Georgian genius Vazha-Pshavela, as well as such eminent Georgian poets as Titsian Tabidze, Valerian Gaprindashvili, Giorgi Leonidze and Nikolo Mitsishvili. In 1933, Mandelshtam wrote an epigram against Stalin which led him to be arrested and exiled to Northern Ural for a time. In 1938, he was arrested again and sentenced to five years exile for his contra-revolutionary acts. He passed away that same year. The mere mentioning of his name was forbidden in the Soviet Union for the next 20 years. Nadejda, Maldenshtam’s wife, preserved his verses and sketches, sharing the challenges and hardships with the poet and husband she adored. Irina Meghvinetukhutsesi, the actress playing her part, told GEORGIA TODAY, “During the repressions, the last letter of Nadejda to the poet became like a hymn to all the wives of all those who were arrested. It was quite interesting to work on this part, as their life was very tragic. It is

Photographer: Zviad Nikolaishvili Layout: Misha Mchedlishvili Webmaster: Sergey Gevenov Circulation Managers: David Kerdikashvili, David Djandjgava

interesting to get to know someone who lived with a genius. I found out during my research that she was not just the wife of Mandelshtam, but an extraordinary and interesting persona herself. They lived in poverty but with an interesting life spent in the literary circles of various countries.” Oleg Mchedlishvili, the actor who embodies Osip Mandelshtam, told GEORGIA TODAY, “It’s been a great honor for me to be involved in this project as Osip Mandelshtam for me is a genius poet. I wanted to convey the drama of his life, and I think this staging gives a lot of ground for that to us, actors.” The audience gave a standing ovation to those actors. Following the show, GEORGIA TODAY spoke to Valeri Asatiani, professor and former Minister of Culture. “Osip is the representative of a distinguished generation of poets, together with Pasternak. Their relations with ‘Tsisperkantselebi’ (Blue Horns, an order of Georgian poets), as well as Georgian national topics reflected in their works is really thrilling. Mandelshtam left us a supreme poetry as well as the example of supreme friendship with Georgia, Georgian history and Georgian poets. It is very good that today, the theater has marked such an occasion, bringing his poetry to life again.”


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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #821  

Feb. 26 - 29, 2016

Issue #821  

Feb. 26 - 29, 2016