June 26 - July 2, 2015
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Geor gian Pr esident Meets UK Georgian President PM Camer on and US Sena tor Cameron Senator McCain a vakia Conf er ence att Slo Slov Confer erence
Travel Today IN THIS WEEK’S ISSUE
THE BR UT AL BRUT UTAL REV OL UTION REVOL OLUTION
When Fiction Meets Reality: Geor gian Georgian Ar tists R efused Artists Refused Visas
Mak e Your Make Business Look GOOD on the WEB
President Giorgi Margvelashvili addressed top EU and US representatives on the importance of Georgia’s geopolitical role and the significance of securing EaP countries. P.2
Ar menian Armenian Electricity Pr otests Protests Stir R ussian Russian Concer ns of Concerns another ‘Maidan ‘Maidan’’
Georgia Today meets the New Collective theatre group, among 20 groups chosen from 300 to take part in the Flare Festival...but rejected for British visas. P.17
Tbilisi Zoo Recei ves Messa ge eceiv Messag of Conf idence fr om Confidence from the EU Associa tion Association of Zoos and P.15 Aquaria Georgia Today analyses the Yerevan protests and the Kremlin’s response. P.12
Geor gian Expor ts – Georgian Exports Unta pped P otential Untapped Potential An in-depth analysis by Galt&Taggart.
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U.S te De par tment Commends .S.. Sta State Depar partment Geor gia’ s Ef ts to Fight Ter errrorism Georgia’ gia’s Efffor orts By Steven Jones The U.S. Department of State has released a report concerning Georgia’s efforts in combating terrorism. “In 2014, Georgia continued its robust engagement with the United States across a range of counterterrorism-related issues and remained a strong U.S. counterterrorism partner. However, there are continuing concerns about Georgia as a transit and source country for international terrorism,” the report says. “Media reported that, as of December, between 50 and 100 Georgian nationals from the Muslim-majority regions of Adjara and the Pankisi Gorge were fighting in Syria and Iraq for either al-Qa’ida affiliates or the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), including senior ISIL commander Tarkhan Batirashvili (aka Omar al-Shishani)”. The report reads. “Given Georgia’s geographic location, violent Islamist extremists continued to transit through the country between the Russian Federation’s North Caucasus and Syria and Iraq,” it continued. The U.S. State Department underlined the continued efforts of Georgia to enhance its counterterrorism legislation in 2014: “In April, the Georgian government amended the Criminal Code to criminalise participation in international terrorism, recruitment for membership in a terrorist organisation, and failing to hinder a terrorist incident.” The report also acknowledges Georgia’s hard work towards strengthening its overall border security, in part due to its goal to attain visa-free travel to the EU. “However, Tbilisi’s lack of control over its Russian-occupied territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, harsh terrain, and a continuing tense relationship with Moscow limited the country’s ability to secure its northern border but with significant U.S. support, the Georgian Coast Guard is now better equipped to patrol the country’s maritime borders, with the exception of Russian-occupied
Abkhazia’s coastline,” notes the report. Some regional cooperation between the neighbouring countries of Georgia was also mentioned in the report in terms of sharing cross-border terrorism-related information with its neighbours Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan – through police attaches and working-level interaction at border crossings. As for international cooperation, the report mentions Georgia’s active engagement on counterterrorism issues at the international, regional, and bilateral levels, and its participation in regional organisations such as the Council of Europe Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism and the Organisation of Black Sea Economic Cooperation, and the GUAM including Organisation for Democracy and Economic Development. “In 2014, Georgian law enforcement officials participated in counterterrorismrelated training and capacity-building exercises with the Governments of Turkey, the UK, Israel, and Slovakia, as well as with the George Marshall Center in Germany, the OSCE, and the UN,” adds the report. There were other important aspects covered in the report such as integration of different religious and ethnic groups: “the Muslim-majority Adjara region already enjoys significant autonomy, and legislation passed in February gives more autonomy to municipalities and villages, including in the Muslim-majority Pankisi Gorge.” In addition, the Georgian government’s willingness to make amendments to the Criminal Code and other relevant legislation related to terrorism (to fully implement UN Security Council Resolution 2178) was emphasised: “The country would benefit from additional legislation to allow for the creation of a means to identify and sanction individuals who are not included on UN sanctions list and to improve the Georgian government’s ability to prosecute terrorism cases.”
Geor gian Pr esident Meets UK PM Camer on and Georgian President Cameron vakia Conf er ence US Sena tor McCain a Senator att Slo Slov Confer erence By Steven Jones Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili visited the Slovakian capital city of Bratislava to participate in the annual Global Security Forum held on June 19-21. President Margvelashvili, during the visit, held meetings with leaders of European countries, US Senators and participated in the Georgian-Slovak Business Forum. “We managed to raise the Georgian issue. World leaders held in-depth discussion about our country’s security guarantees,” noted the president adding: “We had the opportunity to discuss security issues with the leaders of NATO founding countries, such as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the United States Senators. We also talked to new members of the alliance.” The Georgian President addressed participants of the forum at the session dedicated to security concerns in the Eastern Partnership countries: “Fluctuation Zone: EU Neighborhood Strategy”. He focused on the situation in the occupied territories, the importance of Georgia’s geopolitical role for Europe and the significance of security of Eastern Partnership countries for the safety of Europe, paying special attention to the threats in the region and Russia’s neighbourhood policy. “Russian politicians send a clear message about their attitude to neighbouring countries. They regard the countries as their “territorial property” where they are authorised to use military force,” the President noted, adding that such a policy brings nothing positive to either Russia or the region. “If there is any tension in Russia’s neighboring countries, we may think
that it will turn into a big problem,” he warned. Margvelashvili also held a bilateral meeting with the British Prime Minister David Cameron. According to the Presidential Administration, Cameron expressed his condolences to the people of Georgia affected by the flood tragedy of June 13. The Administration also claimed the sides discussed close political and economic co-operation and perspectives between the two countries: “The President of Georgia thanked the British PM for supporting Georgia’s European and Euro-Atlantic aspirations, the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as non-recognition of the occupied territories.” Cameron is said to have pledged support in the implementation of the NATO substantial package and European integration: “The position of the United Kingdom over inadmissibility of the so-called “contracts” between the Russian Federation and the occupation regimes of Abkhazia and South Ossetia
were emphasized at the meeting.” As Georgia is the largest non-NATO member in terms of contribution to the international peace keeping missions including Afghanistan, Margvelashvili and Cameron discussed the security environment in the region and worldwide. Along with the British PM, Margvelashvili also met with the US Senator John McCain attending the GLOBSEC forum. Focusing on successful cooperation within the Georgia-US Charter, issues of global security and the importance of Georgia’s participation in NATO-led coalitions were underlined at the meeting. According to McCain, the United States appreciates Georgia’s contribution to international missions. The Georgian President thanked John McCain for supporting Georgia’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and non-recognition policy, as well as its European and North Atlantic integration process and officially invited him for the annual Ambassadorial due to be held in September in Tbilisi.
EU Extends Sanctions a gainst R ussia ag Russia The European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council decided to extend the economic restrictive measures against Russia by six months on June 22. “The European Union has extended economic sanctions against Russia up to January 31, 2016 with a view to complete implementation of the Minsk agreement,” said Susanne Kiefer, Press officer for the Foreign Affairs Council. The decision was made without discussion and Kiefer announced it before all 28 EU countries Foreign Ministers arrived in Luxembourg. The EU summit adopted a political declaration to extend economic sanctions against Russia for six months in March this year, linking the lifting of sanctions with the compliance of the Minsk agreements for the period until the end of the year. Sanctions were first imposed by the EU against the Russian Federation due
to the events in Ukraine and the reunification of Crimea with Russia on August 1, 2014. Later, the sanctions were expanded. Russia imposed a package of response sanctions against the U.S., Australia, Canada, the European Union and Norway on August 7, 2014. Regarding the latest extension, Dmitry Peskov, Press Spokesman for the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, stated that retaliatory sanctions against
the EU will be made promptly. “It is necessary to carry out some bureaucratic procedures to document those decisions, but we expect that the elaboration will be completed very quickly,” noted Peskov. “Russia was not the initiator, but in this case of the extension of the sanctions, we will act on a reciprocity principle,” he added. It is expected that the list of goods to which the embargo will last remains virtually unchanged.
WikiLeaks R eveals American Sp ying on Re Spying h Go ver nmental Of Frenc ench Gov ernmental Offficials By Zviad Adzinbaia
HA VE YOUR HAIR CUT AT OUR SAL ON HAVE SALON AND GET HAIR DIA GNOSTIC AS A GIFT! DIAGNOSTIC
WikiLeaks, the notorious whistleblowing website, on June 23, began publishing “Espionnage Élysée”, a collection of intelligence reports and technical documents from the US National Security Agency (NSA) concerning targeting and signals intelligence intercepts of the communications of high-level officials from successive French governments over the last ten years. “The top secret documents derive from directly targeted NSA surveillance of the communications of French Presidents Francois Hollande (2012– present), Nicolas Sarkozy (2007–2012), and Jacques Chirac (1995–2007), as well as French cabinet ministers and the French Ambassador to the United States,” says the website. “The documents also
contain the ”selectors” from the target list, detailing the cell phone numbers of numerous officials in the Elysee up to and including the direct cell phone of the President,” it continues. According to a media source, this latest ‘leak’ includes a top secret cache of documents of intelligence, summaries of conversations between French government officials concerning some of the most pressing issues facing France and the international community, the global financial crisis, the Greek debt crisis, the leadership and the future of the European Union. The relationship between the Hollande administration and the German government of Angela Merkel, French efforts to determine the make-up of the executive staff of the United Nations, French involvement in the conflict in
Palestine and a dispute between the French and US governments over US spying on France were also leaked. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said: “The French people have a right to know that their elected government is subject to hostile surveillance from a supposed ally. We are proud of our work with leading French publishers Liberation and Mediapart to bring this story to light. French readers can expect more timely and important revelations in the near future.” The website says the recent publication provides much greater insight into American practices with its allies, including the actual content of intelligence derived from the intercepts, showing that the US has allegedly been listening in to the phone calls of French leaders and ministers for political, economic and diplomatic intelligence.
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The ISET Policy Institute (ISET-PI, www.iset-pi.ge) is an independent think-tank associated with the International School of Economics at TSU (ISET). Our blog carries economic analysis of current events and policies in Georgia and the South Caucasus region ranging from agriculture, to economic growth, energy, labor markets and the nexus of economics, culture and religion. Thought-provoking and fun to read, our blog posts are written by international faculty teaching at ISET and recent graduates representing the new generation of Georgian, Azerbaijani and Armenian economists.
THE BR UT AL REV OL UTION BRUT UTAL REVOL OLUTION When offered the ISET director job back in March 2007, I did not think twice. Everything I’ve read about Georgia until then was incredibly positive. Livable, hospitable, beautiful, corruption free, etc. etc. The latter part sounded particularly promising given that during my last days in Moscow (I lived and worked in Moscow from 1993 till 2007) I had my brand new BMW motorbike stolen in broad daylight by a local police officer (sic!) who knew that I am about to leave the country and probably thought that there would be no use for motorbikes on Georgia’s terrible roads. (Actually, it was an off-road bike, but never mind – all he really cared about was his own impunity). My first encounter with a Georgian traffic police (“patroli”) officer lived up to my (very high) expectations. The guy spoke English, was polite, professional, and helpful. He even looked good in his American-style uniform! As a matter of fact, in contrast with everything I knew about the post-Soviet bureaucracy, “professional, polite and helpful” applied equally well to every single representative of the state I had to deal with in Georgia – the border police, customs and ministry of education officials. It all seemed to be too good to be true. And, indeed, in mid-June, I experienced my first (slight) disappointment with the “system” when power supply to our house was unexpectedly cut. As it turned out, we missed the payment deadline by about a day, which was reason enough for the electricity company to disconnect us from the grid. With no prior notice, on a Friday, with the temperatures hovering around high 30s, and no ability (or desire) on the part of the company to restore electricity supply until after the weekend. The brutality of it all was certainly no fun. But, as an economist, I was also puzzled: disconnection should be a ‘weapon of last resort’, not the first step in dealing with an absent-minded client who had never before missed a payment. The electricity company, I thought, could actually profit from the late-to-pay customers by continuing to sell electricity while charging penalties and interest rate to the amount of overdue payments. With the nuclear “disconnection” option remaining on the table, the client would have no choice but pay. Maybe late, but in full. BRUTALITY EXPLAINED AND
JUSTIFIED While the fear of missing a payment deadline remained a source of stress, my state of bewilderment with Georgia’s brutal enforcement system was greatly helped by watching Power Trip, a mustsee documentary by Paul Devlin telling the story of an American company trying – and failing – to resolve the electricity crisis in Tbilisi. Having bought the city’s bankrupt state-own distribution system in 2000, the company invested to the tune of 100mln USD in new equipment hoping to stabilize electricity supply – marred, until then, by frequent blackouts. Yet, while perhaps sensible under normal circumstances, the company’s business plan collapsed for one simple reason: Georgian customers were not used to pay for electricity, preferring, instead, to steal. And, crucially, enforcement turned out to be prohibitively expensive – and politically impossible – in a context in which citizens have been for years pretending to be paying for public services that the (failed) Georgian “state” has been pretending to provide. Additional reading helped me understand that, until 2003, Georgia had been trapped in a vicious circle of pretense that encompassed all aspects of citizen-state relations. Existing in name only, the “state” pretended to provide law & order, public infrastructure and utilities, insurance for health and old-age disability. Georgian “citizens” paid in kind – by pretending to contribute to health and social insurance, evading taxes and bribing off “public servants”. The reality was that anyone living and trying to do business in Georgia had nobody to rely on other than themselves, informal social networks and … the mafia. People did not pay taxes and did not expect to receive any government services in return. They learned to provide for all their needs, including security of own life and property, contract enforcement, heating and electricity. Breaking out of this vicious circle required no less than a brutal revolution. In state affairs and in people’s minds. “DIZZY FROM SUCCESS”? United by a clear vision and knowing that the broad popular mandate they have enjoyed in 2003 will not last forever, Georgia’s revolutionaries gained their place in history by taking unprecedented steps to break the criminal gangs and re-
Tbilisi Public Service Hall, a prominent symbol of Georgia’s reforms
store trust in state institutions. First, they created an effective repression machine to convict mafia bosses, gangsters, petty criminals and drug dealers, pushing crime out of Georgia’s borders and bringing the country’s prison population to world record levels (per capita). To perform this task, the criminal justice system was reengineered to presume guilt – not innocence, – subjecting its victims to lengthy pre-trial detention periods and masterfully using the plea bargaining mechanism and pliant courts to extract confessions and money. Second, they stripped the Georgian state of any imaginary functions it pretended to be performing, using massive layoffs to reduce and renew state bureaucracy (including, famously, the entire the traffic police force), slashing taxes, regulations and whole agencies in charge of their “enforcement”. Third, they created a corruption proof public administration system reducing the bureaucrat to a robot undertaking simple automatic routines with very little room for discretion or judgment. In stark contrast to the jolly corruption era days, the greatest challenge for Georgia’s public institutions (including, alas, state universities) was now to find somebody willing to take responsibility. With the legal repression system operating in full swing, applying a signature has become the Georgian bureaucrat’s nightmare. The brutal strategy of “zero tolerance” and ruthlessness in the pursuit of freedom and decency was a key factor in the Rose Revolution’s success – in just a few years – to break out of the vicious circle of crime and corruption. And what a great success it was! The young Georgian generation – for instance, ISET students – does not know how to give or take bribes; their older siblings and parents are now used to paying their taxes and bills in full and on time. No Georgian in his/her own mind would ever miss a payment. Even the share of bad loans in Georgia’s banking system
10 Galaktion Street
remains extremely low despite the great difficulties experienced by Georgian households (and businesses) in the wake of Lari devaluation. And then, of course, there are the smiling and professional patroli police and street level bureaucrats that have become symbols of Georgia’s new statehood. TAKING BRUTALITY OUT OF THE SYSTEM Dizzy from success and global fame, Georgia’s revolutionaries did not realize, at least not in time, that the brutal system they created had to be gradually dismantled, giving way to a more ‘normal’ set of institutions. The result was a painful political defeat in October 2012, public disgrace, forced emigration (and new political careers!) for some, and prison terms for others. Riding to power on a wave of popular protests against legal abuses by the Saakashvili administration, the Georgian Dream coalition government quickly acted to reset Georgia’s brutal justice system. Some of the very first steps it took included a massive amnesty to reduce prison population to more ‘normal’ levels, limiting the use of pre-trial detention and plea bargaining mechanisms by the prosecution (thus restoring the ‘presumption of innocence’ principle); and, last but not least, granting greater independence to the judiciary. What is being less well understood by the Georgian policymakers is that the country’s public administration system and its ‘spirit’ are also in urgent need of resetting. So far, suggestions to ‘soften’ the system – by creating greater space for judgment and tolerating mistakes – have been rejected for fear of reopening the door for corruption, tax evasion and/or a culture of non-payment. But are such fears really justified in today’s context? Given the tremendous and irreversible cultural change it has gone through since
2003, Georgia can gain from relaxing many rules and regulations that were a good fit for the early days of the brutal revolution. For example, giving customers a few weeks to settle their bills (while charging penalties and interest rate!) will not spawn a culture of non-payment as long as the new rules are clearly communicated and enforced. Moreover, such ‘normalization’ will only do good for Georgian utility companies (and, most certainly, their customers). Likewise, allowing bureaucrats to take quality and providers’ reputation into account when conducting public tenders will result in much better procurement decisions without necessarily resulting in favoritism and/or waste of public funds. Ironically, when I complained about excessive rigidity in Georgia’s public procurement system (very low thresholds for holding tenders, exclusive reliance on price competitiveness) to Kakha Bendukidze, a chief architect of Georgia’s reforms, his characteristically humorous response was that “our rules were designed to make it impossible for public institutions and state owned enterprises to function. Everything should go private.” Whether Kakha was joking or not, excessively rigid public administration rules are a curse not only for the public sector, but also for Georgian businesses and households. One of the main complaints by the Georgian business community nowadays is the manner in which businesses are audited by the Georgian Revenue Service. For fear of mistakes (that would not be tolerated), tax police takes months to complete an audit, effectively paralyzing the business in question. Any findings result in the maximum allowable penalties. “Look,” a Georgian tax auditor would typically say, “I know you don’t owe as much in taxes, but this is what I have to do. We have a very good tax arbitration system. They should be able to help. Sorry about that, but in the meantime I have to freeze your bank account”. Forcing public institutions to buy the cheapest services (regardless of their quality), cutting electricity supply whenever a client is late to pay, and forcing businesses to go through a lengthy tax arbitration process (while having their accounts frozen) are extremely costly and inefficient ways of conducting public administration. Georgia should be able to do better. And, thanks to its brutal revolution, it can afford doing so!
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The Galt & Taggart Research team comprises Georgian and Azerbaijani finance and economic experts who have broad experience of covering the macro and corporate sectors of the two countries. Our current product offering includes Georgian and Azerbaijan macroeconomic research, Georgian sector research, and fixed income corporate research. For free access to Galt & Taggart Research, please visit gtresearch.ge or contact us at email@example.com.
Georgian Expor ts – Untapped Potential By Eva Bochorishvili Galt & Taggar t Research is partnering with Georgia Today on a bimonthly column which will provide analysis of the latest macroeconomic developments in the country and its various business sectors, along with reports on the latest financial results of Georgian Eurobond issuers. This week’s topic: the untapped potential of Georgian exports. Growth in Georgian merchandise exports has averaged about 20% over the past decade, but its share to GDP has not increased significantly. The share of services exports to GDP, on the other hand, has almost doubled, driven by growth in tourism and transport receipts. While Georgia has experienced impressive growth over the last decade, with the exception of the years affected by the global crisis and the post-election related uncertainty, the share of exports to GDP remained significantly lower than in peer countries. During 2005-2013 Georgian goods ex-
port share to GDP averaged 21%, while the same figure was 75% in the Slovak Republic, 53% in the Czech Republic, 52% in Lithuania, and 33% in Latvia. During the same period, imports expanded at a faster rate, especially during the boom years of 2003-2007, fueled by large capital inflows and credit growth. While Georgian exports increased 4x in nominal terms to US$ 2.9bn in 2014 from 2004, employmentgenerating processed product exports remained secondary, as commodity structure was dominated by used cars and resource based metals and minerals. Though there have been significant changes in Georgian export structure and diversification of destination markets in recent years, Georgia has not yet demonstrated success in tapping international markets, despite remarkable improvements in the business environment, progress in trade liberalisation, enhancement of trade-related infrastructure and streamlining of customs procedures since 2004.
RE-EXPORTS VS. GEORGIA ORIGINATED EXPORTS To understand Georgian export performance, it is essential to decompose the export commodity structure. Over the past decade, used car exports to neighbouring Azerbaijan and Armenia (as well as Kazakhstan until 2012) made up a considerable part of Georgian exports. Re-exports, dominated by used cars, increased 18 times to US$ 1.1bn in 2013 from 2004 and their share picked up from about 10% in 2004 to almost 40% of total exports. In the same period, exports originated in Georgia increased just threefold to US$ 1.8bn. In 2012-2013 re-export growth considerably overtook Georgia originated export growth, despite the reopening of the Russian market in 2013. Yet the 1.6% y/y drop in Georgia’s exports in 2014 was solely attributed to a decline in re-exports (as Azerbaijan introduced restrictions on used car imports in April 2014), as Georgia originated export growth slowed but remained positive. The re-exported used cars are imported
from various countries and minor repairs are performed in Georgia. Such renovation activities, as well as the transport and logistics for these goods, do create some local value added. Such value creation was made possible by the implemented reforms, which helped Georgia become a regional marketplace for cars. While recent regional economic troubles significantly weighed on car re-exports, Georgia’s functional hub economy, with developed logistics and transport infrastructure, has helped shore up opportunities for new re-export commodities, like copper and pharmaceuticals, since 2013. Though re-exports of used cars decreased 63% y/y, re-exports of copper and pharmaceuticals increased 19% y/y and 297% y/y, respectively, in 4M15. Given these trends, it is likely that re-exports will continue to fuel Georgia’s export growth and government policies should be aimed at further enhancing the platform for current and potential trade partners.
THE RUSSIAN MARKET Another big change in Georgian exports has been a reorientation from the Russian market after the 2006 embargo, which caused the share of exports to Russia in total exports to decrease from 18% in 2005 to 8% in 2006 and 2% in 2008-2012. The embargo forced Georgian producers to redirect exports to other CIS countries, the EU, and the Middle East. Exports to Russia picked up in 2013 as Russia opened its borders to Georgian products, but accounted for only 6 percentage points in the 22% total export growth in 2013. Even without Russia, Georgian exports have more than tripled since 2005 to US$ 2.9bn in 2013. With the recent economic turbulence in Russia, the exposure to the Russian market (wine, mineral water and agricultural products) is once again receding. In 5M15, Russia’s share in total Georgian exports went down by 2.8 percentage points to 6.4%, compared to the same period last year. EXPORTS TO THE EU AND OTHER COUNTRIES Exports to the European Union and Turkey offer significant upside potential. The share of Georgian exports to the EU in total exports has remained relatively flat at about 20% over the past decade. This low share suggests that the EU market is untapped and the free trade agreement, which went into effect in September 2014, will support export growth. A study by the EU suggests that the DCFTA may increase Georgian exports 9-12%. 5M15 trade outcomes indicate that the EU market for Georgia’s products remained stable compared to the CIS markets. The share of exports to Turkey decreased to 8.4% in 2014 from 18.3% in 2004, indicating that Georgia has the potential to increase export flows to its immediate neighbour as well. The share of Georgian exports going to USA, China and Canada has increased moderately over the past decade and, as shares are still low, there is further room for expansion. GOING FORWARD Looking at Georgia’s export performance, a key question is how to take advantage of global markets and expand exports. First, the trade enhancing reforms to be implemented under the EU DCFTA can be particularly important for producing high quality products and increasing Georgian exports. Second, attracting FDI in export generating sectors is vital, as Georgia lacks capital and knowledge to produce and export more sophisticated commodities. To that end, continued improvement of the business environment and the economy’s competitiveness is essential. Policy makers have to be extremely cautious when considering new regulations on the business sector with potentially harmful effects. In this regard, the 2014 tightening of visa rules
provides a positive example, as the government acknowledged its mistake and reversed course through the latest amendment. Third, it is essential to stick to the floating exchange rate regime. Letting the Lari depreciate against the dollar starting from November 2014 allowed the exchange rate to absorb most of the shocks and relieve
velopment in the country. Our expertise is leveraged through Galt & Taggart’s 5 core activities: investment banking, asset management, wealth management, brokerage, and research. We are committed to the pursuit of our clients’ best interests and approach every transaction with the aim of securing them the best possible outcome.
pressures on the real economy. The depreciation prevented exports from becoming too expensive, as Georgia’s trading partners’ currencies experienced sizable depreciation as well. The resulting depreciation of the real effective exchange rate may even encourage Georgian producers to compete with imports and the ensuing profitability could encourage the production of new export goods.
Our regional focus allows us to provide in-depth services and insightful solutions to our domestic and international clients. Our team consists of over 20 talented professionals with extensive experience in the industry, while our senior professionals are exclusively dedicated to each client. Galt & Taggart is a wholly owned subsidiary of Bank of Georgia which has a unique insight into the regional market and a solid international investor base. With its institutional backing, Galt & Taggart is well positioned to assist investors in exploring investment opportunities and to offer local and regional companies greater access to both equity and debt capital markets.
— Galt & Taggart has established itself as the leading investment banking and investment management services company in Georgia. The company is at the forefront of capital markets de-
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Disaster Risk Reduction By Katie Ruth Davies While many Tbilisians and Akhaldabans dealt with the reality of the recent landslide and flood close-at-hand, I was forced to watch the events happen via social media from a seminar in Batumi. I, like many of my colleagues there, worried about family and friends and spent the best part of Sunday with one ear, one eye and most fingers on my mobile as I checked regularly on my kids and husband and also organized journalists to keep you, Dear Readers, up-todate with the latest news. My other ear and eye were very appropriately placed, as the theme of the one-day seminar, run by the Arbeiter Samariter Bund (ASB) in Georgia was Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). The DRR training was, this time, for awareness-raising amongst media representatives from Georgian television, radio and print media. However, the usual training is focused on the younger generation with ASB currently having provided training and training materials (flashcards, speakerphones, hardhats and other equipment) to 344 kindergartens in four regions of Georgia at highrisk from natural disasters (SvanetiSamegrelo, Adjara, Samtshke-Javaheti and Tbilisi). One of these kindergartens is Khobi Kindergarten No.2, to which my colleagues and I were taken to watch the well-trained children show us how they would react during an earthquake, one of a number of natural disaster types that can befall Georgia throughout the typical year. According to statistical analysis of 2005-2012, on average: · 20-25 cases of flooding are registered each year in Georgia. · A serious storm happens 5-8 times a year. · 15-20 cases of landslides are registered annually. There are 50,000 landslide-prone areas identified in Georgia. The danger zones include up to 2000 settled locations with more than 200,000 dwellers. The total area of land damaged by landslides exceeds 1.5 million hectares. Teona Julukhadze, ASB Disaster Risk Reduction Program Coordinator: We set
am very satisfied with the training. The children have learnt it well, thanks to ASB and the work of the care-givers here. It is highly necessary and important knowledge which they will carry for the rest of their lives.
up this project in May 2014 and the first phase is due to end in December this year. Our project is principally focused on kindergarten readiness in the face of natural disasters. We give trainings in first aid and DRR to care-givers and teachers who then adapt the materials and pass the knowledge on to the children. We created flashcards to guide them. As part of the project in each kindergarten we created committees who will ensure the safety of the kindergartens after the ASB project finishes. We ran this weekend’s one day seminar on
DRR, and got the children of Khobi kindergarten to demonstrate an earthquake and fire simulation, in order to increase the spread of awareness through the media representatives who attended. Children learn best through play, and the kindergarten teachers seemed to have this idea clearly in their minds. Using ASB flashcards and other material as the basis of their teaching, they are free to adapt to suit the purpose- with games, songs and puppets. Nargiza Tugushi, Director of the Number Two Kindergarten of Khobi: I
Stronger Clinical Governance for Better Maternal Health Outcomes: Beyond the Numbers On June 23rd – 25th, UNFPA Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECARO) in close cooperation with the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia holds the Sub-Regional Workshop for the South Caucasus and Turkey Cluster: Stronger Clinical governance for Better Maternal Health Outcomes: Beyond the Numbers. The workshop gathered the representatives of Ministries of Health, the health care planners and managers, health professionals and Representatives of professional societies from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey UNFPA Country offices’ staff and the representatives from the UNFPA Regional office. The major objectives of the workshop are to introduce the World Health Organization (WHO) Beyond the Numbers (BTN) tools and methodology, to share experiences among countries with different levels of knowledge and introduction of BTN approaches, and to elaborate the detailed action plan for BtN implementation. It’s worth mentioning that WHO/UNFPA has assisted introduction of this approach in 14 European countries, and has significantly contributed to the creation a surveillance system to re-
UNFPA sub-regional workshop for the South Caucasus and Turkey, "Stronger Clinical governance for Better Maternal Health Outcomes: Beyond the Numbers."
view maternal deaths and complications, for systemic improvements and strengthening of maternal and perinatal care. Maternal and newborn health is one of the most significant indicators of a state’s welfare and public health care. Despite the progress achieved in the last decade in Georgia, the maternal mortality rate still remains one of the highest in Europe. Taking into consideration the national priorities, and also for ensuring sustainable development of the health care system, it is of the utmost signifi-
cance to elaborate/adapt, implement and monitor audit methodology for maternal mortality and morbidity. Notably, the majority of mortality cases can be averted with proper medical intervention. WHO innovative methodology - ‘Expanding Beyond the Numbers: maternal mortality and morbidity case reviews envisages introducing clinical audit as a tool for quality monitoring and timely detection of pregnancy related risks to ensure safe motherhood in Georgia and other countries in the region.
QUICK DRR FACTS - WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW Landslide Rule #1- Get away fast! Run on foot at a right angle to the oncoming flow (do not stay in its path trying to outrun ityou most likely won’t be able to)! Avalanche Rule #1- Get down! If you’re in a building, get in a corner, up-end a table in front of you, crouch down, cover your head and be ready for the impact. If you’re in the open, turn your back to the oncoming snow and curl into an embryo position. Let the avalanche roll you. If you then find yourself buried and don’t know which way is up, spit. The water will fall thanks to gravity and you’ll know which way to start digging your way out! Flood Rule #1- Get out, get high! If you get an advance flood warning, turn off the electrics and gas and move as much as you can (TVs, rugs, valuables) onto upper floors. Put sandbags in front of your house to limit or prevent water impact. If you have no warning, forget the valuables, get on the roof and call the emergency services (112), then wait. Fire Rule #1- Get down, wait for the emergency services (112)! There’s more oxygen close to the floor so if the room is filling with smoke, get down on your hands and knees. If you can cover your mouth and nose with a damp cloth, even better. If the fire is outside the door, do not open the door. Try to fill the space under the door with (damp) cloth to limit the smoke coming in. Go to the window and, if you know the emergency services (112) are coming, wait. Do not open the window unless you are uncertain whether the emergency services (112) are coming as the in-rush of air can cause the fire to increase. If you are higher up than the third floor, you should not try to jump. If you have no other choice and are three floors up or lower, tie cloth
together to make a rope and try to get out safely however you can- this should be your last option, however! Earthquake Rule #1- Get undercover, cover your head! Typical earth tremors last mere seconds, which doesn’t leave much time to react. Most of the people at the seminar with me followed their base instinct and ran for the door at the first simulated tremor. DO NOT RUN! If you are inside, get immediately under the nearest table or bed and cover your headyour head and spine should be under cover. Once the initial tremors have passed you may have a 6-7 minute window with which to move. If you know that outside your building is a big open space and you can make it there within this 6-7 minute timeframe, cover your head with your handbag or a cushion (or any other thick object) and walk quickly and calmly out of the building and move as far away from the building as possible. If not (such as when you are higher up than three floors), stay put under that table or bed until you are sure the earthquake risk has passed. Emergency Bag Rule #1- Keep it close! An emergency bag should typically contain: · A first aid kit (ready prepared, such as those you can buy at a pharmacy in a small zip-case) · Water (half a litre or more) · Dry food, such as crackers (keep an eye on the expiry date and replace as necessary) · Torch and batteries · Whistle, for attracting attention more easily than shouting · Rope · Small portable radio and batteriesfor keeping up-to-date on rescue operations Singing with smiling, unafraid faces, the children of Khobi kindergarten No.2 showed their audience how they will handle the next earthquake: calmly and orderly and with every care not just for themselves, but for those around them. The message of their song as they descended into the playground with cushions held over their heads: Prevention, protection, and help each other! It was an example to us all.
Tap w ater in Tbilisi-saf e or not? wa Tbilisi-safe By Nino Melikishvili After it became known that existing sewage pipelines into the River Vere (location of the June 13 tragedy) had been damaged by the flood, people in Tbilisi started to ask for information about the safety of their tap water. Georgian Water and Power (GWP) confirmed that the local tap water is safe and reassured people that there is no reason to panic. GWP once again reminded people that Tbilisi is supplied with drinking water from the Aragvi Gorge; water provided for Tbilisi citizens is not connected to the River Vere in any way. GWP also confirmed that a wastewater discharge in the Vere river had been agreed to by both local and central government. “The tap water is absolutely cleanyou are not getting water from the River Vere,” said Omar Gotsiridze, Techni-
cal Director of GWP. GWP is carrying out double chlorination of water for prophylactic purposes. GWP also announced on their website that they are going to build a temporary mini-purification device, through which sewage entering the Vere river will be eliminated. Later, the question was raised as to whether or not the central government and Tbilisi City Hall were informed about the polluted water, considering the fact that hundreds of volunteers are working in this area. As it turned out, neither the volunteers nor the ministers knew about this fact. According to GWP, sewage discharge does not occur in the vicinity where the volunteers were working. Officials say that once the cleanup efforts are completed, the original sewage collector will be fully restored. Reconstruction of the damaged roads and sewage system will take 30 days.
JUNE 26 - JULY 2
Believe’s Annual Charity Gala Raises over GEL 100,000
On June 20th the business community of Poti and those who support the region came together to support Believe’s annual Charity Gala event and help children with special needs as well as socially vulnerable families. The special one-night benefit gala took place at 7pm at the newly opened Hilton Batumi Hotel, located at 40, Rustaveli Street, Batumi, Georgia. The foundation raised over GEL 100,000 and the event was a great success. Funds raised will support the organisation’s mission of supporting socially vulnerable families and children
with special needs. BELIEVE Foundation is a non-profit, non-political organization which provides aid and support to children with disabilities in Poti, Georgia. The event gathered more than 200 participants from various local and international companies and included: dinner by Ioannis Kritikos - the chef of Hilton Batumi, refreshments generously donated by Coca Cola Bottling Company Georgia and ice-cream donated by Barambo. The guests also enjoyed a delicious cake from Torti Gerotskoy, the well-known Tbilisi-based baker.
The evening featured a live performance by The Fourth Season and our special guest was the incredible singer Vaja Mania who performed for the benefit of the Believe Foundation.
Our sincere thanks go to each and every one of those who donated and supported the event: Gold Sponsor: Bank of Georgia, PACE Georgia, Kulevi Oil Terminal
Silver Sponsor: MSC Georgia, SATNO Company Bronze sponsor: Barwil Georgia, Rostovi Georgian Community Corporate Table Sponsors: Hilton Batumi, Gvinadze & Partners, CMA CGM, Caucasus Metal Terminal, Georgian Service Group, Aldagi BCI, GPI Holding. The night also included raffles sponsored by: Hilton Batumi, Radisson Batumi, Georgia Palace Hotel, KARACA Georgia, Divine Beauty House, Cruise Hotel & Restaurant, Sheraton Batumi, Tako Dvalishvili, Barambo, Medi Call, Kikidu and others. In conjunction with the Gala, Believe Foundation also hosted a live auction of various artworks, donated by prominent Georgian and foreign artists, supporters, and patrons to help the charity continue its work supporting children with disabilities and socially vulnerable families in Poti. Auctioneer-extraordinaire Mr. Cliff Isaak, Honorary Consul of Canada in Georgia, conducted the Charity Auction. Auction artworks, jewelry and sports memorabilia were donated by: Nino Chakvetadze, Zaza Pachulia, Gigisha Pachkoria, Tamar Gugunava, Sopho Gongliashvili, Gia Baratashvili, Nadiya Spiller, Tornike Matitaishvili, Grigol Ghvania, Kakhaber Baramia, Badri Vadachkoria, Guranda Kupreishvili, Irakli Kekelia, Irakli Totibadze, Nonna Nazarova, Sarah Watterson, Amiran Kuprava and Zarapxana Jewelry. Believe Foundation proudly acknowledges its major sponsors: Bank of Georgia, Kulevi Oil Terminal and PACE Georgia.
JUNE 26 - JULY 2
TBC Bank Obtains USD 10 Million Loan from BSTDB P.13
Innovation Laboratory to be Established in Georgia
Signing ceremony to create Innovative Laboratory.
With the objective of giving practical knowledge to youngsters, the Innovation and Technology Agency, Vladimir Komarov Physics and Mathematics Public School and Potters Digital Agency has signed a memorandum to create an innovation laboratory in Georgia. According to the parties, youngsters who will attend the laboratory, will gain sufficient knowledge to work in highly paid positions after graduating from school or even start their own high-tech businesses. The Innovation Lab entails collaboration between the company and educational institutions. Equipped with the latest technologies, the lab enables students to create and develop innovative projects such as innovative mobile applications, smart watches and software for other accessories. In addition, the laboratory will host workshops, master classes, trainings and youth competitions.
Two New Destinations for Georgian Airways Georgian Airways, formerly known as Airzena, has launched two new flight routes to Yerevan and Odessa, reports the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development. Flights to Yerevan are scheduled to start from June 29 four times a week, while Odessa will be served once a week from July 1. Established in September 1994 as Airzena, the company has been operating business and charter flights for over 20 years, while scheduled passenger services were added three years later. In 1999, Airzena merged with Air Georgia and formed Airzena Georgian Airlines, while in 2004 it adopted its current name. From April 2013, Georgian Airways has had code share agreements with Austrian Airlines for flights via Vienna and KLM for flights via Amsterdam. Currently, the company offers flights to Moscow, Paris, Vienna, Amsterdam, Tel Aviv, St. Petersburg, Samara, Vladikavkaz and Novosibirsk, together with domestic flights to Batumi and Kutaisi.
Make Your Business Look GOOD on the WEB
By Beqa Kirtava
Georgian Airways now flies to Yerevan and Odessa
$7.4 million In vestment Inv Ca pital ffor or Capital SP AR Geor gia SPAR Georgia
If you are reading this article in the newspaper, we can almost guarantee that in about 25 years you won’t be. A couple of decades from now you’ll probably have forgotten what it feels like to flick through pages, as you’ll be scrolling down the articles of Georgia Today on your e-reader, while trying to get rid of the flashy advertisements and “subscribe to us” pop-ups. Why? Because businesses
are becoming digital, or more specifically, the world is becoming digital. Therefore, the importance of looking great on the web cannot be exaggerated. Unfortunately, even today, having a state-of-theart website in Georgia is associated with significant wealth. That said, a company named GoodWeb is here to shatter that anecdata and turn your business into a digital tour de force. Continued on p.12
JUNE 26 - JULY 2
Make Your Business Look GOOD on the WEB Continued from p.11 To talk about the enterprise, its aims and future plans, Georgia Today exclusively interviewed GoodWeb’s Director of Sales and Marketing, Sergo Avsajanishvili. Q: Firstly, please give our readers some general information about the company. How did the idea of creating GoodWeb emerge? A: GoodWeb is an internet marketing company, which strives to effectively create and develop websites, while also solving numerous PR-related issues, using every single internet marketing method available. Our company’s strategic development of complex promotion aims in three major directions: * Sales increase * Business reputation boost * Brand popularization It’s common knowledge that businesses which have their own websites boast constantly increasing sales figures and, more importantly, are accessible to their clients 24/7. According to numerous studies, mostly large-scale Georgian businesses are well-represented on the World Wide Web. Reasons why small and middle sized enterprises tend to avoid going digital varies, however, there are several distinguishable factors: · Price – developing a personal website usually costs over 1000 GEL; · Time – the design and development process is very time-consuming; · Lack of IT knowledge, which is crucial for correct planning of both website functionality and technical aims; · Not quite hassle-free administra-
Sergo Avsajanishvili, GoodWeb Director of Sales and Marketing
tive panels that are often offered for use. This is exactly how the idea of creating GoodWeb emerged; aspiring to support small and middle sized businesses, boost their status and solve their economic issues. Q: Please give us a quick overview of the services GoodWeb offers its clients. A: Firstly, it has to be noted that our clients are provided with a full array of web services. We are able to bring any business into the digital world in the shortest amount of time possible, as we value our clients’ time very much. We provide: * A professional website in 1 day * Design/Change of design * Corporate email service * Unlimited traffic * Mobile and tablet versions of the webpage * Free sub domain (yourname.gweb.ge) * SEO (search engine optimization) * Technical support * Software support * Web hosting Q: Do you only provide websites for small and middle sized businesses or do you also work with large corporations? If you do, how do you adjust your ser-
vices to their needs? A: We tailor our services to the needs of any type of customer. However, because of the existing situation, we mostly aim to support small and middle-sized businesses. Each and every one of our clients is provided with individual manager service, which enables us to approach issues from the right angle and modify our offers so that they meet customers’ expectations. The consumer chooses one of the existing webpage designs and then our team performs the initial setup, after which the aforementioned person is able to make any type of alteration, including design change, content modification and editing/adding photo-video material. Q: What would you say your main advantage is over the competition? A: Today there are quite a lot of web developing companies on the Georgian market, but GoodWeb stands out from the crowd with its flexibility and exquisite service. Our company doesn’t provide businesses with just the initial setup of websites; we offer a full range of services which includes every important aspect of internet marketing. Our three main features which set GoodWeb apart from the competition are: * Time * Price * Quality Furthermore, all our clients are automatically rendered with the latest upgrades that our packages undergo. For instance, research has shown that 85% of internet users often access the web from their smartphones and tablets, thus we have added mobile and tabletcompatibility features to our ex-
isting service packages and those users who became our clients before the aforementioned update happened were nonetheless provided with mobile and tablet friendly websites. Q: Lately, issues regarding cyber-security have become increasingly buzz worthy in Georgia. Do you ensure that the websites of your clients are protected? A: Absolutely. We ensure maximum safety of our clients’ websites. We provide both hardware and software security systems as well as server protection. The hardware section includes a special firewall and high-quality monitoring system, which helps us to quickly and effectively assess critical situations and keep an eye on the traffic flow. Moreover, our servers are constantly scanned, monitored and updated, which ensures further credibility and enables our team to instantly fix any shortcomings. As for the program code, it is written to provide topmost security and productivity. All the updates are also thoroughly tested to avoid any drawbacks. Q: Lastly, what are your future plans? What new services will GoodWeb offer in the near future? A: Our main goal is to help every single business in Georgia to take their work to a whole new level and, with GoodWeb’s services, make it accessible, distinguishable and inimitable. We plan to make our service even more large-scale and provide our customers with new packages, upgrades and offers. We aim to please our consumers as much as we can and will instantly provide them with any interesting news regarding new projects.
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Armenian Electricity Protests Stir Russian Concerns of another ‘Maidan’ By Zaza Jgharkava A wave of protests are sweeping across Georgia’s neighbour Armenia. Unlike Georgia, where protest rallies are part of political life, this has been a surprising development in its southern neighbour. This is why photos of protests in Armenia that had spread a few days ago was like a thunder in a clear sky. In the capital Yerevan and the city of Gyumri, people protested against the increase of electricity prices. Despite the social nature of the protests, every observer agrees that the protest goes beyond social issues and rally participants on Freedom Square in Yerevan are actually protesting against political injustice more than social injustice. Based on short news pieces coming from the capital of Armenia, policemen are not vehemently opposed to the demands of the rally participants which could create fertile ground for expansion of the protests. Whether we are on the verge of a serious crisis is not clear. Regular citizens in Armenia pose the question of how beneficial it is for them to be under Russia’s influence when fuel, gas and electricity, the biggest exporter of which in the region is Russia, is still expensive. Ultimately, they are worried about the extent to which they rely on Russia. The growth of such opinion is visible in the Armenian online media
where speculation has mounted about a potential repeat of Kyiv’s Maidan. Stepan Grigoryan, head of the Globalisation and Regional Research Center, believes that if the Sargsyan government does not concede, it will be confronted Armenian ‘Maidan’. “The experience of post-Soviet space countries shows that it is very hard to change the government through elections. It is good that in Georgia it took place. The fact is that in post-Soviet countries the governments do not change if serious changes do not occur. I repeat, if the government has made mistakes in relations with the youth and the society as a whole, I do not exclude Armenian Maidan similar to the Ukrainian Maidan. I do not agree with President Putin in many things, including issues of Ukraine and Georgia. But now I say – good job! It gave a good lesson to Armenians. If the government is naïve and not developed enough, it seems that it is even necessary to give them such
lessons. Armenians believed Moscow like silly ones and joined the Eurasian Union. I say this with pain. Recent events made me certain that the old political elite of Armenia should be replaced with the new one. The new generation is coming that will definitely change it,” Grigoryan told Interpressnews. The Kremlin responded to the protest rallies in Yerevan with press secretary of President Putin, Dmitry Peskov stating that the Russian government did not wish to speculate with Yerevan. “We are not making forecasts,” was the brief response of the main voice of President Putin. However, Peskov pointed out the wishes of the Kremlin for the Armenian people. “We wish the brother Armenian nation peace and quick resolution of the existing disagreement. We hope that all questions will be answered according to the laws of Armenia,” Peskov said. The protest is also related to Armenia’s integration into the
Eurasian Union. This is clear to any observer. Even before joining the Union, the political establishment of Armenia demanded that Moscow resolve the issue of transport corridors with Armenia’s neighbors to ensure minimisation of tariff policies. During the entire period before Moscow tried to drag Yerevan to the Union, Armenia’s government kept setting the precondition to Moscow that if it wanted Armenia to join the Customs Union, Moscow should at least ensure open communications between Armenia and Russia and restore the railway link to transport Armenian cargoes to Russia and vice versa. Back then, Armenian Security Council Secretary Arthur Baghdasaryan, when speaking about the possible railway revival had unwittingly also raised the issue of the railway in Abkhazia. Special representative of the Georgian Prime Minister in negotiations with Russia Zurab Abashidze has pointed out several times that he has been discussing this issue with his colleague Karasin. The date of the next meeting of Karasin and Abashidze is approaching and the Russian side says the talks in Prague will touch upon the restoration of the railway route between Tbilisi and Sokhumi and it will be interesting to see just how much events in Yerevan between now and then will impact on the talks.
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BUSINESS TBC Bank Obtains USD 10 Million Loan from BSTDB TBC Bank and the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank (BSTDB) have signed a USD 10 million loan agreement. This transaction represents the renewal of the small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) financing agreement between the organizations first signed in 2003. The three year facility will be dedicated to financing SMEs in Georgia. “We are pleased to continue our successful relationship with BSTDB, TBC Bank’s longstanding partner. The renewed SME loan will allow us to continue financing our clients’ small and medium businesses, one of the most important and fast expanding sectors in the country,” commented Vakhtang Butskhrikidze, Chief Executive Officer of TBC Bank. “We are pleased to enhance our partnership with TBC Bank, which has already lasted for twelve years. This third SME loan agreement demonstrates BSTDB’s consistent support for the Georgian economy and its banking sector. Facili-
tating small business development as a backbone of the market economy will remain our strategic priority in Georgia and other countries of the Black Sea region in the years to come”, said Ihsan Ugur Delikanli, BSTDB President. About the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank (BSTDB) The Black Sea Trade and Development Bank (BSTDB) is an international financial institution established by Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine. The BSTDB headquarters are in Thessaloniki, Greece. BSTDB supports economic development and regional cooperation by providing loans, credit lines, equity and guarantees for projects and trade financing in the public and private sectors in its member countries. The authorized capital of the Bank is EUR 3.45 billion. BSTDB is rated long-term “A-” by Standard and Poor’s and “A2” by Moody’s. For information on BSTDB, visit www.bstdb.org.
Students Prospering from USAID/ REAP Inter nship Pr ogam Internship Pro
JUNE 26 - JULY 2
$7.4 million Investment Capital for SPAR Georgia By Nino Melikishvili Dutch Development Bank FMO and official licensee of global retail brand SPAR in Georgia signed an investment agreement for $7.4 million capital financing which is to be allocated towards development of SPAR Georgia, rebranding, and opening new stores. SPAR is a Dutch multinational retail chain and franchise with approximately 12,500 stores in 35 countries around the world, including Georgia. It was founded in the Netherlands in 1932 and since then has become one of the world’s largest retail chain. On the 19th of June, the new development project was signed by Giorgi Chubinishvili, Managing Director of SPAR Georgia, and Joritt Dingemans, Senior Investment Officer of FMO. “This investment by FMO will improve our ability to fulfill an obligation given to SPAR International with regards to opening 40 new stores within the next two years,” said Chubinishvili. FMO has been investing in the private sector in developing countries and emerging markets for more than 45 years with the intention of supporting sustainable private sector development. It offers capital and knowledge to companies, projects and fi-
nancial institutions. “We are very proud to know that SPAR Georgia had chosen a strong and effective path to progress on the retail market. This consequently led to us attracting an authoritative institute, such as the Dutch Development Bank,” Chubinishvili concluded with pride.
Gr eek Air line Ellinair Opens Greek Airline Tbilisi to Thessaloniki R oute Route On June 30, Greek airline company Ellinair will set off on its first flight from Tbilisi International Airport on route to Thessaloniki. Direct flights from Thessaloniki to Tbilisi will be available once a week on Tuesdays on a Avro-RJ85 aircraft. Ellinair was founded in 2013 and currently flies to 30 different destinations.
Students from universities in REAP’s Tbilisi, Telavi, and Kutaisi offices.
By Zviad Adzinbaia “Agriculture is changing, and with it, a revised set of skills is needed to address new challenges and stimulate its development,” believes USAID’s Restoring Efficiency in Agricultural Production (REAP) program. USAID’s REAP operates a robust internship program to engage students and provide them with practical learning experiences. REAP has provided a 6-month internship opportunity to 34 students from 11 universities in REAP’s Tbilisi, Telavi, and Kutaisi offices. The interns have been involved in a variety of REAP program areas and have had the opportunity to directly interact with businesses and act as consultants under close mentorship of REAP specialists. CNFA, local consulting companies, and the public sector have employed some of these students, while others have pursued their graduate studies. Another important area of REAP’s internship program is improving students’ and agriculture faculties’ awareness of modern agricultural technologies through their participation in REAP- arranged field days and practical training sessions led by highly qualified local and international practitioners. 75 students from the Agricultural University, Georgian Technical University, ISET, and VET Opizari attended these events and were able to observe in practice what they learned in classrooms. “Through my six months working at REAP, I have gained valuable experience that helped me be selected for an exchange program at the University of Lodz, Poland,” said Levan Kurdadze, a Caucasus International University student. “We can be taught theory all day long, but it is putting that theory into practice that fuels creative thinking and new ideas... Thanks REAP,” said Mariam Mtsituridze, former REAP intern, Tartu Uni-
versity graduate, who is currently employed by MES Training Center. REAP has closely cooperated with Akaki Tsereteli Kutaisi State University and Shota Rustaveli Batumi State University to help educators align the curriculum with business needs in their agrarian undergraduate programs. REAP provided these universities with technical training manuals in Georgian and trained university professors to teach postharvest handling and refrigeration courses. These courses are being offered to more than 500 students. The project assists industry-university partnerships by facilitating agreements between its grant recipients and academia. These have been signed with Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University and 3 grantee enterprises to enable students to get on-thejob training and participate in real-life research. “Thanks to REAP I have an opportunity to do research for my undergraduate thesis at CAMPA,” stated Nino Bukhraidze of Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University The USAID-supported REAP program is an integrated enterprise development designed to increase incomes and rural employment by launching successful agribusinesses and promoting increased investment in Georgia’s agriculture sector. REAP’s investment has been in four priority directions: farm service centers, primary producers, postharvest and processing facilities, and information service providers. REAP supports all investments with technical assistance to improve their business and technical skills that lead to increased sales, enhanced competitiveness, and ultimately improved sustainability. REAP’s leadership says the organization will continue its efforts to integrate more young people in to the labor market and give them new professional opportunities as they leave university.
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JUNE 26 - JULY 2
Escape the Heat at the Krtsanisi Residence Pool The Krtsanisi Residence swimming pool was first opened in 2011. The 21 metre-long pool sits in a unique environment in which to pleasantly spend those hot summer days without having to leave the city. Next to the pool you will find a bar serving a variety of delicious dishes and alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. The high quality service, special microclimate and clean fresh air combine to offer you an opportunity that you will find nowhere else in Tbilisi. The depth of the pool is 1.30 - 1.90 metres, length 21 metres and width 7 m. Working hours: Monday-Friday 9:00-19:00 Weekends 9:00-17:00 A corporate discount is available for a minimum of 10 users and includes towels, poolside loungers and use of the gym facilities. A gym instructor costs 20 GEL per session or 100 GEL for a month of sessions (weekdays only). Aqua-aerobics classes are also available 45 minutes five times a week (weekdays) from 10am. Cost per month: 150 GEL. After working hours, the pool area is available for both private and corporate events. You can find the pool at Krtsanisi 49, in the former governmental residence area, next to the British and French embassies.
The Stor y Behind the Pictur e Story Picture
Giorgi Isakadze's popular photo of clean-up volunteer Tako Chokheli.
By Joseph Alexander Smith On the morning after devastating floods hit the Georgian capital, Giorgi Isakadze picked up his camera and headed straight for Heroes’ Square. It’s his job – as well as studying design at Tbilisi’s Academy of Arts, as Giorgi takes photos for the Ministry of Infrastructure and Regional Development. As one of the first photographers on Heroes’ Square that miserable Sunday morning, Giorgi’s lens captured a moment in the making. Responding to a call for volunteers, hundreds of people from every walk of life – unconnected by anything other than a common purpose - threw themselves into the clean-up operation alongside the army, police force and fire and rescue services. The pictures that Giorgi took of those first volunteers – literally mucking in – captured a moment that can never be forgotten by anyone who witnessed it. The ever-increasing crowd of volunteers – representing every cross-section of Tbilisi society – morphed into an unstoppable, unified force. Their gloves, facemasks and shovels became tokens of honour and pride, as they salvaged hope from the ruin around them. Giorgi’s photos from that day were published in a widely-shared photo-essay on Facebook. They appeared (un-
credited – much to his chagrin) on Georgian TV and on other websites. But one photo stood out from the rest. “When I saw her, I just thought, how unusual it is to see this type of girl standing in mud” Giorgi told me, as I sifted through his photos for a feature I was writing on the aftermath of the floods. The editor had asked me for images of flood victims and their ruined houses, but I couldn’t get this picture out of my mind. There was something about her expression – a combination of exhaustion, grief and determination – which I found utterly inspiring. Hers was the face of the volunteer movement as a whole – a generation of young people engaged in a spontaneous and inspiring civil action of a type scarcely seen in other postSoviet states. Giorgi posted the picture on his Facebook wall asking ‘does anyone know this girl?’ and within seconds, he was inundated with ‘pings’ linking him to various profiles. One of them belonged to Tako Chokheli. “The first bad news I heard was about the destruction of the zoo” says Tako, after agreeing to meet with me and Giorgi over an ice cream the following day. “Since I love animals so much, this upset me a lot.” “Later I heard that people had died and houses had been destroyed … When
I heard that they were accepting volunteers I decided to go to Heroes’ Square with my friends.” Tako studies International Relations at the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs and speaks about the aftermath of the floods with the forced precision of a news reader as she tells me about the day the photograph was taken. “One incident which I would particularly like to draw attention to and which surprised me was the following,” she says. “When we arrived at the zoo, it was still covered in a thick layer of mud. Up to my knees in mud, my boots got stuck and I couldn’t move. A 40 or 50 year old man who was working alongside us came and rescued me, despite the fact that I was covered in dirt.” We talk about how she thinks the city has been changed by this experience. Her response surprises me: “This notion we have of women as the ‘weaker sex’ totally disappeared on that day,” she says. “Not one single women or girl was working with less strength or determination than men or boys.” I ask her if she likes the photo. “Of course. I like the way it’s very natural and yet meaningful. He took it just at the point when we’d finished cleaning up and I decided to rest for a bit … I think it pretty much sums up the way we all felt inside on that tragic day.”
Qa tar Airw ays Named ‘Air line Qatar Airwa Airline of the Year’ ffor or the Thir d Time hird
Group Chief Executive of Qatar Airways, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker picks up three top awards at the Paris Air Show
Qatar Airways has been honoured with three of the top aviation accolades at the annual Skytrax World Airline Awards, winning Airline of the Year for a third time – a major accomplishment for any airline. The highest ranking in the annual Skytrax awards category, Airline of the Year is a testament to the commitment and dedication to service excellence and a high-quality travel experience for all passengers that fly with
Qatar Airways. It is a reflection of the five-star calibre service that the Qatar Airways is renowned for. The award comes at a time when the airline has experienced remarkable growth, given the major enhancements to its fleet in the last 10 months, with the entry into service of the Airbus A380 and the Airbus A350 as the Global Launch Customer. In addition to the Airline of the Year award, the airline also collected two other awards: Best Business Class Airline Seat and Best Airline in the Middle East – which Qatar Airways has won for the eighth time The Skytrax World Airline Awards, held at the Musée de l’Air et de l’ Espace, Paris Air Show, are widely known as the Passengers Choice Awards with millions of travellers, from 160 different countries, participating in passenger satisfaction surveys to decide 2015’s winners. Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Officer, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker said: “I am honoured to lead an airline that has paved such an accomplished path to excellence, and innova-
tion, demonstrating the team’s unwavering pride in their work and the experience provided to each of our passengers. Becoming an award-winning airline takes dedication and passion – and retaining such a ranking takes commitment, which I thank each and every team member at Qatar Airways for. Our passengers are at the heart of everything we do at Qatar Airways, and we are very proud to be recognised by them and to receive these three Skytrax awards. These accolades reflect our passengers’ satisfaction; they choose to fly with a five-star airline and today they have chosen Qatar Airways as the World’s Best Airline for the third time. Qatar Airways strives to offer the best travel experience for its guests across our entire global network of 147 destinations, with a commitment to providing quality services to each and every one of our passengers.” Qatar Airways, a five-star ranked carrier, is one of the fastest growing airlines in the world, operating one of the youngest fleets in the skies. Qatar Airways flies 160 aircraft to 147 key business and leisure destinations across six continents.
JUNE 26 - JULY 2
Tbilisi Zoo R ecei ves Messa ge Recei eceiv Messag om the EAZA of Conf idence fr Confidence from To Whom it May Concern: Tbilisi Zoo became a Candidate for Membership of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) in October 2010. The Candidate for Membership programme is an initiative of EAZA, and is aimed at working together with approved zoos in developing economies in Eastern Europe to raise their standards of animal care, business practice, health and safety, education, conservation and research. Candidate for membership institutions work with an EAZA appointed mentor, usually an experienced director of a western European zoo, to reach the stringent standards expected of a full member of the Association. During its period as a Candidate for Membership, Tbilisi Zoo, under the leadership of Zurab Gurielidze, has proven itself to be conscientious and committed to the process of development. The EAZA mentor has seen great improvements in the skills of the employees, the welfare of the animals, and the service that the zoo provides to its visitors. Indeed Director Gurielidze and his staff have shown a high level of professionalism in dealing with the catastrophic flooding of the site, risking their lives to help reduce the danger to the citizens of Tbilisi, and working tirelessly to locate and return safely as many of the animals as possible. The EAZA mentor states clearly that a flood of such devastating power could not have been anticipated or planned for
by any zoological institution. EAZA strongly believes that wellrun zoos and aquariums contribute greatly to the task of providing information and experience to help people understand the human relationship with nature, and to act upon this understanding to protect the environment and everything that lives in it. There could be no clearer endorsement of the zoo’s success in this field than the actions of hundreds of volunteers who have come to assist in the cleanup of the zoo and the surrounding area in recent days. EAZA believes that Tbilisi will benefit greatly from the rebuilding of the zoo, and that if run by Director Gurielidze, a proven partner for development, it will have the potential to reach the high standards we demand, and continue to provide joy, experience and knowledge to Tbilisi’s citizens for generations to come. Yours Faithfully, Simon Tonge Chair, The European Association of Zoos and Aquaria.
Geor gia Cele br ates Georgia Celebr bra Inter na tional Yoga Da y Interna national Day By Tatia Megeneishvili The International Yoga Day was celebrated for the first time in Georgia in Rike Park on June 26. According to the decision of the organizers, the Embassy of India in Armenia and Georgia, United Nations (UN) in Georgia, Tbilisi City Hall and various Georgian Yoga Centers, the Yoga Day was held in a format of a charity event with participants expressing their solidarity towards the victims of the flood of June 13. Yoga workshops, master classes and lectures on a healthy lifestyle were held by leading Yoga trainers and an exhibition was displayed by a variety of companies and organizations who support healthy living. The event was attended by the Ambassador of India to Armenia and Georgia, Suresh Babu; Head of the United Nations in Georgia, Niels Scott; Deputy Mayor of Tbilisi, Irakli Lekvinadze and many more. “This is a unique event,” said Babu. “It is noted in the book of Guinness Records as the biggest scale Yoga training. It is an honour for us that even in such a hard days, as it is today for Georgia, people still have hospitality. I am pleased that Georgia joined such an important occasion.” June 21 was declared as the International Day of Yoga by the United Nations
General Assembly on December 11, 2014. Yoga, a 6,000+ year-old physical, mental and spiritual practice originating from India (Bharat), aims to transform body and mind. The declaration came after the call for the adoption of 21 June as International Day of Yoga by Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modiduring in his address to the UN General Assembly on September 27, 2014. “Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. It embodies unity of mind and body, thought and action, restraint and fulfillment, harmony between man and nature, a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but discovering the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day,” stated Modiduring at the UN General Assembly. Tbilisi Yoga Day Project Coordinator, Maiko Chitashvili, said that the event was held with the financial support of the Mayor’s Office of Tbilisi. “Attending the event is free. However, all the gathered money will be transferred to the flood victims’ fund,” Chitashvili said. This year International Yoga Day was celebrated in 251 cities of 100 different countries. In Deli, India, more than 35,000 people took part in the event.
Estonians Light up Tbilisi Sea ffor or Victor y Da y ictory Day
JUNE 26 - JULY 2
W hen Fiction Meets Reality: Geor gian Georgian Ar tists R efused Visas Artists Refused By María Jose Riquelme del Valle
On the left: Ambassador of Estonia to Georgia, Mr Priit Turk at the Victory Day celebration at Tbilisi Sea Club.
By Katie Ruth Davies The Ambassador of Estonia to Georgia, Mr Priit Turk, decided to take a step closer to his childhood home in the Estonian islands by celebrating this year’s June 23 Estonian Victory Day at the Tbilisi Sea Club amongst his compatriots and multinational colleagues and friends. Guests were treated to a generous spread of Georgian food and wine while being serenaded under starry fairy-lights by a local music group and live singer. As well as sharing with guests his thanks for their being present, Mr. Turk also used the occasion to wish farewell to Defence Attache LTC Teet Kivisson, whose term has ended and who will be returning to Estonia shortly. The Ambassador gifted Mr. Kivisson with a Georgian sword: “As a symbol of the strength of Georgia and friendship.” Georgia Today spoke to the Ambassador and his wife about Victory Day and Midsummer’s Eve and how they would normally be celebrating them back home. Victory Day on 23rd June marks a crucial military victory against German forces in 1919 and is celebrated with a
military parade in one of the Estonian towns (every year a different town). Midsummer’s Eve (Jaaniõhtu) is celebrated on the same day as Victory Day and the festivities continue into the next day, which is named after St John. “When I was growing up, all the families would head out to their country houses,” said Ambassador Priit Turk, who originally comes from Saaremaa (the biggest island in Estonia). “One of the traditions is to light a bonfire [and according to old tradition to jump over it!] and in the islands we used to light up the wood of old boats, to say thank you to the gods for the fish that had been caught. June 24th is St John’s Day and another tradition of ours is not to sleep during that night- there is practically no darkness at that time of year –and so everyone stays up and enjoys themselves with their families. We also never lower the national flag on the night of the 23rd- keeping it hoisted for the full two days.” “Despite the fact that St John’s Day is known in the World as a Christian holiday, Estonians have rather non-religious traditions in celebrating this day,“ added Pirjo Turk, the Ambassador’s wife.“ The bonfire part is the most im-
portant. Midsummer Eve (on 23rd) and Jaanipäev (on 24th) is one of the biggest celebrations in Estonia and in addition to the bonfire, eating, drinking, dancing and singing are also part of this celebration. Most of all it’s a day of connecting.” Mrs. Turk remembers her childhood Victory Day celebrations with nostalgia. “I remember as a child really looking forward to the day- there was a huge build up of expectation from the dark winter, and sadness when Midsummer had passed and it would start to get dark again. On Midsummer’s Eve [on Victory Day] the families gather and in my childhood we prepared a singing program to perform for the adults. Then around midnight (when it gets a bit darker) everyone in our family headed out to find the Jaan worms [glow worms] hiding in the grass in warm places around this time of year. I remember we walked near the train tracks in order to find them. The person who sees the glow worm first, can make a wish.” While there were sadly no opportunities for glow-worm hunting at the Tbilisi party this year, there was a symbolic bonfire. Ambassador Turk declined to jump over it, however.
It was supposed to be a performance about how hard is to go and stay in a different country. It should have taken place at the Flare Festival in Manchester in mid-July. Flights and hotels were booked, and the performance had been rehearsed many times. But the visa refusal turned the fictional difficulties depicted on stage into a reality. The New Collective group had been invited by the Flare Festival after they were among the 20 groups selected from a total of 300. The Festival’s invitation included covering the costs of their stay in the UK. Festival director Neil Mackenzie told Georgia Today that the piece ‘Welcome’ was really resonant for an international theatre festival: “This was a piece about ‘otherness’, the otherness of foreigners and the otherness of theatrical characters. It was one of only two pieces that weren’t happening in a traditional theatre space, and would have had an ongoing presence and visibility in the festival. They offered a unique perspective on what artists can do with theatre and theatrical performance”. But this will no longer be possible due to their visas being refused. The refusal letter states that: “Given the above, I am not satisfied that you are a genuine visitor and will leave the UK at the end of your visit or that you have sufficient funds available to cover your costs whilst in the UK without working or accessing public funds”. Ana Jikia, one of the group’s members, told Georgia Today that the problem was not just the visa refusal, but how they were treated by the person handling their applications: “They were very rude to me, the way she asked me about my personal circumstances. I felt so humiliated and started to cry, but I did not want to answer in case this would have a negative impact on our application”. The official stance of the British embassy in Tbilisi was that for reasons of applicant confidentiality, they are unable to comment on individual visa cases: “However, we should point out that the British Embassy in Tbilisi does not decide visa cases, nor has it done for a number of years. Georgians wish-
ing to apply for a UK visa do so by applying online and then visiting a Visa Application Centre in Tbilisi. Applications are then sent to a UK Visa Regional Processing Centre at the British Consulate in Istanbul. It is there that Entry Clearance Officers assess applications based on strict criteria laid down by the Home Office”. The case has raised public attention both in the UK and Georgia. The website change.org gathered 1500 signatures, and the topic was covered by the British newspaper The Guardian. In Georgia, the Ministry of Culture issued letters in favour of New Collective. But the decision was not overturned. New Collective’s director, Mareike Wenzel told Georgia Today that they could try to reapply, but that there is very little time left before the Festival and also it’s not guaranteed that the result would be any different: “For two months now the only thing we did was prepare visa applications. We could reapply but the girls’ conditions have not changed. Also, I don’t want to put them through the same process again”. International festivals and exhibitions are an important part of the development of an artist, and they benefit from the presence of a diversity of audiences. Jikia had the chance to study in Germany last winter and for her the experience was life changing: “I learnt how art scenes are organized in other places, and I met artists and curators. Their freedom was so inspiring for me. I was able to show my work and get feedback” The director of the festival Neil Mckenzie described the whole situation as terrible: “It is very sad that our country and its laws have treated members of the international community of new theatre artists in such an unfair way (…) But I still don’t see why a country as sophisticated and ‘civilised’ as ours can’t make a distinction between these artists and illegal immigrants”. Despite everything, New Collective is determined to have some presence at the Festival. As Wenzel told Georgia Today: “Now the rage is over we have to decide how to be there, if we don’t, no one will even notice that we are not present.”
By David Lolishvili This Sunday, 28th of June, is a day on which the Tbilisi environment will
finally get to take a break from the usual endless traffic jams and careless driving. “Leave your car home for the day!” is the slogan of the day.
The idea itself consists of nurturing the environment and taking existing issues into consideration and the organizing team is planning to hold the event at least once every month. Their main purpose is to popularize the tradition of using much healthier ways for transportation, like bicycles, the metro or simply walking on foot. The specific dates of each event will be announced weeks before the actual day in hopes of people being motivated and ready to leave their cars at home and spread the word. Wide participation is the key to the future success of this concept, which is why the organizing team is working very hard to motivate everyone. They hope to introduce Tbilisi citizens to a new tradition to be called “Car Free Tbilisi”. 28th of June is the launch day for the said upcoming tradition and by the looks of it the campaign will see daylight. People who don’t have cars will automatically participate, of course. Now it’s up to drivers to leave their cars at home and give the city a break, even if just for a day.
The New Collective theatre group, invited to the Flare Festival but rejected for British visas.
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JUNE 26 - JULY 2
Talent the Common Denomina tor Denominator for Ar tists a ts Arts Artists att Museum of Fine Ar By Maka Lomadze A group exhibition of famous Georgian painters recently opened at Shalva Amiranashvili Museum of Fine Arts on Pushkin Street. A picturesque exposition of 47 painters of different generations, with dissimilar views, working in diverse genres and having their own, very firmly individual artistic signature, the exhibition has been warmly received by Tbilisi’s art enthusiasts. The exhibition “Painter and Modernity” aims to show how it is possible to maintain national identity in art during an age of globalization. The display, located on the second floor of the museum, showcases paint-
ings and graphic works, done mainly in oil, though sometimes with a mixed technique. Here, visitors will see abstracts, still lives, landscapes and portraits from artists aged 30-85. As well as local artists, there are contributions from Kutaisi and IDPs from Abkhazia. “The main criterion while selecting the artists was that the paintings should be painted within the last 2-3 years. We also aimed to show to the audience the dynamics - from generation to generation – of how Georgian art is developing. I dare say we have plenty of extremely talented painters and artists who are no less professional than painters of other countries,” Guram Tsertsvadze, painter, par-
Gocha Narimanidze “Shatili”
ticipant and organizer of the exposition told us. At the exhibition, one can see pieces by experienced painters such as Radish Tordia, Givi Toidze, Dimitri Eristavi, Giorgi Tsereteli and others. It is hard to believe that painter Sergo Kenchadze, aged over 80, was doing compositions at a time when travel was extremely difficult and information was under tight control. Guram Tsertsvadze believes that the ability to do so stems from Georgia’s long painting traditions of frescoes. “This gives me the courage to say that we, Georgians, stand very close to the origins of the world cultural development,” he noted. Many of the exhibited artists are famous and successful abroad, renowned in different parts of the world and occupy particular niches. From the younger generation, the pride of Georgian art’s future, Rusudan Petviashvili’s “Searching for Cosiness” is presented while even younger painters are also impressively represented, giving encouragement for the next generations of Georgian art. It is hard to look at Givi Toidze’s breathtaking “Old Tbilisi” and not take some aesthetic pleasure depicting a golden color of the sunset. “Exhibitions are important parts of our cultural life. If culture dies, the country will not feel well. This exposition reveals new faces too. The young generation is always full of love and energy. I tell them: If you have a talent, you should be working incessantly. In the beginning, everybody has some influences but later, they will find their
Rusudan Petviashvili’s “Searching for Cosiness”
own way, their individual form of expression,” the celebrated painter told Georgia Today. Lali Lomtadze is a painter best known for her 1970s works and had a personal exhibition twice in Paris. The picture “Summer Night” gives a photographic effect and thus, is really original: “In early times, such exhibitions were much more frequent. Therefore, I am really happy that this exhibition has taken place,” she commented. Tiko Bakhtadze is a young Georgian painter who has participated in some group exhibitions in Azerbaijan, New York and Tbilisi. “Last year, in the group exhibition, together with other 9 young
painters, I participated in the expo that aimed to paint the portrait of Georgian celebrities. I painted Nino Ananiashvili. As for this display, I represent the painting “San Marco” of Venice. There are more possibilities for our generation to travel, though I basically have a fantasy even without travelling,” said the talented youngster. The event is organized by the National Creative Union of Georgian Painters, supported by the Cultural Events Center of Tbilisi City Hall and the City Assembly. The exposition titled “Painter and Modernity” will conclude on June 28 so there is still time to sample a vast array of impressive Georgian art.
“SOUND OF RAILS” (Within the project “At Home”) Curators: Dedika Bulia, Nino Daraseli Coordinators: Irina Arsenishvili, Nuci Kirtskhalia
Directed by Davit Doiashvili Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: From 20 Lari
WHAT'S ON IN TBILISI THEATRE GABRIADZE THEATRE Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93
TBILISI ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI OPERA AND BALLET THEATRE Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 04 56
June 26 RAMONA Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10, 15 Lari
June 28 CLOSING OF THE BALLET SEASON Jiri Kylian’s one act ballets: PETITE MORT, FALLING ANGELS, SECHS TANZE Start time: 15:00 Ticket price: From 5 Lari Venue: Griboedov Theatre, 2 Rustaveli ave.
June 27 MARSHAL DE FANTIE’S DIAMOND Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10, 15 Lari TBILISI NODAR DUMBADZE STATE CENTRAL CHILDREN'S THEATRE Address: 99/1 Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 295 39 27 July 28 THE PRINCESS, FROG, HANSEL AND GRETEL The Brothers Grimm Directed by Dimitri Khvtisiashvili Language: Russian Main Hall Start time: 12:00 Ticket price: 6, 10 Lari GEORGIAN STATE PANTOMIME THEATRE Address: 37 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 63 14 June 27 KRIMANCHULI Directed by Amiran Shalikashvili Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: 5 Lari June 30 SONNETS Directed by Davit Shalikashvili Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: 5 Lari
CINEMA AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 299 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge
MUSEUM MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 1 Rustaveli ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22 The exhibition also includes one of the train carriages in which the participants of the national uprising of 1924 were executed.It is also dedicated to the history of the anti-occupational, nationalliberation movement of Georgia and to the victims of the Soviet political repression throughout this period. SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM OF GEORGIA Address: 3 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22
June 26 – July 2 TED 2 Directed by Seth MacFarlane Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Seth MacFarlane, Amanda Seyfried Genre: Comedy Language: English Start time: 22:40 Language: Russian Start time: 12:10, 15:05, 16:30, 19:25, 22:30, Ticket price: 7.50 – 12.50 Lari
"ARCHAEOLOGICAL TREASURE" Examples of work by early Georgian goldsmiths were discovered during archeological excavations, and are currently preserved in the archeological treasury. The exhibition presents three periods of development in the history of Georgian goldsmithery, from the 3rd century BCE to the 4th century CE: Kurgan Culture (3-2 BCE), Golden Fleece Kolkheti (8- 3 BCE), Kingdom of Kartli-Iberia (3rd century BCE-4th century CE).
JURASSIC WORLD 3 D Directed by Colin Trevorrow Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi Language: Russian Start time: 11:45, 14:25, 17:10, 19:55 Ticket price: 7.50 – 12:50 Lari
GALLERY VERNISAGE Address: 7 Zubalashvili Brothers’ St. Telephone: 2 99 88 08
POLTERGEIST Directed by Tobe Hooper Cast: JoBeth Williams, Heather O’Rourke, Craig T. Nelson Genre: Horror Language: Russian Start time: 20:20, 22:35 Ticket price: 11.50-12.50 Lari
June 24-26 GIORGI KHODELI’S SOLO SHOW DAPHIONA OPERA DESIGN Address: 2 Lagidze st. Telephone: 2 940700 July 1 TAMUNA MELIKISHVILI’S PERSONAL EXHIBITION
GALLERY “VANDA” Address: D. Chonkadze str. #14 Telephone: 293 42 86 www.vandagallery.org June 19 – July 5 VAKHTANG TATO AKHALKATSISHVILI’S EXHIBITION YOUR MYSTERIOUS WAYS GALLERY CHARDIN Address: 13 Rustaveli Ave Telephone: 299 09 25 June 24 - 28 GIORGI VEPKHVADZE’S EXHIBITION EXTENSION MUSIC
June 2 CHARITY CONCERT TO SUPPORT EREKLE LORTKIPANIDZE Participants: Ensemble “Georgian Voices”, Ensemble “Alilo”, Theatrical Quartet, Ensemble “Shvidkatsa”, Salome Bakuradze, Nodiko Tatishvili, Salome Korkotashvili, Datuna Sirbiladze, Natalia Kutateladze, Nuka Kvaliasvili, Bakur Burduli, Achiko Nijaradze, Dato Evgenidze, Bend “Newton”, Gia Nikoladze. Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10 Lari LISI WOOD Address: Lisi Lake June 27 AUTUMN TREE, DALI, BERO, TOMMA, VERA (HELLO? REPEAT, PERLON), COBERT, BACHO Ticket prices: From 15:00-18:00 - 5 Lari, After 18:00 – 10 Lari
TBILISI CONCERT HALL Address:1 Melikishvili St. Telephone: 2 99 00 99
MAGTI CLUB Address: 22 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 599 50 00 22
June 28 LIZA BATIASHVILI AND GEORGIAN SINFONIETTA Charity Concert to support victims of 13 June flood Conductor: Nikoloz Rachveli Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: From 15 Lari
June 30 WEHELP WILL HOLD A CHARITY CONCERT OF MUSICAL BAND THE BEARFOX The collected amount will be spent to support people and animals who suffered in the June 13 Tbilisi flood tragedy. THE BEARFOX Mebo Nutsubidze (Guitar, Piano, Vocal) Betkho (Vermona, Vocals, Piano, Xylophone, Melodica) Archibald (Drums, Vocals) Tsotne (Bass) Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10 Lari
June 1 NATO METONIDZE NEW SOLO PROGRAM Participants: Georgian Sinfonietta and actors of the Music and Drama Theatre Art Director: Nikoloz Rachveli
JUNE 26 - JULY 2
My Next Camera: Etseri, Svaneti By Tony Hanmer A simultaneous pair of misfortunes has caused me to change the way I think about my photography again lately. First, some history. The first camera I ever used was a Kodak Instamatic shooting 126 film, which came in sealed canisters; this was 1978, and I was 11 years old. We had recently moved back from Rhodesia to Canada and were doing an almighty road trip west from Ontario to Vancouver Island, camping as we went, as we were wont. C’mon, beach sunsets are easy! There’s a framed 16 by 20 inch blow-up of one of my frames from that summer waiting for me back in Canada, to lug it back to Georgia sometime: My First Print. My dad bought himself a Minolta 35mm SLR (film, of course) in the 1980s, along with several lenses; all manual focus. I used it every chance I got. There are several rolls of film I developed and printed from while I was at high school, including one of colour slides, the rest being much easier black and white. Then Dad bought me my own 35mm film camera and a 50mm standard lens for my 16th birthday, a Yashica; it took not only its own lenses but also the far superior, unaffordably so, Contax ones. Onwards! There was no stopping me. When a friend and I set off on mountain
bikes to tour the world in the summer of 1989, I used this camera when reporting for my local town newspaper of our adventures. I still had it, along with a short-range zoom, when I shot the events of August 19, 1991 in Moscow, USSR. I now have hundreds of 35mm rolls to scan, at 20 megapixels. And Dad’s own old kit, when he switched to point and shoot. It was only in August 2008 that my great friend and photographic mentor in the UK, NWB, made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, selling me his old Canon EOS 450D (digital), an 18-55 kit lens, case, extra batteries, and a hefty Photoshop manual for photographers... all for £100. I would’ve been crazy to turn that down, right? So I didn’t. After
a winter in Ushguli shooting film, my second winter there was the time of virtually unbridled freedom. I never filled up the 4 GB card in a day, which would have taken more than 400 frames of 10 megapixels to do. At day’s end, simply save to laptop and start editing. NO dust and scratches to clean up! I still have the film kit, but have not used it once since. Now... this spring, the EOS started giving me a new error message and refusing to shoot. I googled the error, of course, and discovered that it may have multiple sources, and may not be repairable. But at 10 megapixels, I figure it’s time to get a newer, much higher resolution body, and still be able to use the same lenses, which are great quality. I’ve
had it for seven years, and it was old when I bought it. As a stopgap, I’ve been using my wife’s 16 megapixel compact, but I bet you never noticed, did you? Even though it only shoots jpeg files, not RAW, if you know what that means. Also, I lost my cheap cellphone, a gift from Samsung from my Imedis Gmirebi TV shoot of late 2013, and needed to replace that. I went with a
Nokia Lumia 520, which at least has a 5 megapixel camera and shoots 720 pixel video into the bargain. Not my first phone with a camera, but not bad. Thing is, I’ve also found and downloaded three programs for this thing to do special types of photography, after researching what was best in the freeware category. One does HDR (high dynamic range), one shoots time lapse videos, and one stitches together panoramas. Cool! This is new. My EOS could to none of these things automatically at all, although I have laptop programs to do them from what I shot with it. So, while I wait and amass funds to buy the new EOS body, which won’t be cheap, I’m realizing that there need be few limits to what I can still shoot. Photography is changing faster than one can keep up with on a normal budget, but one can still manage with what one has. The photos are that First Print from 1978, and yesterday’s first phone camera HDR shot out the back window.
Tony Hanmer runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 1000 members, at www.facebook.com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/ . He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri: www.facebook.com/hanmer.house.svaneti
British Cor ner Cele br ates Corner Celebr bra thda y Queen Queen’’s Bir Birthda thday
Ambassador of Britain to Georgia, Alexandra Hall Hall, and Peter Nasmyth at the British Corner "Queen's birthday" celebration.
By Katie Ruth Davies “The Queen, as a Princess before her coronation, was President of the English Speaking Union (ESU). And her husband, Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh, was President for 60 years thereafter, a position now held by their daughter Princess Anne. This is why we celebrate the birthday of Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, each year,” said Marina Tsitsishvili, President of ESU Georgia and owner of The British Corner language centre. Special guests Ambassador of the UK to Georgia, Alexandra Hall Hall, and Peter Nasmyth, author of a number of well known books on the Caucasus and a member of the British Georgian Society, were invited to enjoy the special presentations put on by the children of the British Corner language centre in Vake Park. A beautiful rendition of the British National Anthem by a group of Georgian middle-schoolers (who had learnt the words in just three days!) was fol-
lowed by brilliant excerpts of two scenes of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet by four upper-school students, one of whom- Giorgi- wishes to take up a career as an actor. Then came dancing and a generous barbecue and buffet. The ESU works principally with young people, providing opportunities for them to build skills and gain experiences in order to realise their full potential. The ESU runs a wide range of educational and cultural programmes, from scholarships for school leavers to speech training and competitions involving hundreds of schools in the UK and internationally. “Her Royal Highness the Queen is still very much involved in the ESU and she has been the patron since 1952,” said Mrs. Tsitsishvili, standing with a broad smile before a portrait of the Queen in the summer garden of the language centre, surrounded by happy faces and British flags. “We have been celebrating her birthday in Georgia every year since 1998. It would be so nice if the Queen knew that she was so admired each year, in a tiny corner of small Georgia!”
Sta te Ballet to Close 163rd Season State This Sunday (June 28), the State Ballet of Georgia is presenting its last performance of the 163rd season. Please join us once more before the summer vacation and enjoy an afternoon of modern ballet at the Griboedov Theatre. “One-Act Ballets” on Sunday, 28 June at 3pm · “Sagalobeli” (choreography by Yuri Possokhov); · Jioi Kylian program: Falling Angels, Sechs Tanze, Petite Mort. Tickets are available from the Griboedev theatre box office. Prices from 5 to 25 Lari.
By Alastair Watt
JUNE 26 - JULY 2
Georgian Clubs Given Difficult European Assignments
Georgian football could certainly do with a lift but the chances of that arriving in the forthcoming Europa League and Champions League qualifiers appear slim after all four Georgian entrants were handed difficult ties in the respective draws on June 22 in Nyon, Switzerland. In a week where revelations emerged that Georgian captain Jaba Kankava was wrongly made unavailable by the GFF for the recent qualifier against Poland, and ticket agency biletebi.ge crashed when attempting to sell Super Cup tickets, the draws for Georgia’s European hopefuls were scarcely mentioned. Champions Dila Gori, making their first foray into the preliminary stages of the Champions League, were paired with Serbian champions Partizan Belgrade. The Gori side, managed by 25-yearold Ucha Sosiashvili, will travel to the Partizan Stadium for the first leg on either the 14th or 15th of July, and will need to handle the notoriously intimidating home fans known as the Grobari (gravediggers) who are among the most volatile ultras in Eastern Europe. Dila though have proved themselves to some extent in European competition in recent years, beating Danish pair Aarhus and Aalborg as well as Hajduk Split since 2012. The venue of the return leg has not been confirmed but is likely to be Tbilisi’s Mikheil Meskhi Stadium, with the fixture taking place on the 21st or 22nd of July.
Partizan reached the group stage of the Europa League last season but picked up only two points – each from goalless draws at home with Tottenham and Asteras Tripoli. Before Dila launch into European action, three of their fellow Georgian clubs will play their first qualifying round ties. Dinamo Tbilisi, Georgian Cup holders, face a local derby against Azerbaijan’s Gabala with the first leg at Dinamo Arena on July 2. Compared to Dinamo, who won the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1981, Gabala are novices at this level having played only one European tie to date – a defeat to Bosnian side Siroki Brijeg at the same stage of last year’s Europa League qualifying. Having finished third in the Azerbaijani top flight, Gabala, once managed by former Arsenal and England captain Tony Adams, are coached by Ukrainian Roman Hyhorchuk. A cosmopolitan squad contains a trio of Brazilians – midfielder Dodo, and defenders Ricradinho and Rafael Santos – and four Ukrainians. Dinamo, who appointed the experienced Gia Geguchadze as head coach at the end of last season, will take on either Slovenia’s Domzale or Serbia’s Cukaricki in the second qualifying round if they can defeat the Azerbaijanis. Meanwhile, Dinamo Batumi, making their first European appearance since 1998, were given the daunting challenge of Cypriot side Omonia Nicosia. Omonia, whose squad contains Geor-
The Grobari (gravediggers), notorious ultras of Partizan Belgrade who face Georgian champions Dila Gori in Champions League qualifying. Source – Wikipedia
gian international full-back Ucha Lobjanidze and former Celtic striker Cillian Sheridan, are strong favorites for the tie particularly having run moneyladen Dinamo Moscow very close in the play-off round last season. Dinamo, still homeless, have not confirmed where their home fixture – scheduled for July 2 - will be played but Kutaisi is the most likely location. Completing the Georgian quartet are Spartaki Tskhinvali, playing in Europe for the first time in their history. A club from the occupied territory of South Ossetia, Tskhinvali have been playing
in Tbilisi, and occasionally Gori, for several years. With no such thing as a “home” game, the Georgian debutants may be a worthwhile outside bet when they travel to face Romanian side FC Botosani. Having finished 8th in the Romanian league, Botosani only entered the Europa League courtesy of a swathe of Romanian clubs failing to meet UEFA license criteria. Located in the rural north of the country, Botosani are, like Tskhinvali, competing in Europe for the first time and have never achieved anything no-
table domestically in their 14-year history. The victors will face Legia Warsaw in the following round and Romanian journalist Emanuel Rosu appeared to dismiss the Georgian challenge already, stating “I look forward to Legia Warsaw fans coming to Botosani, a real rural experience for them!” It has been eleven years since a Georgian club reached the group stage of European competition, and the early missions assigned to this year’s hopefuls make it somewhat unlikely that that particular drought will end this summer.
Lelos Coach Haig Will Lead “Best-Ever Prepared” Georgia to World Cup By Alastair Watt As the Tbilisi Cup concluded on June 21, won very convincingly by Emerging Ireland, Georgian head coach Milton Haig claimed the tournament had helped him to finalize his provisional squad for the autumn’s World Cup. “We were missing about 90% of our first fifteen so this tournament was always about players competing to get in the World Cup squad,” said Haig whose side defeated Uruguay in their opening match before losing to Emerging Italy and Emerging Ireland. The New Zealander did not dwell for long on the performance against the Irish which ended in a 45-12 defeat, admitting that Georgia lacked their opponents’ strength in depth. However, he also
Georgian Head Coach Milton Haig is confident Georgia will be ready to make history at the Rugby World Cup
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noted that Georgia was improving in that regard. “In previous world cups, I think there may have been times when, in terms of the squad, some players were just making up the numbers. That’s certainly not the case now,” added Haig. An early try by number eight Lasha Lomidze had given the Georgians an excellent start on a warm but windy evening in Avchala, but the Irish responded in merciless fashion with six tries of their own including two for the impressive wing Matt Healy. Lomidze’s hopes of making the World Cup squad were dealt a blow when he was forced off with an injury towards the end of the first-half and Haig added that he was among two or three injury doubts for the autumn.
The Georgian head coach then outlined an intense preparatory schedule for what will start as a provisional 39man squad before being cut to 31 for the tournament which begins on September 18. Several weeks of fitness-heavy training will include a camp in Holland before the Lelos fly to the UK for warmup matches with Newcastle Falcons (Aug 28), Canada (Sept 3) and Japan (Sept 5). “The target has always been to get two wins and hopefully we can do that. What I will say is that this will be the best-ever prepared Georgian side at a World Cup,” claimed Haig. Georgia’s first match at the World Cup is against Tonga on September 19 in Gloucester.
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