Issue no: 1026/118
• FEBR. 27 - MAR. 1, 2018
• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY
PRICE: GEL 2.50
In this week’s issue... Adjara Textile Opens New Enterprise in Georgia’s Black Sea Town Poti NEWS PAGE 3
In 2017 Georgia Enjoyed Highest Growth in 5 Years, but Rapid Consumer Credit Expansion Needs Close Monitoring ISET PAGE 4
TMI Consultancy Director: Diversity is Georgia’s Strength
ON DOING BUSINESS Georgia DB2018 progress recognized in Washington DC
BUSINESS PAGE 5
British Company to Develop Anaklia Urban Planning Concept
Galt & Taggart Publishes 2017-18 Georgian Macroeconomic Overview BUSINESS PAGE 8
n February 23, ‘Anaklia City’ presented the Anaklia Visionary Master Planning and Development Plan study to be developed by leading British company BuroHappold Engineering, the winner of an international tender. ‘Anaklia City’ executed a contract with the British company, under which BuroHappold Engineering is to prepare the economic analysis, feasibility study and master plan for Anaklia city. The presentation opened by Mamuka Khazaradze, the founder of ‘Anaklia City,’ was attended by government officials, diplomats and business persons. Continued on page 6
European Union Monitoring Mission Issues Statement on Death of Georgian Prisoner in Tskhinvali POLITICS PAGE 11 Prepared for Georgia Today Business by
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FEBRUARY 27 - MARCH 1, 2018
Georgia’s Progress in Doing Business 2018 Recognized at Washington Conference Photo: Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of Georgia, Giorgi Tsikolia delivers speech at the conference.
Smoking Restrictions: Where to Smoke & Where Not to from May BY THEA MORRISON
eorgia’s achievement in the World Bank’s annual report Doing Business 2018 (DB 2018), was recognized at the conference “Fifteen Years of Doing Business: Opportunities for Future Directions,” held on Friday in Washington DC. The participants of the conference, which reviewed the Doing Business Indicators of the past 15 years, recognized that Georgia is the easiest place in emerging Europe to do business, as was shown by the Doing Business Report 2018. Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of Georgia, Giorgi Tsikolia, participated in the conference and highlighted Georgia’s achievements in creating its business friendly environment. Georgia significantly improved its position in the DB 2018 report, coming in at 9th place out of 190 countries, improving its position by 7 points. Previously, Georgia was in the 16th position. In DB 2018, Georgia's score improved by 2.12 points and reached 82.04 points.
In the report, Georgia came ahead of countries such as Sweden, Macedonia, Estonia, Finland, Australia, Taiwan (China), and Latvia, compared to the previous year’s report. Moreover, compared to the Doing Business 2013 report published in 2012, in the DB 2018, Georgia has improved its position by 14 points. Doing Business presents quantitative indicators on business regulations and the protection of property rights that can be compared across 190 economies, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, and over time. DB measures regulations affecting 11 areas of the life of a business. Ten of these areas are included in this year’s ranking on the ease of doing business: starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency. DB also measures labor market regulation, which is not included in this year’s ranking. The conference “Fifteen Years of Doing Business: Opportunities for Future Directions” was held at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
BY THEA MORRISON
rom May 1, 2018, new regulations regarding smoking, adopted in 2017 by Parliament, will come in to effect. Smoking of tobacco, including electronic cigarettes, will be prohibited in all enclosed areas, with the exception of houses, psychiatric clinics, penitentiary facilities and casinos. Smoking will only be permitted in designated areas in the airports. Smoking of cigars will only be allowed in cigarbars, where food products are not sold. In addition, a special license will be necessary to open such a bar. Furthermore, smoking will not be allowed in any kind of public transport, with the exceptions being taxis and motor boats. Smoking will also be prohibited in gas stations and gas distribution stations, as well as in buildings and facilities located in their respective territories where flammable substances are kept. Smoking in stadiums will not be prohibited until
2020. Also, until the same year, smoking in more than 20% of hotel rooms will also be allowed. In case of violation of the rules, the institution will be fined by 500 GEL, and in case of repetitive violations - by 1000 GEL. The fine for individuals is 100 GEL. In case a person smokes in an area of a multi-story house, which is classed as one property, he/she will be fined 50 GEL; and in case of repetitive violations - by 100 GEL. Smoking in air, sea or land public transport also carries a penalty. The driver of the transport will be fined by 500 GEL, and if repeated, this will be doubled. However, if an individual person smokes on land public transport, the violator will be fined by 100 GEL. As for the violation of rules in air or rail transport, the violator will be fined by 50 GEL, which will be doubled in case of repeat violation. The person fined is allowed to appeal to the court if he/she does not agree with the penalty sanctions. At present, around 1.5 million Georgians out of total 3,718,200 people are active smokers, and 15% of these are underage.
Tbilisi Airport Tariffs Too High for Ryanair
BY MÁTÉ FÖLDI
he phrase “Georgia is too expensive” is not one you expect to hear from Westerners or Western businesses. Alas, low-budget airline Ryanair will not be starting flights to Georgia for the time being, with Tbilisi Airport's tariffs being cited as one of the reasons. Their Head of Company Development, Neil O’Connor, told 1TV at last week’s CONNECT 2018 aviation forum: “The previous Government made a mistake when Tbilisi airport was transferred to a particular company and established high tariffs. Such tariffs are
not even applied in Barcelona. There are just up to 3 million passengers in Tbilisi, and out of 50 directions, only 10 of them are to Europe.” O’Connor explained that new flights are launched based on where costs are the most competitive. “Now more airports want to grow. We need to be careful in our choices. We could not reach an agreement with Kutaisi or Tbilisi at this stage. This door is always open. We will be happy to resume negotiations. We have important plans for growth in the coming years. There is no reason why we cannot start flights to Kutaisi or Tbilisi. Tbilisi is a market which needs development as flights are limited. Too many flights run through Istanbul. I don’t think the low-cost airport 200-kilometers away is a solution to Tbilisi airports high costs. Expenses in Tbilisi are very high” he said.
FEBRUARY 27 - MARCH 1, 2018
Adjara Textile Opens New Enterprise Georgia, Saudi Arabia in Georgia’s Black Sea Town Poti Sign Memorandum on BY THEA MORRISON
Air Traffic Agreement
ith the support of the state-led program ProduceinGeorgia,Adjara Textile have opened a new enterprise in Georgia’s Black Sea coastal town of Poti. The First Vice-Premier of Georgia and Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, Dimitry Kumsishvili, took part in the opening ceremony on February 22. The event was also attended by Adjara Textile founder Kemal Bilgingulluoglu and Nike Ema Regional Director Kaner Soitas. According to the Minister of Economy of Georgia, Adjara Textile will supply such large brands as New Balance and Under Armour. The Minister explained that 25 million GEL has already been invested in the enterprise, adding that upon the total completion of the enterprise, an additional 15 million GEL will be added to the primary investment. “The new enterprise of Adjara Textile, equipped with high-standard technologies, will allow us to significantly increase export and create jobs. 3000 people will be ultimately employed as a result,” Kumsishvili stated. “This is a really obvious example and a confirmation that business is developing where there is a desire and good planning. Every single Lari in this enterprise will not only benefit the people employed there, but in the end, every citizen of Georgia,” he added. According to Kumsishvili, the reforms implemented in the country show that the government's priority is freedom of business and its promotion, especially in the regions. “Exports from Georgia last year amounted to $90 million, which is certainly growing
BY THEA MORRISON
this year,” the Minister said. Adjara Textile is an 100% export-oriented company that already cooperates with international companies such as Nike, Adidas, Puma, Lotto, Erma; and carries out realization of production made in Georgia. The company produces 10,000,000 units of production per year, and the volume of production will be significantly increased by the introduction of new high-quality machinery. The company already has two sewing factories in the Georgian cities of Batumi and Kobuleti, where 2,500 people are employed. GEORGIA TODAY contacted the Turkish Embassy for comment. “The Adjara Textile’s new factory in Poti is a great example of Turkish investments in Georgia. At the first stage, 1.500 people will be employed, after the completion of the second stage of the factory in 2019, 3.000 Georgian citizens will be employed. The Adjara Textile has already been operating in the Georgian market since 2008, with its two factories in Batumi and Poti. All products are labeled 'Made in Georgia.' Furthermore The Ajara Textile contributes significantly to female employment in Adjara Region since most of the workers in the factories are women. “Georgia and Turkey have exemplary relations and close cooperation in every area. Economic relations between Turkey and Georgia has boosted with the
signature of Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in 2007. Since then, Turkey has become the largest trade partner of Georgia every year. The annual bilateral trade volume is about 1.5 billion USD and we would like to increase this amount to 2 billion USD. In terms of investment, Turkish investments rank among the first three countries in every term. Technical teams of two countries have been working to deepen the scope of the FTA. Moreover, Joint Economic and Trade Commission was established in 2017 between Turkey and Georgia aiming at developing direct contacts between the institutions, the enterprises and the economic units of both countries in order to increase bilateral cooperation. “Georgia is one of the most suitable countries to invest with its business friendly environment, reliable tax policy, appropriate labor costs, low energy costs and preferential access to the EU and Chinese markets, all of which attract Turkish businessmen and investors. In this regard, there are more than 30 Turkish companies in Georgia with over 1 million USD in capital. In addition, more than 1.000 Turkish companies operate in the country as small and medium size enterprises. In 25 years, more than 200 projects were realized by Turkish companies in Georgia, amounting to approximately 2 billion USD. The activity areas of Turkish companies mainly focus in construction, tourism, textile, food manufacturing and energy sectors.”
n February 22-23, negotiations on the text of the air traffic agreement between Georgia and Saudi Arabia took place between the aviation authorities of the two countries in Tbilisi. Georgia’s Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development reports that at the end of the negotiations, a Memorandum of Cooperation was signed between the parties, which enables the airlines of the both countries to conduct direct regular flights and sign commercial agreements until a final intergovernmental agreement is signed. Within the framework of negotiations, the parties reached an agreement based on internationally recognized liberal principles established in the aviation sector. According to the draft agreement, the
quantity, capacity and frequency of designated airlines will be unlimited. At the same time, the airlines will be able to determine the tariffs themselves and air traffic will be available between any points on the territories of the countries, from which international flights can be carried out. The final intergovernmental agreement between the sides will be signed at a later date, which will create a legal basis for direct flights between Georgia and Saudi Arabia. The sides believe the agreement will also promote tourism and develop tradeeconomic cooperation between the two countries. The Georgian ministry added that taking into consideration the record-breaking number of visitors from Saudi Arabia to Georgia in recent years, the representatives of Saudi Arabian Airlines, who are interested in future cooperation, also visited Georgia within the frames of the meeting.
Photo: Signing ceremony of the memorandum
FEBRUARY 27 - MARCH 1, 2018
In 2017 Georgia Enjoyed Highest Growth in 5 Years, but Rapid Consumer Credit Expansion Needs Close Monitoring BY DAVIT KESHELAVA AND YASYA BABYCH
SET-PI has updated its forecast of Georgia’s real GDP growth rate for the first quarter of 2018. Here are the highlights of this month’s release: • Geostat has published its rapid estimate of real GDP growth for the fourth quarter of 2017. Estimated growth stands at 4.7%, which is only 0.1% higher than the value forecasted in the last update of our model. • Given the latest data, Georgian annual real GDP growth in 2017 amounted to 4.8%. Our annual GDP forecast of 4.7% (since November 2017), and 4.8% (since December 2017), therefore turned out to be quite accurate. • ISET-PI’s forecast for the first quarter of 2018 puts GDP growth at 3.4%.
REAL GDP GROWTH IN 2017 IS THE HIGHEST IN THE LAST FIVE YEARS, SUPPORTED BY BOTH EXTERNAL AND DOMESTIC FACTORS. Geostat has released its first rapid estimate of real GDP growth for the fourth quarter of 2017, and it now stands at 4.7%. As a result, the estimated annual GDP
growth for 2017 reached 4.8%, which is the highest annual growth rate in the last five years. ISET-PI forecasts annual GDP growth starting from Q1 each year, generating three different scenarios (best-case, baseline, and worst-case). Throughout the year, our predicted figures were very close to the currently released official data . For example, as early as March 2017, our baseline scenario predicted 4.3% real GDP growth, while the best-case scenario predicted 5.1%. In November 2017, we forecasted 4.7% y-o-y growth. Since then, our updated forecasts mirrored the actual 4.8% GDP growth. Notably, last year, ISET-PI model’s prediction of the annual growth rate differed just 0.1 percentage points from the actual real growth rate in 2016. Based on the available data, one can conclude that the main drivers of real GDP growth for 2017 were notably
improved external statistics, supported by domestic factors – such as increased consumption and investment, as a consequence of improved consumer and business confidence. In 2017, economies throughout the region enjoyed moderate growth – the Armenian economy reached an impressive 7.7% annual growth, up from a low 0.2% in 2016. The Russian economy advanced by 1.5%, which further stimulated Georgian and Armenian economies though trade, remittances and tourism channels. Moreover, Azerbaijan finally managed to overcome a severe recession (GDP was down 3.8% in 2016), and exhibited a 0.1% annual growth. There is still no data available on annual GDP growth for Turkey. However, the latest World Bank estimates indicate that the Turkish economy may have expanded by 6.7% in 2017.
ACCORDING TO THE MOST RECENT FORECAST FOR 2018, THE GROWTH RATE IN GEORGIA’S FIRST QUARTER IS WILL BE 3.4%. The most significant changes in our forecast were observable for variables related to excess inflation (inflation exceeding the NBG target), improved external statistics, an increased monetary base, and rapidly growing consumer
credit. Excess Inflation. According to our model, the main negative contributor to growth was the increased consumer price level, compared to the same month of the previous year. The December increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) amounted to 6.7% yearly, while the Producer Price Index (PPI) increased by 8.7%. About 2.7 percentage points of CPI inflation were due to higher tobacco and oil prices, driven by the one-time increase in excise tax and higher world prices for oil . For imported goods in particular, the increase in prices was 11%, while “domestic” inflation was relatively moderate at 4.9%. The measure of core inflation amounted to a relatively moderate 4.7%, of which about 2 percentage points were due to increased tobacco prices. One can conclude that the long run, inflation in Geor-
gia is stable and likely to converge at the 3% target level, once the excise tax effect is exhausted at the beginning of 2018. External Sector Statistics. The other set of variables which has had a significant positive effect on the predicted real GDP growth was related to the external sector. Georgia exports continued to expand, increasing by 49% yearly in December 2017, while imports were up by 15%. The trade deficit, however, deepened by 0.8% yearly, and amounted to 557.1 million USD. The improvement in trade statistics was mainly due to better economic conditions in the entire region. Moreover, exports to China contributed significantly to growth in export revenues (mainly through copper ores and ferroalloys exports). Georgia also continued to export more wine to China. Cigarette exports increased by more than 14 times, mainly due to the increase in tobacco excise taxes. The only export category that experienced a significant decrease during the last month of 2017 was hazelnut exports. Furthermore, remittances increased by 16.3% yearly, raising people’s disposable income, consumption and real GDP growth. The main contributors to this increase were Israel (4.4 p.p.), Russia (2.9 p.p.), Greece (2.7 p.p.) and Italy (2.6 p.p.). Russia and Euro Union countries accounted for 66% of total money inflow. In addition, the number of international visitors increased by 23.3%, while the increase in tourist numbers (visitors who spent 24 hours or more in Georgia) was even more impressive – it amounted to 31.7%. In summary, increased money inflow and the dramatically raised number of visitors and tourists in the corresponding month made a significant positive contribution to the growth forecast. Monetary Base. The other set of variables that had a significant positive effect on our forecast is related to currency in circulation. Despite the fact that in December 2017, the National Bank of Georgia increased the Monetary Policy
10 Galaktion Street
Source: National Statistical Bureaus, World Bank Estimate
Rate (MPR) by 0.25%, rapid credit expansion (commercial bank loans to the domestic economy increased by 18.3% yearly) led to an increase in the domestic money supply through the money multiplier effect. All of the monetary aggregates, including the Broad Money (M3) measure, increased significantly (by 2% monthly and 15% yearly) in the corresponding month. The largest yearly increase was observed again for the M2 monetary aggregate, which went up by 29% relative to the same month of the previous year. Moreover, Currency in Circulation (CCIR) itself increased by 10% in yearly terms. Consumer Credit. In December 2017, Total Volume of Commercial Bank’s Consumer Credit increased by 27%
relative to the same month of the previous year. Consumer confidence and expectations for the future are important factors determining the households’ willingness to spend, borrow and save. A high level of consumer confidence and positive expectations will encourage a higher marginal propensity to consume, leading to more vibrant consumption and higher growth. However, rapid consumer credit expansions need to be monitored very closely by the monetary authorities – in cases when credit expansion leads to lower loan quality, and/or when the propensity to spend on imported vs. domestic goods is high, the stability of the banking system, as well as the long-run real GDP growth of the country, may suffer.
Our forecasting model is based on the Leading Economic Indicator (LEI) methodology developed by the New Economic School, Moscow, Russia. We constructed a dynamic model of the Georgian economy, which assumes that all economic variables, including the GDP itself, are driven by a small number of factors that can be extracted from the data well before the GDP growth estimates are published. For each quarter, ISET-PI produces five consecutive monthly forecasts (or “vintages”), which increase in precision as time goes on. Our first forecast (1st vintage) is available about five months before the end of the quarter in question. The last forecast (5th vintage) is published in the first month of the next quarter.
Tel: (995 32) 2 45 08 08 E-mail: email@example.com
FEBRUARY 27 - MARCH 1, 2018
TMI Consultancy Director: Diversity is Georgia’s Strength INTERVIEW BY SOPIO JAVAKHISHIVILI
n February 17, leading tourism professionals from the outbound travel sector participated in the B2B Luxury & Mice Workshop in Tbilisi. It is the second time that Georgia has hosted this event. GEORGIA TODAY took the chance to interview Helene Lloyd, Director of TMI Consultancy, the main event organizer.
AS A FOUNDER OF THE B2B LUXURY AND MICE WORKSHOP, HOW WOULD YOU RATE THE CURRENT GEORGIAN TOURISM SECTOR? We see good potential in the Georgian market, both in terms of out-bound travel, which is the main focus of our workshop, and for inbound traffic. The main aim of the B2B Luxury & MICE workshop is to bring international participants and develop outbound travel to the different destinations and hotels that have taken part in the event. However, as many of the international participants are visiting Georgia for the first time, we believe that the event provides great exposure of the country as a travel destination and it helps raises people’s awareness of Tbilisi and Georgia in general. As the event organizers, we had a very positive experience, and we see not only the potential for the outbound market, but also that Georgia is an emerging destination for inbound tourism, and that tourism is in general an important sector for the Georgian economy. One of Georgia’s key strengths is its appeal to the different niches which are now fast developing in tourism. In particular I can imagine that it’s a true heaven for the ‘foodie’ niche due its excellent and varied cuisine and superb wines. I personally enjoy drinking Georgian wine, especially the semi-sweet and dry red varieties, and I would love to see it more successfully distributed abroad, so I could access it more easily and so more
people can enjoy it. I believe that the successful distribution of wine could be a key way of attracting highly educated visitors with sophisticated tastes, who would put a mark of respect on the destination.
IT IS THE SECOND TIME THE WORKSHOP HAS BEEN HELD IN GEORGIA. WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR LOCAL TOURISM COMPANIES TO ATTEND THE CONFERENCE? I think the main benefit for local Georgian travel companies is that it helps them increase their knowledge of new tourism products and destinations, without having to travel abroad themselves. It is convenient when partners come to you. Apart from the Workshop itself, we also have a ‘Knowledge Session’ for both international and local participants. This year’s Workshop knowledge session for local participants was hosted by Slovenia, which enabled local travel companies to have a more in-depth presentation and understanding of Slovenia as a tourism destination. Slovenia is a great role model for Georgia, as it has half the population of Georgia, but has over the years managed to become a well-developed destination, without becoming a mass tourism destination. Slovenia has put a lot of focus on being a ‘green’ and sustainable tourism destination. This means that Georgian participants do not simply get educated about the potential of a new destination, but also increase their understanding of how to develop and promote their own country. It also helps the Georgian travel industry to gain an in-depth knowledge of a new destination, which they can then offer their clients. The international session for international participants included the introduction of a new technology called Chute, a platform to help destinations promote themselves more successful using user-generated content, as well as an introduction to the Georgian market, which included the participation of a local travel industry player.
WHAT ARE THE KEY CHARACTERISTICS REQUIRED FOR SUCCESS IN TOURISM? One of the key elements in travel today is for the visitor to have an authentic experience. Visitors are no longer interested in experiencing a destination as an outsider who passively observes the country visited. Instead, they want to have an experience and get involved, they want to sample the local food and do activities that they would not do during their daily life at home. Destinations which are only price-driven, such as a seaside resort in Egypt, are likely to experience an enormous challenge in the future as they will only attract a limited number of visitors, against huge competition from other destinations where experience driven holidays are priced at a premium rate. Visitors will always enjoy the good weather and sometime on the beach, but the main attraction of a destination is linked to the whole cultural and experiential experience. Tourists want to feel more like a paying guest than a tourist, and the superb Georgian hospitality makes people feel very special and is a great asset to the country’s attractiveness as an experiential tourism destination. Of course, high levels of services and the ability to communicate with visitors is also key, so the more languages that are spoken, especially international ones like English, French and Russian, the more engaged the visitor will feel. Also, when we talk about high levels of service, we are not only referring to services in a hotel, but the overall experience: how locals interact with tourists, how friendly and helpful they are, etc. All of these aspects can be developed in Georgia’s favor, with the right incentive schemes in place and the correct education of the population, to ensure they are tourist-friendly and receptive in the long-run.
WHAT AREAS STILL REQUIRE IMPROVEMENT FOR THE FURTHER DEVELOPMENT OF TOURISM IN GEORGIA?
There is still a lot of work to do to promote the many and varied regions of Georgia, beyond the obvious places where people usually go. However, before this is done, there needs to be further investment and improvement in the infrastructure. This would make it easier for people to move around and entice them to the more far-flung regions of the country. This is especially important as all the trends show that the future of travel is based on independent travel. I had the pleasure to go on the train from Tbilisi to Batumi and the train was excellent, with free WiFi and clean and comfortable seats. This is a fantastic first step in the right direction. Good infrastructure is not only convenient for tourists, but it helps both local businesses and the local population develop as well
as helping to reduce the great move from rural areas to cities. It allows people to remain where they are and still enjoy a decent standard of living. Moreover, they help to maintain the local culture and traditions, a vital aspect of tourism.
WHICH ARE YOUR FAVORITE REGIONS IN GEORGIA? So far, I’ve only seen Tbilisi and Batumi, and I liked both very much. Batumi was really surprising; I didn’t realize it would be so different from Tbilisi, with its own micro-climate, its wealth of modern, hotel infrastructure and its own style of cuisine. Much like Slovenia, Georgia is a ‘boutique destination’ which offers a wide range of experiences in a relatively compact space. Diversity is Georgia’s strength.
FEBRUARY 27 - MARCH 1, 2018
British Company to Develop Anaklia Urban Planning Concept Happold Engineering Company in consortium with Moffat & Nichol has been chosen to develop the economic analyses, demand analyses and masterplan of Anaklia. Anaklia visionary master planning document will be developed in next 6 months.
DO YOU HOPE TO DEVELOP ANAKLIA INTO A NEW INDUSTRIAL CENTER OF GEORGIA, OR WILL THIS DEVELOPMENT BE MORE HOLISTIC?
Continued from page 1 Addressing the audience, BuroHappold Engineering representatives spoke about their experience in the field. “We became convinced of the pace and magnitude of this remarkable project and we think it will greatly contribute to regional development and to the nation’s overall economic development,” said Robert Winterhager, Group Director Cities at BurroHappold Engineering. “To become a regional landmark, Anaklia city is to rely on the two pillars: cuttingedge technologies and green economy,” said Keti Bochorishvili, ‘Anaklia City’ Executive Director. “We are glad to have the opportunity to work with one of the world’s key companies. The concept is to be developed within 6 months, during which ‘Anaklia City’ will be discussing the concept at meetings with target groups.” BuroHappold Engineering has already started to work on the Anaklia city urban planning concept and had meetings with several government agencies, including the Economy and Finance Ministries. On February 22, the Company’s experts arrived in Anaklia for preliminary investigation. For the purpose of the spatial planning, they examined the territory and the Anaklia port construction works. BuroHappold Engineering, one of the world’s key urban planning and construc-
tion companies, works worldwide. In Britain, Europe, Asia and the USA, it has implemented over 600 projects, such as the sea port complex in Mumbai, London’s Hyde Park, the Technological University in California. At the February 23 meeting, Anaklia City officials summed up the company’s works so far. Anaklia City took on development of the city and the special economic zone in June 2017. To date, it has forged ties with over 100 international companies, many of those now its partners. Collaboration agreements have been signed with Incheon Free Economic Zone (South Korea), Khorgos Special Economic Zone (Kazakhstan), and international logistics and forwarding companies, such as the South Korean “Pantos Logistics” and the Austrian Gebrüder Weiss. Talks are underway with a number of giant e-commerce companies. At the meetings with its partners, “Anaklia City” is now promoting the economic potential of the city, the economic zone and, in broader terms, that of Georgia.
THE ANAKLIA VISIONARY MASTER PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT PLAN? Anaklia City had announced tender for the study. More than 40 international consulting and engineering companies participated in tender process. Buro
Our overall goal is to develop the Anaklia City/Special Economic Zone as a brand new city and frontier destination for foreign companies, encompassing different industries and business clusters within the zone. At the initial stage we will focus on development of the industrial and logistics parks which are essential sectors to benefit from being adjacent to the new modern and state of the art port infrastructure. Simultaneously, we will continue to work on assessing and developing the other clusters such as financial, retail, entertainment and tourism, education, healthcare and residential. This is the reason BuroHappold Engineering have come on board to develop the visionary master plan for the territory of about 2,000 ha and proposing a long-term strategy to work on city-scale mixed-used development. In
addition to the economic and master planning studies, we are working on the legal framework to ensure that our hard and soft infrastructure will be attractive and favorable for different industrial and service businesses.
WHAT MAKES ANAKLIA UNIQUE AND PROFITABLE FOR INVESTORS? Firstly, Anaklia SEZ will offer the same incentives which Georgia offers as a country and one of the easiest destinations for doing business in the world. It includes competitive costs of doing business (dealing with bureaucracy, labor costs and utilities costs), low tax burden system (8th in the world according to the WEF report) and most importantly, tariff free access to the largest consumer markets in the world with a population of over 2 billion people through existing Free Trade Agreements with the EU28, China, EFTA countries, CIS region and Turkey. On top of that, Anaklia will offer unique advantages in terms of infrastructure. It will be adjacent to the newest and state of the art Anaklia Deep Sea Port, connected to all other modes of transportation with newly developed rail and road connections integrated into the national networks, and with access to the International Kutaisi Airport located less than 90km from the project site. Furthermore,
GEORGIA TODAY contacted Anaklia City to find out more information about the project.
COULD YOU PLEASE TELL US MORE DETAILS ABOUT the Anaklia SEZ will offer modern hard and soft infrastructure to be developed within the territory of the City. The special economic status of Anaklia, defined by the Constitution of Georgia, grants the opportunity to develop a special regulatory framework and business environment in the frames of the project. It means, Anaklia City and SEZ will offer potential clients incentives which are far beyond the simple fiscal relief offered by the existing industrial zones in Georgia. In addition, Anaklia will offer one-stop-shop services for tenants and clients of the Zone, further decreasing the time and costs of dealing with bureaucracy. Finally, the development of Anaklia will be based on the Smart and Green city principles, which means that Anaklia will offer high quality of life for local and foreign citizens to perform business activities or living in Anaklia. Anaklia also has the unique location from a tourism and recreational point of view, being located on the Black Sea coast along with the Kolkheti National Park. Overall, we believe that Anaklia City will have a unique combination of incentives and favorable environment to become the regional center for transportation, industrial, financial, tourism and other business activities.
FEBRUARY 27 - MARCH 1, 2018
Geostat: 2017 Sees Meat Production in Georgia Decline
BY MÁTÉ FÖLDI
ccording to the preliminary report released by Geostat, meat production in Georgia dropped 11.6% in 2017: from 66.1 thousand tons to 59.4 thousand tons. Meanwhile, the total number of bovine animals was down 6.5% y/y: 900.4 thousand vs. 962.7 thousand. The total quantity of dairy cows
and buffaloes also decreased 9.5% in the same time period: 462.8 thousand vs 509.3 thousand. At the same time, sheep and goat numbers rose by 3.2% to 966.5 thousand, compared to 936.5 thousand at the end of the previous year. The pig population also increased by 20.8% to 164.5 thousand, while the number of chickens decreased by 2.3% to 8.046 million. Egg and milk production also dropped in 2017: 590.4 million to 579.2 million; 540.1 million liters to 501.9 million liters.
Unreported Case of Worker’s Death at Panorama Tbilisi Revealed by Investigative Journalists Photo: February 23 protest rally in Tbilisi, organized by the Georgian Trade Union. Source: Netgazeti
BY THEA MORRISON
he union of investigative journalists of Georgia, ifact.ge, reports that a 27-year-old man died on January 21, while working on construction of a golf club that is part of the Panorama Tbilisi project. However, the death went unreported until this weekend. Panorama Tbilisi was initiated by former Prime Minister of Georgia, Bidzina Ivanishvili, and is financed by the state-led Co-Investment Fund that he created. Construction of the huge project continues despite regular protests by environmentalists and other civic groups. Investigative journalists found out that Levan Lapachi was pouring concrete on the ground floor of a three-story golf club when the concrete ceiling above him collapsed. “According to eyewitnesses, the cement in the ceiling had not yet hardened. The cement in the support posts for the ceiling had also not hardened and didn’t support the weight of the ceiling,” ifact. ge reports. The deceased worker left behind a widow and two children, 5 and 1. Georgia’s national Rustavi 2 TV tried to interview the family of the deceased worker; however, they refused to make any comments. Georgia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) reports that they launched the investigation immediately after the accident occurred. According to the MIA, other employees working on the site, supervisors of the workers and representatives of the construction company were questioned. The MIA states that relevant expertise was also carried out on site. The Georgian Trade Union claims that since 2007, more than 480 people have died in the workplace
and around 800 have been seriously injured, with 40 workers dying in the workplace in 2017 alone. On February 23, the representatives of the Trade Union and workers from different parts of Georgia held a large-scale protest rally in Tbilisi. The demonstrators gathered in Rose Revolution Square and marched to the old parliament building on Rustaveli Avenue. The main demand of the protesters was the timely adoption of the Labor Safety Law, which has been under discussion in Parliament since June 1, 2017. The protesters say the draft law applies only to “work under excessive risk of harsh and harmful conditions,” adding it has to cover all kinds of jobs and employees to exclude any kind of discrimination. They also stressed that the bill refers only to labor safety, leaving labor legislation and enforcement of labor rights without regulation. The Trade Union says they took part in the discussions on the draft law but none of their demands were included in the draft. Giga Bekauri, who leads the youth wing of the Trade Union, said that the existing labor safety bill is incomplete and empty of guarantees. “We demand that the inspection of labor be realistic, and the draft law does not enable this,” he added, underlining that Labor Inspectors have limited rights when it comes to supervision of work places. Bekauri explained that according to the 81st Convention, labor management must be a trilateral and carried out by the Trade Union, Employer Association and State. Georgian Trade Union and workers are not the only ones to criticize the existing labor law. Georgian NonGovernmental Organizations, as well as student Movement ‘Auditorium 115’ have also come out against the draft law on Labor Safety, claiming it is incomplete and does not meet European standards.
FEBRUARY 27 - MARCH 1, 2018
FEBRUARY 2018 RETAIL FPI | When Will Spring Come to Town?
n the last two weeks of February, ISET’s Retail Food Price Index increased by 5% (compared to February 2017). On a monthly basis (compared to January 2018), food prices in Tbilisi’s major supermarkets increased slightly, by 0.6%. We recorded the biggest bi-weekly price increases for bananas (10%), cucumbers (10%), and beef (4%). Prices dropped the most for garlic (-9%), rice (-6%), and potatoes (-5%).
Looked at from an annual perspective (November 2017 vs. November 2016), on average, Tbilisi’s retail markets experienced substantial annual price increases in the five food categories that comprise the Retail FPI: grocery (4%), fruits (6%), meat (3%), dairy products (10%), and non-alcoholic beverages (2%). The most drastic price increases were observed for dairy products. In February 2018, prices are higher for all dairy products, compared to the same month of previous year: milk (8%), cheese (11%), butter (11%), and matsoni (5%). As discussed in our previous pub-
PRICES OF DIFFERENT FOOD CATEGORIES IN MORE DETAIL
Ukrainian Gas Transmission System Sentenced: Expert Estimates Reduction of Gas Transit through Ukraine BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE
azprom cut the transit of gas through Ukraine to Europe by 25% compared to the beginning of the month. “If we compare the first and 22nd January this year, the volume of transit of Russian gas through the Ukrainian gas transportation system reduced from 238.7 to 180 million cubic meters per day,” said the adviser to the Minister of Energy and Coal Industry of Ukraine, Maxim Belyavsky. According to the Ukrainian politician, this is due to the fact that the Russian company uses gas which was accumulated in the summer in European storage facilities, and also sends it through the Nord Stream. He also noted that the reduction in raw material consumption in European countries is associated with relatively warm weather. Director of the Center for Geopolitical Studies of the Institute for Innovative Development, Dmitry Rodionov, recalled that the Ukrainian ministry only confirmed what was previously voiced by Gazprom. In Ukraine, Naftogaz are coming to
understand that Moscow's plans to abandon Ukrainian transit after 2020 are an impending reality, and that the Western allies of the Kiev authorities cannot help them in any way. Naftogaz representatives were once heard to say that it's pointless to rely on "conscious circles in the EU and the US," as a number of influential companies from Germany, France, Austria and Holland are interested in the implementation of Nord Stream-2. According to Rodionov, the Ukrainian authorities, are still trying to mitigate the consequences of the fact that they will be left without transit. They say they offered Gazprom a significant reduction in the cost of transit. “But they don’t understand that there is no discount that can compensate for the political risks that threaten to result in huge financial losses. Gazprom needs to deliver gas to Europe, and Europeans - to receive it without overlap. Politics fades into the background, despite attempts by Washington and Brussels to mix it up - they will accuse Moscow of infringing on the rights of Kiev, and they will try to pull on the NP-2 norms of European legislation that are not applicable to it,” Rodionov said.
lication, a reduction in the supply of milk associated with increased exports of live bovine animals, along with increased exports of meat, might explain the increased dairy prices. However, prices did not increase for all food categories: vegetables are 16% cheaper on average compared to the previous year. The sharpest price decreases were observed for garlic (-42%), coriander (-32%), eggplants (-24%), and carrots (-20%). Given the upcoming spring – the season of fresh fruit and vegetables – Georgian consumers might expect food prices to cool down.
Galt & Taggart Publishes 2017-18 Georgian Macroeconomic Overview BY MÁTÉ FÖLDI
n February 22, Galt & Taggart, the leading investment banking and investment management services company in Georgia, published its Georgian Macroeconomic Overview for 2017-18. According to the report, Georgia’s economic performance was strong, with significant milestones achieved in 2017. Two of these milestones included: becoming the ninth easiest place to do business globally, according to the latest World Bank Doing Business Report; and being given a sovereign credit rating upgrade by Moody's. Furthermore, economy grew by an estimated 4.8% in 2017, trust in which was shown through a record high reinvestment by foreign companies. The Executive Summary of the report, 'Georgian Economy - Empowering Private Sector to Drive Growth', revealed further achievements: "Increased external demand for goods and services originating in Georgia made net exports the main driver of growth in 2017 for the first time since 2013. Tour-
ism posted a stellar performance, with inflows in the sector totaling $2.8bn US. The Government boosted capital expenditure, while the fiscal deficit reduced to 3.9% in 2017 from 4.1% in 2016. Importantly, reinvestment by foreign companies almost doubled and reached $600m US in 9M17, indicating investors’ trust in Georgia’s growth model and the success of the profit tax reform introduced in 2017. Inflation retreated to 4.3% in January 2018, and we expect it to decrease to close to the 3.0% target in 2018, after the temporary price pressures seen in 2017. In line with lower inflation, we expect the National Bank of Georgia (NBG) to cut the policy rate by 50bps from the current 7.25%. We also expect the GEL
to strengthen to 2.40 vs the US$, which should also lessen price pressures from imported inflation. We think that the NBG will intervene and build reserves to preserve competitiveness in case the GEL significantly appreciates vs the US$. The government’s commitment to containing current spending growth and increasing the fiscal space for capital spending has been demonstrated by recently approved remuneration law. Moreover, the Government has reduced the processing time and administrative procedures for refunding VAT claims. This together with profit tax reform should strengthen the financial position of corporates, increase investment and support private sector-driven growth. We maintain our GDP growth forecast at 5.4% for 2018. This forecast is based on 1) better-than-expected growth momentum among Georgia’s main trading partners; 2) commencement of large investment projects (Anaklia, Nenskra); 3) acceleration of the positive impact from growth-enhancing reforms by the government; and 4) overall improvement in consumer and business confidence locally. In addition, we see the expected monetary easing as positive for the growth outlook."
FEBRUARY 27 - MARCH 1, 2018
Qatar Airways’ Latest Promotion Invites Passengers to Enjoy Breathtaking Experiences & Benefit from Extraordinary Offers
e at Qatar Airways invite passengers to discover breathtaking new destinations by taking advantage of our latest global sales promotion, offering fantastic discounts to many new and exciting locations across our extensive global network,- the airline announced. The award-winning airline’s new promotion, “Breathtaking Experiences, Extraordinary Offers,” will provide Qatar Airways passengers discounts of up to 25% on all cabin classes. Passengers
Award-winning airline offers up to 25% on fares on all cabin classes Specia
travelling with friends and family can also enjoy a special discount with the airline’s Companion Offer on First Class and Business Class. “We are delighted to offer our latest promotion, “Breathtaking Experiences, Extraordinary Offers” and invite our valued passengers to discover many exciting new places to explore on our extensive global network, said Qatar Airways Chief Commercial Officer, Mr. Ehab Amin. “Passengers now have even more incentive to travel with friends and family, as they can take advantage of our Companion Offer in First and Business Class. We look forward to welcoming all passengers on board.” Qatar Airways passengers can plan and book their next trip and enjoy fantastic discounts on fares on all classes, valid from 26 February - 7 March 2018, with travel validity between 26 February 2018 and 20 February 2019. Qatar Airways has added many new exciting destinations to its network recently, including Chiang Mai, Thailand; St. Petersburg, Russia and Penang, Malaysia, with direct service to Cardiff, United Kingdom and Mykonos, Greece, set to launch later this year.
As well as being voted Skytrax ‘Airline of the Year’ by travelers from around the world, Qatar’s national flag carrier also won a raft of other major awards at last year’s ceremony, including ‘Best Airline in the Middle East,’ ‘World’s Best Business Class’ and ‘World’s Best First Class Airline Lounge.’ Qatar Airways operates a modern fleet of more than 200 aircraft to a network of more than 150 key business and leisure destinations across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, North America and South America. The airline is launching a host of exciting new destinations planned for 2018, including Thessaloniki, Greece and Cardiff, U.K, to name just a few. Qatar Airways, the national carrier of the State of Qatar, is celebrating more than 20 years of Going Places Together with travelers across its more than 150 business and leisure destinations. The world’s fastest-growing airline will add a number of exciting new destinations to its growing network in 2018, including Canberra, Australia; Penang, Malaysia and Cardiff, UK and many more, flying passengers on board its modern fleet of more than 200 aircraft.
Qatar Airways is a member of the oneworld global alliance. The awardwinning alliance was named the World’s Best Airline Alliance 2015 by Skytrax for the third year running. Qatar Airways was the first Gulf carrier to join global airline alliance, oneworld, enabling its passengers to benefit from more than 1,000 airports in more than 150 countries, with 14,250 daily departures. Oryx One, Qatar Airways’ in-flight entertainment system offers passengers up to 4,000 entertainment options from the latest blockbuster movies, TV box sets, music, games and much more. Passengers flying on Qatar Airways flights served by its B787, A350, A380, A319 and select A320 and A330 aircraft can also stay in touch with their friends and family around the world by using the award-winning airline’s on-board Wi-Fi and GSM service. Qatar Airways proudly supports a range of exciting international and local initiatives dedicated to enriching the global community that it serves. Qatar Airways, the official FIFA partner, is the official sponsor of many top-level sporting events, including the FIFA 2018 and
Companion Offer available on First Class and Business Class 2022 World Cups, reflecting the values of sports as a means of bringing people together, something at the core of the airline’s own brand message - Going Places Together. Qatar Airways Cargo, the world’s third largest international cargo carrier, serves more than 60 exclusive freighter destinations worldwide via its world-class Doha hub and also delivers freight to more than 150 key business and leisure destinations globally with more than 200 aircraft. The Qatar Airways Cargo fleet includes eight Airbus A330 freighters, 13 Boeing 777 freighters and two Boeing 747-8 freighters.
FEBRUARY 27 - MARCH 1, 2018
Economic Development as a Recipe for Georgia’s Geopolitical Security OP-ED BY EMIL AVDALIANI
he West has geopolitical interests across the former Soviet space, and so does Russia. Russia is weaker economically, and in terms of soft power, than the EU or the US, but this disadvantage is covered up by Russia’s geographic proximity to the South Caucasus, Ukraine, Central Asia and elsewhere. These factors create what we have had for the past 25 years – a battle for the postSoviet economic markets. Countries lying in between feel the pressure the most, and it has become customary for analysts to discuss ways to resolve the geopolitical conflict. One of the possibilities for establishing a safer zone in the post-Soviet space could be a diversification of economic partnerships. The more foreign countries invest in Georgia, the easier it will be for Tbilisi to navigate in the difficult geopolitical currents of the South Caucasus. The country needs to be not only the embodiment of EU/US economic interests, but also be open to large infrastructure projects sponsored by any interested state. This could potentially create a network of economic corridors, supply chains, etc. which will make Georgia less vulnerable to both Russian and other outside pressure. Georgia has an attractive geographic position and using it will create powerful incentives for development. Consider the following example: Georgia is actually the shortest distance to transport goods overland between China and Europe. True, the cost of using the Georgia route is significantly higher than the corridors from China through Russia and Kazakhstan. Nevertheless, using the Georgia route is quite attractive. Important steps have been made to attach Georgia to regional and global projects. One of them
is the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), first announced in 2013. Georgia became directly involved in BRI in 2016 by joining the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Recently, Georgia signed an agreement under which the AIIB will provide $114 million to build the Batumi Bypass Road- facilitating a better connection between Georgia’s hinterland and the port city of Batumi.
ANAKLIA’S IMPORTANCE The Georgian government in the near future plans to construct approximately 550 kilometers of roads as well as repair hundreds of kilometers. Moreover, $3.5 billion will be spent on 300 new bridges and 50 new tunnels. The connectivity across the country will be much facilitated, in particular to the new port at Anaklia. The port of Anaklia is interesting as the current ports of Georgia can service only ships with small and medium draft. The depth of the harbor in Poti is 8 meters, in Batumi – 14 meters. The new port of Anaklia will have a depth of 17 meters and will be able to accommodate large Panamax and Postpanamax container vessels, each carrying up to 10,000 TEU.
BAKU-TBILISI-KARS Yet another project of importance is the the newly opened Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, effectively connecting the Caspian with the Black Sea. The railway will play an important role in the geopolitics of the region as it will not only increase connectivity in the South Caucasus but could also potentially embolden the land-locked Central Asian states to think more actively about exporting their raw resources to the European markets. This is also reflected in the intention behind the construction of the port at Alat in Azerbaijan, which is one of the largest in the Caspian Sea region, and which was specifically built to provide connections to
Central Asia. An additional layer of geopolitical importance is added to the project when it is seen within the context of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The 826-kilometer railway will enable the delivery of cargo between China and Europe in approximately two weeks. Up to 8 million tons of cargo may be carried on the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway by 2025. We often hear that Georgia should embrace neutrality on an official level as a recipe for
geopolitical security. However, statements will not change anything until bigger neighboring states agree on it. One of the ways to ensure your own security is to be firmly connected to constantly changing global supply chains and to have developed infrastructure. The more states have their share of economic benefits in Georgia, the more it is possible that Georgia’s position will become more stable and less attractive for aggression from its neighbors.
The iPhone Investor & Masseuse Manipulator BY TOM DAY
here are those among us who have a strong and influential personality. Whatever they say, you will believe. They are very likeable, and you want them to like you, too. They are confident, charming and convincing, capable of getting you to do whatever they want, like a moth drawn to the light, despite any doubts you may have. Handing over thousands of dollars to invest in a ‘business’ is one of them, as GEORGIA TODAY found out when Eugenyi Yakovenko told us the story of a masseuse who had a way with words, as well as with his hands. Eugenyi, from Ukraine, came to Tbilisi in September 2017 to seek out a professional for his chronic back pain. He contacted dozens of masseuses, but they were either charging too much or didn’t provide the exact service he needed. He was beginning to get worried when, out of nowhere, he saw a company called ‘Manual Therapy’ being advertised, which offered a good price and what he needed. The company was operated by one man alone and, according to Eugenyi, he offered him extra sessions for free because he “very much respected my homeland and had lived and worked there.” Eugenyi had had many masseuses in his life, and so had high expectations. He was satisfied with the man’s work and started to visit him every day. He began to form a friendly relationship with the masseuse, staying behind for tea after appointments. “He talked a lot about himself, creating a convincing story, told confidently,” Eugenyi told us, leaving little doubt in his mind. The man told him that he was a businessman, but that massage was his hobby because he “likes to do good and promised his dying father to help people.” The man added that his main income came from “the sale of new models of iPhone,” and that in March, he would open a store in Tbilisi.
With trust now established, the man invited Eugenyi to get involved with his business, starting with small amounts of cash so he could “order more phones.” Eugenyi had doubts, of course, handing over money to someone who was still very much a stranger. He asked a friend to find some background information about him, but nothing could be found. However, every question Eugenyi presented him with was met with a convincing answer. With every doubt now extinguished, he was back on side. “He really put me back in order,” Eugenyi said. “He is a powerful manipulator. He led me to believe that he is a man of his word. I also believed him, because he really cured my back and injured shoulder.” He gave the man $1200 and was told “the phones will arrive on 4/02/18.” Shortly after, the man and the money “disappeared.” A few days before leaving, one of Eugenyi’s friends had found some troubling information on social media - the man never deleted his company’s Facebook page and it became evident that he had done this before. Unfortunately, this information was discovered too late. Eugenyi told us that, “as far as I know, in Tbilisi, he has made $30,000 - 50,000.” He has also operated in Ukraine and Russia, and may have now even moved on to Kazakhstan. This can and does happen to the best of us. Eugenyi warns others to “be careful and to not trust unfamiliar personalities, even if they massage well and give you nice tea!”
FEBRUARY 27 - MARCH 1, 2018
European Union Monitoring Mission Issues Statement on Death of Georgian Prisoner in Tskhinvali participants may agree to." Archil Tatunashvili, 35, had been detained by the Russian-backed Tskhinvali authorities on February 22, thereafter taken to Tskhinvali “for questioning.” The so-called Security Service claimed Tatunashvili had “resisted being moved to a detention cell and as a result sustained injuries, was knocked down and rolled down the stairs,” after which he was taken to hospital, where he died after two hours. They also claim that, according to the preliminary results of the autopsy on the body, Tatunashvili was found to have died from “acute heart failure.” Tskhinvali accused Tatunashvili of “genocide against South Ossetians,” saying he had been a member of the Georgian Army and was apparently “preparing new acts of sabotage on the territory of the republic shortly before the election of the President of the Russian Federation.” Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili, spoke about Archil Tatunashvili’s death during his meeting with Danish Foreign Minister, Anders Samuelsen last week, saying that he “was a Georgian soldier who served global peace and security in international missions,” who had been “kidnapped and killed” in the occupied region. He described the incident as “a totally disgusting murder,” which “added a great pain to the tragedy of our country’s occupation.”
BY MÁTÉ FÖLDI
he European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) has issued a statement on the death of Archil Tatunashvili at the hands of the Kremlin-backed Tskhinvali authorities yesterday. The statement reads: "On 23 February, the EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM) learned about the death of Mr. Archil Tatunashvili. The EUMM wishes to extend its condolences to the family of the deceased. The EUMM, in its monitoring capacity and in line with its mandate, continues to follow developments closely. The Mission Hotline has been and continues to be actively used for communication regarding this tragic event. The EUMM believes that it is of paramount importance to establish co-operation so all necessary documentation is exchanged to ascertain the cause of death of the deceased. The Mission looks forward to full, thorough and transparent examinations into the death of Mr Tatunashvili. The EUMM stands ready to support ongoing investigations and to facilitate discussions through the Ergneti Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism, which is co-chaired by the EUMM and the OSCE, or any other appropriate format
Special Release from the Embassy of Azerbaijan on the Khojaly Genocide FROM THE EMBASSY OF THE REPUBLIC OF AZERBAIJAN TO GEORGIA
n commemoration of the 26th anniversary of Khojaly Genocide, the Embassy of Azerbaijan Republic to Georgia in cooperation with the Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia, and the Loghman Medical Center, organized a visit to Tinistavi and Tedosminda villages, Gori region, for doctors on 22 February in order to imple-
ment mobile medical services in the villages. The Embassy also organized a voluntary blood donation drive on February 26 at the Embassy. February 26 marked the 26th anniversary of the Khojaly Genocide. From October 1991, the town was entirely surrounded by the armed forces of Armenia. Overnight on 25 - 26 February 1992, following a massive artillery bombardment of Khojaly, the assault on the town began from various directions. As a result, the armed forces of Armenia, with the help of the infantry guards regiment No. 366 of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), seized control of Khojaly. The invaders destroyed Khojaly and with particular brutality, implemented carnage over its peaceful population. As a result, 613 civilians were killed, including 106 women, 63 children and 70 elderly. Another 1,000 people were wounded and 1,275 taken hostage. To this day, 150 people from Khojaly remain missing. The intentional slaughter of the civilians in Khojaly was directed at their mass extermination only because they were Azerbaijanis. The Khojaly Genocide is recognized and commemorated by parliamentary acts adopted in numerous countries. So far, the legislative bodies of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Honduras, Jordan, Mexico, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Romania, Sudan, Djibouti, Guatemala, Scotland as well as nineteen states of the United States of America have adopted relevant parliamentary resolutions. This recognition is essential to send a political message to the perpetrators that in no way can a culture of impunity prevail and sooner rather than later justice will triumph. Furthermore, this kind of political decision contributes to achieving peace and reconciliation in the region and prevents the repetition of such crimes.
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February 27 - March 1, 2018