Issue no: 1069
• JULY 27 - 30, 2018
• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY
PRICE: GEL 2.50
In this week’s issue...
Father of Murdered Teen Sets up Charity Foundation NEWS PAGE 2
Georgian PM Dismisses 5 Governors NEWS PAGE 3
Can Trump & Putin Pull Georgia out of the Quagmire? POLITICS PAGE 6
Fereydan Georgians in Iran Demand Citizenship
ON THE MOON
A full lunar eclipse is set to wow the country on July 27
POLITICS PAGE 8
Will GD Name Its Presidential Candidate?
European Commission to Allocate 12 million Euros to Moldova for Economic Development BUSINESS PAGE 9
Vice President of Int’l Federation Red Cross Visits Georgia
BY THEA MORRISON
hile the opposition parties have named their presidential candidates, it remains unknown whether the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) will have their own presidential candidate or not. Following various comments made by the majority members regarding the issue, the GD founder and Chair, ex-PM Bidzina Ivanishvili named several candidates from the team who might be suitable for the President’s post: Justice Minister Thea Tsulukiani; the Minister of Labor, Health and Social Affairs, David Sergeenko; ex-Minister of Refugees Sozar Subari; and the PM’s Special Representative for Relations with Russia, Zurab Abashidze. However, after naming the possible candidates, the GD Chair noted he thinks the ruling party should not name their candidate yet in order to give more space to the opposition and independent MPs, a demonstration of the high-level of democracy in the country. Continued on page 2
SOCIETY PAGE 10
Celebrated Georgian Artist Kordz to Perform with String Orchestra in Borjomi Park CULTURE PAGE 12
Photo: GD founder and Chair Bidzina Ivanishvili. Source: rugbyxv.ge
The Black Sea Jazz Festival 2018 CULTURE PAGE 15
JULY 27 - 30, 2018
Father of Murdered Teen Sets up Charity Foundation BY THEA MORRISON
aza Saralidze, father of the teenager killed in the central Tbilisi last year, Davit Saralidze, set up a charity foundation on his son’s birthday, July 25. "Today is my son's birthday and he would have turned 17. It is hard for me to speak about it. He was always ready in his life to do good and to help people, so I decided to establish a foundation "Dutucha" which will help all poor people, children who suffer from various diseases and socially vulnerable persons,” Saralidze stated at the pressconference. The man explained that the foundation will function through public donations from people who want to help others. “There will be various charity events
held in future,” Saralidze noted. The Khorava Street incident took place in central Tbilisi, during which two teenagers, Davit Saralidze and Levan Dadunashvili, were stabbed to death in a brawl on December 1, 2017. On May 31, Tbilisi City Court charged two minors – one for the premeditated murder of Dadunashvili and the second for the attempted murder of Saralidze; however, the court could not say who had killed Saralidze, which sparked mass protests in the capital. Georgia’s Chief Prosecutor Irakli Shotadze resigned amid the protest rallies, while then-Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili ordered a re-investigation of the case as there were many questions left unanswered. Saralidze’s father, Zaza, asked the authorities to show him concrete results and arrest his son’s killers and all people involved, claiming he will not stop until all the offenders are held responsible.
5 Georgian Citizens Arrested in US BY SHAWN WAYNE
t has been reported that US law enforcement agencies exposed an organized criminal group engaged in automobile fraud in the USA. A group consisting of 25 people from the US, Ukraine, Latvia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkey and a total of 5 citizens of Georgia were arrested this week in Michigan, Florida, and New York. The group opened automobile front companies to which US citizens transferred an estimated total of $4.5 million in order to buy cars. The criminals were
eorgia will have a front row seat to, quite literally, the eclipse of the century this Fri-
day night. On the night of July 27-28, the full moon will experience the longest lunar eclipse of the 21st century. Its totality will last 1 hour and 43 minutes. For comparison, the shortest total lunar eclipse of the century was on April 4, 2015 and lasted a mere 4 minutes and 48 seconds. Moving in and out of the totality phase, partial eclipses will be visible, making the entire process around 4 hours long. The eclipse will also have a side show – the Earth is passing between the sun
Summer Set 2018 - Reincarnation ADVERTORIAL
arrested while in hiding with the money they had accumulated. Standing accused of conspiracy to commit fraud, the members are facing up to 30 years in prison. It was reported that the criminals may face charges of conspiracy to launder money, which can lead to an additional 20 years in prison.
Lunar Eclipse to Be Visible This Friday BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE
and Mars, called a ‘Mars opposition,’ on the night of July 27. Earthsky.org says it will be “the best Mars opposition since 2003,” with Mars glowing very bright and very red near the eclipsed moon this Friday. Visibility varies, but the entire eclipse will be visible in the Eurasia region. The eclipse will begin at 9 pm and the total eclipse will last from 11:30 pm – 1:13 am. Some of the best viewing spots in Tbilisi are likely near Lisi Lake, the Chronicles of Georgia statues, and Narikala. A group is also gathering at the Old Hippodrome to watch the eclipse, hosted by the Georgia Astronomy Club. www.facebook.com/ events/617479738629114/
5-year history, 15 000 music lovers in one space, more than 100 stars of electronic music in Georgia: it's The First Scale Electronic Music Festival - Summer Set 2018. Electronic Music Festival Summer Set is back with new surprises! The first set of the Summer Set will be held on July 27 on the territory of the electric power plant (Tsotne Dadiani 32) as a one-day event headlining Cigarettes after Sex, WhoMadeWho, Koreless, Gidge and Baikal. Summer Set is to be moved to Gudauri from 2019 and will be held every summer. The new hybrid model and philosophy of the festival will unite the mountain resorts of Georgia, electronic and instrumental music, nine types of sports and various workshops on sociocultural topics. "Our goal is to introduce another novelty. We started in 2012 when the brand introduced tens of thousands of people to the electronic music and festival culture. It helped put the club business in Tbilisi on the world map. From 2019, the Festival will be held in Gudauri. This year, its presentation event will be held in Tbilisi," said Nika Dvalidze, PR Manager of the festival. Summer Set adds new artists to the scene in addition to well-known musicians. A hundred different groups, producer and DJs will be able to present themselves to festival guests. The Summer Set will also introduce beginner musicians.
Summer Set will promote the popularity of chill culture in the mountains, attracting tourists from different European countries. Similar festivals, combining music, sports, mountain resorts, are currently in Europe. Summer Set presents 9 slogans, colors and emotions on its logo. Discover - Gudauri in the summer! Colorful festival in the mountains, a magical world where you can relax from the city noise, chaos and have the opportunity to 'be' with yourself! Feel - your heart, your friends, music and the natural, primitive beauty that the mountains of Georgia offer! Breathe - stay in one of the 500 tents and breathe fresh air in a 24-hour mode. Move - dance or learn to walk on tightropes, ride mountain bikes, paraglide over the Gudauri mountains, take yoga classes: nine types of sport coaches will meet you on the territory of the festival. Listen - to electronic, experimental,
acoustic, and instrumental music stars with day and night fusion! The Lineup will be announced step by step. Share - thoughts on ecology, the drug policy, human rights and animal rights, healthy lifestyle and everything that will change after the return of the festival! Love - the environment that Gudauri offers! Summer Set helps to popularize Georgia's mountain resorts in the summer season! Change - everything that you do not like in yourself, in the environment, or something that gripes you. Be healthy, improve, walk more, be better! Create - a new location, culture, connections and festival! The partners of the festival are: the Georgian National Tourism Administration, Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development "Mountain Resorts Development Company," and Hotel "Moxy" Tbilisi.
Will GD Name Its Presidential Candidate? Continued from page 1
“If there is a worthy independent MP, we will support this person and if not, the opposition parties can fight for the post,” Ivanishvili told Georgia’s Public Broadcaster. If this happens, it will be the first case in the history of independent Georgia where the ruling party does not take part in the presidential elections. GD parliamentary majority leader, Archil Talakvadze says there are some worthy candidates within the party,
including Ivanishvili himself. “There is a great wish in society to see Bidzina Ivanishvili as the president but as we know, the GD Chair has no wish to take part in the elections,” Talakvadze noted. The presidential candidate of 10 opposition parties, Grigol Vashadze says it is not important who the GD presidential candidate will be as all of them obey Ivanishvili and will act the same way. “This is a team of unprofessional, corrupt and uneducated people and the population of Georgia should not support their candidate,” Vashadze stated.
David Bakradze, presidential candidate of the parliamentary minority European Georgia, says any independent MP who is supported by the ruling party, will become a GD member as he or she will use all the resources of the GD to win the elections. “Ivanishvili realized that the GD has exhausted all its political resources and this is why he wants to bring in a so called independent candidate, which is a step of false democracy,” the MP noted. Another presidential candidate, Nino Burjanadze, the leader of the Russiaaffiliated Democratic Movement-United
Georgia, says it is “shameful” that the ruling party cannot name a presidential candidate. “It has never happened in any country that a ruling party, which has been in power for six years, has no presidential candidate,” she added. Analysts say Ivanishvili likes surprises and he might suddenly decide to take part in the elections, or he might be testing society with this step, trying to judge what people think about it. “I doubt GD will support no-one and let the opposition take the President’s
post,” expert Gia Nodia stated. Georgian PM, Mamuka Bakhtadze stated on July 26 that he agrees with Ivanishvili’s position that GD should not name its own candidate. “The Georgian Dream philosophy was to establish a real European parliamentary democracy and Parliamentary Republic in Georgia…We have many worthy candidates, but it would be better if GD did not present a candidate. This will be better for our democracy,” he said. The presidential elections in Georgia will take place in late October.
GEORGIA TODAY JULY 27 - 30, 2018
Georgian PM Dismisses 5 Governors
Ivanishvili Praises Current PM, Criticizes Former BY THEA MORRISON
he founder and Chair of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party, ex-PM and billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, who is often referred to by the opposition as the “informal ruler” of Georgia, has praised the new Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze, but criticized his former favorite ex-PM Giorgi Kvirikashvili. In his interview with the Georgian Public Broadcaster, Ivanishvili said Mamuka Bakhtadze studies the problems of every ministry, while the former PM
"never did so." “I think the current PM is competent and can lead the government… Also, in such a short period, he started active communication with parliament. We are a parliamentary republic and it is necessary,” Ivanishvili explained. The GD Chair noted that teamwork is also one of the most necessary aspects in government work. “Mamuka Bakhtadze is committed to get involved in the work of all ministries, to understanding the problems, to assisting them through consultations, which, unfortunately, was not common during Kvirikashvili’s term,” he noted. According to the former Prime Minister, the methods of governing used by
Kvirikashvili led the team to a danger of collapse. “Kvirikashvili was not able to carry out good team management. The Parliament was actually removed from the decisionmaking process. The government could not reach agreement on principal issues and some delayed decisions were presented to society without preparation. This problem was reflected in the team,” he stated. Ivanishvili also noted that the rumors that he is ruling the country are not true. “The PM is doing his work and I do not want society to think I am interfering in this process. Bakhtadze has his own competency…He is doing the PM’s work and I am doing mine, as the GD chair,” he stated.
BY THEA MORRISON
eorgian Prime Minister, Mamuka Bakhtadze stated that governors of Shida Kartli, Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti, Mtskheta-Mtianeti, Kvemo Kartli and Samtskhe-Javakheti have been dismissed from their positions. The PM announced his decision at a special press-conference on July 26. “Due to the goals our government has
set, new approaches are needed in terms of coordination with the region's management and central government," the Prime Minister said. It was also reported today that Guria Governor Merab Chanukvadze has resigned. According to his employees, he said goodbye to them today, but soon after it became known that the Prime Minister had asked him to stay on. To note, Bakhtadze reshuffled the Cabinet earlier this month and reduced the number of 14 ministries to 11. He also appointed three new ministers.
JULY 27 - 30, 2018
China’s View of Eurasia ANALYSIS BY EMIL AVDALIANI
hroughout history there have been many cases where a certain power tried to bring large parts of the Eurasian continent under its fold. The Achaemenid Empire in antiquity, the Mongols and Tamerlane in the Middle Ages, and many others worked prodigiously to create a unified Eurasian space. Beyond the military preponderance though, these invaders could not provide clear economic or cultural attractiveness for the various peoples of the Eurasian landmass. The result was more or less a rapid disintegration of their conquests. The Russians from the 16th century, on the other hand, embarked on a project where they gradually built an empire with a clear philosophical approach to its role in world history. Strong Russian military was backed up with relatively attractive economic incentives for the peoples of Central Asia, the Caucasus and parts of Eastern Europe. One of the ideologies underpinning the Russian drive to dominate Eurasia was Eurasianism, an almost century-old idea which emerged as a distinct philosophical movement in the 1920s. There are multiple definitions of Eurasianism, but the most vocal among them is the definition whereby Russia is regarded as representing neither European nor Asian cultures, but rather is a perfect mixture of the two. The Eurasian doctrine in general meant a specific geographic and philosophical identity for Russia. In the Soviet period, Russian Eurasianism was overshadowed by communist universalism where direct Russian influence was encouraged to spread not just to Eurasia but everywhere around the globe. The current Russian government tries to re-invigorate the notion and attractiveness of Eurasianism, but has so far largely failed to do so since the new integration project dubbed “Eurasian Economic Union” is not a powerful enough entity to compete with Europe or Asia-Pacific.
Visit to the Admiralty building in St. Petersburg by President Putin 30.7.2017 Source: kremlin.ru
Russia’s long-term integration idea/project for the Eurasian landmass was arguably the most successful until 2013, when the Chinese government unveiled a new Eurasia-wide economic and political idea seen in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The Chinese focus on connectivity and integration across Eurasia distinguishes it from Russian Eurasianism as the latter failed to counter western economic, cultural and military encroachment into what was previously considered “the Russian backyard.” The BRI, on the other hand, is based on strong economic potential as well as solid institutions, seeking cross-continental connectivity and integration between China and Europe. Unlike Russian Eurasianism, the Chinese version would eventually challenge what is provisionally called Atlanticism, where the US has built a security-based umbrella across the entire Eurasian landmass to prevent the emergence of a unified Eurasia.
Chinese Eurasianism will allow Beijing to gain additional foreign policy tools against the US, which pressures China in the Asia-Pacific region. China’s pivot to the West goes primarily through Central Asia, a region which is militarily dominated by the Russians. The US has little capability to prevent China from increasing its influence in the region. This puts Beijing in a relatively good geopolitical position in bargaining with Washington. The US
will have to dedicate more economic and militarily resources to counter the Chinese, which will ease up some pressure in the Asia-Pacific. Since domination of the oceans is at the heart of US global power, the Chinese initiatives to restructure the Eurasian landmass through economy is bound to increase suspicions between Beijing and Washington over the next years and decades. In the long run, this is more problematic for the US than what it had during the Cold War. Then, the Soviets were competing militarily, and no large or long-lasting economic projects were offered by Moscow. True, the US had to spend plenty of its military and economic resources to stall the Soviet influence, but the Soviet threat nevertheless remained only one sided in its military. The attractiveness of Communism was non-existent, the Soviet economy was in a shambles, and in the long run, it was predictable that the US would win the Cold War race. Today, China, with its powerful economic incentives, represents a much bigger threat to the US-led Eurasian order. China, Iran, Russia and others, countries pivotal to the Eurasian landmass, and Washington, enjoy pretty tense relations which limits America’s power to prevent an alliance of convenience between several anti-American countries. Overall, the Russian vision of the Eurasian landmass is being gradually overshadowed by the Chinese vision. China as a continental power sees the advantages of moving through Central Asia and the Middle East to Europe, and Moscow does not possess the necessary capabilities to oppose Beijing.
Georgia's Foreign Minister Holds Meetings in Washington
BY THEA MORRISON
ithin the framework of his visit to Washington, Foreign Minister of Georgia, David Zalkaliani, met the Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman, Senator
Bob Corker. Zalkaliani was invited to Washington by the US State Secretary Mike Pompeo to participate in an international conference on religious freedom with 40 other foreign ministers and top officials taking part in the event. After the meeting with Corker, Zalkaliani stated that Georgia has the firm support of the US Senate Foreign Affairs Committee and this support has already been revealed many times. Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) reports that the sides discussed Georgia-US strategic partnership and the further enhancement of relations, challenges in the region and the situation in the Georgian occupied regions. “I provided the Senator with information about the human rights violations in the Abkhazia and South Ossetia (Tskhinvali) occupied regions of Georgia,” Zalkaliani said.
Zalkaliani stated that he also informed Corker about the Georgian government’s peace initiative for the population in the occupied territories, which aims at improving the humanitarian, social and economic conditions of the populations in Georgia’s Russian-occupied regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali. The Minister thanked the US side for active bipartisan support for Georgia, which was recently marked by various measures and initiatives. Zalkaliani also met Deputy Secretary of State of the US, John Sullivan. During the meeting, Deputy Secretary Sullivan thanked Georgia for its contribution to NATO’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan and reinforced US support for Georgia’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity. The two leaders discussed outcomes of the NATO Summit and ongoing judicial and economic reforms in Georgia. Today, Dep. Sec. Sullivan met FM @DZalkaliani on sidelines of #IRFMinisterial to thank #Georgia for contribution to #NATO’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan & underscore US support for Georgia’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity. https://t.co/pOH4ZnNKCR pic.twitter.com/ykj9gZUBd5 — Heather Nauert (@statedeptspox) July 26, 2018
JULY 27 - 30, 2018
Can Trump & Putin Pull Georgia out of the Quagmire? OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE
nside the country, the overall generic belief entertained by our people, is that Georgia is sizable enough a nation with solid enough international renown and serious enough cultural reputation to be reckoned with, but this kind of judgment is only a fake impression, nothing else. In actual fact, we are almost nobody, and here is why: we sell very little of our product; we generate nothing valuable for extensive trading with other nations; we make money in laughable amounts and spend more than we earn; we can’t make our national identity recognizable universally and have no way to initiate ourselves in NATO or acquire European Union membership; we have not succeeded in reinstating our lost territorial integrity, failed to reinforce and secure our state borders; cannot put our currency in the global market; fall short of upholding the demographic balance; are not capable of nourishing our population without fits and starts; and the decisions we make are not always conducive to a better standard of living for the average Georgian citizen. This said, one can easily imagine what our freedom and independence has given us in the short-term or has in store for us in the long run if that long run is ever going to be carved out as a bright prospect of our future. After almost 30 years
of acquiring national liberty, Georgia has found itself at the mercy of two major rivaling powers that may or may not have the time and desire to squeeze Georgia with its current problems into their busy international agenda so that the Georgian people are not constrained for the rest of their lives to be taking to the streets to let its scarcely audible voice be heard in the geopolitical wilderness of unlimited size and longevity. Georgia needs to be heard, and it is not! Georgia needs to be right in the spotlight of global decision-makers, but it is not! Georgia needs a huge amount of extra funds in its scanty state coffers but there is nobody out there to take care of this! Georgia is hurting badly and it screams for help but the cry is falling on deaf ears. The only ears that might effectively react to our squeal belong to America and Russia. These are the powers that be! These are the nations whose presidents hold the key to the Georgian problems, especially the dilemma of Georgia’s territorial integrity, which was ruined three decades ago as a result of the clamorous soviet breakup. The solution to Georgia’s main problem is a matter of a Trump-Putin political interaction. Nobody else will ever solve the frozen conflict that is purely of Russian-Georgian character. If Trump and Putin say, ‘Open Sesame,’ then the Sesame will open. If not, its door will remain forever locked. It is not good, of course, that Georgia’s future totally depends on only two person’s quirks and whims, but this
Image source: Mikhail Klimentyev—AFP/Getty Images
is what the reality suggests. Every other effort, be it forceful or diplomatic, is a joke. Every other political endeavor, no matter how masterfully it is undertaken, is the subject of shameful failure. Every other attempt to put things straight in favor of Georgia is doomed to fail. And this is not simple pessimism: this is what the last 30 years of beating around the bush has given us. And finally, what kind of Trump and Putin can be helpful in terms of pulling Georgia out of the quagmire it
is stuck in? The best presumption is a Trump and Putin who talk to each other every so often; who include Georgia in their talks; who think that Georgia is worth talking about as a nation; who pursue common interests in Georgia, thus finding themselves on the same page concerning Georgia’s future; who appreciate the Georgian people and the Georgian culture so much that maintaining Georgia’s territorial integrity makes sense to both; who negotiate the Georgian deal so wisely that every party
to the deal is happy with the consequences; who think that the correction of Georgia’s current situation is possible; who understand that there is something terribly unfair in what is happening to Georgia right now; who are willing and capable of ending Georgia’s territorial affliction and its 30 years of national anguish, based on that affliction. If we don’t have this kind of Trump and Putin as soon as possible, Georgia will forever stay where it is, while we just talk about it.
Monitoring Reveals Parliament’s Activities Have Become More Transparent BY THEA MORRISON
on-Governmental Organization Transparency International (TI) Georgia has published the results of the assessment of the 9th convocation of the Parliament of Georgia, which reads that parliament’s activities aimed at increasing transparency have merited a positive assessment. The report, which covers the period from November 18, 2016 to December 31, 2017, reads that unlike previous convocations, no plenary session was halted due to the absence of a quorum. “Parliament started reviewing the government reports on the state of enforcement of the decisions and resolutions made against Georgia by the corresponding committee of the United Nations
10 Galaktion Street
Photo source: parliament.ge
Organization and the European Court of Human Rights,” the NGO says, adding that unlike the Parliament of the previous convocations, the Gender Equality Council has also been more active. The TI underlined that the involvement of civil society in the election of
public officials has been strengthened, noting as an example, “The candidacy for the post of Public Defender was selected based on consultations with civil society representatives.” Among the positive trends, it was noted that the representatives of the executive
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branch attend committee sessions and present periodic reports on their activities. Committees held 133 sessions in this regard. “During the first year of Parliament of the 9th Convocation, MPs were more active in proposing legislative initiatives. During the period, covered by the report, 92 MPs exercised this right,” the NGO says. Among the activities of the lawmakers, it was noted that the parliamentary opposition boycotted the work of the Parliament five times and did not participate in the plenary sessions seven times. The Georgian President returned legislative initiatives to the Parliament five times with motivated remarks, but the MPs did not take his notes into account and in all cases, the Parliament overrode the vetoes. Despite significantly increased transparency and MP activity, the NGO also highlighted some negative trends. According to the report, the situation has worsened with regard to the systematic speeding up of the hearing of draft laws, without good reason. The Parliament of the 8th Convocation fast-tracked the hearing of 437 draft laws, while the Parliament of the 9th Convocation fast-tracked 213 draft laws in the first year alone. “Postponing of the activation of adopted laws also represents a problem. Parliament discussed a simplified procedure and adopted 77 such draft laws,” the TI stressed, adding the activities of working groups in some cases were formal and group members were not involved in the process of elaboration of draft laws. The negative trends read that MPs do not make proper use of the possibilities of oversight over the executive branch. According to the report, in the given period, no investigative commission was established to investigate such important cases as the abduction of Azeri journal-
ist Afgan Mukhtarli from Tbilisi or the beating of former Auditor General Lasha Tordia. Missing plenary sessions and violation of norms of ethics, sometimes with the participation of representatives of the executive branch, were also listed among the negative trends. Transparency International underlines that the Georgian Parliament has not yet adopted a Code of Ethics for MPs, which would regulate such issues. “MPs fill out asset declarations incorrectly, failing, in some cases, to indicate company shares that they own. Several MPs also hold the positions of company directors,” the NGO added. The report also lists some negative and positive laws, adopted by the 9th Convocation Parliament in the reporting period. The positively assessed laws are: • Amendments resulting from ratification of the Istanbul Convention, • Changes in the procedure of submitting asset declarations, • Amendments to the Imprisonment Code, • Abolition of Simplified Electronic Tenders, • Initiative on banning tobacco smoking in buildings, public areas and transport. Amendments which NGOs assessed negatively: • Creation of an operative-technical agency, • Moratorium on the sale of land, • Abolition of self-government entities, • New rule for staffing election commissions, • Changes to the rule of debating legislative proposals. Legislative amendments which require improvement are: • The Third Wave of Judicial Reform, • Road Safety Reform, • New Regulations Concerning Remuneration in Civil Service.
GEORGIA TODAY JULY 27 - 30, 2018
Choosing from the Ministers OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA
he “real” leader of the country, Bidzina Ivanishvili, finally showed up in public again in an interview with the Georgian Public Broadcaster. However, it was not live, apparently checked a few hundred times and cut and pasted. Nevertheless, it was highly awaited by a political class very interested to hear what the Chairman of the Georgian Dream would say about ex-Premier Kvirikashvili and how he would answer the key question of the upcoming political battle: who will the presidential candidate from the ruling party be? It was rumored within political circles that Ivanishvili himself might run for President, but he said no, citing his lack of interest. Hardly surprising- it’s a post so deprived of power that he is even ready to pass it to a politician from another party rather than keep it for Georgian Dream. He also mentioned a quartet of his favorites within the party: Zurab Abashidze, Sozar Subari, Davit Sergeenko and Tea Tsulukiani, adding that although the final decision had yet to be made, GD has been discussing these candidates for a while. Apparently, it is Ivanishvili, who hasn’t made up his mind yet - we all know that the so-called Political Committee of the Georgian Dream does not decide anything without him, clearly seen in the ex-Premier Kvirikashvili incident, and we still don’t know what will happen to Kvirikashvili. There’s a lot for Ivanishvili to reflect on and examine about the future
AT THE BILTMORE HOTEL 29 Rustaveli Ave, 0108 Tbilisi, Georgia
presidential candidate, the example of Margvelashvili alone proves this. We all know what a headache Margvelashvili was for Ivanishvili and GD, the number of vetoes we’ve witnessed and how the ruling party changed the legislation against him. Recall the case of the Presidential Residence, which was the apple of discord between Ivanishvili and his then-chosen president. But it is early to conclude what the new President will do, refuse to reside in the Presidential Palace or not? But, clearly, Ivanishvili won’t be able to bare anyone living there anymore, especially when the Presidential Palace can be seen in all its grace from his own “Residential Palace” above Sololaki. In any case, Ivanishvili will make the decision on the party’s candidate out of the chosen quartet mentioned above. Undoubtedly, Tea Tsulukiani should be his N1 favorite: just like Ivanishvili,
she too hates the Presidential Residence built by Saakashvili, and is unlikely to veto any decisions of Parliament; however, moving Tsulukiani to a “minor” post such as that of the President of Georgia isn’t a good idea, as now she is responsible for a much more important thing: the Court and the Prosecutor’s system. And who knows what could come to pass with whoever replaces her as minister; maybe one fine day they decide to free the political opponents from prison and bury the Georgian Dreamers once and for all? Sozar Subar is a realistic possibility for President of Georgia (videos for his campaign have already been shot in Svaneti), but he is quite inexperienced in big politics, plus his “Rose Revolutionary” past hangs over him like the Sword of Damocles. Sergeenko, then? Well, even though he might be the most acceptable candidate for Ivanishvili, he could be a
bit unsuitable for this post. Not because he could embarrass the billionaire abroad, but because he seemingly lacks charisma. The big quartet’s final representative is Zurab Abashidze. There’s no need to mention his diplomatic opportunities and connections with Russia, we know that. Most importantly though, we should remember that he is the most acceptable and familiar candidate for the Kremlin. He is the “dignified descendent of the Old Red Intelligentsia,” which is no minor quality for a candidate running for this post. Moreover, Abashidze is not burdened by the electoral promises of the Georgian Dream, hence no one will ask him to comment on those absurd claims. As for the rest, the experienced diplomat will be able to “figure something out.” Even regardless of this, Ivanishvili won’t have difficulties collecting the votes, therefore, it is highly possible that Ivanishvili will choose him.
The only candidate who can compete right now is Salome Zurabishvili, and clearly because of the attitude of Ivanishvili, her chances are enormous, and the ruling party may well support him (also because no one will ask her to answer for the election promises of the Georgian Dream and because she won’t need large funds during the election process). If the main goal of Georgia is to become a member of the European Union within the upcoming 12 years, who better to take the relevant steps in this direction if not a citizen of the European Union and a woman who was raised in France – Salome Zurabishvili. If we take into consideration the fact that the main candidates of the oppositional parties are Grigol Vashadze and Davit Bakradze, it is quite possible that in October we’ll be choosing our next president from the former Ministers of Foreign Affairs.
JULY 27 - 30, 2018
Fereydan Georgians in Iran Demand Citizenship BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE
protest rally was held yesterday in front of Tbilisi’s Justice House with protestors demanding a change in the composition of the commission on granting citizenship, because the current commission has denied Georgian citizenship to Fereydan Georgians. Feredyan Georgians are a population of more than 100,000 ethnic Georgians living in the Fereydan region of the Isfahan Province in central-western Iran. Most of the population was forcibly resettled from Georgia to Iran in the 16th-19th centuries when presentday Georgia was under the rule of Persia. There are estimates that more than 3 million Iranians today have some Georgian ancestry. In Fereydunshahr County, approximately 150 km west of Isfahan, there are an estimated 4,000 families, most of whom are Georgian. In their homes, they speak a dialect of Georgian that many linguists believe is similar to the Georgian spoken when the people were displaced 300-500 years ago. They have also retained the use of the Georgian alphabet. Adapting to local life, Fereydan Georgians learned Farsi and largely practice Twelver Shia Islam. The Georgian name for Fereydunshahr is Mart’kopi (მარტყოფი). Throughout Fereydan county, a chain of about 10 villages, all with Georgian names such as Vashlovani, Chughureti, and Ruvis Piri, is called “Little Georgia” by Iranians.
At yesterday’s protest in Tbilisi, there were claims of ethnic oppression towards Fereydan Georgians. Demonstrators called on the government to respond swiftly, carrying signs that read “I am Georgian too – do not let go of your homeland!” and “Change the commission’s members!” Davit Tevzadze, founder of the political union For Peace, told Rustavi 2 news “I think the approach should be changed with these people and should be changed at the state level. It is unclear how Georgian people cannot become citizens of Georgia. It is uncertain and vague in the articles of the resolution.” Chairman of the State Services Development Agency, Soso Giorgadze, said that Georgia does want to grant citizenship to the Fereydan population, and that the commission considers all applications for citizenship equally. “By order of the Minister of Justice of Georgia, Georgians who emigrated from Georgia, including Fereydans, are on our list as a priority for granting citizenship,” said Giorgadze, Rustavi 2 reports. In the 1970s, a group of Fereydan Georgians successfully lobbied the Iranian and Georgian governments to be repatriated to Kakheti, the eastern Georgian region where their ancestors are believed to have come from. As explained by Nino-Ana Samkharadze of Chai-Khana, “the transition was not...smooth. The Fereydani women, who had fought hard to keep the link with Georgia, suddenly found themselves alienated in their supposed homeland, where locals saw them as ‘Iranian Tatars’ who spoke incomprehensible Georgian and followed archaic customs. Soon, most of them asked to
Fereydunshahr, Iran. Source: Chai-Khana
be returned to Fereydan.” In June 2004, the newly elected Georgian President, Mikheil Saakashvili, visited Fereydunshahr. He was the first Georgian politician to visit the Iranian Georgian community there, and thousands of Fereydan Georgians welcomed his delegation. Saakashvili spoke about the significant contributions of Georgian-
Iranians and laid flowers on the graves of Georgian-Iranians killed in the Iran– Iraq War. In 2017, President of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili, hosted a group of Fereydan Georgians at the Presidential Palace. The Presidential Reserve Fund supports cultural programs in Fereydan that help the population acquire and preserve
the Georgian language, history, and folk songs. Margvelashvili spoke about the problems of Fereydan Georgians, discussed project objectives, and wished its participants success. The visitors, 13 young men and 1 young woman, presented the President with a wall panel depicting St. George, which hangs in the Presidential Palace.
First Graduates Celebrate the US-Georgian Defense Program BY SHAWN WAYNE
he first battalion of what’s being called “the most ambitious program” is celebrating their graduation with officials and military commanders as the first unit trained within the Georgia Defense Readiness Program. This joint Georgian-US program, launched in May and projected to run through 2021, has a full roster of units to undertake training, and started with service members of the IV Mechanized Brigade. Having been selected and assessed by observers from the US armed forces and staff from the Georgia based combat training center, this first battalion was subjected to a rigorous 13-week intensive training regimen, comprising various command and combat elements. The grounds of the CTC at Vaziani Training Area on the outskirts of Tbilisi is where most of this took place as the troops took part in drills for maneuvering, combat and reconnaissance, force protection, command and control, as well as containment operations. The rest of the training took the troops to the Camp Norio area just outside the
capital city. In order to deal with the unique objectives presented by this program, the battalion was equipped with armament kits based off the NATO standards. The personnel of this first unit who made it through this intense regimen were
awarded on 25 July when the graduation ceremony took place. They were addressed by the Minister of Defense of Georgia, Levan Izoria. With Georgia pushing for NATO membership, they are doing everything to make it a reality, and getting their
troops up to standard is a part of that. After the recent meeting Putin had with Trump, Putin stated that Russia will act very negatively should Georgia become a member of NATO. “For us, it's a direct and immediate threat for our national security,” the
Russian President said. “…moving this NATO infrastructure towards our borders would be a threat, and…the reaction would be extremely negative. It is a concern for us since NATO is expanding its infrastructure and facilities, and the number of servicemen is on the rise in regions where they shouldn’t be." If NATO membership is obtained and Putin decides to move his forces further than he already has into Georgia, the troops will now be able to stand their ground with this special training, even if it is just until US reinforcements arrive. The GDRP is the perfect solution to the Russian threat, being a joint project of the Ministry of Defense of Georgia and the US Department of Defense, which aims is to improve the combat readiness of Georgian service members for territorial defense of the country. Phase 1 will be supervised by American instructors, with Georgians taking over from 2020. Nine battalions are projected to undergo this intense training regimen which includes manning, training and equipping the units over the next three years. Izoria said that “this is the most ambitious program in the history of the Georgian Armed Forces.”
GEORGIA TODAY JULY 27 - 30, 2018
How the New EU Budget 2021-2027 Will Affect the EU Neighborhood Policy focused approach. The EU Neighborhood Policy has supported many projects in Georgia aimed at implementing European-friendly political and economic reforms in areas such as economic development and developing market opportunities, strengthening institutions and good governance, connectivity, energy efficiency, environment and climate change, and mobility and people-to- people contacts. Some of the larger projects funded in the current budget cycle include Mayors for Economic Growth (€14.5 million), Support to the European Endowment for Democracy (€12 million), and largescale multi-country initiatives such as
EU4Business, EU4Energy, and the European Union Water Initiative Plus for the Eastern Partnership. In an interview with OPEN Media Hub, an EU program, senior fellow at the economic think-tank Bruegel, Zsolt Darvas, said, “Very little will change in the external action part of the next MFF. The goals and the scope of the EU programs regarding the neighborhood policy will remain the same...this growth will not allow for a significant change in the EU policy towards its closest neighbors.” Bruegel looked at the proposed budget and, calculating for forecasted inflation, estimates no more than a 12-13% increase in real prices in the 2021-2027 budget.
Photo: EU Neighbours
BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE
he European Union has announced its next budget, a seven-year plan which will cover spending from 2021–2027, officially known as the Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF). Negotiations on the MFF are expected to begin in September with the new EU political season. European Parliamentarians and EU member states are expected to approve a budget this fall. A major component of the EU’s global outreach is the EU Neighborhood Policy. Southern neighbors are Middle Eastern and North African countries – Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria.
Eastern neighbors are Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. The European Neighborhood Policy was launched in 2004 to promote peace, stability and economic prosperity throughout the region. Neighborhood initiatives are focused on supporting political and economic reforms in included countries. The 2014-2020 budget allocated €15.4 billion for activities in the Neighborhood, including an estimated €741 - €906 million specifically for the Regional East program. The proposed 2021-2027 budget does not indicate significant changes in the Neighborhood Policy regarding pace or scale. A new financing mechanism would, however, streamline all funding for external projects, creating a unified financial instrument for Neighborhood, Development and Internal Cooperation (NDICI).
There are seven main spending categories in the MFF, one of which is the external action budget, proposed at €123 billion. Of that, €22 billion is allocated for Neighborhood Policy countries, but lawmakers have not yet determined how much will go to the Southern vs Eastern neighborhoods, nor individual countries. The relationship between the EU and Georgia has grown closer in light of the Association Agreement and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (AA/ DCFTA), which lay the foundation for “far-reaching political and economic integration with the EU” according to the EU Neighborhood website. Over 30% of Georgia’s volume of trade is with the EU, making it Georgia’s primary trading partner. The EU is the biggest donor in Georgia, providing over €100 million of support per year, and takes a results-
European Commission to Allocate 12 million Euros to Moldova for Economic Development
BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE
he European Commission has said it will allocate €12 million euros to Moldova to support economic development and improve the
business environment, the Moldovan government's press service reported this week. The European Commission will provide more than €12 million to the Republic of Moldova to support economic development, improve the business environment and strengthen economic management capacity. The executive
body has approved the start of negotiations on a financing agreement between the government of the Republic of Moldova and the European Commission. The funds will be spent on financing measures related to the fair application of trade legislation, the effective management of state assets and public investments, the strengthening of investors' rights, and the promotion of reforms in the field of monitoring the financial sector. In addition, the funds received will be used to assist the development of the economy and market opportunities in the regions of the country and in the autonomous region of Gagauzia. Gagauzia is an autonomous territorial formation in the south of Moldova, created from settlements where more than 50% of the residents were Gagauzians or where the majority of residents in the referendums voluntarily agreed to enter the autonomy.
UNICEF: Children Living & Working on the Streets of Georgia
BY ANNA ZHVANIA
n July 24, a presentation on ‘Children Living and Working on the Streets of Georgia’ was held at EXPO Georgia. According to the new study by UNICEF, poverty, family dysfunctionality, violence in families and parents’ migration were all major factors contributing to children ending up on the streets. The study presents a qualitative study and analysis of children living and/or working on the streets of Georgia. It provides detailed information on the current situation and tailored strategies for children at risk of living on the streets. The aim was to develop the appropriate response mechanism, particularly focusing on prevent mechanisms for children who are at risk living or working on the streets. As Laila O. Gad, UNICEF Representative to Georgia, mentioned, “It is an opportunity for us to also look at what Georgia is doing in terms of compliance with International Standards and a reference to an action plan to children liv-
ing and working in the streets. This is a call to action to make sure that there are strong responses and rehabilitation, so children are not deprived of their basic rights”. “It is our duty as parents and as a society to protect children who are vulnerable. The EU is very keen to support the initiative, because protection of children, both from a protective side and through the responsive mechanisms outlined in the study, is vital," noted Catalin Gherman, Deputy Head of Cooperation Section of EU Delegation to Georgia. "There has to be a very strong system in place for the responsive strategy to be successful." Hans Bederski, Director of World Vision South Caucasus stated that: “When everything else fails, children end up on the streets. It is not a child’s choice to live on the streets. It is not right that they are abandoned on the streets and they deserve a home, a school, primary healthcare. They need social services to be protected from harm and abuse. The research findings now enable us to better tailor prevention and exit strategies for children at risk. The report also highlights the gaps in the system we have in social services”. Continued on page 11
JULY 27 - 30, 2018
Vice President of Int’l Federation Red Cross Visits Georgia
BY ANNA ZHVANIA
n July 25, Kerem Kinik, Vice President of International Federation Red Cross (IFRS) and President of the Turkish Red Crescent, visited Georgia. Red Cross Georgia has been a member of the IFRS since 1997. For the first time in history, Georgia was chosen by the 190 national society representatives to be a member of the governing council, with Natia Loladze, President of the Georgian Red Cross Society, as a representative.
Within the framework of Kinik’s visit, meetings with high ranking officials of the government were planned to discuss the main policy of the Red Cross, the opening of a Red Cross Regional Warehouse and Training Center in Georgia, and future goals with Georgia as a member of the Federation Board of Governors. VP Kinik spoke to GEORGIA TODAY about the purpose of his visit and longterm plans within the Georgian Red Cross: “The Georgian Red Cross is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. They have provided excellent services to the community, and now, with the leadership of Natia Loladze, will carry on their activities,” he said.
Kinik went on to note the main activities of the Georgian Red Cross. “[They] provide resilient services to society, such as disaster preparedness and intervention, risk reduction, public health promotion and training for first aid, with the help of the branches and up to 10,000 active volunteers. The Red Cross Society is an independent NGO, but nevertheless, has auxiliary roads to their own Government in extraordinary times or disasters. “We, at the Turkish Red Crescent, have decided to contribute to allow the Georgian Red Cross to build up its own capacity for disaster preparedness and intervention. Our colleagues are checking
the Georgian Red Cross warehouses, which we plan to renovate. Additionally, we will send some items like shelters and tents. We visited the Ministry of Finance and Sustainable Development and plan to meet members of Parliament. We are raising some vital issues the Georgian Red Cross has, such as tax and VAT exemptions and property problems that they are facing. I received positive feedback from the Georgian government and hope that they will support the Georgian Red Cross, as we do.” Loladze noted the long-term cooperation between the Georgian Red Cross and Turkish Red Crescent. In 2008 and 2015, Turkish Red Crescent was one of
the first national societies to provide Georgia with humanitarian support and assistance. “Right now, there are discussions regarding renovations of the Tbilisi warehouse and in future to make it more regional in order to have access to equipment for emergency situations,” she said. “This year, our 100th anniversary year, it is the first time that the Georgian Red Cross has been a member of the Governing Council. We have planned meetings with the ministries and MPs to discuss the future policies and next steps of the Federation and to further enhance cooperation between the government and the Red Cross.” Loladze said.
GEORGIA TODAY JULY 27 - 30, 2018
Waiting Room: Etseri, Svaneti BLOG BY TONY HANMER
forgot to mention in last week’s article, about the great scything job recently applied to my yard, that the Horrible Giant Hogweed knows what to do when it’s cut short. It immediately, even right down to an inch high, springs into emergency mode and makes new flowers! As if holding its breath just for this moment. Because who knows when the sickle will sweep through again and reduce its inability to reproduce? And that’s what this game is all about: flourish or perish. So, a couple of weeks after the great buzz cut, the new bunches of hogweed blooms are springing up for all their worth, as if their lives depend on it. Which, after all, they do. But I might just come through myself with clippers, and fight this fight to the end, plant by plant. I just might. We still wait for the “kreba,” the village meeting at which our new young mayor will address us as a community for the first time, and many things about infrastructure will be decided or simply argued over and laid aside. One can hope, but the precedents do not bode well. But I still do hope for change and forward motion for water, roads, electricity, and much more. Another thing we are anticipating is the upcoming Svanetoba, the festival of Svaneti, to be held in Mestia this Sunday. Every village will have tables of its unique wares, foods, drinks, arts, handicrafts and more, in competition. There will be an evening concert in both Georgian and Svan. Hundreds of foreigners and locals will come together to celebrate everything Svan. I’ll have more to write about once this has happened, of course. Waiting is indeed the theme for me this week. I had not seen my wife for three weeks when she came back from Tbilisi yesterday, having gone mainly to prepare
for and sit an important exam for improving her schoolteacher’s qualifications. She seems to have high expectations after the 5-hour ordeal, but we have until midAugust before the results will be made known. There were not only multiplechoice questions on the test- long-form written answers were also required, so each test must be gone through by one or more people to mark it. With hundreds or thousands of applicants, this must take considerable time. The wait is hard. At last she’s back home, though, at my side where she belongs. A long trip to Tbilisi is best made use of by doing as many things as one can, because we only manage to get there several times a year. So, while missing her, I also encouraged her to see all the people she needed to, do all the little but necessary things before returning. I’ve been holding the fort as best I can, even putting a “closed” sign on the shop a couple of times while I worked the field. It’s vital to make use of the weather. The last gleanings of the scything needed raking up, and you can’t do this if they’re wet from rain or even dew- you have to wait until the dew has
dried, then rake in the heat. Those sweatbands I bought for a song in Canada some trips ago were most useful. Now that she’s back and in the shop, I can also begin cutting up much of the last load of firewood we had delivered. This was largely thin pieces, which my electric circular saw can handle, instead of the noisier and more dangerous chainsaw, which needs fuel anyway; electricity’s free here, so why not make use of it? We also await news coming out of our friends the Smiths’ murder case, the trial for which is set for this autumn. I can only hope that the truth will out, and justice be served. So, many things to wait for, but everything has its time. Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 1900 members, at www.facebook.com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri: w.facebook.com/hanmer.house.svaneti
UNICEF: Children Living & Working on the Streets of Georgia Continued from page 9
The study shows that the population of children living and/or working on the streets of Georgia is highly diverse and includes youth/children who live and work on the streets without protective care from parents, children who spend most of their daytime hours working on the streets and who themselves contribute income to the family, children who are accompanied by adults who are also street workers, and children of migrant street families who are predominantly Roma and Azerbaijani Kurds. Children who work and live on the street are particularly vulnerable to violence from caretakers. Moreover, the absolute majority of street-connected children do not have access to education nor medical services beyond emergency care. Differences in social assistance schemes in Georgia and Azerbaijan, as well as different legal frameworks (like prohibitions on begging and stricter enforcement of sanctions against petty trade) and the depreciation of the Azerbaijani currency, lead many Azerbaijani families to migrate to Georgia and resort to a life on the street. The research reveals that some groups of children live and move together in order to protect each other, to find places to sleep, to create spaces for leisure and
entertainment, to cultivate friendship, and to cooperate in economic activities like petty trading, street begging, and petty crime. Other groups of children have internal structures that divide them into seniors/superiors and subordinates. Older children sometimes use younger children below age 14 (subordinate children) as ‘shields’ to avoid criminal prosecution, pushing them to carry out criminal activities and hand over the profits. Based on the study findings and its recommendations, the Steering Committee worked out country-specific recommendations that entail the development of an overarching vision, strategy, and action plan to ensure adequate prevention and response measures to safeguard children from street life. Preventative measures includes screening tools tailored to the needs of at-risk children to be used in government families, children to be provided with ID papers at birth and social services to be strengthened. Response measures should take into account availability of services and how to develop them further, especially on the Black Sea Coast. Moreover, establishment and strengthening of social safety nets should be considered as well as funding of NGO services, legal reforms and response of city authorities and police to criminal activities.
The study was conducted by UNICEF Georgia with the support of the European Union and in collaboration with the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from Occupied Territories, the Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, World Vision International, the Open Society Georgia Foundation, Caritas Georgia and UNICEF Azerbaijan. It was carried out by Fafo, a Norweigian research institute. The presentation was opened with welcome speeches by Laila O. Gad, UNICEF Representative to Georgia, Catalin Gherman, Deputy Head of Cooperation Section of EU Delegation to Georgia, Tamila Barkalaia, Deputy Minister of Internally Displaced Persons from Occupied Territories, Labour, Health and Social Affairs Ministry, Natia Mezvrishvili, Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Ministry, Gocha Lortkipanidze, Deputy Minister of Justice, and Hans Bederski, Director of World Vision South Caucasia. The opening ceremony was followed by a presentation on the research results and recommendations by Ketevan Melikadze, Social Welfare Officer at UNICEF and Steering Committee recommendations by Mari Tsereteli, Head of Guardianship, Custody and Social Programs Department of LEPL Social Service Agency. A Q&A discussion followed shortly after.
JULY 27 - 30, 2018
Celebrated Georgian Artist Kordz to Perform with String Orchestra in Borjomi Park EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY LIKA CHIGLADZE
f you’re a classic music enthusiast, electronic music geek or just love discovering new extraordinary pieces, then head to Borjomi so as not to miss out on the upcoming concert by internationally-renowned contemporary artist Alexandre Kordzaia together with the Zagareli String Orchestra. Set to take place right in the Central Park of Georgia’s Borjomi City, the concert is being carried out within the frames of the government’s ‘Check in Georgia’ project. Entrance is free. Alexandre Kordzaia (23) is a Georgian artist and DJ better known by his nickname Kordz. He is currently based in The Netherlands, where he is working on a Master’s Degree in Acoustic Composition in La Hague University, yet from time to time he is invited to perform in different countries such as Germany, Switzerland, Italy and, of course, Georgia. Educated as a classical musician, he developed a love of jazz and house music and started composing his own classic and electronic pieces. Kordz is well-known to the Georgian audience, having performed at Spacehall, Mtkvarze, Fabrika, Tbilisi Open Air Festival, Black Sea Jazz Festival, Tsinandali Award and now with a busy schedule of concerts planned both in Georgia and abroad. His music is characterized by cheerful and positive tunes that boost your mood instantly. Kordz’s most famous and popular tracks are Deep Thoughts, Satellite, Mtkvarze, Topic, and Chitebi (Birds). Previously, GEORGIA TODAY was hosted by Kordz at his grandma’s house where he usually stays while in the country, and we met him there again for a catch-up. “The series of my performances in Georgia kicked off in Tusheti,” the artist told us. “I was part of the project Ak Tusheti (Here Tusheti) that took place in our country’s historic highland. Artists from the Caucasus were brought to one place, to the mountains of Georgia, to work together, share experiences with one another and perform for audiences. Young musicians from different corners of the country, as well as from Azerbaijan, Chechnya, and the upper Caucasus united in Omalo, Tusheti, and collaborated for over 10 days within the project. Each of the participants, both folk music representatives and electronic music artists, delivered concerts to the local audience, tourists and other attendees. Anyone could attend the events for free. I performed on July 13 and the day was really successful. The first folk ensemble, Anchiskhati, delivered a concert and then I took to the stage and introduced my own music. It turned out a really interesting combination, folk music followed by electronic pieces. The atmosphere was really wonderful since the stage was nestled between the mountains. My music was received by the locals very well, both elderly people and kids enjoyed it, you could tell it from their emotions and faces. It was my first time in Tusheti and I was left very impressed. It’s quite a remote region yet very beautiful with vast lands, making it good for horseriding. I had my first experience riding in Tusheti and I really enjoyed it.” Kordz continues his Georgia tour with his next performance, together with the Zagareli String Orchestra, to be held in Borjomi Park on July 28. As the musician told us, the idea of organizing a concert together with strings was born a few months ago. “We teamed up with Art Area, which organizes various musical events in the open air, both within the city and other places,” Kordz told GEORGIA TODAY. “I decided to compose one entire set as a complete piece. It will be a classical piece performed with strings and organically merged with electronic music elements. I think it will be a really interesting experiment and little bit strange, but the good thing about performing in Georgia is that you are not restricted, and you can be completely free to experiment with various genres and styles before giving a concert. I’m going to deliver a new piece
composed specially for strings, a piece composed for the Tsinandali Award named Topic, and then several electronic pieces modified for strings.” On August 11, Kordz will play in Bakhmaro, a highland village in western Georgia, as part of a small electronic music festival named Taoba, with other contemporary Georgian artists and DJs. On August 24, on ‘Georgian Days in Frankfurt,’ he will be in Germany playing together with a string orchestra. On September 15, he has been invited to perform on the anniversary of Beethoven in Bonn, Germany. “It’s going to be quite an extraordinary show, since the 5th Symphony will be performed and in the middle, I’ll be able to play my pieces,” Kordz said. “This will be followed by my next performance at the International Chess Championship to be held in Georgia. The opening ceremony of the championship will be held at the Black Sea Arena, where I’ll be performing together with Nikoz Rachveli’s orchestra. Then on September 26, I’ll be performing as a part of the Marjanishvili Theater Festival,” the artist said. Over the past year, Kordz has performed in a number of prestigious music halls around world such as Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam; Ellbphilharmonie in Hamburg, and Funkhaus in Berlin. But he plans to come back to Georgia for a while. “My mom has been organizing the festival CLOSE Encounters since 2006. In the beginning, the festival seemed very strange to many people, yet people slowly started to see it differently. In 2016, the atmosphere was totally different and the interest was higher. This year, the festival will be even more diverse, since I’m bringing my foreign musician friends and artists from England and Germany. We’re planning to hold a grand event at Mtkvari on September 30. Natali Beridze, Feredric Robinson and Anushka Chkheidze will also take to the stage. The festival is aimed at introducing and promoting new kinds of music and pieces that are firmly established in European culture but are less known and widespread in Georgia. The festival will last several days, Zagareli – Strings will be performing pieces by Georgian and European composers, followed by the event at Mtkvarze, two concerts in Tbilisi Conservatoire and two in Georgian villages. After such a busy schedule and tours, the musician prefers to spend his vacation in his village Kavtiskhevi and devote his entire time to making music. “I’m in my final year of Master’s Degree at the Hague University and I’m planning to stay in Georgia for six months from September and continue experimenting here. I’ll use the time to generate new ideas and bring to reality existing ones,” the artist told us.
JULY 27 - 30, 2018
WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI THEATER
GABRIADZE THEATER Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 July 27 RAMONA Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL July 28 STALINGRAD Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL July 29 An animated documentary film REZO Directed by Leo Gabriadze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL SHALIKASHVILI THEATER Address: 37 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 595 50 02 03 July 28 KRIMANCHULI Directed by Amiran Shalikashvili A performance of comedy genre novels based on Georgian national themes: Review, Cinema, Sailors, Today is a football, Fire, Chichetura, Vineyard, Krimanchuli, Bath-house attendants, Final. Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL CINEMA
AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL July 27- August 2 MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - FALLOUT Directed by Christopher McQuarrieMarshall Thurber Cast: Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Henry Cavill Genre: Action, Adventure, Thriller Language: English Start time: 21:45 Language: Russian Start time: 13:30, 16:15 Ticket: 10-14 GEL ZOE Directed by Drake Doremusarshall Thurber Cast: Theo James, Ewan McGregor, Rashida Jones Genre: Romance, Sci-Fi Language: Russian Start time: 14:45, 19:45 Ticket: 12-15 GEL
CAVEA GALLERY Address: 2/4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 200 70 07 Every Wednesday ticket: 8 GEL July 27- August 2 MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - FALLOUT (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 19:40 Language: Russian Start time: 13:15, 16:30, 19:20, 22:30 Ticket: 11-19 GEL ZOE (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 17:30, 22:15 Ticket: 14-19 GEL SKYSCRAPER Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurberwson Marshall Thurber Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Pablo Schreiber Genre: Action, Crime, Drama Language: Russian Start time: 14:30, 22:30 Ticket: 11-19 GEL HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3: SUMMER VACATION Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky Cast: David Spade, Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg Genre: Animation, Comedy, Family Language: English Start time: 12:10 Language: Russian Start time: 17:00, 22:00 Ticket: 10-19 GEL BILLIONAIRE BOYS CLUB Directed by James Cox Cast: Taron Egerton, Emma Roberts, Suki Waterhouse Genre: Biography, Drama, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 14:45, 19:45 Ticket: 11-19 GEL MUSEUM
GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge Exhibitions: GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF THE 18TH-20TH CENTURIES NUMISMATIC TREASURY Exhibition showcasing a long history of money circulation on the territory of modern Georgia from the 6th century BC. to 1834. EXHIBITION STONE AGE GEORGIA ARCHEOLOGICAL TREASURE
NEW LIFE TO THE ORIENTAL COLLECTIONS April 26 – September 1 UNKNOWN COLLECTIONS OF GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM– INDIA, CHINA, JAPAN The exhibition showcases up to 500 artworks - paintings, sculptures and samples of applied art, the chronological range of which is wide. May 26 – September 30 THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF GEORGIA - 100 YEARS The Georgian National Museum and Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University, National Parliamentary Library of Georgia, Korneli Kekelidze Georgian National Center of Manuscripts and National Archives of Georgia, presents the exhibition June 12 – August 31 Georgian National Museum presents the exhibition CAUCASUS BIODIVERSITY The exhibition is dedicated to the 100the anniversary of the First Democratic Republic of Georgia. IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA Address: 8 Sioni St. Telephone: 2 98 22 81 June 27 – September 10 Georgian National Museum and The Goethe Institute, in connection with 200 years of relations between Germany and Georgia, presents a project THE DYNASTIES - PARALLEL PERSPECTIVE The exhibition features the historic-cultural and, in particular, architectural legacy that has been created and developed in parallel in Germany and Georgia, representing two different architectural family dynasties- the Böhms and the Kurdianis in Germany and Georgia, respectively. MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge PERMANENT EXHIBITION Discover the State's personal files of "subversive" Georgian public figures, orders to shoot or exile, and other artifacts representing Sovietera cultural and political repression in Georgia. SVANETI MUSEUM Address: Mestia, Svaneti May 19 – August 19 The Svaneti Museum of History
and Ethnography hosts an exhibition "MAGNUM PHOTO 70 - GEORGIAN JOURNAL: ROBERT CAPA 1947, THOMAS DWORZAK 2017". SIGHNAGHI MUSEUM Address: 8 Sh. Rustaveli Blind-alley
ADIL HIANI, ARGENIS BRITO, AUDIO SPACE, RATI, VASIL Start time: 16:00 Ticket: 30 GEL SUMMER SET Address: Electro Carriage Factory, 32 Ts. Dadiani Str.
Exhibition PORTRAITS OF KAKHETIAN NOBLES – FROM THE BEGINNING OF GEORGIAN EASEL PAINTING UP TO 20TH CENTURY The exposition comprises portraits of Kakhetian historical figures, such as: King Erekle II, Queen Darejan, Prince Vakhtang Dimitris-dze Janbakur-Orbeliani, Princess Tekla and David Guramishvili, as well as Qajar paintings of representatives of the Andronikashvili family.
July 27 Summer Set Reincarnation: ELECTRONIC MUSIC FESTIVAL Line up: DUDEY, ZIAD ALIEV, APOLLOE, KILLAGES, CIGARETTES AFTER SEX, KORELESS, WHO MADE WHO, GIDGE, BAIKAL, ENDORPHINS Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 40-60 GEL
SAMTSKHE-JAVAKHETI MUSEUM Address: Rabati Fortress, 1 P. Kharistchirashvili Str.1, Akhaltsikhe
August 1, 2 Regular mini-concerts of traditional Georgian live music in the Old Town. Get to know and fall in love with the Georgian character and culture. Start time: 17:00 Ticket: 23 GEL Venues: August 1-2 Turgenevi Str., Tbilisi yard, August 2- Europe sq., 2 D. Megreli Str.
The Georgian National Museum presents the renovated exhibition spaces at the Samtskhe-Javakheti Museum, which see the addition of recently discovered exhibits, and technical updates according to modern museum standards. GALLERY
THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. www.museum.ge May 15 – August 5 For International Museum Day GNM presents the Georgian National Museum festival, dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the First Democratic Republic of Georgia. Exhibition TITIAN - MASTER OF COLOR: THE VIRGIN AND CHILD This exhibition is part of a large project, which also comprises exhibitions of Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and other great Italian artists in the Georgian National Museum. May 25-August 26 The Georgian National Museum and the Embassy of Italy to Georgia, within the Museum Fest, present the exhibition EVIDENCE. A NEW STATE OF ART The National Gallery is hosting the exhibition of Garuzzo Institute for Visual Arts- presenting contemporary Italian artists' artworks created since the 1950s. May 25-August 26 GENIUSES OF RENAISSANCE The Georgian National Museum and the Embassy of Italy to Georgia, within the Museum Fest, present the exhibition LADO GUDIASHVILI ART GALLERY Address: Gudiashvili Atr. Telephone: 293 23 05 Tickets: General - 5 GEL, Ages 6-18 - 3 Gel, Students and Pensioners - 3 GEL, Free admission for orphan groups and children under 6 EXHIBITION OF PREVIOUSLY UNKNOWN ART PIECES CREATED BY LEGENDARY ARTIST LADO GUDIASHVILI: 1 + 70 UNKNOWN MUSIC
MTATSMINDA HILL July 28 Mzesumzira Records and Cosmo records’ collaboration: MZESUMZIRA RECORDS AT CAFFE STAGE Lineup:
SOUND OF GEORGIA
MELOGRANO Address: Z. Chichinadze Str. Telephone: 219 20 21 July 29 NUCI NEBIERIDZE & PAPUNA SHARIKADZE WITH FRIENDS The concert will present the original compositions and arrangements of various jazzstandards and songs by Nuci Nebieridze. Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL BLUES FEST Address: Lagodekhi July 28 The second blues festival organized by the company BluesfestGe presents the legendary, highly indemand blues band SOBO Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20-70 GEL ZUGDIDI ART CENTER Address: 12 D. Janashia Str. July 30 GROUP URSA WITH RENEWED PROGRAM Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 20 GEL ADJARA MUSEUM
Visitor Center of Kobuleti-Kintrishi Protected Areas Address: 271 D. Aghmashenebeli Str., Kobuleti July 5 – July 5 2019 The Georgian National Museum presents a new exhibition depicting the unique ecosystems of Adjara, in particular the Kobuleti wetland areas, the Kintrishi forests and their biodiversity. Discover the Ispani sphagnum peatlands and the Kintrishi forest illuminated in lightboxes. MUSIC
BATUMI SUMMER THEATER August 1 CHARITY CONCERT #4BEKA Participants: Sopho Khalvashi, Niko Beridze, Anri Guchmanidze, Giorgi Tughushi, Salome Mirianashvili, Giorgi Putkaradze, Teona Chitishvili, Folk Band Aisi and BSU band. Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 20 GEL
GEORGIA TODAY JULY 27 - 30, 2018
The Black Sea Jazz Festival 2018 REVIEW BY INGA MUMLADZE
lenty of stories have been written about this summer’s Jazz festival already – and a major reason for it is the never-dwindling army of fans that Robert Plant and Led Zeppelin boast in Georgia (deservedly, mind you). Some outlets were especially generous with lavish praise, one going as far as to call it “the festival that wrote history.” Was that the case? Well, let’s find out. But before we do, let me tell you about my journey to Batumi – considering the lion’s share of people that are attending the Batumi Jazz festival are not from there, I think it could be a valuable piece of information. Regular tickets for trains are usually sold out a week before, so there were only 100 GEL ones left at the time when I decided to embark on this journey. Minibuses, if you value your health, time and are past your hitchhiking years, are a solution best sneered at. So, in a carefree move befitting a queen, I went for the Lux option and got a plane ticket from Tbilisi to Batumi for 125 GEL. The flight's usually at 10 in the morning and lasts about one hour. All cozy and comfortable. If it’s not your first time in Georgia, you probably know this already, but still: beware the taxi drivers at the airport. They charge triple at best. The ones you encounter on the road aren’t much better – basically if anybody tells you to pay 20 GEL to get from the airport to the center, they’re ripping you off. It’s best to call a cab office and order one. Also, you might want to remember that the usual opening venue for the Batumi Jazz fest – the Black Sea Arena isn’t in fact in Batumi, but in Shekvetili resort – so you’ll have to pay another 30-35 GEL to get there. It’s well worth it though, as the Black Sea Arena is rightfully considered the best concert venue in the Caucasus. The equipment, acoustic, logistics are all top-notch.
DAY ONE Robert Plant was, of course, late. The show started at about 10:30pm, by which time the arena was fully packed with people of every age and kind here – from die-hard Led zeppelin fans to children and of course, those who thought this was “the cool thing to do”. These, however, were in minority and Plant, 69 and still going strong, enjoyed an ecstatic, exultant crowd as he dished out a wonderful, age-belying performance. There was never a dull moment; people applauding, chanting, singing along, dancing. The seats were empty as everyone thought to partake into this wonderful magic the old wizard was weaving in front of their eyes. And, truth be told, if you were a Led Zeppelin fan (something I am not), this probably was the night that wrote history for you. For about two hours, Plant rocked, singing 12 songs and then, after the initial showdown and applause, he returned once more to sing Whole Lotta Love, much to everyone’s delight.
DAY TWO This was a day that might have written history, albeit for all the wrong reasons. The main attraction was Erykah Badu, and although the name isn’t as big as that of Plant, she still has no shortage of fans in Georgia and many of them headed to Batumi just for her. The day was opened by Trombone Shorty who were… competent. But not what those hundreds of people were waiting there for. Erykah
Press Conference on Nani Bregvadze’s Upcoming Concert at Black Sea Arena
PHOTO: Sera Dzneladze, TBC STATUS
was nowhere to found, still. After some more time, Trombone Shorty returned without any of the audience asking them to. And so they played and played and played again, as Badu seemed in no hurry to show up. I have nothing against trombones, mind you, nor against shorties of any kind, but it seemed that they’d have better fitted the Tbilisi Jazz Festival than Batumi. It was way too high-brow and you’d need to be a real trombone fanatic to spend two hours on your feet, unable to dance, amid noise and still enjoy it. So the valiant efforts of Trombone Shorty to entertain the crowd afore Badu’s arrival were sadly thwarted. Now firmly in Waiting for Godot mood, and receiving only confused shrugs from the organizers, the audience began to disperse. Clever as I am, I gave the friendly security person my number to call me on Badu’s arrival and left too. At about 01:40, my phone rang and I hastened back to the venue. After all this wait, one would expect the performer would try to redeem herself and put on a fascinating show. Alas, it wasn’t to be. Sub-par would be a generous assessment and one could see she wasn’t really putting much effort into it. A major disappointment, really, considering once again how many fans, enticed by her records, went to Batumi (plenty of foreigners too!) to finally see her perform live. And if you think I went into a bit of a rant here, I’d suggest you don’t read the comments that some of the less-amused fans have left on social media regarding this performance.
DAY THREE This was a day of redemption. A day that really wrote history for me, you might say. Add some more high-strung expletives and you’ll still not come close to what we feasted on that day, courtesy of Wyclef Jean, who started at exactly 21:00. Unheard of! His second act of awesomeness was a joke or two about Erykah Badu and her being sleepy. Amen to that, brother! Next awesome act– he put his all into it. Soul, body, emotions, energy. One could not shake the feeling that this guy was singing for friends. Perhaps his close friendship with Bera (who was also present and provided a solid performance on his own) explains it, but this was certainly a man with boundless charisma, a man who finds supreme joy in what he is doing and is more than happy to connect it all to the listener. A major, major performance and definitely one of the best showmen to ever grace Georgia. Halfway through the show, after getting about half the attending children on stage and dancing and singing with them (I swear I saw the wide-eyed kid
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almost faint as she was handed the microphone), he was up to new antics – proposing to swap shirts with somebody from the audience. I could not find the image of Wyclef Jean sporting a Chinamanufactured Adibas shirt online, but trust me, it happened and it was lovely. In short, he entertained us for three hours, and I saw some of my friends, who literally never dance, unable to help themselves to a wiggle or two.
DAY FOUR And on day four, it rained. Free raincoats were soon claimed and I had to pay 5 GEL for one. The injustice! Some people came with umbrellas. The nerve! Well, in short, the rain dampened everything quite a bit. A symbolic image: a young black man, with long dreads on the stage, clad in a Chokha. With a face dismayed at nature’s whims, he uttered for everyone to hear: f**k this rain! Amen to that. That man was Wayne Snow, a Berlin based singer and songwriter, who seamlessly blends a multitude of genres to produce music that is both intricate, soulful and at the same time, very modern. You could see Snow was quite pumped up for the show and inspired by the previous night’s magic, and we soon forgot the rain. The music was sublime and the performers certainly spared no effort, but this was a performance better enjoyed while sitting, listening to every note and hushing anybody foolish enough to produce as much as a squeak. This, once again, would have been better served in the Tbilisi Concert Hall and you could hear some bewildered (and inebriated) audience members voicing their displeasure about the repertoire. This band definitely deserved more – more applause, more love, more appreciation of what they do. Another lesson for the future, perhaps?
BY ANNA ZHVANIA
n July 25, a press conference was held to present the upcoming Nani Bregvadze concert at the Writers' House. The open meeting saw the organizers and participants discussing in detail what surprises await the Georgian audience. Also in attendance were Eka Mamaladze, Natalia Kutateladze, Nikoloz Rachveli, Teo Jorbenadze (Artist Union Artistic Director), Nino Nakhutrishvili (National Musical Center General Director), Ani Kavleushvili (Black Sea Arena Director), Giorgi Chogovadze (Georgian National Tourism Administration Director), and Head of Public Relations Department of
Bank of Georgia, Khatuna Kakabadze. On August 16, the Black Sea Arena will present an artistic evening of the legendary Georgian singer Nani Bregvadze together with the Grammy Winner American trumpeter and composer, Chris Botti. The Batumi State Musical Center will also perform during the concert, while Evgeni Mikeladze’s Georgian National Symphony Orchestra will perform together with soloists to present famous and beloved melodies created by Nikoloz Rachveli. The event is dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Georgian Independence Day. Tickets are on sale. The general sponsor of the event is Bank of Georgia and the general partner is the Artists Union ConceptArt. Supporters include Imedi, Fortuna, ambebi.ge, marketer.ge and OK! magazine.
‘Shvidkatsa’ Presents their Black Sea Arena Concert
CONCLUSION So, what’s there to say? Did this festival write history? Sort of, for both good and bad reasons. Plant and Wyclef Jean both put in milestone performances that will be difficult to surpass, while Badu’s faux pass was equally embarrassing. But the most important thing is that the Batumi Jazz Festival has become imprinted into public conscience, both in Georgia and abroad, as a purveyor and provider of quality music every summer. P.s. Compared to last year, the number of sponsors of the festival must have tripled. Brand stands were abound: TKT. ge, Heineken, Sobranie, Geocell, you name it, every kind of beast present. Oh, there was also a small yet vastly popular stand by Nikora, selling hotdogs. Good thinking, that.
Journalists: Tony Hanmer, Zaza Jgarkava, Maka Bibilashvili, Dimitri Dolaberidze, Maka Lomadze, Joseph Larsen, Vazha Tavberidze, Nugzar B. Ruhadze, Nino Gugunishvili, Thea Morrison Photographer: Irakli Dolidze
n July 26, at the Central Office of Bank of Georgia, Shvidkatsa held a press conference together with the members of the ensemble, Conductor Nikoloz Rachveli, Director Basa Potskhishvili, Director of the Black Sea Arena, Ani Kavlelishvili, and Head of Public Relations Department of Bank of Georgia, Khatuna Kakabadze. During the press conference, attendees discussed the 20th anniversary evening of Shvidkatsa to be celebrated through a concert at the Black Sea Arena on August 11. The concert is to be held within the
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frames of the government’s ‘Check In Georgia’ program, and will see Shvidkatsa perform at the Black Sea Arena, dedicating the evening to their 20th anniversary and the 100th anniversary of Georgia’s Independence. A special guest will be the 10-times Grammy Winner, Acapella Group Take 6’. The National Symphony Orchestra of Georgia, headed by Nikoloz Rachveli, will also perform during the concert. The general Sponsor of the event is Bank of Georgia. Media Supporters include Imedi, Fortuna, ambebi.ge, marketer.ge, and OK! magazine.
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