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Issue no: 1180/195

• AUGUST 27 - 29, 2019



In this week’s issue... Weekly Entrepreneurial News @entrepreneur.ge NEWS PAGE 2

A Play-by-Play of the Rustavi 2 Fight for Journalism BUSINESS PAGE 3



Hear exclusively from Elisso Bolkvadze on the upcoming Batumi music and arts fest


Amazon Fires – What’s Happening & What Can You Do? BY AMY JONES


Mtevino – The Path from Hobby to Big Business BUSINESS PAGE 4

Georgian Women Mark Equal Pay Day BUSINESS PAGE 4

General Manager of Hilton Batumi: Georgia is among the Fastest Growing Tourism Destinations BUSINESS PAGE 6

With the Support of the Gov’t of Belarus, the Partnership Fund Launches Georgian House in Minsk BUSINESS PAGE 8

rench President Emmanuel Macron has stated that world powers are close to an agreement regarding how to fight the fires currently raging through the Amazon in Brazil. “There’s a real convergence to say ‘Let’s all agree to help those countries hit by these fires,’” he stated at the G7 summit Biarritz, whilst acknowledging countries had different views. Since January 2019, more than 74,000 forest fires have caused destruction in the Brazilian Amazon, an increase of 83% compared to the same period in 2018. Known as the ‘Lungs of the Planet’, many fear for air quality, not just in the region but around the globe.

Abkhazians & Ossetians in Georgia. A Short History (A Handout for Politicians) POLITICS PAGE 10 Prepared for Georgia Today Business by

Markets Asof23ͲAugͲ2019


Image source: Sky News

Home to important biodiversity, the Amazon is reaching a tipping point, say scientists. There is a real risk that the biggest rainforest on the planet could become a dry savannah should illegal deforestation continue. Preliminary satellite data from Brazil’s space agency has shown that trees are being cleared at the rate of five football pitches per minute, meaning 2,254 sq km were destroyed last month, a record level. Although Brazil’s right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro has encouraged mining, farming and logging in the Amazon and attacked conservation NGOs, there are numerous factors that have caused the increase in deforestation. The agricultural industry has also lobbied to weaken the protection system that was in place until 2014. Continued on page 2



































COMMODITIES CrudeOil,Brent(US$/bbl) GoldSpot(US$/OZ)






























































































































@entrepreneur.ge Gamarjoba! I’m the Editor-in-Chief of the Georgian edition of Entrepreneur magazine and I’m here to share the top weekly Entrepreneurial news with you: A new wine cellar “Gugoshvilebis Marani” (Gugoshvili’s Cellar), integrating three hectares of orchards and 15 hectares of vineyards, has been opened in Kvareli. Guests will have an opportunity to try wine tasting hosted by Tamaz Gugoshvili, who started planting orchards and vineyards many years ago with the idea to transform the territory into a cellar from the very beginning. Today, guests will discover a tasting room, clay bread oven, a barbeque and old-style factory on site. Chacha distillation also takes place here and there is a tank for 150 tons of wine in the cellar. Georgian app ‘DG,’ the brainchild of designer Tamaz Arunashvili and architect David Botchorishvili, is to introduce virtually restored cultural monuments to visitors. With the help of art experts and programming specialists, DG is to digitally restore the ruins of historic monuments. After restoration, users will be able to see the original appearance of a particular monument, discover its architectural details through Augmented Reality (AR) technology and even make projections. The launch of the app is still underway. Downloading DG will be free of charge, while each historical monument is to have a particular price. Yet another interesting player has been introduced to the Georgian tech market. Amadaam is the name of a Georgian software engineering company focused on business digitalization. Their service is to be available for Georgian as well as international companies and their first product launched on the Georgian market came at the request of one of the country’s largest banks. The initial capital of Amadaam came from the pockets of the founders, who say there are impressive plans set for the future. Follow the Entrepreneur Georgia Instagram page to get the latest updates from Georgian Entrepreneurs. For doing business with Georgian Entrepreneurs, write us on business@entrepreneur.ge


AUGUST 27 - 29, 2019

Europe, US Do Not Recognize "Elections" in Abkhazia BY ANA DUMBADZE


urope and the US have released a joint statement on the so-called “presidential elections” held in Georgia’s Russian-occupied Abkhazia region, saying they do not recognize the legitimacy of the "elections" conducted by the de facto authorities in Sokhumi on August 25, 2019. “Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Canada, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Ukraine, United Kingdom and United Sates of America do not recognize the legitimacy of the so-called ‘presidential elections’ held in Georgia’s Abkhazia region by the de facto authorities in Sokhumi on August 25, 2019, and will

not acknowledge their outcome. Similarly, we do not recognize the legitimacy or outcome of the so-called ‘parliamentary elections’ held in Georgia’s South Ossetia/Tskhinvali region on June 9, 2019. "We reiterate our full support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders. "We once again urge Russia to fulfill all of its obligations under the 2008 ceasefire agreement, including the withdrawal of its forces to pre-conflict positions and the provision of free access for humanitarian assistance to these regions, as well to reverse its recognition of the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states,” the mentioned countries said in a joint statement." The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of

Georgia says that the statement was made upon the initiative of Poland. The second round of so-called elections is expected to be held in Abkhazia. As a result of the first round of the "Presidential elections" held in the region, so-called president Raul Khajimba was named leader with 26.6% of votes. Te "Abkhazian central election commission” stated on Sunday evening that votes had been counted at 150 out of 154 polling stations and according to the counting results, Raul Khajimba received 26.6%, Alkhas Kvitsiani 24.6%, and former so-called deputy foreign minister Oleg Arshba - 24.9% of votes. According to the preliminary results, a second round of "elections" is expected to be held between Raul Khajimba and Oleg Arshba.

Amazon Fires – What’s Happening & What Can You Do? Continued from page 1 Last week, Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili tweeted ‘Georgia’s Heart is Burning with the Amazon. We join the struggle to save our planet and call to #ActFortheAmazon,’ although she did not mention a concrete plan of how Georgia could help the international struggle. Millions of people around the world including prominent celebrities and politicians have taken to social media to express their anger at the situation in Brazil. However, words are not enough. So, what can you do to help the Amazon? 1. Stop eating meat The meat industry is a big factor of the Amazon fires as farmers burn trees to create grazing pastures for cattle. Reduc-

ing your meat consumption is the biggest change you can make to slow down climate change. With vegetarian and vegan cafes in Tbilisi such as Kiwi Vegan Cafe and Mama Terra, as well as plenty of fresh and tasty fruits and vegetables, Georgia is an easy place to become vegetarian. If you can’t bear the thought of not eating meat, make sure you buy local and that any beef from Brazil is certified by groups like that Rainforest Alliance. 2. Take public transport Georgia has poor air quality and polluted cities as cars produce high levels of CO2, especially older models that are frequently driven in Georgia. Taking public transport rather than a private taxi or car will reduce your carbon footprint. Or, even better – cycle! 3. Use less paper

Trees are also cut down in the Amazon to create paper and wooden products. Avoid printing out documents unless absolutely necessary or use recycled paper. If you buy products made from wood, check if it is local and sustainably sourced. 4. Lobby politicians Collective and political actions will make the biggest difference. You could write to MPs in Georgia, encouraging them to make the environment their priority, not just in the Amazon, but in Georgia too. You can also join a campaign group that focuses on the Amazon or donate to organizations that help the Amazon such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, WWF, Greenpeace, Instituto Socioambiental, Amazon Watch, or International Rivers.



A Play-by-Play of the Rustavi 2 Fight for Journalism



t’s hard to mark the start point for the Rustavi 2 case, as over the years it has been top news more than once. But let’s take a look at the most recent events of the current saga. In October 2018, Bidzina Ivanishvili, Georgian businessman and ex-Prime Minister, who had returned as a Chairperson of the Georgian Dream political party in April, gave a controversial interview to TV Pirveli. While the Chairperson of the Georgian Dream explained later that his statements aimed to reveal the government’s plan to filter the lies told by media, many journalists received Ivanishvili’s words as a threat. “Everything and everyone in our society will be found out within a year… I also promise that Rustavi 2 will no longer be able to hold such a big part of our society hostage, refuse to listen to different points of view and generate lies and stress. We will do our best to have a differentiated opinion enter Rustavi 2,” he said. It took less than a year, however, to completely reform Rustavi 2. In August 2019, Rustavi 2, at least as we knew it, has been removed from the Georgian media market. On July 18, businessman Kibar Khalvashi was officially registered as the owner of Rustavi 2 TV. The data of the Public Registry shows that 60% of Rustavi 2 broadcasting company is owned by Khalvashi, while 40% is registered to the company Panorama, which is also owned by Khalvashi. Upon his arrival at Rustavi 2, Khalvashi stated that Gvaramia would soon be replaced by his lawyer, Paata Salia. On the same day, the European Court of Human Rights delivered a verdict in the Rustavi 2 ownership case claiming it could find no violations of any article of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Strasbourg Court also brought to a close the temporary measure which had suspended the judgment of the Supreme Court of Georgia with regards Rustavi 2’s true owners. Accordingly, the TV company was re-registered to shareholder Kibar Khalvashi, as had previously been decided by the courts of three instances in Georgia. Soon after the TV Channel was re-registered to Khalvashi, he announced to the media: “I’m not going to change the editorial policy of Rustavi 2. The changes will only apply to one person – Nika Gvaramia, who was appointed to his post by the regime which took my company from me [the ex-government],” Khalvashi said. Simultaneously, an investigation against Nika Gvaramia was demanded by 9% shareholder of the TV Channel, Nino Nizharadze, and her lawyer. They reported that Gvaramia had abused his official authority and made decisions which were harmful to the TV channel. On August 2, Nika Gvaramia was questioned at the Prosecutor’s Office. Kakha Damenia, former director of Rustavi 2, was called in the following day, the main theme of interest being income and advertising of the channel in 2015. On August 9, Gvaramia was charged for committing an offense under Article 220 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, involving the use of managerial and representational powers in an enterprise against the legitimate interest of that enterprise for the purpose of profiting from others, which caused significant damage. Gvaramia denied his presumed guilt. “They will regret making such shameful moves against me,” he said. On August 12, Tbilisi City Court ordered Nika Gvaramia to pay 40,000 GEL bail. Additionally, they banned him from leaving the country without

first warning the Prosecutor's Office. That day, Khalvashi revealed his plan to sell 100% shares of Rustavi 2, naming insufficient finances “to pull the company out of its deep crisis” as the reason for his decision. The Georgian businessman put the blame on Gvaramia, saying: “The former CEO of the company, Nika Gvaramia, to whom Rustavi 2 was only an instrument of political struggle, did not manage the company in good faith. It turns out he was practically robbing the company and is now openly threatening that he will destroy it. I am sure that was his interest from the very beginning.” On August 15, Gvaramia officially refused to pay the bail, claiming that as he had committed no crime, he saw no reason to pay anything. Three days later, he announced the establishment of a new TV Channel, Mtavari Arkhi, writing on his Facebook page that he is to be the owner and director of the new company. Later, he said it already had investors and would have “a better building and technologies than Rustavi 2.” On August 20, Khalvashi announced that as no real buyer had shown a desire to purchase the shares of Rustavi 2, he had either to file for bankruptcy or try and save the company. Choosing, the “go big” option, Khalvashi reported that he would try to save the channel. Once his decision was made public, the new Director-General announced that employees would be dismissed from Rustavi 2. This included Head of TV’s News Department, Nodar Meladze, and TV anchors Giorgi Gabunia, Eka Kvesitadze, Nanuka Zhorzholiani as well as the secretary of the Director General, and producer Giorgi Laperashvili. His July 18 promise not to change the editorial policy of the TV company was turning sour. GEORGIA TODAY spoke to Nanuka Zhorzholiani, one of the leading TV anchors and journalists in the Georgian media market talking about her future plans after being forced to leave Rustavi 2. “I will continue to work in journalism alongside Gvaramia at Mtavari Arkhi. My program on Mtavari Arkhi will take the form of social talk-show,” she told us. Nanuka also revealed that her Youtube Channel will become more and more active and there she will “go live and offer reportages about popular topics among society.” TV anchors Diana Jojua and Misha Sesiashvili left Rustavi 2 while on air. “I cannot sit as a TV anchor for a TV channel that belongs to a Kremlin employee,” Jojua said, referring to Bidzina Ivanishvili. “Today, I have to say goodbye, I cannot work for Rustavi 2 anymore, now that it has become impossible to speak the truth here.” The next day, more journalists left Rustavi 2 in protest, in all 18, making up the majority of the Rustavi 2 team. On August 22, Rustavi 2 TV anchors Lasha Bughadze, Keti Devdariani, Nestan Nene Kvinikadze and Dato Turashvili also left the channel. “There is no alternative to freedom and freedom is not for sale,” they said of their decision to quit. Gvaramia invited them all to join him at Mtavari Arkhi. “The top players who created Rustavi 2 are on board and we are about to take off…It’s up to you whether you want to be with the winners and hop on the departing ship [or stay with] Ivanishvili’s TV channel. Don’t say later that you had no choice,” read Gvaramia’s Facebook Post. It is reported that journalists are already signing up to join the new TV channel whose logo reads “Get Your Freedom with Us.” Mtavari Arkhi will go on air in September. What will become of the previous “freedom fighter” TV channel, Rustavi 2, is yet to be seen.





AUGUST 27 - 29, 2019

Mtevino – The Path from Hobby to Big Business TRANSLATED BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA


n the way to Kakheti the vineyards of Nika Zautashvili can be found stretched over 10 hectares in the village of Khashmi, Sagarejo Municipality. Construction of a factory, hotel and wine cellar nestled in the middle of the vineyard are set for completion this year, and by the end of next January, nearly 700,000 bottles of wine will start ‘conquering’ local and international markets. The founder of Mtevino is a typical entrepreneur. Winemaking, once launched as a hobby, currently represents his unique business model as do large-scale plans and goals. After consulting with his spouse, who wholly supported his ambitions for success, Zautashvili decided to buy a relatively small plot of land in Khashmi. He then went on to integrate the experience he had obtained while working for international companies and managing private business in his own project.

THE SAN-FRANCISCO MODEL Viniculture and winemaking are particularly widespread and respectable activities in Georgia. There are dozens of wine varieties produced in the homeland of wine, while hundreds of thousands of wine bottles are exported to various international markets, including Eastern and Western Europe, China, Japan and the USA. Zautashvili decided to engage in that successful winemaking sector. Two years later, after purchasing the vineyards, he decided to build a factory. “My wife and I started everything together, went through all the bureaucratic levels and prepared all the necessary documents. The construction process is run by X2, the successful building company belonging to my friends. I feel confident in my choice and was happy to hear of my brother’s decision to go back to private business and leave politics. [EDITOR’S NOTE: Levan Zautashvili, the former governor of Mtskheta-Mtianeti]. He has exceptionally impressive experience in business management and I am sure that he will also be successful at winemaking.” The chateaux of San-Francisco represent a busi-

Nika Zautashvili

ness role model for Nika Zautashvili. Multifunctional buildings in the middle of vineyards, integrating hotel, degustation area and wine cellar. Along with winemaking, a chateau is an interesting destination for tourists, offering them the chance to taste wine and local cuisine and spend a night in comfort. Zautashvili’s hotel will boast 12 fully serviced rooms and will host each visitor with wine of local production.

KHASHMI SAPERAVI The village of Khashmi is the homeland of the famous grape variety Khashmi Saperavi. Prior to building the chateau, thanks to Zautashvili, the Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia added Khashmi Saperavi to its list of Georgian wines, envisaging protection of that wine variety in accordance with all the international agreements and conventions that Georgia has signed or is attached to.

MTEVINO – THE BEGINNING OF A NEW LIFE IN KHASHMI VILLAGE Nika Zautashvili is to start producing eight different wines, including Khashmi Saperavi, Kindzmarauli, Rkatsiteli and more, by the end of January.

And he has other plans too. “We own 10 hectares: half of that is vineyard that will be harvested this year. At this stage we have nearly 18,000 vines. However, we are not only focused on our own grape, we also plan to purchase and are in active communication with local villagers and neighboring vineyards and will use their grape to launch the enterprise,” Zautashvili says. It seems his business has revived the local winemakers and a number of neighbors have recommenced working on their previously defunct vineyards.

MAJOR AIM – THE US MARKET “We plan to produce approximately 700,000 bottles of wine from this year’s harvest, 80% of which will be allocated for the international market, with the remainder for distribution in Georgia,” Zautashvili says.

“We have been striving to ‘conquer’ large markets from the very beginning, including Russia, China, Europe, as well as the US. The USA represents a lot of work for us. We have enough contacts from the US who have visited Georgia and seen the process of construction and full equipping of the factory with Italian machinery.” The US market is divided into the ‘American’ and ‘Ethno’ categories. The ethno-market envisages Georgian restaurants and small-businesses operating in the US. Covering a typical American, largescale market is quite difficult, but it is, Zautashvili says, achievable. “American wine marketing is completely different – from packaging to sales locations.” “Although Georgian wine has been exported to the US for years already, I think the potential of the market has yet to be fully assimilated. Exporting 300,000 bottles of wine to the US, a country with a population of 330 million, is not a satisfactory result to my mind. We aim to improve this figure,” he says. Working on the label design is already complete, with Achiko Gogelia, a friend of Zautashvili’s, as the designer. The company’s team is supervised by Lela Kobiashvili, Zautashvili’s wife and the cofounder of the company, who also holds the position of Director General of Mtevino. “Our staff boasts the best employees, much contributing to the fast success of the company. We have a brand ambassador, logistics manager, marketing manager, viticulturist, and commercial director. I expect to come out on top with this team,” Zautashvili states. “The right management is paramount for success. I see no risks. Georgia currently represents an ideal platform for starting a business. I’m sure I will launch a product which will be tradable and in high demand in Georgia, as well as the rest of the world.” Originally printed in Entrepreneur Georgia magazine.

Georgian Women Mark Equal Pay Day Image source: Teen Vogue



t is Equal Pay Day. That is not something to celebrate. This is the slogan of the Georgian Women’s Movement which marked Equal Pay Day on August 23 to highlight the difference between men's and women's salaries, which in Georgia is 36%. The organization says studies show that high wage differences directly increase the number of economically inactive women. “The wage gap also has a bad impact on child poverty - the poorer the mother, the more difficult the life her child has. The pay gap makes women economically dependent on the family, which in turn increases the risk of violence against women,” the statement released by the organization reads. The Georgian Women’s Movement says the salary difference has many causes, among them: • Wage discrimination on the basis of gender in the workplace; • The burden of unpaid domestic labor; • "Glass ceiling", i.e. invisible barriers to promotion; • Dividing jobs into female and male sectors. The organization also says that according to the National Statistics Office (Geostat), 42% of women are economically inactive. “The high level of economically inactive women is unjustified in the context of poverty in the country. The government must ensure a non-discriminatory wage and labor conditions that will empower women and boost the country's economy. The best experience of foreign countries shows that the pay gap can be overcome through specific reforms,” the statement reads. In addition to prohibiting pay discrimination, signatory organizations call on the authorities to: • Prohibit wage discrimination under the Labor Code; • Develop an anti-pay gap action plan that sets out mechanisms to combat differences in wages; • Attract investments and invest in social infrastructure that will help redistribute women's domestic burdens and create additional jobs; • Develop vocational training programs tailored

to housewives and economically inactive women; • Minister of Economy Natia Turnava should take responsibility to develop and introduce a strategy for the economic empowerment of women. The Public Defender of Georgia, Nino Lomjaria, also got involved in the campaign. According to the Ombudsman, ensuring gender equality in labor relations and the economic empowerment of women remains a challenge in Georgia, which in turn has a negative impact on women's legal status, including increasing their vulnerability to discrimination and domestic violence. Lomjaria stressed the gender pay gap negatively impacts the general state of women's equality and forms the basis for discriminatory restriction of certain basic rights. She adds that there are still stereotypes in Georgia that define gender barriers to women's participation in social life. She also claims that the existence of barriers regarding women’s financial income may in some cases lead to social marginalization of certain groups of women. “The economic situation of women is significantly linked to domestic violence, as one of the obstacles to escaping domestic violence is the financial dependence on the abuser or his family. Despite this problem, there is still no methodology in Georgia for determining equal value labor, which subsequently impedes accurate payroll data and planning of appropriate measures, the Ombudsman stressed, adding the measures taken by the state in terms of the economic empowerment of women and improvement of labor rights are insufficient. The Public Defender of Georgia calls on the relevant government agencies to be actively involved in addressing gender pay gap issues, and to plan effective measures to reduce the current imbalance and increase women's economic participation. The National Statistics Office of Georgia said the gender pay gap in Georgia is quite high at 36%. However, according to the 2018 Global Gender Inequality Index, Georgia has moved from 69th out of 149 countries to 45th in terms of equal pay. According to the average gender income, the estimated annual income of a man in Georgia is twice that of a woman and in terms of participation in unpaid family work, the contribution of women is almost twice that of men’s.




AUGUST 27 - 29, 2019

General Manager of Hilton Batumi: Georgia is among the Fastest Growing Tourism Destinations BY ANA DUMBADZE


he tourism and hotel industry have always been crucial fields for Georgia’s economy, however, the progress achieved in these directions has become even more important in recent times, following the now-notorious June 20 and the travel embargo imposed by President Vladimir Putin which significantly decreased the number of Russian tourists visiting Georgia and resulted in financial damage to the country’s economy. Luckily, despite the difficult situation, the well-known brands operating in the Georgian tourism and hotel industry are attracting more and more international visitors, considering the hospitable and quality service they offer their guests. An obvious example of the rapid development achieved in the Georgian tourism sector is Hotel Hilton Batumi, located in the center of the charming seaside city of Batumi, the capital of Georgia’s Ajara region. The hotel, like all others of its brand, is distinguished by its diverse service and innovative features oriented on maximum customer satisfaction- all thanks to the hard work and professionalism of its employees. GEORGIA TODAY went to meet Torsten Weller, the General Manager of Hilton Batumi to talk about the challenges existing in the Georgian tourism sector, his career in Georgia and the main reasons behind the brand’s unchanged popularity and reputation.

TELL US HOW YOU CAME TO BE IN GEORGIA. First of all, thank you for this opportunity; it is an honor to have an interview in GT. I started in January 2017, a little more than 2.5 years ago, and I love it. I was Hotel Manager at Hilton Innsbruck for four years and got a phone call from our Regional Director of Human Resources asking me to check out the city of Batumi. Honestly speaking, I didn’t know much about Batumi or Georgia. I called my wife Christina, who was visiting her family in the United States, and told her about Hilton Batumi. She googled the city and immediately called me back saying: “Wow, it looks fantastic, Batumi is right on the Black Sea, let’s move.” Then we did a little more research online and I happily accepted the promotion to General Manager at Hilton Batumi. What grabbed me most was all the fantastic comments about the Georgian people: heartfelt, helpful and generous. Then, of course, we were attracted by the amazing culture, food and wines, the beautiful traditions and of course by the hustling and bustling Batumi, which is uniquely located on the beautiful Black Sea coast between the sea and the stunning Ajaran Mountains. Christina and I do not regret our move to Georgia.

HOW DO YOU SEE DEVELOPMENT OF THE TOURISM INDUSTRY IN GEORGIA NOW AND IN FUTURE? The growth of tourism is very fast, Batumi and Tbilisi and many other regions are seeing more and more diverse tourists from all over the globe. That is great news, and to see that Georgia is one of the fastest growing tourism destinations is very exciting. I know the government and the Georgian National Tourism Administration are working hard to increase the popularity of the country in new markets, and with great success. The new tendency can be felt in the

market, e.g. direct flights from Saudi Arabia to Batumi is only one success story of the recent changes. Infrastructure such as highways, better and faster train connections between the east and west of the country connecting Kakheti, Tbilisi with Kutaisi/Airport and Batumi, as well as direct flights to and from Batumi throughout the year, are key strategic pillars for a faster and organically growing tourism industry.

DID THE RUSSIAN TRAVEL BAN NEGATIVELY AFFECT HILTON BATUMI AS IT HAS AFFECTED OTHER PARTS OF THE SECTOR? Generally, I believe that every challenge presents a new opportunity. And the travel ban is a great example of this. Yes, we are seeing fewer travelers from Russia versus last year. But we also see a big increase from travelers from Saudi Arabia, from Kuwait, Israel, and many more Georgian guests. The airplane slots were most likely filled with planes from other destinations and that is great as there are many new ambassadors for tourism in Georgia. At Hilton Batumi, we always try to see any business affecting change as a positive: we do not get affected by any kind of hype and patiently work on strategies to not be reliant on only one or two markets. In July, and now in August, we are seeing visitor numbers that are better than the same period last year.

TELL US ABOUT HILTON IN GEORGIA. We have been operating in Georgia since 2015 and are very proud be the first Hilton branded hotel in Batumi. Hilton and its brand power is a strong name to pull tourists from all over the globe. We are Hilton, we are hospitality. Our founder Conrad Hilton set out to fill the world with the light and warmth of hospitality 100 years ago.

TELL US ABOUT THE LOCATION AND SERVICES YOU OFFER. My first impression when I entered the hotel was simply WOW, what a GREAT PLACE. A high ceiling and modern architecture combined with traditional and local elements, create an open and inviting atmosphere. I still remember that first day, but much more than this, I remember the extremely warm welcome from the team, who made the effort to come in on a grey Sunday afternoon to give me such a heartfelt welcome. On that day, I felt special vibes from our Team Members: they made me feel a part of something very special. And getting to know the hotel better after the tour inside and outside, I was just overwhelmed by the comfort and design combining modern elements such as lots of glass and daylight with a very warm ambiance. It felt right away like a home away from home. All our rooms are very spacious. Mountain and sea-views, sometimes both, and 70% of our rooms have furnished balconies. Our eforea Spa is top of its class, a salt-water indoor pool, Himalayan salt sauna and Vichy shower treatment. You can really indulge in treating yourself well. The same applies for our Nephele Skybar & Restaurant with stunning views, food and drinks and service. There is an outlet for every customer, Georgian and international cuisine, home baked treats and much more.


ing a team which puts people first. To leave an impact and to make a difference comes first to all of our Team Members. No matter if we have a great sales force on the road selling, our team is catering to our guests needs. It is all about trust and loyalty. Trust and loyalty are ingredients for healthy relationships, internally and externally. Our great team comes everyday with such passion, such willingness to learn, such a drive to serve our customers and they all show love and care in what they do. That is the huge driver for quality and satisfied guests. For me, being a colleague, I can only say that I am very lucky to be part of something big, something special; something which is hard to describe, but something our guests, friends, partners and colleagues feel when they step through our doors.

WHICH ARE HILTON BATUMI’S MOST POPULAR SERVICES AND FACILITIES? First of all, I’m very proud to have Georgian chefs and Georgian Team Members, who came up with our story called Georgia on Your Table. We bring traditional Georgian dishes to the table, which are liked not only by most of our international guests, but also by Ajarans themselves, and other guests from different regions in Georgia. Our dishes in the Pelion restaurant are deeply rooted in Georgian culture and paired with fabulous Georgian wines. In our sky bar on the 20th floor we serve well-known

international dishes like steak, fish, pizza, pasta, etc., as well as local dishes. Actually, we are very famous and proud of our Sushi for which many of our guests come to visit the Nephele Skybar & Restaurant. And our amazing pastries and cakes, all delicious and homemade by our bakery and pastry team and served in our Tandila Lobby Café. We bring “Georgia on Your Table.”

Members and more than half of our leaders are female. To see the young and brilliant talent grow is as satisfying as seeing happy customers. Besides that, we are partners with a children’s home, have opened a training room in the Black Sea College to improve vocational training, and we buy wine from Temi Winery, which also employs disabled team members.



We are proud to welcome increasing numbers of Israeli friends and guests, also our Azerbaijanian, Armenian and Ukrainian neighbors show increasing interest year-on-year. Lots of guests come from Saudi Arabia and the Arab countries, especially during the summer months, to get away from the heat. We are extremely proud that the second strongest guest segment is actually from Georgia: it is fantastic to see the economy grow and to see locals traveling on business and pleasure. Over the past two years, there has been big interest coming from western European countries and the United States.

We are constantly working on ways to exceed our customers’ expectations. This year, we started a change workshop under the title of “Change for a winning team and winning customer environment”, where we invited all Team Members to share ideas on how to improve the customer experience. We call this the “bottom-top approach” because who knows better than our customer-facing Team Members what our guests want? We are currently working on building a high-profile mini market in the lobby, as we see a trend that many customers are going to supermarkets to buy drinks and snacks. Why not have this amenity in the hotel and use the minibar for private storage? This is an opportunity to set a future trend in Batumi. Also, we will integrate a full food and beverage concept into our eforea Spa to offer healthy snacks and drinks to enhance the spa experience. Personally, my dream would be an open “show kitchen” in our Nephele Skybar & Restaurant.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR TEAM. At Hilton Batumi, we have built a diverse team and are proud of our commitment to driving inclusion and diversity. We currently employ 11 disabled Team Members and are committed to supporting them and helping them to build a career with us. What’s more, 80% of our Team



Taman Port. Image source: portnews.ru

Russia Accelerates Construction of a New Black Sea Port BY EMIL AVDALIANI


conomic and technological competition between China and the US has become an obvious fact for world politicians as well as analysts. However, as everyone pays attention to the ongoing trade war between the two giants and steady military buildup in the South China Sea, interesting developments are taking place in the Black Sea basin. Behind this global trend, Russia is slowly building up its economic position in the region by accelerating the construction of a new deep-sea port which will endanger Anaklia’s future. For quite some time Beijing and Washington have been working to increase their economic and technological competition in or around the Black Sea. The Anaklia Deep Sea port is a primary example. China has traditionally been careful in its statements about its views on Anaklia, but the visit of the Chinese Foreign Minister to Georgia a few months ago was an indication of Beijing's interests in the port. Interestingly enough, the visit coincided with financial problems centered around the Anaklia Consortium. Currently, as the problems deepen with the withdrawal of the US’ Conti Group, it is likely and quite logical that China might actually increase its efforts to get involved in the Anaklia port construction. Within the light of numerous uncertainties surrounding the US’ position worldwide, Washington will find it harder to counter potential Chinese initiatives in and around Georgia. Many in Georgia, particularly in the analytical community, suspect that the US is experiencing troubles in its policy towards Georgia and that had not it been so, the current Anaklia issues would not be happening. American interest in the Anaklia port is to deny the Chinese use of the place for their economic activities within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative. Moreover, the US calculus might

also be that the port, apart from economic benefits, could potentially be used for military purposes. Considering this geo-strategic thinking, Washington would not allow any third party to dominate the Anaklia port project. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's statement comes to mind- when he questioned how honest Beijing and Moscow are being in trying to be Tbilisi's “true allies.” He also emphasized that the Anaklia port will be built. The third power, which has more military power in place in the Black Sea region, is obviously Russia. Its recent moves in the economic realm, though, could seriously undermine Anaklia's future business environment even if the port is successfully built. It was reported that Russia has recently sped up solidifying its grip on the Kerch Strait and Azov Sea. The RMP (RosMorPort) Taman Consortium which is expected to include five companies, RosMorPort, KuzbassRazrezUgol, MetaloInvest, Russian Railways (RZD) and SUEK, is set to build the ‘Taman Port,’ which is strategically located on the Russian side of the Kerch Strait that connects the Black and Azov seas. Alongside this quiet battle, the US and China are in purely technological competition. It has been reported that US National Security Advisor John Bolton wants to undermine the pending Chinese acquisition of an important Ukrainian aerospace company. Washington fears that the acquisition will give Beijing vital defense technology as the Ukrainian military tech giant has for decades been producing vital parts for the Russian aerospace industry. The Ukrainian-Russian crisis, a result of Moscow's annexation of Crimea, has, for the time being, put a hold on Ukrainian sales. Thus, these various seemingly unrelated events could well be set to complicate Anaklia's fate. Among them, Russia's persistence in building a deep sea port at Taman is less problematic: of more serious importance is the unstable nature of the Georgian government and the US' still-evolving perspective on its position worldwide and particularly in the Black Sea basin.

Georgian Amber Wines Presented at Wine Tasting in Korea BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA


eorgian wines continue traveling around the globe. This time, Georgian amber wines have been introduced at a special amber wine tasting in the city of Daejeon, a metropolis of South

Korea. The event, attended by world-renowned wine writers, importers and sommeliers, nearly 100 wine experts in total, brought together 12 different amber wines from Georgia, Japan, Croatia, New Zealand, Italy and Slovenia. The wine tasting was followed by a discussion of the prospective of amber wines on the Korean market. The tasting took place within the scope of the 7th Asia Wine Trophy, launched under the patronage of the International Vine and Wine Organization (OIV), which united more than 4,000 samples from 35 countries this year. The event is the part of the collaboration between the Embassy of Georgia in the Republic of Korea and the National Wine Agency of Georgia, which aims to raise awareness about Georgian wines on

Image source: National Wine Agency

the Korean Market and increase their exports respectively. Georgia was offered the status of ‘Guest of Honor’ at the official opening ceremony of the Daejeon International Wine Festival 2019, which saw the representatives of the Daejeon Government and wine professionals from different countries as participants.





AUGUST 27 - 29, 2019

Kakhetian Winemakers Ask for Grape Subsidies BY THEA MORRISON


number of winemakers in Georgia’s Kakheti region have asked the government for grape subsidies this year, noting that prices have gone up on other products but not grapes. The winemakers believe grape prices will be very low and call on the government to step in to solve the problem. “It is costing farmers more to look after their vineyards and if the grape prices are low, it’s not worth us selling them,” winemaker Giorgi Shatirishvili said. On wine export, he says the state should target China and Europe more, adding that after the Russian travel ban, the neighboring country may also be unpredictable in terms of wine. “We need to target Europe because the Europeans really love wine. Many winemakers think like me, but some still prefer the Russian market because there is [already a] high awareness of Georgian wine,” the winemaker says. The Ministry of Environment and Agriculture says more than 250,000 tons of grapes are expected to be harvested in

Kakheti this year, which could reduce demand from entrepreneurs, especially for white grapes. “The National Wine Agency is mobilizing to ensure that grape-growers do not face any problems selling their harvest,” the ministry said, adding, “We don’t believe there is a need for subsidies this year." It added that new vineyards have been cultivated, new and expanded old wineries have been arranged, and an agrocredit and agro-insurance system implemented. The agency also noted that wine export volume increased and export markets have been diversified, which creates more possibilities for Georgian winemakers. However, the ministry notes that due to developments in late June 2019, the decline in exports to Georgia's largest export market and the expectation of Russia's possible imposition of sanctions on Georgian wine imports have created some negative expectations, which led to the risk of a negative impact on private sector activity. Last year, over 230,000 tons of grapes were processed during the grape harvest and the income of 22,000 grape growers exceeded over GEL 300 ($102.46) mil-

Image source: mygeotrip.com

lion, a record high income, according to the Environment and Agriculture Minister of Georgia Levan Davitashvili. About 280 private companies were involved in last year’s harvest in Georgia. In 2013-2018, grape growers living in

Kakheti and Racha-Lechkhumi region received an income of GEL 950 ($324.46) million during the harvest period. Moreover, in 2018, 800 small, mediumsize and large enterprises registered at the Georgian National Wine Agency, up

from 50 in 2012. The Georgian government subsidized the grape harvest until 2017. At the time, on announcing the suspension of subsidies, Davitashvili said there was a high interest in grapes from the private sector, therefore, there would no longer be a need for state subsidies for the main industrial varieties like Saperavi, Rkatsiteli and Kakhetian Green. Last year, Davitashvili made a similar statement: "The Government of Georgia will not subsidize the grape harvest this year. Viticulture has become one of the most successful and developed sectors in the country as a result of the effective policy implemented by the Georgian government in recent years, as indicated by the increased exports, the growing number of wine producing companies, and the success of Georgian wine in exhibitions and competitions held worldwide.” Georgia exported about 86.2 million bottles of wine to 53 countries in 2018, which is a record high number in the last 30 years. The country has generated $203 million from the sale of wine abroad. The revenue increased by 20% from 2017, while the volume of exports increased by 13%, said the Georgian National Wine Agency.

With the Support of the Gov’t of Belarus, the Partnership Fund Launches Georgian House in Minsk museum; unique exhibits reflecting the 8000-year history of the Georgian vine and winemaking; exhibition, conference and presentation halls; a Georgian wine shop, Georgian restaurant, clay bread oven and wine cellar. Georgian House in Minsk was officially opened by David Saganelidze, CEO of the Partnership Fund, Valeri Kvaratskhelia, Ambassador of Georgia to Belarus, and Kakha Kaladze, Mayor of Tbilisi. “I’m glad that there are increasing dynamics in business relations between Georgia and Belarus,” Saganelidze said in his speech at the opening. “The launch of Georgian House in Minsk is the best proof of that. The idea to implement this initiative came from Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus, on a visit to Georgia. With his support, the Partnership Fund has been allocated special quotas for importing alcoholic drinks to Belarus. The aim of our coun-



n August 24, the Partnership Fund launched a Georgian House in Minsk, Belarus, a project implemented with the support of the Government of Belarus. Belarus officials, representatives of business circles, diaspora and diplomatic corps attended the official opening ceremony. Georgian House represents a new platform for trade-economic and cultural cooperation between the two countries and aims to support the exports of Georgian natural products, deepening collaboration between the business sectors of Georgia and Belarus, as well as promoting Georgian traditions, history and culture. Georgian House integrates a wine

try is to integrate into the world economy and Belarus represents one of the major strategic trade-economic partners of Georgia. That is why we must use the potential of possible cooperation to the full. Georgian House will give a wonderful chance to Georgian entrepreneurs and businesses to offer their products on the Belarus market. I hope Georgian House will become a pleasant go-to destination for the residents of Minsk and guests of the city.” A variety of Georgian wines, churchkhela, cheese, dried fruits, Racha ham, honey, tea, natural chips, Georgian handmade items and accessories related to the country’s culture were presented at the event. The guests took a tour around Georgian House, tasted Georgian products and discovered the history of Georgia and Georgian wine. Future visitors will be able to discover more Georgian products and to purchase them at the same time.

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HUAWEI Releases Global Industry Vision Report BY MARIAM MERABISHVILI


UAWEI has been leading the market for years and is an advanced company in the field of smart device manufacturing. Accordingly, it is not surprising that its representatives, based on the facts, have presented 10 megatrends that they believe will be made a reality in their Global Industry Vision (GIV) Report, which specifically outlines the company's foresight on technology development prospects and industry vision for 2025. Living with Bots: Advances in material science, perceptual AI, and network technologies are allowing the use of robots in a variety of home and personal scenarios. HUAWEI in its GIV, predicts a 14% global penetration rate of home robots. Super Sight: The convergence of 5G, VR/AR, machine learning and other developing technologies lets us make new and unique discoveries in people, business and culture. The HUAWEI GIV predicts that the percentage of companies that use AR/VR will increase to 10%. Zero Search: The time spent searching for the information we need will be cut significantly in future, as it will find us via smart devices able to predict our needs in advance. The GIV forecasts that 90% of smart device owners will use electronic personal assistants based on artificial intelligence.

Tailored Streets: Intelligent transport systems will connect people, vehicles and infrastructure. HUAWEI’s GIV predicts that 15% of vehicles will be connected to such technologies. Working with Bots: Many industries will be transformed. Smart automation will take on more important tasks than it can at this point. The GIV claims there will be 103 robots in industry for every 10,000 employees. Augmented Creativity: Cloud artificial intelligence will reduce the cost and barrier for scientific experimentation, innovations and art. The HUAWEI GIV predicts that 97% of large companies will be using artificial intelligence by 2025. Frictionless Communication: Artificial intelligence and data analysis will create communication between companies and users and break down language barriers; moreover, understanding and trust will be the basis for business relationships between companies. GIV predicts that 86% of enterprises will be fully using accumulated data. Symbiotic Economy: Companies worldwide are using digital technologies and smart applications, which means more collaboration, resource allocation, global ecosystems and high productivity. The HUAWEI GIV predicts that 85% of companies across the globe will be using Cloud technologies and 85% of business applications will be created based on the Cloud. Rapid Rollout of 5G: 5G is evolving at a very fast pace, faster than any other wireless technology. Consequently, the

potential for individuals, businesses and societies is infinite and comprehensive. The GIV predicts that 58% of the world's population will be able to access 5G by 2025. Global Digital Governance: The development of digital technologies needs to be balanced with shared data standards and principles for data usage. The GIV predicts that the annual volume of global data will reach 180 ZB (1 ZB = 1 trillion GB). According to Kevin Zhang, chief mar-

keting manager of HUAWEI's ICT infrastructure - “Humanity will never stop technological development. We need to visualize the perspectives, see what we might not be able to see right now - we have to shift from innovations to inventions. HUAWEI has for many years been committed to offering every person and organization a technologically advanced future and completely new approaches to technological development. ” HUAWEI products and services are available in more than 170 countries and

are used by a third of the world's population. There are 16 research and development centers operating worldwide in the USA, Germany, Sweden, Russia, India and China. HUAWEI Consumer BG is one of HUAWEI's three business units, mainly focusing on Smartphones, personal computers, tablets and cloud services. HUAWEI Global Network is based on 20 years’ experience in the telecommunications business and serves to provide innovative technologies to customers around the world.




AUGUST 27 - 29, 2019

Abkhazians & Ossetians in Georgia. A Short History (A Handout for Politicians) BY PROF. DR. TEDO DUNDUA & DR. EMIL AVDALIANI


n light of the disinformation campaign carried out by Russian information networks and picked up by western media, the Institute of the Georgian History at Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University has released an explanation as to why the Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions (incorrectly called "South Ossetia") have always been an integral part of Georgia. In the remote past, to the south of the Great Caucasian Range and east of the Black Sea, rural clans fought each other for land and mines, making alliances and early states. Two cultures equipped first with bronze and then with iron were established in the valleys of the rivers Rioni (Phasis), Chorokhi (Aphsaros), and Mtkvari (Cyros/Kura). Roughly, the borders of Colchis included the city of Pitius (Bichvinta, Pitsunda) in the North West, Sarapanis (Shorapani) in the East, near the Likhi mountains, which divides Georgia into West and East, and the mouth of the river Chorokhi in the South, near Batumi, Georgia’s main port. Another name for Colchis is Egrisi, derived from the tribal name Margali/Megreli/Mingrelian. The Mingrelian language, very close to the Georgian, is still spoken in West Georgia as a family one, like that of West Georgian highlanders, the Svani. The next country had two rivers, Chorokhi, now mostly in Turkey, and Mtkvari within its borders. Local folk called it Kartli, and the Greeks – Iberia and Iberians. The latter term contributes to Ivirk, Vrastan – Armenian terms; also to Varkan, Gurgan, Gurgistan – Persian terms, which in turn contributes to Georgia and Gruziya. Thus, Kartli, while comprising the Mtkvari and Chorokhi valleys, was labeled as Iberia, or Vrastan, or Varkan, or Gurgan by foreigners. Gradually, Colchis/ Egrisi and Kartli/Iberia became more and more integrated, and Georgian, the language spoken in Kartli, spread to the eastern Black Sea coast, putting the Mingrelian and Svani languages in the position of a family language. From that point on, this new country was called Sakartvelo, a term derived from Kartli, and also Iberia, Gurgistan, Gruziya and Georgia (T. Dundua. History of Georgia. Tbilisi. 2017, pp. 5-22. v. Academia.edu/Tedo Dundua). Still, there was another language in West Georgia which was also converted into a family language: Abkhazian. The Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia (Georgia) has Sokhumi as its capital. Sokhumi is the Turkish version of the Georgian name Tskhumi, while the Greeks and Italians called the city Dioscurias and Sebastopolis. People living in its neigborhood in the Classical and Hellenistic periods were the Colas and the Coraxae, obviously Colchian clans. Their names are substituted by that of the Colchians themselves. The first mention of the Aphsils, obvious ancestors of the Abkhazians, near Sebastopolis/Tskhumi, dates back to the 70s of the 1st c. A.D. Soon, their relatives, the Abasks, appear. These two names sometimes disappear in favor of “Lazi,” the name of Mingrelian-speaking people descended from the southern mountains to mingle with the Colchians, thus changing the name of the country into Lazica. In the northern part of Lazica under the local feudal lords, they again call themselves Aphsils and Abasks, when unified with the rest of the country – Lazi. That means that from the 2nd c. A.D., the Mingrelian language was a social one throughout Lazica, while the Abkhazian language was put in the position of a family language spoken near Sebastopolis/ Tskhumi. Indeed, the special Mingrelian term for that part of Lazica was “apkha,”

Map of Georgian states in 1762. Based on the map of Dr. Andrew Andersen, from Atlas of Conflicts. Author: Gaeser

i.e. periphery. The periphery of what? That of Mingrelian, i.e. western Georgian, culture. Gradually, Aphsils and Abasks under the local princes also started to call themselves Abkhazians. When in the 8th c., apparently through marriage, their prince found himself residing in the central city of Kutaisi, Lazica/Egrisi received one more name – Apkhazeti. With the Georgian language becoming dominant on the eastern Black Sea coast, the Mingrelian, Svani and Abkhazian languages found themselves in the position of a family language (T. Dundua. Christianity and Mithraism. The Georgian Story. Tbilisi. 1999, p. 6; T. Dundua, Akaki Chikobava. Pacorus, the Lazi King, Who Was Overlord of Colchis/Western Georga. Tbilisi. 2013, pp. 9-16; T. Dundua. Georgia within the European Integration. Tbilisi. 2016, pp. 81-88. v. Academia.edu/Tedo Dundua). West and East unified was called Sakartvelo/Georgia. And the title of the kings from the Bagrationi ruling dynasty was as follows: “King of the Abkhazians (i.e. Western Georgia), Kartvelians (Eastern and Southern Georgia), Ranians and Kakhetians (extreme East of the Eastern Georgia)” (T. Dundua. Review of Georgian Coins with Byzantine Iconography. Quaderni ticinesi di numismatica e antichità classiche. Lugano. 2000. Vol. XXIX, pp. 389-393; T. Dundua and Others. Online English- Georgian Catalogue of Georgian Numismatics). The decline of Georgia towards the end of the 16th c. enabled the Ottomans to increase their territory, seeing them taking control of the cities on the eastern Black Sea coast. Georgian frontier defenses were down. Finding so little opposition, many tribes settled in the districts they had penetrated, a new wave of the Abkhazian speaking clans among them. They made their way from the mountains first to the region of nowadays Sochi (Russian Federation), and then down the coast towards Bichvinta (Pitius, Pitsunda). Those rough highlanders forced part of the local agricultural folk to flee to the central

regions. Thus, rural and urban sites suffered much and the links with the rest of the country were badly damaged. The Ottoman overlords also encouraged the slave trade, completely changing the economic visage of the northwest of western Georgia for centuries before the Russians advance against the Ottomans in the 19th c. (T. Dundua. North and South (towards the Question of the NATO enlargement). www.nato.int/ acad/fellow/99-01/dundua.pdf, pp.41-42; T. Dundua and Others. The Black Sea – Zone of the Contacts. Tbilisi. 2001, pp. 9-10, 15-16; T. Dundua and Others. The Black Sea. A History of Interaction. Teaching Pack. The Council of Europe. Oslo. 2004, pp. 46, 105. v. Academia.edu/ Tedo Dundua). The Russian Empire annexed eastern Georgia, the Kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti, in 1801. This paved the way for Russian expansion into western Georgia. In 1810, Abkhazian prince Giorgi (Safar Beg) Shervashidze swore allegiance to the Russian Emperor and in 1864, Russian governance was established in the territory. (Abkhazia in the late 18th- early 19th centuries. Entry of Abkhazia Under the “Protection” of Russia. in Essays from the History of Abkhazia. Tbilisi. 2011, pp. 300-305). Sukhumi military department was founded (M. Lordkipanidze. The Abkhazians and Abkhazia (Georg., Russ. and Engl. texts). Tbilisi. 1990 http://www.amsi.ge/istoria/div/m. lordkiPaniZe_afx.html#90). Although the process of separating Abkhazia from Georgia was actively supported by the Russian authorities, still Abkhazia was a natural and integral part of Georgia. Perhaps it was for this reason that the Sukhumi military district was soon included in the Kutaisi governorate. Despite the negative effects of the Russian imperial policy, in 1918, the year when the Democratic Republic of Georgia was founded, Abkhazia was a part of Georgia (M. Lordkipanidze. The Abkhazians and Abkhazia (Georg., Russ. and Engl. texts). Tbilisi. 1990 http://www.amsi.ge/istoria/div/m.

lordkiPaniZe_afx.html#90). On June 11, 1918, an agreement was signed between the people’s council of Abkhazia and the leadership of the Democratic Republic of Georgia, where Abkhazia as a part of Georgia gained autonomy. After the end of Georgia’s short independence in 1921, Abkhazia remained within Soviet Socialist Republic of Georgia under a special union agreement, as a treaty republic having a certain type of autonomy within Georgia. In 1931, Abkhazia officially became the Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (ASSR) of Georgia (Political Status of Abkhazia within the Soviet Georgia. 1921-1937. in Essays from the History of Abkhazia. Tbilisi. 2011, pp. 419-436; Революционные комитеты Абхазии в борьбе за установление и упрочение Советской власти. Сборник документов и материалов. Сухуми. 1961, p. 350). This remained unchanged until the end of the Soviet Union. According to the 1989 Soviet census, the total population on the territory of the ASSR of Abkhazia was 525,061, of which 239,872 were ethnic Georgians (45.7% of the population), while 93,267 were Abkhazians (17.8%) (S. Markedonov. Abkhazia: Historical Context. in Abkhazia Between Past and Future. Prague. 2013, p. 18). Abkhazia enjoyed cultural and scientific benefits as part of Georgia during the Soviet era. The Abkhazian language was taught at the schools, and university. Since 1993, the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia has been occupied by the Russian Federation (for the full-length narrative about Abkhazians v. З. Папаскири. Абхазия: история без фальсификации. 2е изд. Тбилиси. 2010 (with Engl. summary). The next region occupied by the Russian Federation was the Autonomous District of South Ossetia. The Ossetians started settling in Georgia beyond the Caucasian range in the 16th-17th cc. as fugitives. After the annexation of eastern Georgia by Russia in 1801, the Ossetian vil-

lages were attached to the Gori district of the Tbilisi governorate. In 1920, the Russian Bolsheviks supported Ossetians living in the Democratic Republic of Georgia, in the mountains north of Gori, to establish the Soviet power there and declare the territory a part of Soviet Russia. This was an abortive attempt. In February 1921, Soviet Russia violated the agreement of May 7, 1920 by militarily attacking the Georgian state and eliminating its independence. In April 1922, the Bolsheviks granted so-called South Ossetia the status of autonomous district within Soviet Socialist Republic of Georgia. Soviet policy can be regarded as a premeditated attempt to disrupt the future attempts of the Georgians to gain independence and build a stable state as separatism within Georgia would constrain Tbilisi in its actions. The Autonomous District of South Ossetia consisted of a number of Ossetian settlements and a purely Georgian town Tskhinvali. Thus, in 1922, the Autonomous District of South Ossetia was created in the heart of historic Georgian lands where the Georgian population represented the majority of the population. It also needs to be emphasized that throughout the Soviet period (until 1991), the Ossetians living in Georgia were granted all necessary legal rights as an ethnic minority. Then Georgia became independent and the Russian occupation of the Autonomous District of South Ossetia began. (M. Lordkipanidze, G. Otkhmezuri. Ossets in Georgia. in The Caucasus and Globalization. Vol. 1 (4). Tbilisi. 2007, pp. 109-118; R. Topchishvili. Ethnic Processes in Shida Kartli (the Ossetians in Georgia). in Causes of War – Prospects for Peace. Georgian Orthodox Church. Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation. Tbilisi. 2009, pp. 111-138). Prof. Dr. Tedo Dundua is the Director of the Institute of Georgian History, Faculty of Humanities, at the Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University.




Elisso Bolkvadze on the Batumi Black Sea Music & Art Festival (BBSMAF) 2019 EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA


he #SpendYourSummerInGeorgia campaign has proved to be one of the most successful social campaigns launched in Georgia. Begun in 2019, it calls on thousands of travelers all around the globe to choose this country for their summer holidays this year. Mesmerizing nature and landscapes, stunning historical and cultural sights sprawled across the various regions of the country, mouthwatering food and unforgettable hospitability, Georgia has it all! All of the above has allowed Georgians to speak out proudly about their homeland and invite foreigners with confidence. However, there is yet another feature which makes it worth visiting Georgia this summer – music! In 2019, Georgia is to treat music-lovers to an incredible array of musical events, mostly taking place in the city of Batumi, Ajara. And the Batumi Black Sea Music and Art Festival (BBSMAF) 2019, a 10-day festival which is set to take place on September 1-10, is one of the most outstanding events on the list. The BBSMAF, launched under the Patronage of UNESCO, is an original event where great artists and young talents of classical music come together to place music at the heart of culture. It was established by Elisso Bolkvadze, the prominent Georgian pianist, UNESCO Artist of Peace and founder of the Charitable Foundation “Lyra,” in 2013, and has been offering beautiful shows to classical music enthusiasts since then. GEORGIA TODAY contacted Elisso Bolkvadze to find out more about the festival. “Our festival was founded in 2013, representing an outcome of the desire to introduce a new and interesting festival to wider audiences in the Black Sea coastal city,” she tells us. “Guram Odisharia, who was the Minister of Culture at the time, came up with the idea that along with various projects, it would be a pleasant novelty to hold a classical music festival in the region of Ajara.” Elisso Bolkvadze is strongly engaged in various projects aimed at supporting youngsters. Therefore, while speaking about the wonderful initiative of promoting the masterpieces of worldrenowned classical musicians in Batumi, she strongly accentuates the major principles of the event. “Based on my values envisaging helping youths, it was of crucial importance that the festival create an interesting platform for young talent and to be primarily focused on Georgian interests. The government is actively engaged in this project, supporting it in numerous aspects,” Bolkvadze tells us, noting that each festival that takes place in the country presents Georgia and raises aware-

ness about it on the international arena. “It has always been my aim to serve my country and its youth,” she says, adding that after obtaining the status of the UNESCO Artist of Peace, inspiration and responsibility towards such projects increased greatly. The pianist also states that while Georgia has strong European aspirations, it is pivotal to also have high aspiration in the cultural sphere, while keeping and continuing major traditions. Bolkvadze does not forget to say that all artists who live and work beyond the borders of Georgia should feel responsibility towards their country and commit to its further development. We ask Elisso about this year’s BBSMAF. “There has been a major change in the name of our festival this year, that now it is entitled ‘Batumi Black Sea Music and Art Festival’, which means that the format of the project has been broadened, enabling us to enhance cultural relations with the Black Sea countries and launch multiple international forums and conferences within the scope of the festival, for musicians, as well as the



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Editor-In-Chief: Katie Ruth Davies

representatives of various cultural branches.” She highlights as one example the exhibition of French-based painter and illustrator Anri Matchavariani set to be held in the frames of the event, with emigration being one of the major themes of the festival. Georgian artists who live far from their homeland and may not be well-known in Georgia, will also be introduced. “In addition, Emerging Europe, a largescale international forum, has become a partner of the BBSMAF 2019 and along with promoting Georgia abroad, it is to serve as another wonderful source for attracting major investments and thus contribute to the improvement of our country’s economy. What’s more, we plan to enhance our cooperation with Emerging Europe in future,” she stated. It is also interesting to compare the first year of the festival with 2019 and learn about the dynamics of engaging youngsters in the initiative. “There is huge interest and engagement from youth. We offer individual care and support to each of them. A number of

Journalists: Tony Hanmer, Zaza Jgarkava, Maka Bibilashvili, Dimitri Dolaberidze, Vazha Tavberidze, Nugzar B. Ruhadze, Samantha Guthrie, Amy Jones, Thea Morrison, Ana Dumbadze, Ketevan Kvaratskheliya Photographer: Irakli Dolidze

young talents have been discovered over the years, who were later sent abroad to continue their studies. Unfortunately, there are some major issues with regards to the level of professionalism and infrastructure in Georgia, which hinder the representatives of the younger generation from acquiring the appropriate education in the field. We spare no effort to help them blaze their path into a better future, and engagement in the festival augments each year,” Bolkvadze tells us, noting that in general the project is able to assist minors aged 14-15. The focus on youngsters, and the chance for novices to perform along with the experts, is the most distinctive feature of the festival, which has much contributed to its strength and its finding its own niche. We are also interested to find out about the involvement of foreigners in the Batumi Black Sea Music and Art Festival 2019. “Foreigners are also actively engaged in the project,” she says. “Maestro Michel Sogny is to give masterclasses for the third time this year. We also plan to invite other professionals in future.”

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Finally, we move beyond the topic of the upcoming festival and ask the famous pianist for her views on the cultural sphere in Georgia, which, against the active political background, might have lost popularity. What are the challenges the sector has to face today, and what are its perspectives for the future? “I do strongly believe that politics and culture can co-exist,” she replies with a smile. “I think that when there is a strongly established cultural ideology worldwide, it will be easier to gradually decrease the importance of politics and the focus on it. In this case, it is paramount to launch more forums and more festivals to represent Georgia with dignity. The new generation is to build the future of our country and we need to work hard in this direction. As for me, within the scope of this festival, I launched an Art Camp three years ago, where children from different regions of Georgia can participate in various concerts and trainings, through which they expand their global outlook. I do strongly believe that a person who loves music and is interested in it has higher values.”


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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1180 Business  

August 27 - 29, 2019

Issue #1180 Business  

August 27 - 29, 2019