Issue no: 993
• OCTOBER 27 - 30, 2017
• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY
PRICE: GEL 2.50
In this week’s issue... Saakashvili to Sue Ukraine’s Migration Service for Not Granting Him Asylum NEWS PAGE 3
Non-GD Candidate Wins Mayoral Race in Tianeti POLITICS PAGE 8
China’s Belt & Road Initiative and Georgia POLITICS PAGE 10
FOCUS ON THE STRATEGIC WARDROP DIALOGUE Georgia and the UK were at the round table this week discussing the bright future of their relations
BUSINESS PAGE 14
Ending Sexual Exploitation & Abuse of Children: Working towards a World of Trust SOCIETY PAGE 15
Georgian Parliament Speaker Holds Meetings in Israel BY THEA MORRISON
Experts Evaluate Kiev's Idea of Gas Purchase from Russia
eorgian Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze, along with the Georgian Parliamentary Delegation, held high-rank meetings in Israel on October 24-25. Following an official reception ceremony and a visit to the Memorial to the Heroes fallen in Battle, Kobakhidze held a face to face meeting with the Speaker of the Knesset, Yuli-Yoel Edelstein. The meeting continued in an enlarged format attended by the Georgian delegation and IsraelGeorgia Friendship Group Co-Chairs. The parties discussed bilateral relations and stated that the partnership and friendly relations go far dynamic. Continued on page 2
The Unforgettable Visual Art of Sasha Waltz CULTURE PAGE 23
Autumn TBC Rugby Series Kicks off SPORTS PAGE 23
OCTOBER 27 - 30, 2017
Tbilisi Fashion Week to Kick off Friday
Georgian Wine Companies at Megavino Fair, Brussels BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI
BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI
he 16th year area season of Tbilisi Fashion week is due to start this Friday October 27, running through October 30, showcasing Spring/ Summer 2018 collections Tbilisi Fashion Week launches with the Georgian designer Lasha Jokhadze’s fashion show at 19:00 on October 27, and ends with the event dedicated to the famous Georgian painter Elene Akhvediani, in Tbilisi’s Legvtakhevi area, presented by SOLO. Lasting for four days, Tbilisi Fashion Week is said to unite over 20 different fashion shows from Georgian designers Keti Chkhikvadze, Ani Datukishvili, Atelier 27, Tsite by Tamara Tsiteladze, ELENNY and MIA. Foreign designers: MIRO, ZLATOTSVETA PETROVA, SAYYA, DIANA ARNO, and BARABAS are also participating. The fashion shows are to be hosted by Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel Tbilisi, and a new multifunctional event space called Republic. Further to the fashion shows, numerous other events are promised to take place during Tbilisi Fashion Week, be it Georgian designer Mariam Gvasalia’s store opening, Absolut after party at Radisson Blu Iveria, Weekend Max Mara Italian Night at Radisson Blu’s FILINI restaurant or the presentation of Flying Painter store at Fabrica, and many more. Tbilisi Mall, General sponsor of the event, is to host an open reception on October 31, with Fashion March, and Tbilisi Mall’s new magazine presentation. On October 28, 'Talks', a project initi-
ated by marketer.ge, will present a talk on fashion marketing, with speakers from Italian Vogue, Vivienne Westwood and ISTITUTO MARANGONI attending. The event will be held at Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel. With the support of the Georgian National Tourism Administration, Vogue Italia, Vogue UK, Vogue Russia, Vogue Ukraine, F**king Young, Style Sight Worldwide, Buro 24/7, The Blonde Salad, Styleograph, Omnistyle, Jungle Magazine, Grazia France, L’officiel Ukraine, Harper’s Bazaar Ukraine, NOWFASHION, Grazia Italia, Glamour Italy, Highsnobiety, Elle Italia are said to be covering Tbilisi Fashion Week this year, while with the help of the Produce in Georgia Agency, many international buyers are going to attend Tbilisi Fashion Week too, giving Georgian designers the possibility to work on their international sales with TOMORROW SHOWROOM, ALDUCA D’AOSTA, TESSABIT, and L’ECLAIREUR. Tbilisi Fashion Week is supported by the Tbilisi City Hall, agency Enterprise Georgia and National Tourism Administration.
eorgian wine companies recently participated in the Megavino Wine Fair held in Brussels. It is said to be the biggest wine event in Benelux, where some of the world’s finest wines are showcased and tasted, with 300 wine exhibitors introducing thousands of wine brands from more than 30 countries. Megavino Wine Fair, held from October 20 to October 23, saw Georgian wine companies Shilda, Nekresi, Vaziani, Tbilvino, Chateu Nekresi winery, Mos-
mieri, Kakhetian Wine Cellar, Telavi Wine Cellar, Koncho &Co participating for the first time. The wine tasting within the Megavino fair included Georgian wine degustations.
The annual Megavino event also hosts wine contests, workshops and conferences, focusing on the origin of wine and the life of growers. Bulgaria was the Megavino Guest of Honor 2017.
Georgian Parliament Speaker Holds Meetings in Israel Continued from page 1
The parties touched upon inter-Parliamentary cooperation and underlined the importance of Friendship Groups and exchange visits for the enhancement of friendship of the countries. The parties discussed the current situation and the challenges in the region. Kobakhidze underlined the 26-century historical links between Georgia and Israel, saying they serve as motivation for bilateral relations, friendship and cooperation. “We believe in strong cooperation between Georgia and Israel. We are motivated to be the reliable partner of Israel and it is our strategic interest. Our Delegation is composed of 11 members, which demonstrates interest in cooperation with Israel, as well as the love
of Georgian people to the Israeli nation and country,” he said. Yuli-Yoel Edelstein confirmed support of Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. “I believe that relations between our countries are strong and stable. Our role is not only to speak about the gaps to be improved but about what we can do in addition to further enhance our relations,” he stated. Moreover, Kobakhidze held a meeting with Opposition Leader, Isaac Herzog to discuss bilateral relations and parliamentary cooperation. During the visit, the Georgian Parliament Chair met the President of Israel, Reuven Rivlin. The sides talked about the historical and close friendship between the two countries and discussed the prospects of deepening cooperation in differ-
ent directions. Discussions touched upon the situation in Georgia and Israel, as well as challenges in security, with an emphasis on the importance of coordinated cooperation and deepening relations between the Georgian Parliament and the Knesset of the State of Israel. As noted, the parliamentary friendship groups will actively work in this direction. In addition, the importance of cooperation in the field of intercultural relations and tourism was also discussed. “Georgia is a reliable partner and an important contributor to global security issues,” Rivlin said at the meeting. The parliamentary delegation held a meeting with the Friendship Group of Knesset Parliament of Georgia seeing recent developments in Georgian Parliament and the Constitution Reform process as the main topics covered.
GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 27 - 30, 2017
EU Aims for Stronger Borders BY THEA MORRISON
he European Commission has welcomed the European Parliament's adoption of the Commission's proposal to establish an Entry/Exit registration system in order for non-EU nationals crossing the external borders of EU member states to be registered. “It is an important step towards achieving more effective border management and better oversight of who is crossing the EU's external borders, and the Commission warmly welcomes this decision,” the statement of the Commission reads. The initiative was backed by the European Parliament on October 25. The Parliament’s webpage says that the new electronic entry/exit system will make life easier for travelers entitled to enter the EU. The new Entry/Exit System (EES) will register information on non-EU nation-
als, such as name, travel document, fingerprints, facial image, date and place of entry and exit, and whether they are refused entry into the Schengen Area. It will apply both to travelers requiring a visa and to visa-exempt travelers admitted for a short stay of 90 days, who cross the Schengen Area’s external borders. EES would make it easier to check that the authorized duration of a short stay, 90 days in any 180-day period, is adhered to. The system will replace the manual stamping of passports and speed up border crossings, while making it easier to detect people who over-stay, and document or identity fraud. The new system will register various data and share the information with external border check points to stop illegal entry. The information stored in the new system will be accessible to border and visa authorities and to Europol, however, it will not be accessible for National asylum authorities.
The proposal for an entry-exit system (EES) is part of the smart borders package presented by the Commission in April 2016. EES is expected to be operational in 2020. The Entry/Exit System is closely linked with the European Travel Information Authorization System (ETIAS), approved on October 19 by the Civil Liberties Committee. Non-EU nationals who do not need a visa to enter the Schengen Area will have to fill in an electronic form with their personal data (including name, date and place of birth, sex and nationality), travel document information (validity, country of issue), home address and contact information, and the European country of first intended entry. The applicant will also need to inform authorities of any convictions for serious criminal offenses (such as terrorism, sexual exploitation of children, human trafficking or drugs, murder and rape), about stays in specific conflict zones and of any prior administrative decisions requiring them to leave a country over the last ten years. The European Parliament webpage informs that travel authorization will cost EUR 10, although some travelers will be exempt from paying this fee (persons under 18 and over 60 years of age, family members of EU citizens and students and researchers travelling for academic purposes), and will be valid for three years (or until the travel document expires).
Saakashvili to Sue Ukraine’s Migration Service for Not Granting Him Asylum
BY THEA MORRISON
x-President of Georgia and former Governor of Ukraine’s Odessa Oblast, Mikheil Saakashvili, who is now the leader of Ukraine’s New Rights party, is to appeal the decision of the State Migration Service on refusing to grant him refugee status. They declared the agency has enough reasons to expel him from Ukraine. Saakashvili told NewsOne TV that he will not accept with the agency’s decision, stating it to be illegal. Saakashvili was deprived of citizenship on July 26, 2017, under Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s decree. On
Wednesday, he received a document from Ukraine’s Presidential Administration on the deprivation of his Ukrainian citizenship, which explains the reasons for stripping him of his citizenship. Saakashvili is also going to appeal this decision. On October 24, the ex-President of Georgia set up his own tent at the protest camp, which was established near the Verkhovna Rada, and spent the night there. He held a rally in the same location on October 25. Saakashvili stated he had moved there for security reasons to avoid political persecution by the authorities. “When I came here (from Poland on Sept. 10), I risked everything to protect the Ukrainian people. Now I’m asking the Ukrainian people to protect me,” Kyiv Post quoted Saakashvili.
OCTOBER 27 - 30, 2017
Head of OSCE / ODIHR on the Local Elections EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE
ow do Western observers assess the 21 October local elections in Georgia and what’s their take on some of the murkier events that took place on Polling Day? GEORGIA TODAY and Panorama TV Show sat down with head of OSCE / ODIHR observer mission, Corien Jonker, to discuss this and other things.
ELECTIONS AND NOTED... RECOMMENDATIONS HAD NOT BEEN ADDRESSED BY THE GEORGIAN AUTHORITIES. I’d prefer to start with an overview of what we saw during the pre-election period and during election day. The mission is here for 6 weeks. What we observed is that fundamental freedoms were generally respected, that the contestants were able to campaign freely but also that the ruling party was dominantly visible and it affected the campaign and elections in different ways. When you are a dominant party, you should take responsibility and not limit other contestants in their opportunities. The election administration did an efficient job, but at the same time there was pressure put on voters and contestants. So, I have to report generally positive things but still improvements need to be made.
THERE IS AN ONGOING INVESTIGATION INTO REPORTS THAT VOTER’S PERSONAL INFORMATION WAS USED TO PUT PRESSURE ON ABSENTEE VOTERS. HOW DO YOU THINK THIS AFFECTED THE OUTCOME? Political parties had more than one representative at the polling stations. They are allowed to have one observer per party for transparency as it is a very important element of democratic elections. But if you have more than one rep for a party then it’s a violation of the law. We also saw that representatives were there under the name of a civil organization or under the name of media but when we asked, they were representing one or other political party. Sometimes they interfered in the process.
THERE HAVE BEEN ALLEGATIONS THAT MUSLIM CITIZENS OF GEORGIA WERE MADE TO SWEAR ON THE QURAN PRIOR TO THE ELECTIONS. It was very difficult to really understand whether it happened or not and, if it did, under what circumstances. To make people give religious oaths that they vote for a certain party should not be allowed. I can’t imagine who would do it, what kind of power that person would have over the voters. Really, it’s unacceptable and should not happen.
WHAT ABOUT THE TIANETI CASE [SEE PAGE 8]? It is too early to say what our observa-
tions are about Tianeti. It’s for our longterm observers, our colleagues in the field, to further assess and interview those involved to get a full understanding.
WILL IT BE REFLECTED IN YOUR FINAL REPORT? Yes. We committed ourselves to stay until the second round so we will look into all complaints and appeals as well as preparations for the 2nd round. And then the preliminary statement the day after the second round. The OSCE/ ODIHR final report is always published
two months after the full completion of the election process.
NO.2 FOR THE TBILISI MAYORAL RACE WAS INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE ALEKO ELISASHVILI, OUTNUMBERING BIG OPPOSITION PARTY CANDIDATES. IN SABURTALO DISTRICT WAS A BRIT, A DUAL CITIZEN OF GEORGIA, WHO CAME IN AT NO.3 IN HIS DISTRICT. INDEPENDENT, TINY BUDGET AND ZERO EXPERIENCE IN GEORGIAN
POLITICS. DO YOU THINK VOTERS ARE FED UP WITH MAINSTREAM POLITICIANS AND PARTY POLITICS? It is very difficult for me to talk on behalf of voters. What I can say that this is actually the first time for local elections here, that independent candidates got a significant amount of the vote. I think that’s a positive process and positive progress. If it gives more diverse opportunity for voters, I can only support that. It gives vibrancy to the campaigns, gives different options to voters and of course it is up to voters to choose.
OCTOBER 27 - 30, 2017
The Election Surprise: Aleko Elisashvili OP-ED ZAZA JGARKAVA
ast week’s local elections once again proved the universal truth that who pays the piper calls the tune and especially in Georgian politics. “Georgian Dream” spent about GEL 12 million on these elections and almost fully filled the seats in all city councils and selfgoverning city halls across Georgia. Comparing that with the GEL 1.5 million spent by all other oppositional parties taken together is ridiculous; therefore, let us talk about this year’s main discovery: Aleko Elisashvili and his 17.5% of votes in the elections. A former journalist, the cash-strapped independent candidate Aleko Elisashvili was able to gain 1/5 of the election votes. According to the Central Election Committee data there are 919 thousand voters in Tbilisi, out of which 43.4% or 399 thousand showed up at the elections. About 70 thousand people voted for Elisashvili and perhaps this number could have been even larger had the candidate shown more political discernment and not traded his image of an “honest fighter” into that of a refined politician. Getting 70 thousand votes without spending money on the campaign is truly a great success and a highly important trend to keep in mind in light of the future presidential elections.
Elisashvili’s appearance marks the beginning of a new political era. This election proved there is demand for new faces, ones which haven’t been detected as being hidden pro-Dreamers, Misha’s tails, Bidzina’s postmen, swaying middleof-the-roaders or those with numerous other political vices. Now, when these elections are over and the difficult period of throwing stones at each other before the coming elections begins, the ques-
tion we have is, what does the main discovery of this year’s local elections plan to do? Political expert circles once said that even if Elisashvili did win the elections, he wouldn’t be able to do his job without a team or overall political support. Therefore, sooner or later he would still have to think about creating his own political party. Apparently, this forecast has proved right and just a few days after the elec-
tions he stated he would create a party of his own, comprised of the members of his current election team. “I will stay in politics as long as I have strength and energy,” he said. “I’m thinking of creating a political party together with my team, who are honest professionals. However, it’s too early now and before that, my organization Tiflis Hamkari will continue to serve as a platform for us to fight for Tbilisi”.
He added that he is ready to hand over the projects he has created so far to Mr. Kaladze and also offered to give him the online-platform chemitbilisi.ge free of charge. The probability of an ElisashviliKaladze partnership is further enhanced by the fact that although the governmental candidate Kaladze was victorious in the elections, it was far from being a triumph, plus the story of the former footballer with Guram Kashia has been added to all of this. The newly-elected Major of Tbilisi became the victim of homophobe attacks. His statement “Every human has the right to express their opinion regardless of their nationality, religion or sexual orientation,” has triggered great outrage within the Georgian March members and supporters, who are the electorate of the governmental party. Hence, the major doesn’t have much to choose from. The fact that a new political era is underway is also proven by the fact that Elisashvili is ready to cooperate with the governmental candidate who won the elections. If this partnership really happens, it will be a precedent in the history of Georgian politics. Cooperation between the government and opposition will also demonstrate a step forward for the West. Starting with cohabitation and ending with constitutional consensus: our European partners have always called us to cooperate and this fact will show that we have finally heard their call.
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OCTOBER 27 - 30, 2017
Non-GD Candidate Wins Mayoral Race in Tianeti BY THEA MORRISON
ormer member of ruling Georgian Dream (GD) and now opposition mayoral candidate of Tianeti, Tamaz Mechiauri is to become the only non-GD mayor in Georgia, after the Mtskheta District Court ruled in his favor. The court dispute was initiated by Mechiauri following the October 21 local elections, when the Tianeti District Election Commission re-counted rejected invalid ballot papers and added 5 votes to the ruling Georgian Dream candidate Lela Kitesashvili, who was in second place after Mechiauri. After this decision, Mechiauri lost the leading position with his 3077 votes, when Kitesashvili’s votes were increased from 3076 to 3081. The Tianeti District Election Commission explained that those 5 ballot papers were valid and that they had been rejected by mistake. On October 25, Mtskheta District Court decided to overturn the decision of the Tianeti District Election Commission, naming Mechiauri as winner of the
Mayoral elections. “The court has improved the crime committed by the regional election commission,” Mechiauri stated after the trial. GD candidate Lela Kitesashvili is not satisfied with the court verdict and says she will appeal the decision to a higher instance court. According to her, the judge could suggest a second round of voting in the district. “This would be a more logical decision but I think we will continue the legal battle,” she said. Zakaria Kutsnashvili, member of the GD majority says that it is early to assess that Mechiauri won the elections in Tianeti. “It is too early to announce that someone won or someone lost. The court's decision will be appealed,” he stated, adding that the verdict of the judge was “illogical.” The Vice-Speaker of Georgian Dream, Gia Volsky said that as Mechiauri is not a candidate of the ruling party...trying to make himself the victim. “I do hope that the court made the decision after proper consideration,” he added. Nino Burjanadze, former parliament speaker and the leader of the opposi-
tion party Democratic Movement congratulated Mechiauri on victory, adding his case revealed that the local elections in Georgia were rigged. Burjanadze believes that the attention from media and non-governmental organizations played a crucial role in
Mechiauri’s case. “This is an excellent example which shows that fighting for truth always makes sense,” she added. In the 2012 parliamentary elections Mechiauri took part as the member of the ruling Georgian Dream. However,
before the 2016 elections, he left the GD and established opposition political party – Tamaz Mechiauri for United Georgia. In last year’s parliamentary elections his party got only 0.17% of votes and failed to cross the 5% threshold.
Mikheil Janelidze: Georgia Upholding the Interests of the Euro-Atlantic Community EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY ROBERT EDGAR
EORGIA TODAY met the Georgian Vice Prime Minister, Foreign Minister H.E. Mikheil Janelidze to talk about this week’s Wardrop Strategic Dialogue in London which aimed to set out the details and goals of bilateral relations between the two countries over the next year. Interview topics include, among others, Brexit, security agreements, trade, and the progress of diplomatic relations over the preceding 25 years.
THIS IS THE FIRST WARDROP DIALOGUE TO BE CONDUCTED AT A STRATEGIC LEVEL. WHAT CHANGED, WHAT HAS BEEN ACHIEVED, AND WHAT IS THE STRATEGY? It’s a great format between two countries, strategic partners like the UK and Georgia. It’s a format of comprehensive dialogue on issues which are related to the foreign policy of those countries: issues of culture and defense, education, peopleto-people contacts, and most importantly, business and economic cooperation. This format has been expanded in these four years and it includes not only trade and economic issues but also privatesector components. Yesterday [October 23], we had our first ever discussion, with the invitation and support of the Lord Mayor [of London], tied up with the private sector presenting Georgian business and investment opportunities. Yesterday I signed an agreement with Wilton Park which is another component in terms of having more active cooperation on issues relating to international conferences, organizing forums here in Britain and Georgia on international issues which are of interest to both countries, and to global affairs generally. An important part of our talk was also linked with the post-Brexit period. We agreed to start consultation on organizing the legal framework which will cover our bilateral relations after Brexit, including a preliminary agreement on a
free trade arrangement and avoiding any obstacles to our established free trade regime. That is a very important achievement and we will start these consultations very soon in order to have all positions and documents ready for bilateral cooperation after Brexit. Also important is that we have both defense ministers present and the Georgian State Minister for Reconciliation. It gave the Georgian Defense Minister a chance to meet with his counterpart and to sign a cooperation plan on defense issues between the UK and Georgia, and I had a meeting with Boris Johnson.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF BORIS JOHNSON? We’ve always had great meetings in other multilateral formats, we had a great meeting yesterday where we touched on regional issues. We discussed bilateral issues and British support for Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, and Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration. Britain is a strong supporter of Georgia and I invited Boris to Georgia. I hope that his visit will occur soon, as well as other high-level reciprocal visits to Britain.
WHAT ARE THE EXPECTATIONS FOR BRITISH-GEORGIAN RELATIONS OVER THE NEXT YEAR? First of all, the expectations are increased trade and economic cooperation. Britain was the first large investor in Georgia with BP investing in 1998. It was a strategic investment, the project has been
operating successfully over the past 20 years and there is an ongoing development in this project: up to 2 billion is invested in Georgia for the upgrade of this project and the delivery of additional gas resources to Europe from the Caspian via Georgia. It’s not the only field in which we cooperate: there is increased potential for tourism. We already have direct flights established between Georgia and Britain: three times per week Tbilisi-London; and two times per week Kutaisi-London. I came here from Kutaisi with a flight for 40€ so it’s a great opportunity for tourists from both sides to come and visit each other. We’ve had a 30% increase in visitors from Britain to Georgia, which is great. We are very happy to see visitors and tourists coming to Georgia, and the Georgian hospitality sector in general is booming. We look forward to more British companies in the hotel sector and general tourism services where Britain and British companies have good experience, knowledge and expertise. We already have retailers and British brands on the Georgian market and we look forward to seeing more. The Georgian market, although it is 3.7 million, has twice more visitors per year who are very much interested in shopping and spending money so it’s an opportunity for British retailers to expand their presence. At the same time, Georgia has transformed into an open-liberal economy and an economy integrated with other markets. We have a free trade agreement with all the CIS countries including the Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia – central Asian
countries – we have a free-trade agreement with the European Union and Turkey. In May we signed a free-trade agreement with China, and we are exploring a free trade opportunity with India. It provides a huge opportunity for British businesses to explore Georgia as a regional hub for growing business, this is what we are offering. Georgian companies are also enjoying a presence on the London Stock Exchange: the two largest private banks in Georgia are on the premium listings of the London Stock Exchange, and not only banks but also the largest private health-care group. It’s an example for other companies to find capital here on the Exchange. We are developing our own capital market which we want also to link with the London Stock Exchange and capital market so this is another area (the selfservices and financial services) where we want to continue our cooperation and offer opportunities to British businesses.
HOW HAVE THE RELATIONS BETWEEN THE UK AND GEORGIA CHANGED IN THE PAST 25 YEARS? WHAT HAVE BEEN THE HIGHLIGHTS AND KEY ACHIEVEMENTS? I think that this format, the dialogue between Britain and Georgia is an indication of how comprehensive our relations have become during the last 25 years. Last year we upgraded the talks to a strategic level and every year we are adding new components and enhancing our dialogue. We’ve managed to build full trust and reliability, we’ve developed economic projects of strategic importance for both sides, we managed to build strong security and defence cooperation and - most importantly – this hasn’t just been bilateral but we have contributed to international security. We are together in Afghanistan: Georgia is one of the largest per capita troop contributors, and it all serves the interests of EuroAtlantic security. What we’ve achieved during these 25 years is this unity of upholding the interests of the EuroAtlantic community and interest of security, peace, and stability.
GEORGIA RECENTLY RECEIVED A GREAT DEAL OF SUPPORT FROM THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT. DOES THAT GIVE YOU GROUNDS FOR OPTIMISM IN TERMS OF COMBATING RUSSIAN SOFT AGGRESSION AND RECLAIMING THE OCCUPIED TERRITORIES? Georgia’s European integration process is going very successfully. We’ve achieved all the major targets of the Eastern Partnership: an association agreement has been signed and has been in force since 2014; the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area agreement; this year we got visa liberalization which is a great achievement on the European integration path; we joined the energy community; we’re joining other EU specialized agencies; we’re joining special programs oriented on deeper cooperation in culture, education, and innovation etc. This process of integration in European structures and the European market is going very well. This has a very positive impact on our economy: the EU has become our number one trading partner and our exports are growing. For instance, this year there was 30% growth of exports to the European market. It delivers benefits to small farmers producing nuts or honey or fisheries. There are new openings, for example honey was recently allowed to enter the market which is important for ordinary citizens, small farmers and people living in rural areas. This is a very positive process. That process is very important for confidencebuilding, engagement, and reconciliation with the people living in the occupied territories. It is in our interests to spread the benefits of these positive developments and European integration to the people living in Georgia. In all the regions, including the regions occupied today. They are our citizens. We are doing our best to make those benefits accessible, which will ensure more opportunities for rebuilding trust. Russian occupation is the biggest barrier to rebuilding this trust and starting the process of reconciliation, but we are very firm in our approach of peaceful conflict-resolution; an approach linked to building bridges between the people and defeating this challenge through peaceful and people-to-people interactions.
GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 27 - 30, 2017
Wardrop Dialogue 2017 BY ROBERT EDGAR, LONDON
hat to say, from the perspective of a Brit living in London, about the Wardrop Strategic Dialogue
2017? It would appear that things are looking positive. The largest elephant in the room, pertaining to both the Wardop Strategic Dialogue and the domestic policy of the UK, has of course been Brexit. It’s a divisive subject over here and the referendum brought previously unappreciated societal rifts quite starkly and unexpectedly to the surface. One thing that the vast majority on both sides can agree on, however, is that it behoves us to make a success of the referendum result. To that end, the Dialogue shows some encouraging signs. Perhaps most notable is a preliminary agreement for a free trade deal between the UK and Georgia. The details are to be threshed out over the coming year(s) on the understanding that both countries will be ready to implement the deal at the time of the UK’s departure from the EU. Georgia has signed trade deals with the CIS countries, China, and is working on a deal with India. There are clear signs that it wants to position itself as a trade bridge between Europe and the Far East which is in both country’s interests. In terms of the private-sector, Georgia is trying to make itself attractive to both domestic and foreign investors both by consolidating its existing ties with British companies, vis-à-vis renewed investment from BP and encouraging developments on the London Stock Exchange,
UK wants to Deepen Trade & Economic Relations with Georgia BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI and developing its own capital market. Tourism is another area which the Georgian government is watching closely. Napoleon’s famous dictum that “Britain is a nation of shopkeepers” has become truer as the years since it was issued have proceeded, and although he presumably meant it disparagingly, our service-economy seems to have benefited both nations: Georgia’s population is shy of 4 million but it welcomes about twice that per year in terms of visitors. The UK’s experience in the hospitality and retail fields are necessary and welcome. If Brexit is the UK’s elephant in the room, then the national sovereignty of the occupied territories is Georgia’s.
Britain’s official policy does not differ much from Georgia’s in that for both the ideal outcome is reunification by countering Russia’s soft aggression through enticement: i.e. making Georgia the more attractive option with regards to enjoying the fruits of international trade, prosperity and community cohesion. Ultimately this dialogue merely sows the seeds of future relations between the UK and Georgia and the coming years will show whether there are benefits to be reaped, but considering the positivity and will to engage shown by both sides, coupled with the previous 25 years of UK-Georgia integration, there is every reason to be optimistic.
eepening trade and economic cooperation between Georgia and the UK was the main focus of a speech delivered by Sir Alan Duncan, the UK’s Minister of State for Europe and America, at the Wardrop Strategic Dialogue 4th plenary session in London. “I want this to be done swiftly and successfully, and I’d like this to be ambitious. I am glad that the Foreign Office officials were recently in Tbilisi to discuss details of our future economic relations. That dialogue will intensify in the coming
months,” Sir Alan Duncan stated in his speech, as quoted by the Ministry. He is then said to have pointed out that British investor interest in Georgia is growing, with the UK’s Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Georgia being appointed, and an upcoming business forum within the Wardrop Strategic Dialogue planned. “More of our citizens than ever before are travelling in both directions for tourism, study and business. As governments, we can help these connections to develop even further, including in areas such as vocational and technical education and creative industries. We will ensure that Georgian citizens find the process of obtaining a visa to visit Britain as easy as possible,” Sir Alan Duncan said.
OCTOBER 27 - 30, 2017
China’s Belt and Road Initiative and Georgia
eorgia has historically been at the edge of empires. This has been both an asset and a hindrance to the development of the country. An asset because Georgia’s difficult geography and distant location from global centers, denied major powers to invade and keep the country under one’s rule. A hindrance because its geography requires major investments to override its mountains, gorges, rivers etc. This geographic paradigm has been well underway in shaping Georgia’s geopolitical position since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. Ever since Georgia has been playing a rebalancing game through turning to other regional powers to counteract the resurgent Russia. Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iran and bigger players such as the EU and the US have their own share of interest in the South Caucasus. However, over the past several years yet another power – China, with its still-evolving Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – has been slowly gaining strength in South Caucasus. But despite the fact that China is rapidly increasing its economic presence in Georgia, which ultimately could turn into bigger Chinese security involvement, Beijing’s investment and interests in the region still lags behind what China has been doing in Central Asia, Pakistan or indeed other parts the BRI is encompassing. Another interesting aspect to Chinese influence is Georgia’s balancing act, whereby Tbilisi wants to use growing Chinese influence to further balance Moscow’s military power. However, this is also not as simple as it sounds, as Moscow and Beijing could potentially cooperate in the South Cau-
casus as they currently do in other regions, for example Central Asia. China has close trade contacts with all South Caucasus countries, and has invested extensively in the region. Among those relationships, GeorgianChinese cooperation does indeed stand out, but this is not a particularly recent development. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Chinese immigrants in Georgia were driven by Chinese stateowned investment activities in the region. In the early 2000s, the majority of the migrants were involved in corner shop and market vendor businesses, as well as restaurant businesses, whereas after 2010, construction workers became the main employment of Chinese migrants. For Georgia, China is now its thirdlargest trade partner (After Turkey, Azerbaijan and Russia). Trade between the two countries significantly increased over the past ten years. In 2002, bilateral trade was roughly 10 million USD, in 2014-2015 it reached 823 million USD. In 2017, China and Georgia finally signed the free trade agreement during a visit of the Georgian delegation to China in May. The country also hopes that its position in the Black Sea’s ports, such as Batumi, Poti and Anaklia will make it a logistics hub for the entire region, and particularly for China’s BRI initiative.
WITHIN THE BRI CONTEXT China only recently set its sight on the South Caucasus’ transit potential and valuable infrastructure. This interest is largely conditioned by China’s Belt and Road (BR) initiative, which is a multibillion-dollar project, according to which the country’s east will be reconnected (as in ancient times) to Europe, through
the shortest distance, whether through southern Russian, Central Asia, or the South Caucasus and the Black Sea (although that is not the only corridor the Chinese are working on). As mentioned above, Georgia can boast of its Black Sea ports, east-west highway, which essentially connects Azerbaijan and the Black Sea coast, and the existing and upcoming railway projects (Baku-Tbilisi-Kars). Indeed, from a Chinese perspective, the two most valuable projects Beijing is eyeing up in the South Caucasus are related to Georgia: 1) The upcoming opening of the Baku-TbilisiKars railroad which will allow a 45% faster delivery of containers, reight and passengers from Asia to Europe; 2) Expanding the East-West Highway, Georgia’s main land road transport, in cooperation with the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and other organizations. China has been testing the South Caucasus route since the announcement of the belt and Road initiative in 2013. For example, in 2015, the connection efficacy between the Xinjiang province of China to the port of Poti in Georgia, via Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, was tested. Railway cargo loaded in China on 29th of January arrived in Georgia on 6th of February of the same year. However, almost a third of the time in transit was spent handling administrative obstacles. Several other tests, too, were carried out to prove the possibility of the trade and transit route through the South Caucasus. However, despite those advantages, for Georgia as a transit country, there are still numerous questions. It could be said that overall China still remains ambivalent about the Caucasian stretch of the Silk Road. True, that Beijing is
10 Galaktion Street
interested in the strategic relevance of the region, but it nevertheless recognizes that commercial engagement remains tentative. The South Caucasus route still remains out of major transit and trade routes China is heavily investing in. Analysts do forget that the South Caucasus route does not feature much in the following corridors anticipated under the BRI initiative: 1. China to Europe through New Eurasian Land Bridge; 2. China-Mongolia-Russian Corridor; 3. Central and West Asian countries. The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road mainly relies on Chinese coastal ports: 4. China-Indochina Peninsula Corridor will link China with the South Pacific Ocean through the South China Sea; 5. China-Pakistan trade corridor; 6. Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar trade route. Compared to major Chinese-financed infrastructure and energy works completed in Russia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan in the past two years, stateowned Chinese companies have yet to secure any similar scale projects in the Caucasus region. Indeed, the Chinese are building major road and railway infrastructure in Uzbekistan and are extensively investing in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. In Georgia, for the moment, Beijing is largely interested in the existing and upcoming infrastructure, and is investing in construction in Tbilisi, Kutaisi and other major cities.
POSSIBLE WIDER GEOPOLITICAL RAMIFICATIONS FOR GEORGIA Tbilisi sees intensive relations with China as yet another tool to somehow diminish Russian resurgence. With its
pro-western course maintained, the country desperately needs Chinese investment, as its will foster the creation of jobs and other economic opportunities. So far, the Chinese have built a new district on the outskirts of Tbilisi, have invested in Kutaisi – the second-largest city in the country, and own ¾ of shares of Poti’s free industrial zone. Although it is difficult to see the importance of investments in Tbilisi and Kutaisi, Poti’s investment is a significant one. An ordinary observer could see a clear east-west line to the Black Sea spotted with Chinese presence. Surely it is for the moment difficult to ascertain what the Chinese moves will be in the future, but it is also clear that as the Russian forces move the demarcation line of the breakaway South Ossetia to the south, closer to the east-west highway, China will be more worried as it endangers its economic interconnection with Europe. Beijing will either have to find a consensus with Russia or get more involved security-wise. And there is already a precedent for China becoming involved militarily in the territories important to its BR project. For example, in Central Asia, China has made some steps which potentially could challenge Russia's economic and political influence in the region. We know that China is already the largest trade partner of each of the Central Asian states, and that Beijing has deepened its military and security ties with Tajikistan and to a certain extent with Kyrgyzstan, mainly by holding military exercises and building military infrastructure on the Tajik-Afghan border. For Tbilisi, it will be a boon to its security if China is more involved in the South Caucasus. However, it may just be wishful thinking to think that China will openly confront Russia anytime soon. Even in Central Asia, despite inroads, Moscow still does not say openly that Beijing is compromising the existing order. Another reason to think that Georgia will not so easily become a land for confrontation between China and Russia is the fact that the country is only a small part in China's BR. Also, although Beijing will pay more attention to the region, it may not actively invest resources into Georgian security beyond law enforcement and counterterrorism cooperation, as in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. This would be the case especially if its actions would clash with Russia's. There are several other transit routes, too, in China’s BRI grand project. In conclusion, the situation for the moment could be characterized as mixed. Beijing is definitely increasing its economic influence in Georgia. However, the investments are not on a par with Chinese actions in Central Asia or Pakistan. Beijing is rather interested in the existing and upcoming infrastructure, while its relations with Russia are unlikely to be compromised if Russia does not threaten the major East-West highway.
Tel: (995 32) 2 45 08 08 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 27 - 30, 2017
What Next for Catalonia? from the banks to create problems for the Spanish financial institutions. On the other hand, it will depend on the position of Catalonia’s regional police. If they choose to follow the orders of judges and the central government or take a position of defending their so-called new republic.
AND WHAT DO YOU EXPECT FROM LOCAL POLICE FORCES IN CATALONIA? This is very difficult to say. Even they are split: the issue of independence split the whole region into two. But look at what they did on the day of the referendum when they were ordered by the judges to stop the referendum process and in most cases simply stood there, forcing the central government to call in the Spanish national police. Yes, it is difficult to say, but if we look at October 1, most probably they will take the side of the Catalan government.
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE
s Spain descends further into constitutional chaos, GEORGIA TODAY and Panorama T V Show approached Fernando Casal Bertoa, a Spanish political scientist and long-time observer on Georgia to talk about some takeaways for our country from the current Spanish conundrum.
THE SPANISH GOV’T CLAIMS IT WILL DISSOLVE THE CATALAN AUTONOMY, WHILE THE CATALAN GOV’T INTENDS
TO DECLARE INDEPENDENCE (AGAIN) ON THURSDAY. WHAT IS HAPPENING IN SPAIN RIGHT NOW? Basically, the Spanish government has agreed with the opposition to apply Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution suspending the autonomy of Catalonia. Given the fact the Catalan government has taken a position against Spanish and Catalan laws, Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution allows suspension of any autonomous regions if that region does not fulfill the obligations of the constitution. The start of the suspension is not yet known , the Spanish Senate have to discuss it at plenary sessions, the President of the Catalan government has been invited to give his version of the situa-
tion and then the Senate will decide whether to trigger the Article.
WHAT WILL BE THE POLITICAL COST OF ALL OF THIS? The political cost is that those Catalans against independence will be upset as they may see this as intervention from the central state. At the end of the day, we know that even if the majority of Catalans are against independence, it is also true that more were in favor of celebrating the referendum of independence.
WHAT LESSONS ARE THERE FROM SPAIN’S CURRENT TURMOIL FOR THE POSTSOVIET STATES AND SPECIFICALLY GEORGIA?
The main lesson is that when you organize a referendum, it is better to do it in consensual way: a consensus between the central government and the regions. There has been no agreement between the Catalan and Spanish governments, leading to this confrontation.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN AFTER THURSDAY, IF THE CATALAN PARLIAMENT ANNOUNCES INDEPENDENCE? WILL THERE BE ANY VIOLENCE? It is possible and will depend on various things. First, to what extent pro-independence Catalan parties and groups manage to get people out on the streets. Recently, there was also a call from proindependence groups to take money out
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT SOKHUMI AND TSKHINVALI’S ATTEMPT TO ESTABLISH DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS WITH BARCELONA? IF CATALONIA BECOMES INDEPENDENT, SHOULD WE EXPECT RECOGNITION OF OUR BREAKAWAY TERRITORIES FROM THEM? I don’t think Catalans are very happy about the support they are getting from Russia, from Hungary, from other regimes which are not considered very democratic. So I’m not really sure to what extent their positions are on support from conflict situations that would lead to more conflict, which they already have with the EU. I don’t think that they will go in that direction and recognize these two regions.
OCTOBER 27 - 30, 2017
Taste the best wine! Business CafĂŠ Meets
Up for the 12th Time
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n October 24, the 12th meeting of Business CafĂŠ took place at the Holiday Inn hotel, Tbilisi. The meeting was hosted by Alex Chikovani, founder of the â€œLIVEâ€? agency with the topic â€œTrade history of Georgian wine: from beginnings to the presentâ€?. â€œBusiness CafĂŠ is a place where one can share knowledge with experienced people and hear their opinions about specific subjects,â€? Chikovani said. â€œBusiness CafĂŠ provides an interactive format of conversations about business, where views are exchanged. In the 21st century, business is based on branding. Building and managing a brand is a culture of conducting business. It is impossible to have a sustainable business without this. Branding is a strategy and strategy is branding: the art of managing your business with the right mindsetâ€?. Business CafĂŠ is a project initiated by consulting company â€œInsourceâ€? and it has been supported by PASHA Bank since 2015. Business CafĂŠ meetings are attended by top managers of large and medium-sized enterprises on a regular basis. Each meeting offers a convenient platform for sharing knowledge and experience, as well as discussing the recent trends in various industries and the economy as a whole. Interesting discussion topics and interactive
events attract the participants and contribute to the rising popularity of the project. As of 2017, two new sponsors have joined the initiative - ACT and Orient Logic. Among the speakers and presented topics of previous Business CafĂŠ meetings were: Lado Gurgenidze, former Prime Minister of Georgia, an executive chairman of the supervisory board of Liberty Bank who spoke about â€œThoughts about management and leadership;â€? Giorgi Kadagidze, former president of National Bank of Georgia, on â€œInnovation management;â€? Alexander Jejelava, Minister of Education of Georgia, on â€œOrganizational corporate culture;â€? David Gogichaishvili, general manager of Night Show Studio , on â€œManagement of human resources;â€? Andro Dgebuadze, business advisor on â€?Management 3.0 or MBA books in mirror;â€? Papuna Toliashvili, founder and managing partner of Synergy Group on â€œCircular organizational structures;â€? Tinatin Rukhadze, Co-founder and General Director at research and consulting company ACT, talking about â€œWho is the leader of the future?â€? Guga Tsanava, the businessman and entrepreneur discussed â€œStanford model of management;â€? Sascha Ternes, Managing Partner at TERNES Real Estate Fund LLC and former CEO of ProCredit Bank spoke about â€œOrganizational culture, business ethics and corporate management;â€? George Kananashvili, entrepreneur on â€œFinancial technologies and challenges;â€? and Levan Bakhia, the founder of Sarke Studio - â€œReality reflected by SARKE - marketing, managerial and philosophical awakeningâ€?.
Saudi Arabia to Get the Last Barrel of Oil on Earth? BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE
he last barrel of oil on Earth will be Saudi Arabiaâ€™s, the head of the Ministry of Energy of the Kingdom of Khalid al-Falikh claimed at the Forum â€˜Future Investment Initiativeâ€™. He is also confident that when that time comes, Saudi Aramco will still be functioning. The Saudi state oil giant has access to about 25% of the reserves of "black gold,â€? he said. â€œNo other company possesses such resources in the worldâ€?. Yet, according to the World Energy Statistical Review of 2015, Saudi Arabia owns 15.7% of the world's oil reserves and is second place in the world in this regard. In first place is Venezuela with 17.5% of the planetary oil resources. True, the Venezuelan state-owned company PDVSA is not able to extract all this oil. The Venezuelan state-owned oil and natural gas company
FIRST BRAND HOTEL IN KUTAISI UNDER BEST WESTERN INTERNATIONAL Within the framework of the Georgian Hotelsâ€™ Regional Network Development Project â€œ12 hotels in 12 regionsâ€? by GHYHORSPHQWFRPSDQ\Âł6LPHWULDÂ´WKHÂżUVWEUDQGKRWHOKDV been opened in Kutaisi under the Best Western International brand. The hotel accommodates 45 guest rooms, including 40 standard rooms and 5 suites. The hotel was designed taking into consideration special conditions and safety for guests with disabilities.
Address: 11 Grishashvili Str., 4600, Kutaisi, Georgia TEL 219 71 00 firstname.lastname@example.org
Three mobile conference halls are available with a total capacity of about 100 persons. (XURSHDQFXLVLQHFDQEHHQMR\HGLQWKHJURXQGĂ€RRUFDIp and a grill-bar menu in the roof top restaurant with panoramic views over the city. The International Hotels Management Company â€œT3 Hospitality Management,â€? providing the hotel management, has 20 yearsâ€™ experience in hotel management in different countries globally.
has activities in exploration, production, refining and exporting oil, as well as exploration and production of natural gas. Since its founding on 1 January 1976 with the nationalization of the Venezuelan oil industry, PDVSA has dominated the oil industry of Venezuela, the world's fifth largest oil exporter. In general, according to experts worldwide, while maintaining the current level of consumption, the world's proven oil reserves will last another 50 years. At present, the total volume is 1.7 trillion barrels. However, the situation can be changed by unexplored arctic resources. Even according to preliminary estimates of the reserves of the Lomonosov Ridge, which Russia claims, the volume is about 35 billion barrels. And if geological exploration takes these resources seriously, especially in 20-30 years, when the technologies for discovering oil deposits will multiply to exceed the current efficiency, it may turn out that the world's hydrocarbon production will last much longer than 50 years.
OCTOBER 27 - 30, 2017
Experts Evaluate Kiev's Idea of Gas Purchase from Russia BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE
n Ukraine, the terms for the resumption of gas purchase from Russia have been called. “If Gazprom agrees to move the point of transit of blue fuel from the western to the eastern border of Ukraine, then the Kiev authorities can again start buying gas directly from the Russian supplier,” said Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Kistion. Ukraine stopped buying gas in Russia in November 2015. But how realistic is it that in the coming years Ukraine will again start buying Russian gas from Russia? President of the Institute of Energy and Finance, Vladimir Feigin, finds the conditions imposed by Kiev difficult. “The transfer of the transit point to the Ukrainian-Russian de facto border will mean that Gazprom will have to sell gas to European customers before it reaches Ukraine,” he said. “Such a scheme would be extremely beneficial for Ukraine, but it is unlikely that it will suit anyone in Russia and the EU”. This means one simple thing: the authorities in Kiev want European companies to buy gas on the border of Ukraine and Russia. After that, Europeans will be forced to negotiate the transit of blue fuel not with the Russian, but with the Ukrainian side. In
other words, Ukraine wants to be on the European side of gas transit rather than between the EU and Russia. This is a long-standing dream in Kiev, but it is still not clear how Gazprom will react. Nevertheless, in transferring the point of transit from the western to the eastern border of Ukraine, it will have to reconcile with all its European customers about prices, etc. European companies, the gas buyers, are unlikely to be unequivocally positive about this idea: they are used to buying gas on the western border of Ukraine and know what it costs them. Kiev wants the Europeans to agree on the cost of transit with it, and this can significantly affect the calculation of gas prices". The president of the Ukrainian Analytical Center Alexander Okhrimenko, assesses the situation somewhat differently. In his opinion, most important in this story are not the conditions voiced by Kistion, but the signal that he sends. Publicly, Ukrainian politicians say that it is cheaper to buy gas not from Gazprom, but from Europe. "This once again shows that politicians like to say stupid things while, in practice, everything always looks different,” Okhrimenko said. “Just in the past eight months, imports from Russia to Ukraine grew by 38%. Not fell, but grew! If you look at the structure of this import, it turns out that Ukraine first of all buys its mineral resources: coal, fuel oil, diesel fuel, from Russia. Ukraine both traded with
Russia, and trades, despite all the assurances of the Kiev politicians. Sooner or later, it will return to the purchase
of Russian gas. Of course, there is still a strong lobby in the Ukrainian leadership in favor of buying gas in Europe.
But, I think that this comedy is already getting boring for everyone and will soon be over,"Okhrimenko added.
Zoe Whittaker, Formula 1 Test Pilot Planning Annual Classic Car Rally to Promote Georgia’s Tourism Potential BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES
oe Whittaker, one of the few female Formula 1 racers in the world, is on her second visit to Georgia this week to begin planning the route of her latest project ‘Race with Zoe Whittaker,’ which will see numerous classic cars rallying around the Georgian countryside with drivers taking in the best sights and Georgian hospitality. The Race with Zoe team are working closely with the Georgian side, who are “extremely helpful,” Zoe tells GEORGIA TODAY. Co-Founder and director of the BritishGeorgian Chamber of Commerce, Mako Abashidze is assisting Zoe in making the right contacts to get the project off the ground. “I was hooked the moment I heard about it,” Mako tells us. “Georgia is busy promoting its food and wine, but this is something totally different, and something which has huge potential!” The idea to start an annual rally came up on a visit to Le Monde’s famous 24-hour race in France, where Zoe, together with her Georgian friend Berdia Kamarauli, founder of the UK-based Cenimex, a British import-export venture specializing in Georgian wine export to the UK under the Georgian Wine Club brand, suggested that Zoe taste Georgian wine, “because, of course, French wine is good, but Georgian is better” (“and it is!” Zoe confesses). His bold statement, combined with the realization that she, like many Brits, knew very little about this far off country “somewhere near Russia,” piqued
her interest enough to make her ignore warnings of it being a risky country to visit and get in her car to see for herself.
And there is no desire to turn back. “The people are amazingly hospitable here,” she says. “So welcoming, so help-
ful, with so many ideas and such a willingness to bring the idea to fruition. I want to share Georgia with as many people as possible”. Indeed, her constantly updated Instagram account of her travels here has grabbed the interest of not only her friends and fellow drivers, all of whom have expressed a desire to come themselves, both as tourists and competitors in the rallies, but of the British media establishment. “Georgia can look forward to a rising number of tourists from Britain, not just thanks to Zoe’s future project, but also thanks to the direct flights (provided by Wizzair and Georgian Airways) and the ongoing bilateral relations between the two countries,” Mako says. Zoe’s mission this week is to explore the terrain and plot her rally route. She is happy with the condition of the roads, and says that occasional potholes on the back roads are no cause. “Most of the classic cars that will participate were built for rough roads,” she assures us, adding that a specially trained team of Georgian mechanics and foreign specialists will be with the drivers at all times during the rally. We ask her if other aspects of the Georgian infrastructure concern her, like accommodation and dining for the racers. “That is for the Georgian side to organize,” she says, emphasizing that they have been most willing to do whatever is needed to make the annual event a success, from training hotel staff in the regions to recommending the best restaurants. “We’re working very closely together on all aspects of planning,” she adds. The first rally is set for May, dates to
be confirmed, and she expects it will involve a close circle of drivers, “up to six, perhaps,” who will test-run the show. They will bring their classic cars over to Poti in containers and those containers will then be transported to Tbilisi. “The capital is a stunning city and I want it to be the start point. We’ll make sure we’re seen so that local people can enjoy the experience with us and, if they own classic cars, be inspired to get those cars out of their garages and join us in future rallies!” Zoe tells us. The 2019 rally will then be open to all applicants. If extremely popular, there is even the chance that more than one rally can be held each year, with one, say, specifically for pre-WW1 cars or classic bikes (the owners of both have already shown interest in the idea). “The rugged nature, monasteries, mountain roads, coastline are all well worth exploring and make such a change from the European landscape- it’s an authenticity that many European drivers will appreciate,” Zoe says. Another very important issue that Zoe plans to emphasize and promote is Road Safety awareness among Georgians, especially the need for child car seats and safe driving legislation to be in place and well-enforced. She had meetings with Tbilisi City Hall representatives on her last visit and will continue to push the point. It seems to be the year for Georgia’s shining image abroad, no matter the politics and past difficulties. And that image is getting set to brighten further as this tiny country-at-the-crossroads gets the spotlight it deserves and prepares to welcome a new breed of tourist: the racing driver.
OCTOBER 27 - 30, 2017
Parliament Presented with Petition for Criminalization of Sexual Harassment nature, obscene jokes, staring, whistling, persistently demanding a phone number after a woman has refused, touching, showing genitalia’, and others. Urging the parliament to make necessary and timely changes, the petition states: ‘There are no legislative penalties for sexual harassment in Georgia today, and it’s not defined as discrimination.’ GWM accuses the parliament of failing to consider the number of draft laws seeking to criminalize harassment that have been brought to their attention in the past. The Facebook page, What Happened in the Street., marks the launch of a recent campaign against sexual harassment, launched by women’s rights groups in Georgia, sharing the first-hand experiences and stories of women who have been harassed in taxis, buses, and in other public places.
BY MATE FOLDI
he Georgian Parliament has been presented with a petition that calls for the criminalization of sexual harassment in both public and at the workplace, by women’s rights activists. Organized by the Georgian Women’s Movement (GWM), the petition, having gained over 1,000 signatures, was submitted to parliament on October 24. The group has called for the amendment of Georgia’s Labor Code and Code of Administrative Offences, in order to qualify sexual harassment in public places and workplaces a punishable offence. GWM has defined sexual harassment in public spaces as ‘comments of a sexual
Khavitsi is the New Fondue
BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE
or the last ten years or so, Tusheti has become one of the most popular destinations for tourists arriving in Georgia. The “Rediscovery” of one of Georgia’s most beautiful mountainous regions has been an amazing success story, indeed, years ago, Tusheti, almost bereft of the technical benefits of the modern day era, to an extent where electricity and hot water were considered a luxury, was on a brink of being abandoned. Today, however, those who travel there enjoy the cozy comforts of local guesthouses, traditional Tushetian cuisine and fresh, organic produce of the local harvest. One would argue that the hallmark of modern know-how arriving to Tusheti
was the introduction of solar energy usage. A project by the Czech Development Agency saw numerous solar panels and thermal batteries installed in Tushetian villages, which in turn gave them the first real incentive to start their own business as local guesthouse operators. Thus, a circle of jobs was created, all reliant upon each other. The importance of this cannot really be overstated: on one hand, it’s key for realizing Tusheti’s touristic potential, while on the other, it’s vital for keeping people up there, not abandoning their homes in this beautiful place. Marina Ghuzarauli lives in village of Omalo. For about seven years now, her family has been producing cheese. Problems, especially at the beginning, were aplenty, while production was limited. However, through the efforts of the Czech Development Agency, and most notably, another Czech NGO – Caritas Czech
Republic in Georgia, things have steadily changed for the better, as Tushetians got the hang of the modern know-how, the positive results didn’t take long to show up. Today, Marina and her family have 16 cows, each of them yielding around 15 litres of milk, which in turn results in small-scale, yet flourishing cheese produce. Not so long ago, their family started a new business – they opened up, well, one could call it a Khavitsi spot, Georgian’s call it Sakhavitse (a place where Khavitsi is made), but for those who don’t know what Khavitsi is, it’s an incredibly delicious traditional Tushetian dish, or rather, a delicatessen. What’s it like? Well… Khavitsi, or as it is sometimes called, Datkhuri, is made of curd. To cook it, you melt and boil the butter, strew a generous pinch of curd and mince them together, until the mass starts to boil too. Then you put it on the fire (or oven, if you’re intent on cooking it at home), and serve it. Sounds simple? Well, it might be so, but it’s beyond delicious. Resembles the staple of French cuisine, the famed fondue; but as the local French tourists readily attested on our visit to
Marina’s Sakhavitse, tastes better than its more famous French cousin. It’s a wonderful energizer too, and if you already changed your Snicker’s for Churchkhela, this might the next smart move on your list. Sakhavitse is only the beginning of greater things to come, though – buoyed by recent success and continual support from the Czech side, Marina plans to take up the family guesthousing business too, with the intent of building the whole brand around the Tushetian dish. “Czech assistance has been invaluable. Without them, we wouldn’t accomplish what little we did with our own meagre means,” Marina says. However, smart folks at CCRG think that financial assistance is just one dimension of the support they are lending: the most important part of it is giving the locals motivation and incentive to start their own ventures. “Solar panels, or other modern knowhow – this all translated into increased motivation, enthusiasm and self-confidence. When they have the incentive to actually start new ventures themselves, they invest in local production and family business, which they seem to be very
capable at. The Tushetians are determined, crafty people, one little nudge, one helping hand and they start mobilizing their own means to invest in themselves,” Anzor Gogotidze told us, Project Manager at Caritas Czech Republic in Georgia.
GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 27 - 30, 2017
Driving in Georgia: Order in Extreme Chaos
CoE: Ending Sexual Exploitation & Abuse of Children: Working towards a World of Trust FROM THE COE
OP-ED BILLY MARTINSKY
'm usually a rather calm, relaxed person. I've been to many places and seen many things, so it often takes a lot to get me startled or scared. That said, there is one thing that never fails to terrify me: Georgian drivers. Now let me set the record straight. I absolutely adore Georgia and I've made it my goal to see every corner of the country. I've enjoyed every bit of it, except those moments where I come within inches of dying in a flaming wreckage on the side of the road. And unfortunately, this seemed to happen at least two or three times per road trip. Let's take the one I did yesterday, for example. It was a 3-hour ride from Zugdidi to Mestia. Conditions were... not good. But with one hand firmly grasping a cell phone, the other a cigarette, our driver persisted at rapid pace, passing anyone and everyone along the way. Blind turns? No fear. Oncoming traffic? Time to win a game of chicken. There wasn't any daring move this guy wouldn't make. He said our trip was going to be three hours, and goddamn it, nothing was going to stop that from happening! Or so we thought… Just as we were coming around another
blind turn, about a dozen cars and trucks stood motionless in our path, blocking the way. With a rock wall to one side and a sharp drop off a cliff to the other, we had no choice but to come to a screeching halt. The driver then opened the doors, letting me and the other passengers out to see what was going on. Based on everything I'd already seen on Georgian roads, I had a pretty good idea of what this could be. Moments later, my suspicion was confirmed. At the center of the car congregation were two vehicles smashed to pieces and wedged into one another. Imagine if Optimus Prime had a child with terrible birth defects, and that pretty much summed up the scene on hand. Clearly, brakes were not used, but thankfully, no one seemed to be badly hurt. The problem was, for us, that the road (the only road going to Mestia) was now entirely blocked. It was time to play the waiting game... Finally, after an hour, the army arrived (the actual Georgian Army) in a large military truck. Soldiers hopped out in full gear and made their way to the accident. They yanked the cars apart and cleared the way, thus allowing us to finally pass through to our ultimate destination. But all of this got me thinking. Georgian driving is completely unlike
anything I'd ever experienced in life. In just a short period of time, I've seen traffic jams caused by sheep and cows, police officers giving rides to hitchhikers, people driving off the road onto the grass (including on highways) just to pass other drivers, and one guy using his car's engine to dry marijuana leaves. Upon arrival, I was told that Georgians are incredibly welcoming in all situations except one: when behind the wheel of a car. That's when everything changes. The welcoming hosts turn into bloodthirsty warriors in hot pursuit of a desired destination. This may sound terrifying. And I do admit, I was incredibly terrified during my first ever Georgian taxi ride. I thought at any moment I was going to die in a flaming wreckage on the side of the road. Somehow though, I didn't. As surprising as it sounds, I still haven't died, despite my road trips in the country now totaling around 50. It's quite shocking considering how there happens to be about 3-5 close calls per hour, per trip, but I guess I have to give the drivers credit. If I had to drive in Georgia, I wouldn't last a week. I'd likely smash into someone head-on or lose control and go sailing off into the abyss on some mountain pass. Yet these guys always seem to make it through.
his week, the Council of Europe’s (CoE) Convention for the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation & Sexual Abuse (the Lanzarote Convention) celebrated its 10th anniversary. The Convention, which was opened for signature on 25 October 2007 on the Spanish island of Lanzarote, remains to date the most ambitious and comprehensive international legal instrument for the protection of children from sexual abuse and exploitation. “The best estimate is that one in five children at some point faces sexual exploitation or abuse,” said Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, in her address to conference attendees. “The trauma of such experience can last a lifetime: disrupting formal education, marring career prospects and resulting in a whole variety of mental health problems”. The Lanzarote Convention deals with prevention, protection and prosecution of sexual exploitation and abuse of children. It criminalizes such offences as sexual abuse, child prostitution, child pornography, participation of a child in pornographic performances, corruption of children, as well as solicitation of children for sexual purposes (grooming). The Convention has now been ratified by 42 of the Council of Europe member States (all but Armenia, Azerbaijan, Ireland, Norway and the United Kingdom) and is open to States outside Europe. “It is positive to see the way in which the Convention has raised awareness, laws have changed, and capacity to prevent and respond to sexual offences against children have improved in those countries that have signed it,” Deputy
Secretary General added. Among the significant achievements of the Convention are two monitoring reports on how countries implement the Convention. Given that 70-85% of sexual abuse is committed by people from the “circle of trust” of the child, the first monitoring round completed in December 2015 focused on this theme. An example of good practice highlighted in the first monitoring report was the Icelandic model of a “children’s house” – a facility for children who have survived sexual abuse that can, in particular, be used to interview them in a child-friendly manner, during a single encounter with a specifically trained person, thus eliminating the need to go to the police and other agencies and revive the trauma. Since 2015, a number of states, such as Cyprus, Denmark, Lithuania and Sweden have adopted this model, and many more are considering doing so. In March 2017, an urgent monitoring round on the risks of sexual exploitation and abuse of children affected by the refugee crisis was completed. Practical measures recommended by the report include screening children for signs of exploitation, ensuring that their rights are explained to them, and equipping safe reception centers for them. In June 2017, a new monitoring round focusing on the protection of children against sexual exploitation and abuse facilitated by information and communication technologies was launched. Based on the replies by Parties to a detailed questionnaire and comments on such replies by civil society, the Lanzarote Committee will examine the situation in 2018-2019. “We have come far in the last ten years, but there is further to go,” Battaini-Dragoni said. “Every child who can be spared the terrible experience is worth every effort we make”.
Where To Eat And Stay This Week No12 Boutique Hotel Address: 12 Khodasheni Str. (near Leselidze), Tbilisi www.No12hotel.com @no12hotel TEL 322 55 22 12
If you’re planning to visit Tbilisi for pleasure or business and want to enjoy the quiet neighborhood of the charming Old Town, this 12-room hotel is the place for you. The comfortable, air-conditioned rooms offer warm-colored interiors with traditional elements of decor. The personalized service is what the hotel is all about. No12 Boutique Hotel offes: • Excellent location – in the heart of the Old Town but on a calm back street; nice design reflecting country-specific architecture • Comfortable, cozy, clean rooms, most with magnificent views • Buffet breakfast with a ‘Modern Georgian’ menu • Friendly and helpful hosts happy to advise you where to eat, what to see, how to get there.
Rustaveli Boutique Hotel Address: 4. Freedom Sq., Tbilisi email@example.com www.rbh.ge @RustaveliBoutiqueHotel TEL 32 2880014
Rustaveli boutique hotel is designed to make your stay in Tbilisi a unique experience, whether you’re here for business or for pleasure. The hotel is located just a few steps away from the Old Town.
No12 Apart’Hotel Address: 9, Zichi Str., Tbilisi www.no12hotel.com @no12aparthotel TEL 322 55 22 12
No12 Apart'Hotel is serviced apartments by the old Parliament building. Each apartment is 50 sqm, ideal for family or friends, or for a longer stay for business travelers. The apartments provide the finest comfort with warm-colored interiors with traditional elements of decor, including all modern conveniences: satellite TV, air-conditioning, Wi-Fi and more.
Rustaveli Café&Restaurant Address: 4. Freedom Sq., Tbilisi firstname.lastname@example.org www.rbh.ge @RustaveliCafe&Restaurant TEL +995 32 2880014
Rustaveli is a cafe and restaurant in the heart of Tbilisi. With a spectacular interior, the restaurant buzzes from early morning until late, seven days a week. The restaurant serves breakfast, morning coffee, afternoon tea and an all-day menu, as well as an eclectic lunch and dinner encompassing European classics and touch of oriental cuisine. g.Vino Address: 6 Erekle II, Tbilisi @g.vinotbilisi TEL +995 322 93 21 21
Reflecting the real soul of Georgia, the main design concept came from the most popular and amazing Georgian poem “The Knight in the Panther’s Skin,” written by medieval poet Shota Rustaveli. The charming, unique design of each room, guest-oriented staff and service will make you feel special. Rustaveli boutique hotel offers breakfast at any hour, Jazz evenings and free Wi-Fi.
Each apartment can accommodate two couples. A baby crib is provided free of charge.
Inspired by wine and tapas bars in Europe with their casual setup, delicious local food, diverse local natural wine offer and happy staff, g.Vino aims to support small local wine producers and help them save some rare Georgian grapes. All our staff are new to the industry. Take the example of our cooking team, with a lady who used to prepare amazing food only for her family Check out how homemade food really tastes.
Bioli Medical Wellness Resort +995 322 322 322 / +995 595 801 003 Address: #1 Bioli str., 0114, Kojori, Tbilisi, Georgia
From the picturesque landscapes and the well-developed surroundings of the complex, to the fresh air and amazing views of Tbilisi – everything in Bioli creates a positive mood. Bioli Medical Wellness Resort is the perfect place to relax your mind and body on the weekend. Besides luxurious spa procedures and the cozy atmosphere of our cottages, you can also enjoy visiting "Bioli Hall" - the first restaurant in Georgia which focuses on healthy food. Our chef cooks meals that are healthy, delicious and bring aesthetic pleasure at the same time. If you want something extra, consider our wellness programs, conducted based on individual diagnostics and offering a scientifically controlled recovery process. We offer four types of wellness programs: Bioli Intro, Anti-Stress, Detox and Chronic Fatigue Management. We are pleased to invite you to Bioli for your ultimate wellness experience.
OCTOBER 27 - 30, 2017
Tiflis Meidani: a Gastronomic Journey at the Crossroads ADVERTORIAL
ight in the heart of Old Tbilisi, at 6, Rkinis Rigi Street, you’ll find the Wine Restaurant Tiflis Meidani, situated on a spot where, centuries ago, merchants arriving from Europe and Asia traded goods brought along the Silk Road; and where caravans arriving from north and south met, leading to a blend of European and Asian cultures, traditions and history. It was here, on Meidani Square, that the city felt richest and most vibrant, considered one of the ancient business centers as early as the IV –V centuries. The building of Tiflis Mediani Wine Restaurant itself is deeply rooted in the history of the capital city as it was its main protective fortress. Tiflis Meidani Wine Restaurant today offers a unique atmosphere to drink and dine in. Rediscovered in 2003, as the territory was completely buried underground, many of the exponents revealed the initial function of the area, and the major trade center that it was through-
out the centuries. XIX century coins were found displaying the old Tbilisi fortress united with a crown on one side, later used as inspiration for the concept of the rebranded Tiflis Meidani Wine Restaurant: a crossroads of Europe and Asia, a blend of old Tiflis and modern Tbilisi, with its unforgettable hospitality, Georgian folk dance, live music and, above all, rich diversity of authentic Georgian cuisine. In the red-brick arched dining area of the Tiflis Meidani, you’ll have a chance to experience a true gourmet adventure packed with traditional Georgian recipes from various regions of the country, offering fresh, natural, and ecological products. The restaurant menu aims to preserve the distinctiveness of the Georgian recipes, its tastes and spicy flavors, creating a fusion of a contemporary approach and breathing new life into often ancient Georgian dishes. The ingredients for each dish are chosen carefully, having been brought from the Georgian villages, with a particular focus on seasonal products. That, plus the diverse assortment of Georgian dishes, will surely suit the tastes of anyone willing to take a gastronomical adventure, paired with a wide range of Georgian wines from local wine companies as well as organic wines from the small wine cellars! At Tiflis Meidani you can also enjoy selected French wine brands from France’s Bordeaux, Sancerre and Burgundy regions, including St. Georges, Pomerol and Sancerre Rose, or wines from the smaller French producers. Wine tastings are available both for corporate and individual clients. Although Tiflis Meidani restaurant can accommodate from 120 up to 300 guests, it is equally able to offer a cozy dining experience for a small group of friends. There are nightly Georgian song performances every day and traditional Georgian dance shows five days a week from Tuesday to Saturday. Tel: +995 599 25 06 25; +995 32 2 75 10 38 Facebook: /tiflismeidani Tripadvisor: Tiflis Meidani Instagram: /tiflismeidani
WHERE to Go, Stay, Eat, Drink & Buy This Autumn BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES
utumn may be coming to an end but the WHERE October-November issue is just as colorful and rich as the countryside right
now. Enjoy the Kakheti harvest with our Svaneti-based reporter Tony Hanmer, who was in the eastern Georgia region to taste a variety of grapes and share his experiences and brilliant photographs with WHERE readers. As autumn is the best time for wine
tourism, WHERE offers details on the regional wineries for you to discover in its article on the Georgian Wine Route. Discover, too, where to go for a musthave soak in that precious juice with a luxury Wine Spa. Take a boat-ride in the Martvili Canyon in Samegrelo, western Georgia and check out the quiet of the nearby Martvili monastery. And be sure not to miss our article on Abastumani, a unique health resort famous for its space observatory. WHERE also has something special for extreme-lovers as reporter Mate Foldi discovers the year-round paragliding opportunities here, from a trip over the capital’s Tbilisi Sea to breathtaking flights
over mountainous Gudauri. A highly recommended experience for both adrenaline junkies and those wanting to capture Georgia’s landscape from the sky. You can also get ahead for the winter season with our section on winter in Batumi! Each issue, WHERE gives exclusive recommendations from invited guests on WHERE to Go, Stay, Eat, Drink and Buy. So, now, equipped with an idea of Georgia’s deep traditions of hospitality and top tips for a diversified travel experience from wine to extreme tourism, it’s time to explore your Georgia: be it the first time or a rediscovery, Georgia is guaranteed to surprise and impress!
GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 27 - 30, 2017
Day of Foundation of Czechoslovakia Marked by Classic Music Concert BY MAKA LOMADZE
n October 23, the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Tbilisi, Georgia, held a concert of classical music to mark the occasion of the National Day of the Czech Republic, at the Roman Catholic Church of St. Peter and Paul. This year is the 99th anniversary of the Foundation of Czechoslovakia. “In 2014, we introduced the tradition to gather in the Roman Catholic Church of St. Peter and Paul on the National Day of the Czech Republic, marked by a concert of classical music. This year, we made a small exception. We invited Georgian timpanist Teimuraz Giguashvili to join the Czech musicians. 99 years ago, Czech and Slovak nations, under the leadership of Professor Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, the first President, and the Slovak national hero, Milan Rastislav Štefánik, and with the support of the then US President Woodrow Wilson, independence of the newly established Czechoslovakia was announced. This immediately became a part of the family of democratic European nations. As we, Czechs, [recollect] these two decades of our independence as a period of building democratic institutions, a period of economic growth, as well as cultural and national flourishing, we celebrate the day that Czechoslovakia was formed as the main national holiday of the Czech Republic.” Tomas Pernitsky, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Czech Republic to Georgia inaugu-
rated the event. The Children’s choir of Evgeny Mikeladze School of Music performed the national anthems of both Czech Republic and Georgia. The world premiere of Ian Mikyska’s ‘Reticenda’ twas also performed, which was written especially for the occasion. “The founding of independent Czechoslovakia in 1918 was the result of a lasting brotherhood between the Czechs and the Slovaks that had been present between our two nations for centuries. The newly established republic was built on the ruins of the Austro-Hungarian Empire that seized to exist after the horrors of World War I. Czechoslovakia soon became one of the most democratic countries in the world, and Slovaks found themselves in a state which they felt more equal, respected and to a society of which they could contribute. It is due to this democratic tradition of the 20s and 30s that today´s Slovak Republic and the Czech Republic are two successful countries in the heart of Europe, treasuring the principles of democracy that reach as far back as 1918 – the year of establishment of Czechoslovakia,” H.E. Mr. Rudolf Michalka, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Slovak Republic in Georgia told GEORGIA TODAY. “In these nearly one hundred years of independence, the Czech Republic has taken a path full of challenges and grown up into a strong and prosperous democratic state. This experience of democratic development and European Integration is of considerable significance for my country, which also declared itself an independent democratic Republic in 1918, but its taste of freedom turned out
Photo by Khatuna Gogichaishvili
to be quite short. After some 75 years, back in 1993, diplomatic relations between Georgia and the Czech Republic were established. Since then. relations have evolved into traditional friendly partnership and cooperation has been enhanced in various spheres. The unyielding support of the Czech Republic for Georgia’s territorial integrity, within its interna-
tionally recognized borders, as well as for our country’s integration into the EU and NATO is highly valued from our side,” Mr. Victor Dolidze, State Minister of Georgia on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration noted, adding: “Let me also touch upon the exceptional cooperation with the Visegrad Group, and underline the value of the support of the
Czech Republic and the entire V4 countries on Georgia’s European Integration path. It is the Visegrad experience that inspires and motivates us, those of us representing the countries of ‘New’ Eastern Europe.” The event was attended by representatives of the diplomatic corps, and by members of Georgian parliament.
OCTOBER 27 - 30, 2017
Ici Paris Offers New Fragrance of Hermes: Twilly BY THEA MORRISON
he famous cosmetic chain Ici Paris has introduced a new perfume from Hermes, named Twilly, a new women's fragrance inspired by the iconic narrow silk scarves available in colorful
prints. Twilly d'Hermès is developed by perfumer Christine Nagel with the desire to make an optimistic, lively and youthful fresh floral but extraordinary scent. For this creation, the perfumer was inspired by the free, bold and unpredictable spirit of young girls. It is made of ginger, tuberose and sandalwood notes. Ici Paris marketing and PR Department Head Khatia Shamugia said at the launch that customers can buy the new perfume in all branches of Ici Paris. “The artistic perfume bottle is an expression of femininity,” she said. The fragrance is available as a 30, 50 and 85 ml Eau de Parfum.
Change Please: Svaneti
BLOG BY TONY HANMER
returned to my province, home and wife just in time for the local elections, and we were promptly swamped with coverage on every Georgian TV channel we turned to. This, however, paled in comparison to what happens in the USA in the year leading up to an election… that media bombardment becomes simply unbearable, and reduces me to gladness that I don’t actually live there, sorry. Seeing that Tim Burford, who produces the Bradt Guide to Georgia among other things, had written a most timely open letter to the new mayor of Tbilisi through GEORGIA TODAY, I have decided to do something similar to the new powers that be here in Svaneti. It seems that your clan struggles of centuries past have not let up, and that the dark side of tourism: jealousy of the successful, further divisions in communities, has flourished in recent years along with the ongoing vast improvement of conditions and infrastructure here. Roads are much better; guest houses and hotels, particularly in Mestia and Ushguli, have sprung up en masse; distributors supply many local shops (including my own) with all they need regularly. But the ones who succeed risk the ire, hatred even, of others around them. A house divided against itself will fall, don’t you know this? Whole communities can and should benefit from the growth of anyone’s business in them! We try as much as possible to use local talent for acquiring our furniture, firewood, honey, electrical repairs and so on (soon to be added: milk). Our shop, the only one in the village, allows people to walk to find what they need right here.It has boomed under my wife’s talented leadership from its humble beginnings on a single small table. They don’t have to travel any-
where now for these daily or other periodic needs. We do our best to keep prices competitively low, and we keep a tight rein on credit lines, too. If local families can think, ‘I can both earn and spend money in my own community, I can really live here,’ the winning is all round. This was the main theme of Nevil Shute’s novel A Town like Alice, and it has become one of mine in life, too. Tim mentioned the successful crackdown on drink-driving in the city. I wish I could say that this extends to us here, but my own sad experience as the victim of same leads me to say: Stop sweeping it under the rug just because you know the guy! Say to the perp: ‘I’m saving your life instead of having to spout hypocritical platitudes at your funeral about how nice you were, idiot, and by the way, it’ll cost you 1000 GEL and your license for six months! Say thank you to me that your wife won’t be a widow, your children half-orphans, for life! Cheap at the price, innit!’ The twenty-something son of former hosts of mine is a winner in the elections for his community. He seems to have become the kind of man who already fits the title he now bears, instead of getting the title first and then having to scramble to do something with it. This is the right order of things, and I wish him every success. More like him, please! There to serve their communities, not to be served and grow fat and rich at our expense! Now we have some time to watch and see what will result, in Tbilisi and across the country. Please, let our desperate hopes be met. 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 1700 members, at www.facebook. com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri: www.facebook.com/hanmer.house.svaneti
GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 27 - 30, 2017
Learn from the Professionals at the 2nd Ballet Workshop in Tbilisi Opera House BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES
rom October 30 to November 4, prestigious dancers from the State Ballet of Georgia, Frank van Tongeren and William Pratt, will be offering a 3-day classical ballet workshop followed by a 3-day contemporary ballet and choreography workshop in Tbilisi. The workshops will be held in the stunning Tbilisi Opera House, home of the State Ballet and Opera of Georgia. “The courses are suitable for students, professionals and dance enthusiasts,” Frank says, adding that experience is not required but there is an age-limit of 13 plus. Courses cost GEL 250 for three days and GEL 450 for the full six days. “It’s an amazing way to re-connect with yourself as you learn new ways of movement under the careful supervision of the most talented and professional Will Pratt and Frank van Tongeren,” said dance enthusiast Elena Shugaeva. “The workshop is full of surprises, laughter and humor, as well as dance, movement and choreography! For anyone who wishes to learn new ways of movement or just to have an amazing time - definitely a must!” The application deadline has been extended especially for GEORGIA TODAY readers: October 29. There is a limit of 30 places on the courses. Register in English with Orsolya at 555442196 or in Georgian and French with Nino 599227682, or email the team at email@example.com. For more information head to facebook.com/dustravel
Tbilisi to Host 20th Jazz Festival in November
nnual Tbilisi Jazz Festival is to be held from November 2 to November 5, hosting concerts of world famous musicians at the Tbilisi Event Hall. The program of the festival is to consist of master classes from renowned jazz performers for Georgian students. The Jazz Festival will open on November 2 with the legendary American band Tower of Power, followed by a concert of acclaimed saxophonist Joe Lovano, who will, prior to his concert, give a master class for the students of the Vano Sarajishvili Tbilisi State Conservatory. Young Georgian jazz musician Papuna Sharikadze and his trio have a concert planned for the last day of the Jazz festival. They are to have a special guest, world acclaimed bass player Eddie Gomez performing with them. A concert of legendary Stanley Clarke and his band is also to be held the same day. Georgian jazz musician Beka Gochashvili has been one of the Stanley Clarke Band members for several years now. A jazz-themed exhibition of young Georgian artist Irakli Chikovani entitled ‘Jazz Experiment’ will be on display in the Tbilisi Concert Hall
foyer, prior to the concert. FESTIVAL PROGRAM November 2, 20:00 Tbilisi Event Hall, Tower of Power November 4, 15:00 Vano Sarajishvili Tbilisi State Conservatory, Joe Lovano master class for students November 4, 20:00 Tbilisi Event Hall, Joe Lovano Classic Quartet
November 5, 20:00 Tbilisi Concert Hall, Papuna Sharikadze Trio featuring Eddie Gomez, Stanley Clarke Band. The Tbilisi Jazz Festival is introduced by TBC Bank’s Personal Banking Service TBC Status. The Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia and Tbilisi City Hall are supporters of the festival.
OCTOBER 27 - 30, 2017
WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI THEATER
TBILISI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 00 44 66 October 28 LAURENCIA By A. Krein Choreography by V.Chabukiani Chorographical redaction and staging by Nina Ananiashvili World ballet stars Maria Aleksandrova and Vladislav Lantratov will be performing the main roles Two-Act Ballet Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-70 GEL October 29 LAURENCIA By A. Krein Choreography by V.Chabukiani Chorographical redaction and staging by Nina Ananiashvili Two-Act Ballet Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-25 GEL GIFT- GEORGIAN INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF ARTS www.giftfestival.ge
Kakha Bakuradze, Sandro Nikoladze, Irakli Menagarishvili, Simon Bitadze, Dato Kakulia, El banda del “მუდო” Start time: 21:30 Ticket: 10 GEL October 28 IGI Jemal Karchkhadze Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL GABRIADZE THEATER Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 October 27, 28, 29 MASHAL DE FANTIE’S DIAMOND Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 20, 30 GEL CINEMA
AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava Str. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 GEL October 27-November 2 GEOSTORM Directed by Dean Devlin Cast: Gerard Butler, Jim Sturgess, Abbie Cornish, Daniel Wu, Eugenio Derbez, Ed Harris, Andy García Genre: Action, Drama, Fantasy Language: Russian Start time: 14:15 Ticket: 9-10 GEL
November 2 THE TIGER A play by Murray Schisgal Translated by Keti Dolidze Batumi Drama Theater, New Stage Directed by Keti Dolidze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10 GEL Venue: Tumanishvili Film Actors Theater, 164 Agmashenebeli Ave.
JIGSAW Directed by Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig Cast: Laura Vandervoort, Tobin Bell, Callum Keith Rennie Genre: Crime, Horror, Mystery Language: Russian Start time: 16:45, 19:00 Ticket: 10-14 GEL
October 27 RECITATIVE IN THE CITY
Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL October 27 – November 2 GEOSTORM (Info Above) Start time: 22:30 Ticket: 13-14 GEL JIGSAW (Info Above) Start time: 17:00, 19:30, 22:00 Ticket: 10-14 GEL GANGSTERDAM Directed by Romain Lévy Cast: Kev Adams, Manon Azem, Côme Levin Genre: Comedy Language: Russian Start time: 12:00, 19:30, 22:30 Ticket: 8-14 GEL MUSEUM
October 31 DEATH DAY GIFT Theater of Bolnisi Municipality Alex Chigvinadze Directed by Zurab Khvedelidze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10 GEL Venue: Tumanishvili Film Actors Theater, 164 Agmashenebeli Ave.
MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260
RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 www.kinoafisha.ge
LAMANT DOUBLE Directed by François Ozon Cast: Marine Vacth, Jérémie Renier, Jacqueline Bisset Genre: Drama, Romance, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 21:30 Ticket: 13-14 GEL
GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge May 18 – November 18 EXHIBITION GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF 18TH-20TH CENTURIES The Royal dress of King Teimuraz II, Nino Gurieli's Georgian dress, Tekla Batonishvili's personal sewing machine, robe of Alexander Bariatinsky - Deputy of the Caucasus, Tambourine painted by Mihaly Zichy, feminine attire of Abkhazian and Ingilo women and more. Georgian National Museum and Korneli Kekelidze National Centrer of Manuscripts present the exhibition MEDIEVAL TREASURY Permanent Exhibition EXHIBITION NUMISMATIC TREASURY Showcases a long history of money circulation on the territory of modern Georgia starting from the 6th century BC. until 1834. The exposition starts with the "first primitive money"- massive
bronze discs of different weight and form that date back to the 2nd1st millenniums BC, and "Kauri" a mollusk shell from the Indian Ocean.
present a concert of Icelandic musician BJÖRK Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 200-570 GEL
MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS Address: 1 Gudiashvili Str. Telephone: 2 99 99 09
November 1 LA VITA È BELLA Fund ‘Life is Beautiful’ presents a charity concert to help the Monk Andrew Foundation. In order to build a rehabilitation hotel ‘Happy House’ Featuring the Georgian National Ballet Sukhishvili and Shvidkatsa with Goofy Land. Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 35-50 GEL
March 6 – December 31 EXHIBITION MASTERPIECES FROM THE MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS COLLECTION The exhibition includes works by Bernardo Daddi, Lucas Cranach (Elder), Guido Reni, Jan Steen, Jacob Van Ruisdael, Auguste Rodin, Pablo Picasso, Vassily Kandinski; Masterpieces by Niko Pirosmanashvili, Lado Gudiashvili and David Kakabadze. 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. GALLERY
THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 15 73 00 www.museum.ge October 5 – November 30 Dimitri Shevardnadze National Gallery is to host two Italian exhibitions: UNIVERSAL VALUES: BOTTICELLI, THE BEAUTY AND CARAVAGGIO, THE LIGHT, DISPLAYING MASTERPIECES OF ITALIAN PAINTING MUSIC
TBILISI CONCERT HALL Address: 1 Melikishvili St. Telephone: 2 99 00 99 October 31 SOU festival and ROOMS HOTELS
November 2 20th Tbilisi Jazz-Festival. TOWER OF POWER Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 60 GEL Venue: Event Hall SPACEHALL Address: 2 A. Tsereteli Ave. November 2 PSYCHIC TV Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 25-35 GEL TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE Address: 8 Griboedov St. Telephone: 2 93 46 24 November 2 TBILISI WIND FESTIVAL Anton Reicha - Octet E flat major op. 96, Louis Spohr - Nonet F Major op. 31, Aldo Baerten- flute, Giorgi Gvantseladze- oboe, Levan Tskhadadze- clarinet, Teimuraz Bukhnikashvili- bassoon, Hervé Joulain- horn, Gia Jashvili- violin, Verena-Maria Fitz- violin, Marc Sabbah- viola, Ketevan Roinishvili- cello, Javad Javadzade- double bass Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10 GEL DJANSUG KAKHIDZE TBILISI CENTER FOR MUSIC & CULTURE Address: 123/125 Agmashenebli Ave. Telephone: 295 01 19 October 31 THE CONCERT DEDICATED TO SULKHAN NASIDZE 90th ANNIVERSARY String Quartet No.3 ‘Epitaph’, Concerto for oboe and chamber orchestra, Concerto for violin, cello and chamber orchestra ‘Chamber Symphony’ Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 15-50 GEL CLUB CHIKHI Address: V. Bagrationi Bridge, Right Embankment October 30 HALLOWEEN PARTY (Games, fireworks, costumes, ghost house, ghost stories). LINE UP: Irakli Metreveli, Gigi Beridze, Giorgi Todadze, M Jump Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 10 GEL HARD ROCK CAFE Address: 1 Petriashvili Str. Telephone: 240 14 01 October 31 BAND ARA Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 20 GEL
GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 27 - 30, 2017
Weightless Dance, Exceeding Physical Abilitiy, Mixed with Visual Art -Unforgettable Gift from Sasha Waltz
Photos by Beka Javakhishvili
BY MAKA LOMADZE
n October 20-21, Georgian International Festival of Arts ‘GIFT’ was held in Tbilisi in honor of Michael Tumanishvili. Held in association with the Auswärtiges Amt - Fed-
eral Foreign Office, and Goethe-Institut Georgien, the festival celebrates the German-Georgian Year 2017 and is entitled ‘Zukunft Erben’ – ‘Future Inheritance" presented Sasha Waltz & Guests. After performances in Zurich, Paris, London, Athens, Brussels, Luxemburg and New York, Georgian audiences were treated to ‘Continu’, one of the most outstanding performances of the world-
famous dancer and choreographer, Sasha Waltz, at Zakaria Paliashvili Georgian State Opera and Ballet Theater. This is a performance that breaks the law of gravity. In ‘Continu’, Sasha Waltz has orchestrated some of the most extraordinary spectacles, which became more recognized over the last ten years. The long-awaited spectacle was a sellout. “I think this is a very important
event. It shows the tension between society and individuals, but also the tension between nature and energy. We are extremely happy that Sasha Waltz’s company could perform in Tbilisi with such a big group, 24 dancers. Two years ago, she came with 7 dancers only. She was so enthusiastic about Georgia and Tbilisi that this time she wanted to come with a really big group. This was made possible thanks to the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who invited this group for the German-Georgian year,” Barbara Von Munchhausen, Director of Goethe Institute, told us. The long silence is shifted by the music of Iannis Xenakis, Edgard Vareze, Claude Vivier and thhe great Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Rather than framing ‘Continu’ within a biographical context, it’s perhaps more accurate to see it as a possible conclusion to Waltz’s continual preoccupation with the relationship between space and body, between individuals and a group, or society in light of the recent events and experiences of violence, migration and the diversity of cultural identities, which unfold new ways of perceiving this piece. Jochen Sandig, Director and Founder of Sasha Waltz & Guests dance company, talked about each of the two parts of the performance: “'Continu’ is a piece which has many dimensions. Sasha Waltz does not want to explain every detail, because it is meant for the audience to interpret themselves. There are two contrasting parts, the first part is much more violent and cruel, based on destruction. The second part is more optimistic and looking to the future. In the second part, we can see people trapped together in one box.
How they interact with each other is very interesting.” “With Sasha Waltz, the music often begins late. In this case, it was a dialogue between architecture and movement. We worked at the museum where we developed most of the choreography. It was a very specific building in Berlin. We worked in different rooms. Each room was architecturally very individual. Dancers responded to the size and decoration of the premise. It was translated into this minimalistic context, which gives it another meaning. It gives some freedom to the audience, enabling them interpret something entirely difference. The music and dramatic orchestra are the extension of the physical expression,” Steffen Doring, Assistant of Sasha Waltz, noted in talks with GEORGIA TODAY. As for the Georgian audience, he said that they are very lively. “I love Sasha Waltz. I consider her to be one of the best choreographers of the modern art. I have seen several performances of hers. Nevertheless, I am attending ‘Continu’ for the first time. Human bodies make a miracle, painting different paintings, which are extremely impressive and beautiful, as in all other performances of hers,” Kote Purtseladze, famous Georgian choreographer, told GEORGIA TODAY.
Autumn TBC Rugby Series Gets Started BY MAKA LOMADZE
n October 24, TBC Bank space hosted a joint press conference of the Rugby Union and TBC Bank. This year, the November test series will be held under the aegis of TBC Bank. The international test-series will be entitled ‘TBC Rugby Series’. There are two forthcoming matches on the agenda: on November 11, the ‘Lelos’ – Georgian National Team- will play against Canada at Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena, at 6 p.m. The final match of the season will take place on November 25 when the ‘Lelos’ will play the national team of the USA. It will be held at Michaeil Meskhi Stadium at 6 p.m. In November, the ‘Lelos’ also plan to partake in friendly match in Wales, which is scheduled on November 18. However, the latter is not part of ‘TBC Rugby Series’. “We want to give birth to the precedent where the private sector supports sports not only by being a general sponsor, but also for individual matches. By taking this step, we believe that Rugby and other sports will be more actively supported by the business sector, and this form of cooperation will be shared by others and
become more widespread. We summon all the fans to come, as we are the best players of rugby in the region. We have to show our love and popularity of this sport with a high attendance” Nikoloz Kurdiani, Deputy Director General of TBC Bank, said at the opening of the event.
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“We are open to all businesses – be it a large, medium or small enterprise. We believe that the Dinamo Arena will be full, and we will witness the match that our rugby fans are used to,” Gocha Svanidze, President of the Rugby Union stated. “Fans remember that we defeated
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
Canada and USA by 2:40 in the June test series, in spite of the inadequately low temperature in Canada and, after a week’s time, in the intense heat of the US. These unfavorable conditions impacted the quality of the matches. We are anticipating better matches in Tbilisi. As for Wales, we have high
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expectations too, where one of the best stadiums in the world is waiting for us. They see great potential in Georgia, which enriches the world family of Rugby. I believe in this potential and hope that step by step, we will realize this potential”, Gocha Svanidze told media representatives, adding that the national teams of Canada and the USA are equal rivals to the Georgian team. “We have cooperated with the Rugby Union for the last two years. This is a new form of cooperation. TBC Bank had a jazz series in the past. Now, we have the TBC Rugby Series. It is very beneficial for companies.” Nikoloz Kurdiani, Deputy Director General of TBC Bank commented. “TBC Bank is our supporter. It is not only our sponsor, but also a friend, and this friendship really means a lot to me. That is why I think it is very positive news that the upcoming test series will bear the name of TBC. We are preparing for the November matches on a daily basis” Milton Haig, Chief Coach of the ‘Lelos’ told the journalists. From October 25, tickets for ‘TBC Rugby Series’ are available online at tkt.ge. Rugby fans will have the possibility to purchase tickets in the box office one week before the match days.
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