Issue no: 908/59
• DECEMBER 27 - 29, 2016
• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY
PRICE: GEL 2.50
In this week’s issue... Georgian Leaders Congratulate Local Jews on Hanukkah NEWS PAGE 5
Kleptocrats Attack Ukraine’s Reform-Minded Central Banker PAGE 6
Georgian Foreign Ministry Hosts Meeting on US-Georgia Strategic Partnership
FOCUS ON SKI RESORTS
An unprecedented example of Public-Private-Partnership is witnessed in the opening of the new Mitarbi Ski Resort
Georgia, US Sign Agreements to Boost Economic Development
Welcome to Georgia Wine Campaign Kicks Off for the Holiday Season
BY THEA MORRISON
he United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is to allocate USD 22 million for Georgia’s economic development. Georgia’s Finance Minister, Dimitry Kumsishvili, and Director of USAID’s Caucasus Mission, Douglas Ball, signed three agreements to that effect on Thursday. Changes were made to previously signed agreements increasing the amount of a pre-existing grant to the current USD 22 million figure. The Finance Ministry reports that the agreements cover a number of high-priority areas, including inclusive and sustainable economic growth, democratic controls and accountable
Christmas Concert Culminates another Year of Successful Growth at Conflict Divide
governance, and a “stable, integrated and healthy” society. The activities planned within the agreements will be aimed at introducing business standards and increasing competitiveness in various sec-
tors, as well as more effectively managing natural resources and creating market-oriented jobs. Increasing the societal integration of persons with disabilities and of IDPs has also been fingered as a focus.
Bryza: Russia Will Use the Definition of Terrorism to Advance its Own Political Interests POLITICS PAGE 11 Prepared for Georgia Today Business by
STOCKS BankofGeorgia(BGEOLN) GHG(GHGLN) TBCBankGroup(TBCGLN)
COMMODITIES CrudeOil,Brent(US$/bbl) GoldSpot(US$/OZ)
DECEMBER 27 - 29, 2016
Singing Praises to Bulbuli Market ers of bio-products like cheese and honey. The producers keep the money earned from sales at the event. We plan to organize more events like this next spring and autumn,” Bukhaidze said. Among visitors was game designer extraordinaire and visual reality expert Mark Rein-Hagen, who has been living in Georgia for the last nine years. Surrounded with children, Rein-Hagen loudly confessed his love for Georgia and also reminisced on how much Georgia has developed during the years he has spent living here. “When I first came, even buying a hamburger was a potential problem,” he announced, lauding the festival’s wide choice of fusion dishes. “Events like these are best for attracting tourists and it’s good these people, small and medium scale enterprisers, are given a chance to show off their products”. One stall stood out from the rest- a “delegation” from one of Georgia’s most beautiful places, the mountainous Tusheti. The ‘Tusheti 2015’ cooperative presented endemic Tushetian honey, Guda cheese, other dairy products, tea, potatoes, traditional spirits and other handmade items. The cooperative was created in 2015 with the assistance of the Czech
BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE & TATIA AKHVLEDIANI
ife is a breeze if you’re a European farmer. Well, maybe not exactly a breeze, but you can at least sustain yourself and your business and get enough opportunities to show off your product, which is key to success and further expansion. What we’re getting at are festivals – the all-important venue where you put out that delicious cheese made according to grandma’s recipe, or that wine you’ve been trying to develop a bouquet for over the last two years, to see how people like it, and to see how others from your field have been doing. In Europe those opportunities come aplenty – in Georgia not so much. It is a shame, really, considering that Bazaar traditions in Tbilisi and Georgia in general count centuries. Sure, we have occasional cheese and wine festivals from time to time, but those are not as frequent as one would like and in most cases are too
non-governmental organization ‘Caritas Czech Republic in Georgia’. Marina Guzarauli, representative of the company, says this kind of festival is of vital importance to Tushetian enterprisers. “Our production is made in Tusheti and is biologically cleaner than most the imported competition. This is our advantage. Right now our cooperative consists of six persons and our family members are also involved. We have greenhouses where potatoes and vegetables are cultivated and we were the first to cultivate cucumbers in Tusheti and sell them to the local hotels,” Guzarauli said. She added that raising awareness is key to the cooperative’s activities. People must understand the importance of consuming healthy products. “We want to increase the number of customers and this festival is the best opportunity, though it would be nice to see such festivals occurring on a systematic basis and for us to have more options in terms of delivering our products. It also helps prevent Tushetian people from leaving the region – if there is profit to be made, they’ll stay and continue producing their goods,” Guzarauli pointed out.
specialized for first-time guests and viewers. One emergent festival plans to change things for the better, though: the Bulbuli (Nightingale) Market, organized by Georgia’s Wine Tourism Association, was a resounding success when held for the first time in November, and then during its comeback on Christmas Eve. This time held at the Muza cultural center, it saw 75 companies from different regions of Georgia taking part, including winemakers, farmers, cooks and artists. The festival was held in the form of a Christmas Fair, where traditional Georgian and European cuisine was presented, as well as wines, teas, sweets, dairy products and handmade products. The public could taste and purchase the presented items, as well as take part in various activities such as a raffle, dances and children’s activities. One of the organizers, Elene Bukhaidze, says the aim of the event was to connect different people from various companies, as well as to open new perspectives for them. “We try to help them get popular and increase their sales. There are cafes and restaurants presented, as well as produc-
RENT YOUR DREAM APARTMENT IN TSKNETI
Very cosy one bedroom 75 sq.m apartment in Tbilisi area with spectacular view over the mountains. Located in Tskneti, a prestigious, quiet, green and safe neighborhood 15 minutes drive from the city center. The bright and sunny apartment is newly furnished and comes with a fully equipped kitchen and bathroom. Comfortable and stylish living-room, cozy bedroom with closet and king-sized bed. 20 sq.m terrace overlooking the mountains. Relax while enjoying the view and unwind with a glass of wine on the balcony as you watch the sun set. Parking & WiFi available. If you are looking for the perfect place to live, this is the apartment for you! Only long-term residents should apply. Ideally suited for a couple or single.
For more information contact: + 995 595279997
GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 27 - 29, 2016
Bryza: Russia Will Use the Definition of Terrorism to Advance its Own Political Interests BY NANA SAJAIA, VOICE OF AMERICA GEORGIAN SERVICE
that’s over now. I don’t think Russia really cares about terrorism, but, of course, Russia will use the definition of terrorism to advance its own political interests.
TRUMP HAS NOT ARTICULATED A COMPREHENSIVE SYRIA POLICY, BUT HE HAS SUGGESTED HE WILL WORK ALONGSIDE RUSSIA TO FIGHT EXTREMISTS, INCLUDING THE ISLAMIC STATE. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THAT?
e spoke to former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Ambassador Matthew Bryza.
WHAT NEXT FOR TURKEY-RUSSIA RELATIONS AFTER THE ASSASSINATION OF THE RUSSIAN DIPLOMAT ANDREY KARLOV IN ANKARA? I actually think that Turkey-Russia relations are going to grow stronger because of the horrible tragedy. This particular attack has shaken me personally more than any, because it suggests that not only our ambassadors but our former ambassadors are targets, and that deep inside the Turkish system there are still rogue elements that do horrible things. A lot of people share that view here in Turkey and would like to see Turkey-Russia relations get stronger. The way both President Erdogan and President Putin have responded suggests that they agree. And they are trying to transform this terrible sorrow into a positive momentum that might generate a new peace process that would involve Russia, Turkey, and Iran, brokered by Kazakhstan.
RUSSIA, IRAN AND TURKEY MET IN MOSCOW TO WORK OUT A POLITICAL ACCORD TO END SYRIA’S NEARLY SIX-YEAR WAR, LEAVING THE UNITED STATES ON THE SIDELINES. SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY WAS NOT INVITED. NOR WAS THE UNITED NATIONS CONSULTED. SHOULD WE EXPECT MORE INVOLVEMENT FROM RUSSIA IN THE REGION? Absolutely, if Russia’s aggressive involvement does not involve continued war crimes, as the UN has accused Russia of; if it does not involve specifically targeting children in schools and hospitals that are hidden underground with bunker blasting bombs, but instead pursues an actual political process to resolve the conflict, that’s good. But the tragedy is that the United States, the UN, and our allies have been absent. We’ve been hearing Secretary John Kerry for months saying there is no military solution to this conflict. Well, there is one and it just happened, at least in Aleppo. And Russia and Bashar Al-Assad won. We should have been more focused on imposing costs on Moscow for these, again in the US’ term “war crimes,” but
In theory that would be great if Russia and the US could work together to destroy the Islamic State. But I don’t think that’s really ever going to happen. The way the US looks at fighting terrorism and the way Russia does are totally different. And the tactics we are using are different. When the US and our allies fight terror, an effort is made to limit the killing of innocents. When Russia conducts anti-terrorist actions like in Aleppo or in Grozny, they kill everybody. I don’t think Russia can emerge in that way. But what we will see in Syria, even once the ISIS is defeated, will be successor groups and Bashar Al-Assad still in power. And Syria led by Assad cannot be stabilized. Even if US and Russia partner up, in a relatively short time we’ll see Donald Trump deeply disappointed and we’ll see him giving up on his Russia reset policy the same way Barak Obama did.
RUSSIA AND TURKEY ARE BOTH REGIONAL POWERS. WHAT IMPLICATIONS CAN THEIR NEW PHASE OF RELATIONS HAVE FOR GEORGIA AND THE SOUTH CAUCASUS? I don’t expect a direct influence on Georgia. My fear is that Russia has been working on the energy side, to re-isolate Georgia and Azerbaijan. I think the Turkish stream pipeline project is aimed at
discouraging companies from investing in Azerbaijan’s gas resources, because there will be so much Russian gas in the Turkish stream heading to the EU space. I think that’s part of the Russia strategy to pull Azerbaijan and Georgia more and more under Russian control, with the EU divided and not paying attention and then Turkey eager to rebuild relations with Russia, there is a danger that Azerbaijan and Georgia could begin to lose ties with Turkey and the EU. I hope it doesn’t happen. In Georgia, events are defining their own political momentum since the last elections. Moscow is taking advantage of the election results and will continue to do so; it has allies within the Georgian system. I just hope that the Georgian people will remain the Georgian people and will maintain their focus on their own aspirations for the closest possible ties with the trans-Atlantic community. And I am confident that will continue even though there will be attempts from Moscow to destroy that national consensus.
CRITICS SAY OBAMA’S RELUCTANCE TO BACK THE SYRIAN OPPOSITION WITH MORE INVOLVEMENT LEAVES WASHINGTON WITH LITTLE LEVERAGE ON A GEOPOLITICAL CRISIS AS PRESIDENT-ELECT DONALD J. TRUMP PREPARES TO TAKE OFFICE. WHERE DOES THAT PUT THE US IN REGIONAL POLITICS? I think it puts the US on the sidelines for now. In my opinion, President Obama’s huge diplomatic failure was not enforcing his own red-line with regards to use of chemical weapons by Bashar AlAssad, and I think Barak Obama and John Kerry were terribly manipulated by Sergey Lavrov, who somehow convinced Kerry that eliminating chemical weapons was to reduce human suffering in Syria and we know that it’s absolutely not what happened. So, the US has played itself out of the game.
HOW DO YOU SEE THIS GEOPOLITICAL CRISIS AFFECTING USRUSSIA RELATIONS UNDER THE NEW WHITE HOUSE ADMINISTRATION?
PUBLISHER & GM
George Sharashidze COMMERCIAL DEPARTMENT
Commercial Director: Iva Merabishvili Marketing Manager: Mako Burduli
I think there will be a window of vulnerability when the President tries to take advantage of what he views as Donald Trump’s naiveté in calling another Russia reset policy. If we can get through that without escalation or tension between Moscow and Washington to a dangerous level, then I think Donald Trump will wake up and maybe pursue a policy that should have been in place a long time ago: to impose real costs for the sorts of behavior carried out by Russia in murdering innocent civilians in Aleppo.
Editor-In-Chief: Katie Ruth Davies
Journalists: Tony Hanmer, Zaza Jgarkava, Maka Bibilashvili, Karen Tovmasyan, Dimitri Dolaberidze, Maka Lomadze, Tim Ogden, Joseph Larsen, Vazha Tavberidze, Nugzar B. Ruhadze, Nino Gugunishvili, Thea Morrison, Natia Liparteliani
Photographer: Irakli Dolidze Layout: Misha Mchedlishvili Webmaster: Sergey Gevenov Circulation Managers: David Kerdikashvili, David Djandjgava
1 Melikishvili Str. Tbilisi, 0179, Georgia Tel.: +995 32 229 59 19 E: firstname.lastname@example.org F: GeorgiaToday ADVERTISING & SUBSCRIPTION
+995 595 279997 E-mail: marketing@ georgiatoday.ge
Reproducing material, photos and advertisements without prior editorial permission is strictly forbidden. The author is responsible for all material. Rights of authors are preserved. The newspaper is registered in Mtatsminda district court. Reg. # 06/4-309
DECEMBER 27 - 29, 2016
Mitarbi Ski Resort & BorjomiBakuriani Railroad Open BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI
itarbi Ski Resort was officially opened on Sunday, with a ceremony attended by Giorgi Kvirikashvili,
Prime Minister of Georgia, and other government officials. The resort is regarded as an unprecedented model of public-private partnership; a joint 150 million investment in which roads were constructed and ski lifts were built by the State, while private company GRDC invested in hotels, entertainment centers, shops and parking area
Mitarbi Resort opening day
infrastructure development. Two new ski lifts were built by Black Sea Group Company, manufactured by Doppelmayr - one of the leaders in the industry. Construction of a new biathlon track, an ice hockey arena and a ski-jump system is planned for 2017, creating a complex ready to host international tournaments. The government has allocated 48 million GEL to finance the KokhtaMitarbi ski lift development project, and a private investor is to invest an additional 70 million GEL. “Mitarbi’s renewed infrastructure is to generate additional employment opportunities for locals,” said Kvirikashvili. “It will sustain local residents in a radius of 100 kilometers. We are facing some hard times today, but we should make sure we take every step to make life better in the country. We take close to heart all the problems facing our citizens. We must move on, however, to make life better in the country for future generations,” the Prime Minister stated.
French Petit Futé to Feature Georgian Wine & Wine Tourism BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI
opular French travel guide Petit Futé is to feature Georgia in one of its upcoming issues. Petit Futé is a travel guide available in France, Canada, Belgium, Switzerland and other countries both in digital format and on
smartphone apps. It updates information about Georgia every two years. Information on Georgian wine and the wine tourism potential of the country will be featured for the first time in the edition of 2017.
Giorgi Chogovadze and a Petit Futé Journalist
Kvirikashvili at Mitarbi Resort Opening
He went on to note the potential of the newly opened ski resort to be fully functioning all year round for use by national teams and tourists alike. “The resort is surrounded by gorgeous landscapes and I believe that these investments will create a unified BorjomiBakuriani and Kokhta-Mitarbi complex as one of the most beautiful tourist destinations in the world,” Kvirikashvili said.
In addition to Mitarbi, the rennovated Borjomi- Bakuriani railway line has been re-launched and is ready to take tourists from Borjomi to Bakuriani and back. Its wagons each seat 32 and round-trips are available twice a day. Known as “Kukushka” (Cuckoo), the first train was launched in 1902. Another resort, Gudauri, also opened for the new season, also with a new skilift.
GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 27 - 29, 2016
The New Year in Arakishvili Residence – Discounts & Gifts Galore
uy a flat in the Arakishvili Residence and get it fully furnished with full premium appliances AND a special discount. The residential complex is welcoming the New Year holidays by offering its clients the best household appliances and gifts. Those who wish to purchase an apartment in the complex will receive a full suite of premium class German household appliances. The two New Year's gift packages have been specially created for clients who wants to puchase up to 100 sq meters space or for those who want over 100 square meters. The latter package includes a Bosch refrigerator, gas set (oven, vent and gas stove), dishwasher, Multi-Robot, kitchen, washing machine, Breakfast set (toaster, electric kettle, and coffee machine), a vacuum cleaner, Samsung LED TV and Hyundai air conditioner.
LIVE IN THE BEST PLACE The Arakishvili Residence is situated in the center of Vake: one of the most popular residential locations in Tbilisi. Aside from its location, the project is architecturally intriguing. The project is financed by the Bank of Georgia. Aside from current offer, Arakishvili Residence customers are able to benefit from flexible payment conditions. It is also possible to get an interest-free loan until the end of the project. Customers are also able to get a mortgage at just 6% interest.
PROJECT SUPPORT: • The project is financed by the Bank • The exclusive broker for the complex is Colliers International Georgia • The complex is being built by company ‘Anagi’. • The construction of the project will end in 2017.
DECEMBER 27 - 29, 2016
Russian Plane Carrying 92 Crashes into Black Sea Russian rescue squad working near the crush site in Sochi. Source: Daily Mail
Total Budget of TSU Set as 79 mln GEL BY NATIA LIPARTELIANI
he total budget of Tbilisi State University has been set as 79 million GEL ( U S D 2 8 . 1 1 m i l l i o n ) , G i o rg i Shervashidze, Head of the University, announced at a press conference Sat-
urday. During the press conference Shervashidze talked about plans for 2017 and the budget. “We’ve cut down representative expenses by 30 percent and travel expenses by 26 percent. We had to make some painful moves and there are more
cutbacks ahead. Management of the budget means crisis management, including making a number of absolutely necessary but naturally unpopular steps,” he said. Shervashidze added that the unpaid amount of study fees by students currently amounts to 3 million GEL (USD 1.07 million). "This is a very large sum of money. With this money, one of the campus buildings can be completely rehabilitated at the University. The structure of the budget is quite heavy; with about 80 percent going to salaries or wages and public spending, which leaves only 20 percent of the budget for infrastructural works,” Shervashidze said.
BY THEA MORRISON
Russian military plane carrying passengers to Russia's Hmeimim airbase, outside the coastal Syrian city of Latakia, crashed into the Black Sea on Sunday. The latest data from Russia's Defense Ministry suggests 92 people were on board the plane - 8 crew members and 84 passengers. Among them was Executive Director of the Spravedlivaya Pomoshch (Fair Aid) charity fund Elizaveta Glinka, known as Dr. Liza, as well as servicemen and reporters, including those from Channel One, Zvezda and NTV. The plane was also carrying more than 60 members of the famous Alexandrov Ensemble, the official army choir of the Russian Armed Forces, who were flying in to wish Happy New Year to the air group of Russia’s Aerospace Forces at the Hmeymim air base. The choir’s head, Valery Khalilov, was also on the list of passengers. The Defense Ministry said the debris of the Tu-154 plane was found 1.5 km from the coast near Sochi at a depth of 50-70 meters with ten bodies. The
Ministry reported that there were no signs of survivors. The plane disappeared from the radar two minutes after taking off from Sochi, where the plane had landed to fill up on fuel. "The area of the crash site has been established. No survivors have been spotted,” Major-General Igor Konashenkov, a ministry spokesman, told reporters. Russian President Vladimir Putin offered condolences to the families of the deceased and declared December 26 a national day of mourning. Russia’s news agency Tass reports that Russia’s Investigative Committee is looking into all possible theories of the Tu-154 plane crash, including a terrorist attack. "The Investigative Committee is looking at various theories. Naturally, it considers the entire spectrum and any possible reasons that might have led to the crash. It is too early to speak about a terrorist attack," Maxim Sokolov, Russian Minister of Transport, said. The Russian Defense Ministry said the aircraft had been in service since 1983 and had flown some 7,000 hours since. The plane last underwent repairs in December 2014 and was serviced this September.
Armenia’s Defense Minister Pays Official Visit to Georgia
BY THEA MORRISON
eorgia’s foreign minister, Mikheil Janelidze, held an official meeting with Armenian Defense Minister Vigen Sargsyan on Thursday. Sargsyan had come to Tbilisi in order to boost bilateral ties between the two countries and hold meetings with Georgian officials. The ministers discussed the existing relationship between Georgia and Armenia and expressed their readiness to improve logistical cooperation between the two states. Recent developments in the Caucasus Region were also discussed.
Prior to his meeting with the foreign minister, Sargsyan met with his Georgian counterpart, Levan Izoria. The two ministers signed an agreement on bilateral military cooperation for 2017. Izoria signed a similar agreement with Azerbaijan during his visit to Baku the previous week. The agreement concerns strategic planning, military education, medicine, and military police concerns over the coming year, and involves sharing experience between Georgian and Armenian defense ministries. Izoria underlined that one of the priorities of Georgia’s government was the deepening of relations with neighboring states. Sargsyan thanked his counterpart for his hospitality and noted that Georgia and Armenia have always had good relations.
GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 27 - 29, 2016
Georgian Leaders Congratulate Local Jews on Hanukkah BY THEA MORRISON
he Jewish-Georgian relations boast a centuries-long history, special love and respect- said Georgia’s Prime Minister, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, when congratulating Jews living in Georgia on their eight-day festival of lights, Hanukkah. Kvirikashvili attended a concert celebrating Hanukkah at the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theater on Saturday where he wished the Jewish people a happy holiday, progress and prosperity. “Georgia has stronger ties with the Jewish nation than with any other nation in the world… This is why my wish for 2017 is to have a year of great friendship and brotherly bonds between our nations, a year of enormous transformation in our great partnership and large-scale cooperation between our states,” the PM stated while delivering his speech. Kvirikashvili said Israel was known throughout the world as a country with strong startups, and Georgia had all the necessary preconditions to use Israel's experience in order to emerge as an equally strong nation. "We are certainly counting on help from our Jewish friends, our brotherly nation. Georgia has always stood and will always stand by the Jewish people," he said.
New Year Town Opens in Dedaena Park BY THEA MORRISON
Georgia’s PM Kvirikashvili delivered a speech at a concert celebrating Hanukkah at the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theater. Source: PM’s Press Office
Together with the Prime Minister, the festive event was attended by Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely and members of the Knesset as part of their three-day visit to Georgia. Georgia’s President, Giorgi Margvelashvili also issued a statement and congratulated local Jews on their festival. He said Georgia-Israel friendship was the best example of friendship between nations. “Dear friends, I cordially congratulate you with Hanukkah - success, blessings, purification, and eternal renewal this great holiday,” the statement of the President reads. Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the
Maccabean revolt against the Seleucid Empire. Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and days, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew Calendar, which may occur at any time from late November to late December in the Gregorian Calendar. It is also known as the Festival of Lights and the Feast of Dedication.
bilisi City Hall is inviting the residents of the capital and foreign visitors to a newly opened New Year Town in Tbilisi Dedaena Park, which has been transformed for Christmas and New Year into a bright, cheerful and entertaining place for the whole family. Tbilisi Mayor, Davit Narmania opened the town on December 25 and attended a concert - A Christmas Carol, organized by renowned singer Vakhtang Kakhidze. The mayor noted that not only Dedaena Park, but the whole capital was decorated for New Year, including renovated Aghmashenebeli Avenue, where various festivities are already underway. “On December 31 we all will meet New Year with a Gala Concert in Rose Square,” said Narmania. Over nine days, residents and guests of the capital will be able to taste sweets at Christmas cabins and buy decorations
and handmade crafts at colorful stalls in the New Year town. Moreover, a special art space has been arranged in the park, where in addition to the cultural events, sports and children's activities will take place. Special sports facilities have also been installed in the garden. The opening concert was followed by a variety of music and dance performances. Radio Kubrick will broadcast live from the Park with Georgian DJs performing at night. Visitors can stroll through tunnels of flowers and see decorative and mechanical dolls all over the park. In the center of the town there is a huge Christmas tree, with beautiful decorations. The Mayor’s Office reports that many events will be held daily in the Aghmashenebeli Avenue. A decorative train has been installed in ‘New Tiflis’, operated by Santa Claus, who entertains the children. A New Year exhibition-sale has been arranged in each cabin of the train, where the guests can buy souvenirs and sweets. The New Year festivities will continue throughout the capital until January 2.
DECEMBER 27 - 29, 2016
Kleptocrats Attack Ukraine’s Reform-Minded Central Banker OP-ED BY EUGEN ILADI
ince the ouster of former President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014, Ukraine has been pulled in two directions. Wealthy elites have rejected reform while technocrats have fought corruption. A major player on the reform side is the central bank, the National Bank of Ukraine, and its leader, Valeriya Gontareva. In recent months, both the bank and Gontareva have come under increasingly fierce and unfair attack from the elites. The pressure is likely to get even more intense now that the nation’s largest commercial lender, PrivatBank, has been nationalized, replacing two influential business executives with 100 percent control by the State. Ukraine’s well-connected oligarchs have looted the country’s banking sector and defrauded ordinary Ukrainians. During Yanukovych’s administration (2010 to 2014), banks owned by local oligarchic groups operated with virtually no restrictions. They took in billions from individual depositors and funneled the money as loans to the banks’ owners, their cronies and shell companies. Most of these loans were not repaid, resulting in an estimated USD 12 billion loss to the state and depositors, according to Ukraine's Leader of the National Bank of Ukraine, Valeriya Gontareva
Thanks to a responsible monetary policy, Gontareva and the central bank have stabilized the hryvnia and increased the country’s foreign reserves from an all-time low of $5 billion in February 2015 to $16 billion today
Deposit Guarantee Fund. Yanukovych’s corrupt Tsar-like rule of the country and shameful escape left Ukraine fighting Russian aggression and dealt an unprecedented blow to the value of the hryvnia, Ukraine’s currency. It has never recovered. Yet Ukraine’s reformers continue to press forward. The central bank has been the most influential driver of change. Since taking the reins two years ago, Gontareva has closed nearly 90 insolvent banks, half of the total in Ukraine, in order to clean up the system of “zombie banks” engaged in related-party lending and money laundering, and to recover at least some of the depositors’ assets. Thanks to a responsible monetary policy, Gontareva and the central bank have stabilized the hryvnia and increased the country’s foreign reserves from an all-time low of USD 5 billion in February 2015 to USD 16 billion today. Ukraine’s 12 biggest banks have rallied in support of Gontareva’s actions. Internationally, the National Bank of Ukraine has been hailed as a standout success story in reforming the country’s financial sector. It has received support from the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the European Bank for Recon-
struction and Development. Inflation in Ukraine has fallen from a staggering 61% to 8%. But not everyone is happy. Nearly half the nation’s richest business executives have lost their so-called pocket banks and their access to easy cash, i.e. ordinary Ukrainians’ deposits. For many of Ukraine’s old guard, this was the final straw. On October 10, several members of Parliament submitted a draft law that would effectively strip the central bank of its independence and remove Gontareva. In Parliament, Gontareva’s opponents are easily identifiable: Chairman of the Radical Party Oleh Lyashko and Deputy Chairman of the Radical Party Viktor Galasiuk sponsored the draft law. In a mocking gesture, when Ukrainian officials were asked to make public their incomes and assets, Lyashko listed one pitchfork, along with a bounty of real estate assets and close to USD 1 million in cash. While both Lyashko and Galasiuk claim the draft law was born out of populism, it is in fact a thinly veiled attempt to weaken the central bank and strengthen the hand of the kleptocracy. Veteran observers of Ukraine understand that Lyashko and Galasiuk are the front men for this assault on the central bank’s
freedom, with longtime political opponents Yulia Tymoshenko and Ihor Kolomoyskyi working behind the scenes to maintain the regime of corruption. The independence of the National Bank is of the utmost importance; aid from the IMF, for example, is contingent on it. Any move to limit the National Bank’s independence would likely end western financial aid and risk Ukraine’s relations with its creditors. It’s clear that Ukraine’s financial sector demands immediate attention and reform. But it is also apparent that Ukraine’s class of oligarchs will fight the necessary change at every turn. Unfortunately, the obstinacy of the elite can often escalate from rhetoric to genuine threats of physical harm. Ukraine can be the European equivalent of the Wild West. And when those threats are directed at a specific individual like Gontareva, one can be sure it is because her reforms are making it harder for the corrupt oligarchs to continue looting the country. For Ukraine to emerge as a prosperous nation, Western-style reform is needed. The best vehicle for reform at this stage is the National Bank under Gontareva’s leadership. Ukrainians must resist the temptation
TBILISI ISTANBUL ATATURK AIRPORT ISTANBUL ATATURK AIRPORT TBILISI TBILISI ISTANBUL SABIHA GOKCEN AIRPORT ISTANBUL SABIHA GOKCEN AIRPORT TBILISI BATUMI - ISTANBUL ISTANBUL - BATUMI
10 Galaktion Street
Tel: (995 32) 2 45 08 08 E-mail: email@example.com
to fall back to the status-quo of accepting post-communist corruption. The elite will defend many of the financial issues that hit their bank accounts as populism. But the interests of the people lie with the reformers who are striving to rid the economy of debilitating cronyism.
Any move to limit the National Bank’s independence would likely end western financial aid and risk Ukraine’s relations with its creditors
TK 387 TK 385 TK 383 TK 386 TK 384 TK 382
05.50 11.45 18.10 01.40 07.30 13.55
07.25 13.25 20.00 04.55 10.50 17.15
TK 381 EVERYDAY TK 380 TK 393 TK 392
GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 27 - 29, 2016
Georgian Foreign Ministry Hosts Meeting on US-Georgia Strategic Partnership
avid Zalkaliani described as “highly successful” the recent meeting of the People-to-People and Cultural Exchange Working Group of the US-Georgia Strategic Partnership Commission. The Georgian Foreign Ministry hosted the meeting of the Commission, which considers issues relating to co-operation in the areas of public relations, education, sport, cultural exchange, internally displaced persons and healthcare. Following the meeting, First Deputy Foreign Minister, David Zalkaliani, and USAID Assistant Administrator for Europe and Eurasia, Thomas Melia, spoke about the results of the meeting, with Zalkaliani highlighting the implementation of agreements which were signed within the framework of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Georgia in July. “On 6 July, Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili and US Secretary of State John Kerry signed the GeorgiaUS Memorandum on Deeper Defense and Security Cooperation, and a memorandum designed to boost Georgia-US cooperation in the field of education. We also launched Growth, a new USAID project, which seeks to promote economic growth in Georgia's regions, especially those along the occupation line. Cooperation is also very productive in the area of Health. Special mention, in this context, should be made of the highly successful Hepatitis C Elimination Program,” Zalkaliani said. According to the First Deputy Foreign
Minister, such successful cooperation is set to continue. The sides also spoke about the challenges faced by the two countries and ways to resolve them. Special attention was paid to the issue of strategic communications and to the possible ways of improving coordination in the strategic communica-
We will continue to invest in this partnership with the Georgian government to further demonstrate to the Georgian people that their better future lies in stronger co-operation with the United States
tions process, including with US support. Melia then highlighted the successful US-Georgia co-operation within the framework of the Working Group, clear proof of this success, he said, can be seen in the increase in US foreign assistance for Georgia. “The main focus of discussions was the way the partnership between the US and Georgia is benefiting the Georgian people in the areas of health and education,” Thomas Melia said. “We discussed many aspects of education and training
for Georgians and this will continue to be a large part of our co-operation. We also talked about the way our programs can broaden the links between the Georgian citizens living in the territory of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and about the various ways we can bridge the communication gap. The US assistance budget for Georgia increased last year and is increasing again this year. And we will continue to invest in this partnership with the Georgian government to further demonstrate to the Georgian people that
their better future lies in stronger cooperation with the United States.” The Strategic Partnership Commission is the primary mechanism for organizing and prioritizing the broad and deepening cooperation between the United States and Georgia. The Commission includes four bilateral working groups on priority areas identified in the Charter on Strategic Partnership: democracy and governance; defense and security; economics, trade, and energy; and people-to-people and cultural exchanges.
DECEMBER 27 - 29, 2016
Prodware Group- Microsoft’s Leading EU Partner Enters Georgian Market
ounded in 1989, Prodware is a vendor and integrator of industry-specific and role-tailored IT solutions for businesses. Specializing in ERP and CRM systems, Prodware currently serves more than 20,000 active customers internationally. Prodware is Microsoft’s leading partner in Europe and a key player for the installation and management of global IT solutions and applications. Operating in 14 countries and available in over 75 through its international partner network, Prodware is able to support a business’s aspirations for national and international growth. Prodware’s software development strategy is centered around the leading ERP platform, Microsoft Dynamics, enhancing it with innovative solutions in order to fulfil business requirements and meet the needs of specific industries. Prodware Georgia was established in 2014 and has since been successfully providing services for
Christmas Concert Culminates another Year of Successful Growth at Conflict Divide
the group’s customers all over the world from its office in Tbilisi. Companies served by Prodware Georgia are of various size and come from different industries, including Euronext, Sakata, Desmet Ballestra, and Michelin. Prodware Group is pleased to announce that all the services provided by the group are now available for companies operating in Georgia, too. Its team of 27 professionals will provide 24/7 services tailored to your company needs.
BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI
he kindergarten in Abano village is comfortable; the building, a village house, is equipped with central heating and a water supply system. It has a playroom, a bedroom and a nice yard with a playground. It looks like a place where children seem genuinely happy, where they can feel warm and safe. The children who attend the kindergarten come from socially vulnerable families, some of whom don’t even have enough firewood to warm their houses. We were told the kindergarten is the only place where they can receive the food and care they need. We met at least two children who don’t have warm winter clothes to wear, no jumpers, coats or jackets, yet who walk from nearby villages in cold weather every day to come to the kindergarten. “Many of the local residents in Shida Kartli, including children, are still struggling to overcome the trauma of the 2008 conflict. Our assistance to the region helped thousands of people to see and work towards long-term prospects,” said Simone Wolken, UNHCR Regional representative in the South Caucasus. Last week the UNHCR and UNDP organized a special New Year concert for the children in Abano kindergarten with the help of teachers and parents. The event saw special gifts given to each child. It was attended by Georgian government officials and UN representatives. Abano, one of the villages on the conflict divide in the Shida Kartli region of Georgia, has been receiving assistance from the United Nations since 2012. The kindergarten in the village was established in the summer of 2016 with support from UNHCR and UNDP, and serves children from two neighboring villages of Satsikhuri and Koda. It currently provides day-care for approximately 24 children and is the first such establishment in the area in the last 40 years. The village of Dvani, likewise on the conflict divide, also has a fully rehabilitated kindergarten within the UNHCR/UNDP Shida Kartli assistance program that entails infrastructure and water supply rehabilitation in five villages of Karapila, Saribari, Zadiaantkari, Sakorintlo and Dvani, technical assistance and vocational training for farmers in milk-processing and bee-keeping, consultations, establishment of a milk collection center in the village of Akhalubani to serve three neighboring villages, and a fruit processing plant rehabilitated in Dvani. The Shida Kartli assistance initiative has been implemented by the United Nations Development
program (UNDP) in 2012-2016 with funds from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and contributions from the European Union and United States Agency for International Development (USAID).The program ran in collaboration with the local authorities and the government of Georgia, with a total budget of USD 1 million. “It’s with assistance from UNCR that the opening of the kindergarten in Abano village was possible,” said Ketevan Tsikhelashvili, State Minister of Georgia for Reconciliation and Civic Equality. “I would like to confirm that for the next year, support for the population living on the conflict divide will remain a governmental priority.” “We came with a package of many, many different interventions; we’ve rehabilitated and refurbished two kindergartens, trained over seventy farmers, we’ve established a milk collection facility and fruit processing center, and helped set up water supply systems to assist communities living on the conflict divide to look towards a much brighter future. Today, with the New Year celebration, it’s also a celebration of results which show that, together with the UN, the Georgian government and Shida Kartli municipalities, we can help communities to recover for a better future,” Shombi Sharp, Acting Head of UNDP in Georgia, told GEORGIA TODAY after the concert.
We’ve rehabilitated 2 kindergartens, trained over 70 farmers, established a milk collection facility and fruit processing center, and helped set up water supply systems to assist communities living on the conflict divide to look towards a much brighter future
GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 27 - 29, 2016
Welcome to Georgia Wine Campaign Kicks Off for the Holiday Season BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI
nterprise Georgia is welcoming tourists arriving to the country through any of the three international airports of Tbilisi, Batumi or Kutaisi, with a newly initiated Welcome to Georgia campaign, through which all guests will receive a branded bottle of Georgian Saperavi at passport control. The etiquette of the bottle of Georgian wine from the Kakheti region will also contain information on the success of the wine-making business in Georgia. 60,000 bottles of Saperavi will be given away within the framework of the marketing campaign which is being run for the fifth time this December.
Saperavi Wine Bottles
Magnolia 2016 Awards Best Touristic Establishments
BY NATIA LIPARTELIANI
agnolia 2016, a ceremony held in Adjara, saw a number of regional tourist facilities awarded for best service last week. Hotel chain Hilton was named as the Best International Hotel Chain in terms of service in the region, while restaurant Ukrainochka was named the Best Food Establishment. Chairman of the Government of Adjara, Zurab Pataradze, awarded the winners. The award ceremony was attended by around 200 representatives of the tourism industry, governmental and non-governmental sector. Overall, ten nominations were named: • Best Hotel Chain: Hilton Batumi • Best Location Site: Coliseum Marina • Best Food Establishment: Restaurant Uktainachka • Best Village-based Family Hotel: ‘Zebo’ Zabur Bokvadze • Best Touristic Attraction: Botanic Garden • Best Museum: Batumi Study of Art Museum • Best Touristic Route/Sight: 1. Green Lake 2. Makhutseti • Best Tourism Agency: Adjara Tour • Best Tour Guide: Lela Gabelia • Best New Touristic Product: Goderdzi Resort During the award ceremony, the Acting Chairman of the Department of Tourism, Mamuka Berdzenishvili, awarded certificates of appreciation to people who have contributed to the region’s tourism development and promotion. Certificates of Appreciation were awarded to: • Training and Consulting Center coaches: Besik Shavishvili
Jeiran bejanidze Irakli Baramidze Miranda Gorgiladze Irma Kalandadze Zviad eliziani Ekaterine Gogiberidze Arsen Romanadze • Institutions and private individuals: Ilia Sirabidze, Chairman of the National Food Agency Adjara Nugzar Tsetskhladze, Head of Batumi City Hall Municipal Health Service Sanitation Department Khusein Sirabidze, Department of Emergency Management Leila Shaviashvili, journalist, Public Broadcaster Adjara TV Tamar Lomadze,Admin of Facebook page Batumi Zurab Sikharulidze, Director of the Directorate of Roads of Adjara Izolda Machutadze, Visiting Professor of Shota Rustaveli State University, Ecology Department. The Department of Tourism held Magnolia 2016 for the second time with the aim of improving and stimulating the tourism industry in the region. The winners were selected based on a customer survey done by Department of Tourism. Consumer research was carried out online and face-to-face over three months and a total of 1200 tourists/consumers were interviewed. The study also included the Trip Advisor, Booking.com and Facebook.com evaluations from tourists. The Adjara Department of Tourism used not only survey results but also recommendations of representatives of accommodation, catering facilities, transportation companies, and tour guides. The Department also considered the results of the "Recommended by the Department of Tourism’ project in order to select the winners.
December 27 - 29, 2016