Issue no: 924/67
• FEB. 28 - MAR. 2, 2017
• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY
PRICE: GEL 2.50
In this week’s issue...
ON EUROPEAN SPIRIT
According to PM Kvirikashvili, Georgian government fully understands the responsibility that follows the implementation of visa-free travel to EU PAGE 3
Government to Invest GEL 4.5 mln in Check in Georgia Project NEWS PAGE 3
Making Kutaisi Great Again! ISET PAGE 4
Russia to Cut Oil Supplies to Belarus PAGE 5
The Sun: Foreign Boxers Fake Stats to Land Lucrative Fights with UK Champs, Georgian Insider Claims BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES
n an article written and investigated by Andy Jehring and GEORGIA TODAY's Tim Ogden, for The Sun, UK, it has been revealed that "nearly 100 British boxers may have faced foreign fighters with dodgy paperwork". Matchroom Boxing says it “rings real alarm bells”. "Pro fighters from ex-Soviet bloc countries earn just £15 a fight at home — but can make up to £2,000 on the continent. Managers fudge paperwork to send boxers to Britain as punch bags, taking half the cash," The Sun told readers today. Continued on page 2
Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Georgia Speaks about Georgian-Kazakh Ties in Technical University Lecture PAGE 7
Parliament Adopts Majority’s Bill on Covert Investigation PAGE 9
McCarthy: I See a Hunger to Take Off in Georgia PAGE 11 Prepared for Georgia Today Business by
STOCKS BankofGeorgia(BGEOLN) GHG(GHGLN) TBCBankGroup(TBCGLN)
COMMODITIES CrudeOil,Brent(US$/bbl) GoldSpot(US$/OZ)
FEBRUARY 28 - MARCH 2, 2017
The Sun: Foreign Boxers Fake Stats to Land Lucrative Fights with UK Champs, Georgian Insider Claims Continued from page 1 The source, who could not be named over safety fears, told The Sun: “It's a scandal. Top fighters in Georgia are faking records to land fights with European boxers.” A Georgian boxer told The Sun that only three of their home fights were real and they never had a medical check. Questions have also been raised over fighters’ records from four other European countries. "Our source claims the Georgian made up bouts on website BoxRec.com to seal those fights," The Sun claims. And "Fights against Dereck Chisora and Dillian Whyte
are among those alleged to have been hit by the scam." The Sun spoke to BoxRec’s John Sheppard, who said that they are now asking Georgia and others for video evidence of bouts. "We only ask for videos if the commission is on the Naughty List. Georgia is on the Very Naughty List,” Sheppard told The Sun. To see the full article in The Sun, go to www.thesun.co.uk /sport/ boxing/2954457/foreign-boxers-fake-statsto-land-lucrative-fights-with-uk-champsa-georgian-insider-claims/. Read more from Tim Ogden in Friday's GEORGIA TODAY.
Business Café Meeting #8
n February 22, the eighth Business Café took place at Holiday Inn Tbilisi. The get together was moderated by the businessman and entrepreneur, Guga Tsanava. The topic of the meeting was “The Stanford Model of Management”. Business Café is a project initiated by consulting company Insource. Throughout 2015 and 2016, the project was exclusively supported by PASHA Bank. PASHA Bank is a Baku-based financial institution operating in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, providing corporate and investment banking services to large and medium-sized enterprises. Top managers of large enterprises regularly attend the Business Café meetings to network and exchange ideas on recent trends in various industries and the economy as a whole. Interesting discussion topics, the high caliber of speakers and an interactive event format all contribute to the rising popularity of the project. It is not unusual for the Business Cafe meeting to run well over the allotted time frame as participants tend to take a keen interest in the presentations, followed by lively Q&A sessions. Beginning from the first meeting of the year, two new sponsors will be supporting the initiative - ACT and Orient Logic. “We are glad to extend our partnership with Insource for the third year running,” said Anano Korkia, Head of PR and Mar-
keting Department at PASHA Bank. “In 2017, PASHA Bank will remain the General Sponsor of Business Café. We are most happy to welcome the new partners of the project and hope that our cooperation will have a positive impact on further development and success of the Business Cafe. The year’s first meeting was dynamic and informative; the positive feedback we receive and the growing number of people wishing to attend the meetings clearly indicates that the project is truly successful and anticipated.” Among the speakers and presented topics of the previous Business Café meetings were: - Lado Gurgenidze, former Prime Minister of Georgia, an executive chairman of the supervisory board of Liberty Bank with the topic “Thoughts about manage-
ment and leadership” - Giorgi Kadagidze, former president of National Bank of Georgia, with the topic “Innovation management” - Alexander Jejelava, Minister of Education of Georgia - “Organizational corporate culture“ - David Gogichaishvili, general manager of Night Show Studio – “Management of human resources” - Andro Dgebuadze, business advisor – “Management 3.0 or MBA books in mirror” - Papuna Toliashvili, founder and managing partner of Synergy Group – “Circular Organizational Structures“ - Tinatin Rukhadze, Co-founder and General Director at research and consulting company ACT- “Who is the leader of the future?”
project, City Library, is to make hundreds of e-books available for download. There will be over 300 electronic library stands throughout the city. Using the Saba Reader application, the Saba Publishing House collection will be available free of charge. The City-Library project is expected to become a literary guide to the city, in an attempt to transform the city into an
open-air library. The electronic library planning has just begun and will be finalized in April. Beginning with fifty streets named after famous Georgian writers, electronic library stands will be created listing the author’s works with QR codes to download the works. The electronic library stands will also be installed in 12 parks around the city, and at every metro station.
Georgian Wine Wins Grand Prix & Gold Medal at Tbilisi to Have Free Electronic PRODEXPO, Russia Street Libraries BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI
eorgian wine, Chateau Svanidze, won a Grand Prix, a Gold Medal and a PRODEXPO Star at the wine degustation competition held during the International Exhibition for Food, Beverages, and Food Raw Material in Moscow, Russia.
Chateau Svanidze wine won in a contest in which alcoholic beverage industry leaders from almost 100 countries participated. “This victory is another step forward towards the popularization of Georgian wine and towards raising awareness,” said Giorgi Svanidze, the founder of the Chateau Svanidze Company. Chateau Svanidze plans to introduce more brands to consumers in the near future, making them available on both local and export markets.
BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI
Giorgi Svanidze with an award at Prodexpo
aba publishing house, the Tbilisi Municipal Government, and the Presidential Fund are to launch electronic libraries in the streets, parks and gardens around the area of Tbilisi. The new
FEBRUARY 28 - MARCH 2, 2017
EU Commissioner: Georgians to Enjoy Visa-free Regime with EU from Late March Georgian Prime Minister, Giorgi Kvirikashvili: Today the European spirit is stronger in Georgia than anywhere else. The European ideology triumphs in Georgia more than ever.
BY THEA MORRISON
uropean Union (EU) Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos stated at the meeting with Georgian Prime Minister, Giorgi Kvirikashvili on February 27, that citizens of Georgia will be able to have the benefit of shortterm visa-free travel in Schengen member countries from late March. The EU Commissioner reiterated that Georgia has made progress in all areas and the EU recognizes this. The PM’s Press Office reports that the officials discussed visa-liberalization issues, as well as plans to develop migration and security ties between the EU and Georgia. The officials held a joint press conference after the EU Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council adopted a regulation on visa liberalization for Georgians travelling to the EU for a period of stay of 90 days in any 180-day period. “This result proves that the EU has not reneged on its promise. Today, the European spirit is stronger in Georgia than anywhere else. The European ideology triumphs in Georgia more than ever. A unified Europe with its common foreign, security and economic policies would be embraced by Georgia and its citizens. My fellow Georgians, I congratulate you on this day! I also congratulate Europe because Georgia, as an integral part of European civilization, has drawn even closer today to its European family,” Kvirikashvili stated. Kvirikashvili thanked Dimitris Avramopoulos for his contribution to the Georgia-EU visa liberalization process. He also thanked the EU member states and the European Parliament for their support.
“Visa-free access to the European Union will bring tangible, concrete benefits to the citizens of Georgia. Visa-free travel to the EU member states will promote closer tourism, educational, cultural, and business relations between our societies, also contributing to the introduction and advancement of European values and ideals in Georgia,” said Kvirikashvili, adding that the Georgian government fully understands the responsibility that follows the implementation of visa-free travel to EU. The EU Commissioner also congratulated Georgians, adding the decision of the EU Council was another step towards the completion of the process. “I am absolutely sure that Georgians will maintain the conditions of the process, and will fulfill the relevant requirements… A final decision has already been made and the time has come to celebrate this step forward together,” Avramopoulos stated. Moreover, Kvirikashvili and Avramopoulos had a walk along the recently renewed Aghmashenebeli Avenue, where they had a meeting with representatives of Georgian culture, education and science at a local café. Avramopoulos said that he had personally been working to aid the process of helping Georgia achieve this important aim over the course of the last two years. The European Parliament (EP) voted in favor of visa-free travel for Georgian citizens to the Schengen Area at the plenary session on February 2nd. When the process is complete, biometric passport holders will be able to enter the Schengen area, which includes 22 EU member states (excluding Ireland, the United Kingdom, Croatia, Cyprus, Romania and Bulgaria) in addition to Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland for 90 days within any 180-day period for a holiday, business, or any other purpose, except work.
Government to Invest GEL 4.5 mln in Check in Georgia Project BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI
he Government of Georgia is to support musical, sports and other activities united under the Check in Georgia concept, it was announced at a conference in Rooms Hotel Tbilisi
last week. The meeting was attended by Ketevan Bochorishvili, Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development; Sergi Gvardjaladze, Head of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest in Georgia; and Dimitry Beridze, Black Sea Arena Director. The Check in Georgia 2017 program is to bring together cultural and business activities with the aim of promoting the image of the country, with an overall budget of 4.5 million GEL, half of which will go to Georgian artists’ performances and the remainder to be given to promoters to present projects with both Georgian and international performers. “This will be a good example of public–private partnership, with financial participation that will consequently raise effectiveness and motivate Georgian companies to get involved,” Bochorishvili said. “It will also help Georgia to establish itself as a place for numerous international events.” That Georgia will this year be hosting the Junior Eurovision Song Contest is highlighted as being very important, and yet another possibility to introduce
the country to a wider audience, since the contest will be broadcasted in almost 20 countries, reaching an anticipated 20 million viewers worldwide. “Georgia is also to host a number of international sports events throughout the coming year,” said Akaki Lodia, Deputy Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs of Georgia. “These will include world and European championships and international tournaments.” “We have the relevant experience to host international tournaments. In 2017, ten major sports events are planned in Georgia, to be attended by vistors from 70 countries. This will, of course, also benefit our tourism sector,” Lodia added. Promoters will be chosen through expressions of interests and will then be offered the chance to organize top cultural events at the Black Sea Arena through the months of June – September 2017. The applications will be assessed by a special commission with qualified specialists in the field. The invitations to express interest will be uploaded on the State Procurement Agency website with all requirements detailed. “The project seeks to support Georgian promoters to get integrated into the international scene,” Beridze said. The cultural events planned on the Black Sea coast in 2017 are expected to boost regional development and offer a chance for the local population to increase income. The 2017 calendar for Check in Georgia is expected to be announced shortly.
Rebels in Congo Capture Former Georgian Serviceman BY THEA MORRISON
fficial Tbilisi confirmed last week that a citizen of Georgia, Soso Osurauli, a former Georgian serviceman who left the Georgian Armed Forces in 2015 and was working in Congo on a private contract, was captured on January 27 by rebels after two Congo Air Force helicopters were shot down. Another Georgian was also with Osurauli during the incident. He was said to have been injured but, as Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) reports, he is being treated in eastern Congo and is now safe. “On February 22, the Georgian Embassy in Pretoria was informed by the Congolese side that a Georgian citizen had been captured and another wounded by an opposition group after a helicopter was shot down. The wounded is being treated in Goma, eastern Congo and is now safe,” the MFA
report claimed. The ministry says it is in permanent contact with the Government of Congo to keep on top of the latest situation and to protect legal rights of the Georgian citizens there. Beka Dvali, Georgian Ambassador to South Africa, confirmed that Osurauli was captured by the March 23 Movement, a rebel group in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to the Ambassador, the health of the Georgian soldier is not at risk. “Dialogue is underway through all diplomatic channels to free the Georgian citizen… We should act carefully to get positive results,” he said. Georgia’s National Security Council Secretary, Davit Rakviashvili, also commented on the issue. “The President’s Administration is doing its best to protect the rights of Georgian citizens,” he said. Rustavi 2 reports that, according to the relatives of Osurauli, the rebels are demanding $1 million in exchange for his life. This information has yet to be officially confirmed.
FEBRUARY 28 - MARCH 2, 2017
THE ISET ECONOMIST A BLOG ABOUT ECONOMICS AND THE SOUTH CAUCAUS
The ISET Policy Institute (ISET-PI, www.iset-pi.ge) is an independent think-tank associated with the International School of Economics at TSU (ISET). Our blog carries economic analysis of current events and policies in Georgia and the South Caucasus region ranging from agriculture, to economic growth, energy, labor markets and the nexus of economics, culture and religion. Thought-provoking and fun to read, our blog posts are written by international faculty teaching at ISET and recent graduates representing the new generation of Georgian, Azerbaijani and Armenian economists.
Making Kutaisi Great Again! BY IA KATSIA
ave you ever heard about a mysterious law that predicts the size of a city? If you tell me the population of the largest city in a country, I can tell you the size of the second and third largest cities. In 1949, George Zipf came up with the simple theory called the rank-size rule, or “Zipf 's law.” Applied to the size of cities, this law says that the second city and following smaller cities should represent a proportion of the largest city. For example, if the largest city in a country is populated with one million citizens, according to the law, the population of the second city would be one-half of the first. The third would contain onethird and so on. Of course, this is not true for all countries. However, many nations, especially in the developed world, display this kind of pattern in terms of their cities populations (e.g. the USA). Another famous concept, called “Primate City,” was developed even earlier, in 1939, by Mark Jefferson. The idea behind the concept is the following: Primate City is a main city, with a population at least three times larger than the second largest city (for numerous countries, the gap is much
bigger), with many much smaller cities and towns in the country. A Primate City is not only large by population, but also represents economic dominance and is the cultural center of national identity. It creates most of the jobs, and the rest of the country depends on it for major economic, political, cultural, and transportation needs. It should be noted that the concept of Primate City is not directly related to a country’s development rate. For example, we could think of the United Kingdom with London (7 mln) as the Primate City and the second largest city as Birmingham, populated by 1 mln people. However, many less developed countries tend to follow a high degree of primacy, while most developed countries have a low degree of primacy. Two factors that affect high primacy include: having an underdeveloped economy, and/or an agriculturally dominant economy.
THE GEORGIAN CONTEXT The last concept describes the situation in Georgia, where the capital city of Tbilisi is populated by more than 1.1 mln people, followed by many much smaller cities like Kutaisi (147,000 people) and Batumi (154,600 people). While having a Primate City in developed countries does not create a significant dilemma (such examples are rather rare), it could be a hindering Kutaisi City. Source: wex.ge
factor for the development of less developed countries like Georgia. Why is having Tbilisi as Georgia’s Primate City a potential problem? The main negative effect is that it develops faster than other parts of the country, causing an unequal distribution of wealth, power and investments between regions, unequal distribution of education, unequal economic and resource development, and negative externalities, such as unsustainable urban growth, that affects environmental stability. In 2006, the population of Kutaisi was 190 thousand people. It has now decreased by around 30% (Geostat 2016). The highest rates of migration are to Tbilisi or abroad. Possible reasons are related to the unequal distribution of education, which causes "brain drain" from smaller settlements to a Primate City, low employment opportunities, low level of attraction for businesses, and lower opportunities for individual progress. If we look at incomes across regions, a large gap can be observed. According to Geostat, the average monthly income per capita in Tbilisi is 60% higher than in the Imereti, Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti regions. The average monthly remuneration of employed persons in Imereti is 604.6 GEL, whereas it is 1006.7 GEL in Tbilisi (a 67% difference). Tbilisi serves as the political and financial hub of the country. The previous government tried to decentralize political institutions by moving Georgian Parliament from Tbilisi to Kutaisi in 2012. The rationale behind this move was to bring economic development to the city, and the region with it. However, the move was not followed by large positive changes in the city as expected.
IS AN UPSURGE OF KUTAISI FINALLY HAPPENING? Recent trends suggest that the situation may be changing, and that Kutaisi is catching up with Tbilisi. The data from the ISET Khachapuri Index has already hinted at possible positive dynamics; in recent months, the khachapuri continues to be more expensive in Kutaisi than in other cities. One explanation of this could be demand. According to the Georgian National Tourism Administration (GNTA), the number of tourists visiting the country went up by 19.8% in January 2017, compared to last year (January 2016). Also, the number of flights at Kutaisi International Airport increased by 121% in January 2017 y-o-y.
Kutaisi International Airport has the cheapest flights in Georgia, and we see the corresponding increasing demand. Furthermore, the airport reacquired a transportation hub function for Kutaisi, so it is very easy to visit Mestia, Tskaltubo and/ or Georgia’s seaside from the airport. Positive changes were also observed in real estate data. The number of ads (for flats, houses, and commercial property) in Kutaisi in the first half of 2016 went up by 70% compared to the second half of 2015. Furthermore, the number of transactions (sold flats and houses) in 2016 increased by 13% y-o-y. Recent business investments in Kutaisi also give some hope for possible positive changes. The opening of a Free Industrial Zone in Kutaisi has slowly started to attract businesses. A good example is the Hualing Group, which has invested $30 mln. At present, there are five enterprises operating in the Hualing FIZ: wood processing, furniture production, stone processing, metal construction, and mattress production. Another possible investment ($12mln) is planned by investors from Dubai to start solar panel production in Kutaisi under the terms of the Free Industrial Zone. According to recent information, international brands are interested in entering the Kutaisi market. A second McDonald’s branch will be opened in Kutaisi, followed by Dunkin Donuts and Wendy’s this year. Moreover, Kutaisi may regain its function as an academic center, as Cartu Fund is planning to invest EUR 1 billion to build the Kutaisi Campus University. The university, able to accommodate 60,000 students, will be equipped with modern infrastructure, staffed by Georgian and foreign academic professionals, and will offer modern academic and research programs for Georgian and foreign students. This is a great opportunity for Kutaisi to become an educational hub in the region! The development of Kutaisi as a center of West Georgia will relieve the current pressure on Tbilisi and also will create a strong regional center. It is very important to decentralize functions and powers, from Tbilisi to the regions, in order to follow a sustainable development path in the country. Hopefully, these developments will be followed by increased opportunities for employment and industrial changes, so that fewer people migrate to the capital. And yes! I am from Kutaisi and I want Kutaisi to be great again.
FEBRUARY 28 - MARCH 2, 2017
Russia to Cut Oil Supplies to Belarus BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE
ussia plans to cut oil supplies to Belarus from 4.5 to 4 million tons in the first quarter after the parties failed to find a solution to the gas dispute. The Ministry of Energy of Russia transferred the new delivery schedule to Belarus on December 28, 2016. The Belarusian side expressed its dissatisfaction to Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich concerning this approach.
BTU Georgia Presents Artificial Intelligence Program BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI
“If this level of supply is maintained, instead of the projected 18 million tons for the year, Belarus can only expect 16 million,” they said. The Ministry of Energy made no comment. With the reduction of deliveries, Moscow wants to exert pressure on Minsk to make her repay the debt for gas at a rate of more than 400 million dollars. Said debts have accumulated since January 2016, when Belarus demanded a reduction on raw material costs and unilaterally decided to pay less. Moscow linked the gas issue with the supply of oil, reducing it from the promised 5.3
million tons in the first quarter to 3.5 million tons, and in October-December to 3 million. It was assumed that by the end of 2016, the parties would reach an agreementand they were close to a compromise. In this regard, the oil supply in the first quarter should have been increased to 4.5 million tons. Moscow agreed to provide a grant through the enrollment of customs duties for Russian oil to the budget of Belarus, which was, in turn, to repay the gas debt. However, Minsk asked for additional concessions, and as a result, the countries have not yet come to the expected agreement.
he Business and Technology University (BTU) last week presented its new creation: an artificial intelligence (AI) program for organization management. The program, a total innovation for Georgia, is said to have no analogue anywhere else in the world. “I’m very proud that the new product was made at BTU specifically,” says Micheil Batiashvili, the University Head. The new invention is expected to revolutionize and ease the management process for organizations. A technological assistance tool, it offers recommendations and can even participate in the decision-making process. The AI program delivers information on financial operations, planned activities and existing problems to the management of organizations, offering suitable solu-
Artificial Intelligence Interface
tions. The program can be implemented on local and international markets and BTU is already using it. “The work to create and launch the AI program took several months. It’s a technichal assistant that will help company directors to manage and facilitate their working process,” Batiashvili added.
Kabul Launches Survey Work on TAPI Gas Pipeline Project BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE
t the presidential palace in the Afghan capital, survey works were launched on construction of the Turkmenistan-AfghanistanPakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline. This is to include a study of the route, and engineering and feasibility studies for a gas facility in Afghanistan. The launch ceremony was attended by the President of Afghanistan, Moham-
mad Ashraf Ghani, the heads of ministries and departments of the participating countries of the project, the consortium TAPI Pipeline Company Ltd
and the company ILF Beratende Ingenieure GmbH. Similar surveys are expected to begin on the territory of Pakistan in the near future.. A contract was signed between TAPI Pipeline Company Ltd and ILF Beratende Ingenieure GmbH on January 17, in Ashgabat, for provision of services for project management and technical supervision for the TAPI pipeline. The contract provides for cooperation between the parties prior to the stage of making a final investment decision on the TAPI project. The construction of the Turkmen section
of the TAPI gas pipeline, to be some 214 km long, was begun in December 2015 and works are said to be running on schedule. SC Turkmengaz, under TAPI Pipeline Company Ltd, is the primary financier of the project, as well as manager. The consortium also includes Afghan Gas Corporation, Pakistani Inter State Gas Systems (Private) Ltd and India’s GAIL. The total length of the pipeline will be 1814 kilometers, including 774 kilometers across the territory of Afghanistan and 826 kilometers to be laid in Pakistan until Fazilka village on the border with India. The gas pipeline will have an expected
annual capacity of 33 billion cubic meters of gas, starting at the close of 2019. The Government of Turkmenistan has submitted a request for funding of $700 million from the ADB to be used to cover the cost of materials, works and services within the TAPI project. The Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India Pipeline (TAPI), also known as Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline, is a natural gas pipeline being developed by the Asian Development Bank. The pipeline will transport Caspian Sea natural gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan into Pakistan and then to India.
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FEBRUARY 28 - MARCH 2, 2017
New Mountain Cabin to Be Built on Mount Kazbegi INTERVIEW BY MANUELA KOSCH
he Caucasus has many stunning mountains, most of which are only accessible if you have a high level of mountaineering and climbing skills. Kazbegi is unique in that, with the proper training and guides, it can be climbed even by amateurs. The current shelter is situated at an altitude of 3700mwhich inexperienced climbers would struggle to reach in a day. Further, there are sanitation and safety issues affecting the local environment. To help boost the potential of Mount Kazbegi, three Georgian entrepreneurs aim to build a new cabin- which will include a café, safety services, accommodation and equipment hire -on Mount Kazbegi. Named Alticabin, it is expected to be ready to host its first tourists in summer 2018. GEORGIA TODAY met David Chichinadze, one of the entrepreneurs, to talk about the project.
WHY DOES MOUNT KAZBEGI NEED ANOTHER CABIN? The existing cabin is situated above the Glacier at an altitude of 3700m- making it too high for many people to reach in one day. The existing facilities have a poor waste management system and a lack of safety support. The current environmental impact on the mountain is an increasing concern. With Alticabin, we intend to address these issues by providing a well maintained, modern, environmentally friendly cabin with proper sanitary and waste management solutions, along with a clear strategy to develop sustainable mountain infrastructure on Kazbegi such as hiking and mountain biking trails to reduce the human impact on the mountain even with the anticipated increase in visitors. With Alticabin, we want to bring the enjoyment of mountaineering to a bigger audience in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way by creating trails and infrastructure around the cabin, but keeping the human footprint there to a minimum.
WHO CAME UP WITH THE IDEA? There are three of us in the team, each bringing skills and experience in various areas which are essential to the success of the project. Nika Alavidze, a long-time mountain biker and hiker, with many years’ experience in the finance industry, previously worked in the highest positions in the leading banks of Georgia. He is now involved in Private Investment Fund management and himself acts as an angel investor. He's responsible for the financial side of the project. Mamuka Nikoladze, who originally set up the mountain rescue service in Georgia, is a prominent geologist, GIS specialist and adviser to the emergency services and other government departments within the tourism and protected areas fields. As for me, I’ve been actively involved with the establishment of the Georgian mountain rescue services and have worked with the Swiss Development Agency for many years managing disaster risk reduction and several construction projects in difficult-to-reach locations, including high mountain regions of Georgia. I’ll be overseeing the construction of the project.
pers visiting the glacier, mountain bikers, ski tourers in winter and, of course, climbers.
WILL THERE BE POWER AND WATER SUPPLY? Yes. We will have a fresh water supply along with solar power and a generator for emergencies.
WHO WILL OPERATE THE CABIN? We are currently looking for young, motivated locals experienced in all aspects of mountaineering to manage the cabin. They’ll be trained by us and our Swiss partners to offer the highest level of service and safety.
WHERE WILL THE CABIN BE BUILT?
HOW ARE YOU FINANCING THIS PROJECT?
The cabin will be situated below the Gergeti Glacier, at 3000m- 800m above Sameba church, where most people will start their journey, and 700m below the Bethlemi cabin. It will be within the recommended altitude increases for acclimatization for those wishing to head to the summit. It’s also ideally located for visitors to hike to see the Glacier or simply to the cabin and back.
The project is an impact investment opportunity which is being privately financed to support mountain infrastructure development, create trail infrastructure, boost local employment and attract tourists into the area. Although private finances are available to fund our initiative, we remain open to attract likeminded investors and see their investments channeled into our venture.
WHAT SERVICES WILL BE PROVIDED AND WHO IS YOUR MAIN TARGET GROUP?
WHAT WILL CONSTRUCTION COST?
Along with a café/restaurant, there will be accommodation for up to 30 people, toilets, showers, washing facilities, a shop, rental equipment, mountain guides, and we will accommodate mountain rescue services. The main target group will be hikers, day trip-
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
The current estimation is $400,000.
WHAT IS THE LARGEST CHALLENGE IN BUILDING A CABIN IN THIS AREA? One of the main challenges is the current lack of access to the mountain, making it logistically very tough to transport
materials up there. That said, we are confident we can rise to the challenge, having already installed a much need bridge last summer over the river below the glacier, allowing people to cross safely.
THE PLACE IS INACCESSIBLE BY CAR. HOW WILL THE CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS BE TRANSPORTED? We have the use of a helicopter to lift heavy materials to the site, along with the use of pack horses for lighter materials.
HOW WILL THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE CABIN IMPACT THE SURROUNDING ECOSYSTEM? The aim is to have as little environmental impact on the area as possible, which is why we’ll be using the helicopter and pack horses. Additionally, the site will quickly be restored to its natural state upon completion.
IS THE LOCATION SAFE FROM NATURAL HAZARDS? Yes. While selecting the site, we consulted avalanche specialists, disaster risk reduction specialists, geologists and flood zone specialists before finally deciding on the location to minimize the chance of risk from natural hazards.
IN AN EMERGENCY, THE CABIN CAN BE CONSIDERED QUITE ISOLATED. HOW WILL YOU ENSURE THAT THE BUILDERS, THEN LATER THE STAFF AND TOURISTS, WILL BE SAFE? We're planning to accommodate a mountain rescue unit within the cabin so that they will be closer to the area of potential risk and therefore able to respond faster should the need arise. We will also have safety equipment on site and the staff will have medical emergency training. Find out more on www.altitude.ge
FEBRUARY 28 - MARCH 2, 2017
Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Georgia Speaks about GeorgianKazakh Ties in Technical University Lecture BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI
rmukhamet Ertisybayev, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Kazakhstan to Georgia, gave a lecture at the Tbilisi Technical University on Friday to mark the launch of a special course on the history and culture of Kazakhstan. While introducing the 'Third Modernization of Kazakhstan - A bridge to the Future' program, announced in January this year by Nurusltan Nazarbayev, President of Kazakhstan, to an audience of students and professors, the Ambassador highlighted the importance of the Georgian-Kazakh relations. He gave a detailed overview of Kazakhstan’s historical, socio-economic and political development and the future goals and prospects of the country, noting that Kazakhstan and Georgia will be marking the 25-year anniversary of the diplomatic relations in May 2017. Among the many topics discussed during the lecture, the Ambassador mentioned the importance of regaining territorial integrity and unity for Georgia. While discussing the possibilities of economic growth and the process of economic reform implementation in Georgia, Ambassador Ertisybayev suggested that the potential visa-free regime
Adjara Tourism Department at International Tourist Fair in Wroclaw and improved diplomatic relations with Russia would be an important step for the country. “Georgia is a very important strategic partner for Kazakhstan, the country through which we’ve been able to reach the Black Sea following the agreement signed between our two countries during the visit of our president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, to Georgia in 2005,” Ertisybayev said. “Georgia is the only country in the world into the economy of which Kazakhstan has invested massively, with projects like the Batumi Sea Port, the Borjomi and Likani resort development, and other projects being realized with financial investments from Kazakhstan; all of it possible thanks to the tight trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.” The Ambassador then went on to describe the huge International Expo planned for the summer of 2017 in Astana, which almost three million tourists are expected to attend. “Our country is ambitious. We have the means to have the largest exhibition in history. A whole new city has been built for the Expo, with modern architectural buildings, and Georgia is to have a large pavilion there. The theme- Energy of the Future -is very important for Georgia, in terms of new energies and hydrotechnology,” the Ambassador said, adding that from June 2017 throughout the entire expo period, seven flights will be available to Almaty and four to Astana from Tbilisi. Everyone flying to Astana will be given free tickets to the expo. The Ambassador then suggested launching a joint initiative together with the Tbilisi Technical University, and attracting Georgian and Kazakh businessmen
to give the students who successfully pass their exams the chance to attend Expo 2017 for free. Enhancing cooperation between the Technical University and educational institutions of Kazakhstan was also noted as a future step of mutual collaboration. The second part of the lecture focused on the Third Modernization of Kazakhstan declared by President Nazarbaev in January. The program focuses on creating a new model of economic growth to ensure the country’s global competitiveness. The modernization plan includes five main priorities: acceleration of technological modernization of the country, improvement and expansion of the business environment and microeconomic stability, improving the quality of human capital, institutional change, security, and the fight against corruption. Increasing the power of parliament is a part of the constitutional reforms planned. The reforms aim to help Kazakhstan achieve the status of “most developed country” by 2050. The meeting and lecture of the Ambassador of Kazakhsan was rounded up with a question and answer session, with topics ranging from the experience of the professional trade unions in Kazakhstan to the market economy. “We deeply respect Georgia’s choice to be a member of European Union. But in order to be a real member of the EU and have the same rights as the other countries, in my personal opinion, it will take a whole historical era to modernize the country and make the necessary changes in mentality. Having a free trade zone with Europe for Georgia is an excellent chance and we are very happy with the fact that you’ll have a visa-free regime,” the Ambassador said.
BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI
he tourism potential of the Adjara region was showcased at the 9th International Tourist Fair in Wroclaw, Poland, seeing visitors express particular interest in the ecotourism, culinary and skiing destinations in Adjara, Georgia. The Adjara Tourism Department representatives who participated in the exhibition alongside the Georgian National Tourism Administration (GNTA) and various Georgian tourism agencies, met with advertising and tourist companies during the event to discuss
further opportunities for billateral cooperation. The Marshal of Silesian Voevodship visited the Georgian stand at the fair, together with Davit Gabaidze, the head of Adjara’s Supreme Council. The council delegation participated in the opening ceremony of the event and the press conference, where Gabaidze talked about the importance of regional collaboration and discussed the projects already completed. By the end of the year, the Adjara Tourism department plans to participate in two more exhibitions in Poland, in Katowice and in Warsaw. Poland is regarded as one of the key tourism markets to explore for the Adjara region, and a special marketing campaign in that regard is to be launched from spring this year.
FEBRUARY 28 - MARCH 2, 2017
Build Yourself a Bright Future – Invest in Green Diamond
nvesting in Georgia is becoming more and more attractive for foreigners. The stable political situation, sustainable and fast developing economy, diverse nature and developing tourism are the key factors that influence them to believe this an environment worth investing in. MAQRO Construction offers the best opportunity, product and payment terms to make the multifunctional residential complex Green Diamond an ideal investment. We spoke to MAQRO Construction’s Deputy General Director, Oguz Kaan Karaer.
TELL US ABOUT MAQRO CONSTRUCTION’S LARGE SCALE INVESTMENT, THE RESIDENTIAL COMPLEX GREEN DIAMOND The new residential complex of MAQRO Construction company, Green Diamond, launched on May 28, 2016 consists of three stages of construction, with the first seeing 731 units ready to move into by May, 2018. 500 units have already been sold, but we still have over 200 units available. In Green Diamond, there are four unit types: • 2 room apartment of an average 35 – 45 m2, with a starting price of $ 30 000 • 3 room apartment with open kitchen – of an average 55 m2, starting at $ 45 000 • 3 room apartment with close kitchen – of an average 75 m2, starting at $ 60 000 • 4 room apartment – 95 m2, with a starting price of $ 80 000 For payment in full, customers can enjoy a 15% discount from the listed price. It sounds unbelievable that in just 55 sq.m you can fit a three-room apartment, in 35 sq.m you can get two rooms, but in Green Diamond it is possible thanks to the optimal planning- and this is one of the strongest sides of the project. Customers have the chance to see the show rooms of all four apartments in the sales office, simplifying the buying process and showing them exactly what they will get. For those customers wanting something bigger, Green Diamond is offering apartments on the top two floors of the buildings with up to 250 m2. The unique residential complex is being built in an ecologically clean district of Tbilisi, near to the Olympic facilities. Next to Green Diamond will be the mega project Technological University, unique in Eastern Europe. The area of the residential complex is almost 70.000 m2 with more than 23.000 m2 of enclosed green territory- it is an ideal chance for residents to try a unique, brand-new and affordable life in Tbilisi. In the complex, you will find 23 living blocks (9, 11, 21 floor buildings) and 1772 units. You will be able to satisfy all your needs, including with three swimming pools, four basketball areas, four outdoor fitness areas, four children’s playgrounds, seven pergolas, indoor sport facilities, walking and running tracks, commercial areas, social terraces, a kindergarten and a school. As Green Budapest is the first residential complex, it became the visit card of MAQRO Construction’s quality. Green Budapest is currently handing over units, so people can be assured of the high quality, as in Green Diamond the construction and renovation materials will be exactly the same as in Green Budapest. Those interested can visit the informative and interactive sales office to see the units and construction materials for themselves. Creating a proper product, optimal planning, affordable prices and flexible payment conditions have lead to the success of Green Diamond. People are grabbing this opportunity very actively and this makes us happy, too.
are not only locals, but residents from several countries, including UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Turkey, Iran, and Russia. Foreigners can take advantage of applying for residency after investing $35,000 in Georgia, so Green Diamond is an opportunity not to be missed!
HOW PROFITABLE IS IT TO INVEST IN GREEN DIAMOND? Investing in Green Diamond is very profitable for buyers. First of all, the unit planning and concept of the complex are very attractive, with a starting price of $800 per sq. meter. If the buyer pays in full, that price is just $700. In May 2018, when the construction of the first stage is finished, the customer can get approximately 50% profit within just two years. I think you agree that this is a very high indicator. A second example: A three-room $50,000 apartment in Green Diamond residential complex can easily be rented out for $500 a month. That means that the owner can recover the amount paid in just eight years with an early 13% return. In the real estate business, these rates are really high compared to other countries, where the yearly return is around just 5-6%.
MAQRO GROUP IS ONE OF THE LARGEST INVESTORS IN GEORGIA. WHY HAS GEORGIA BECOME AN ATTRACTIVE INVESTMENT DESTINATION FOR THE COMPANY? Since 2013, the Company has been bringing together a variety of projects, including residential complexes with unique concepts, Green Diamond and Green Budapest, the international 4-star Hotel Mercure Tbilisi Old Town, Hotel Ibis Styles (to open in March), Furniture Factory Glorya, Furniture store chain Bellissa and restaurant Dinehall, unique for its culinary creations and boasting a marvelous interior. As, in Georgia, there is a healthy and stable investment environment, we recognized the need for quality construction on the Georgian market. Therefore, we decided to share our own experience and to this day make huge and valuable investments. The residential complexes Green Diamond and Green Budapest are the largest-scale investments of international holding MAQRO Construction. Green Budapest, based on preliminary information published by the National Statistics Office of Georgia (NSOG), belongs to the ten largest investments of 2015 according to the amount of direct foreign investments made to the country, including Hotel Mercure Tbilisi Old Town. The key to our success at MAQRO Construction has been a responsive approach to business and quality control, and the management team’s ability to recognize changes in the marketplace and adapt to them. MAQRO Construction continues to invest in the Georgian market and has ambitious plans for the future.
WHAT IS THE KEY TO THE SUCCESS OF MAQRO’S PROJECTS? Flexible and unprecedented payment conditions are one of the main reasons for selling apartments so well in Green Diamond. MAQRO Construction gives an opportunity for customers to use monthly payment and helps them to simplify the purchasing process. General payment terms are extremely tailored to customers: 10% - first payment, and 30% of the total amount is distributed over 30 months, so it means that customers are paying only 1% monthly. When the construction is completed (May, 2018), customers need only pay delivery payment- 60%. The initial price for the fully renovated units with kitchen furniture, built-in appliances and bath headset is from $30,000. The clients can pay 3,000 USD for the first payment and $300 per month thereafter.
YOU SAY THIS IS THE BEST REAL ESTATE OPPORTUNITY FOR FOREIGN INVESTORS IN GEORGIA. TELL US MORE
WHAT ARE MAQRO CONSTRUCTION’S FUTURE PLANS?
Green Diamond is becoming very popular among foreigners wanting to own an apartment in an ecologically clean district of Tbilisi, and I’m proud to say that among the future residents of Green Diamond
In March, hotel Ibis Styles will be opened and soon we will launch the second stage of Green Diamond and use all the opportunities to develop other future projects.
FEBRUARY 28 - MARCH 2, 2017
Parliament Adopts Majority’s Bill on Covert Investigation BY THEA MORRISON
eorgian parliament on Friday adopted a Bill on Convert Investigation proposed by the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party. In the legislative body with 150 lawmakers, where GD has 115 MPs, 89 voted in favor and 20 were against. The legislative package provides for the creation of a legal entity of public law (LEPL) the OperativeTechnical Agency of Georgia, which will be responsible for covert surveillance. The Agency will be under the supervision of the State Security Service (SSS), however, the agency will be accountable to the Prime Minister and will submit a generalized report of its activities annually to the PM. The responsibilities of the Agency will include: hidden surveillance of phone communication; retrieving information from computer systems; control of post office transfers; secret audio and video surveillance; and photographic surveillance. The initiative of the new bill on covert investigative actions was raised after the Constitutional Court of Georgia ruled on April 14, 2016, that the existing model of surveillance, with the Interior Ministry and Personal Data Protection Inspector as key players, needed to be changed. The Court stated that the legislation allowing the police to have direct, unrestricted access to telecom operators’ networks to monitor communications was unconstitutional and set March 31, 2017 as the deadline for implementing the court’s decision and replacing the existing surveillance regulations with new ones. Now, according to the bill, access to surveillance will be in the hands of the new LEPL under the SSS, the Personal Data Protection Inspector, and the Judge of the Supreme Court. The non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Public Defender Ucha Nanuashviili, and the opposition parties criticized the bill, demanding the creation of an independent agency, not under the SSS and having no professional interest in surveillance. Opposition party United National Movement (UNM) says the bill does not answer the verdict of the Constitutional Court, which said that the “creation, possession, and administration of technical means of obtaining personal information in
real time and having direct access to personal information using this means, by an agency that has investigative functions or is professionally interested in familiarizing itself with this information, creates an excessive threat of unsubstantiated interference with personal lives.” “The commission, led by the SSS head, will choose three candidates for the post of Agency head,” said UNM member Akaki Minashvili. “After this, the candidates will be presented to the PM who will chose one. This means that the Agency is not independent. It is under the direct influence of the SSS.” Members of the Parliamentary minority, Movement for Freedom - European Georgia, walked out of the plenary session in protest during the discussions. The party believes the new law will "rudely interfere with people’s personal lives”. “We do not want to participate in this farce and so we are leaving the session,” Otar Kakhidze from European Georgia stated. Vice Speaker of Parliament and Georgian Dream party member Tamar Chugoshvili finds the new draft "balanced”, while majority member Giorgi Volsky says the implementation of the version offered by the NGOs and the opposition requires more budgetary funds than the bill prepared by the ruling party. “Financially and technically, this Agency will be independent and a special confidence group will be able to monitor its work,” Volsky stated. Parliamentary discussions over the proposed changes will continue. This week, amendments to the bill will be discussed during the third reading and after this the bill will be sent to the president for signature. If President Giorgi Margvelashvili vetoes the bill, the majority will need votes of at least 76 MPs to override the veto. The majority last overrode a presidential veto on the Bill of Judicial Reform on February 8.
National Discussion about Sustainable Urban Transport
n Tuesday, February 28, at Hotel Radisson Blu Iveria, Tbilisi, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Protection of Georgia, with assistance from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Global Environment Facility (GEF), hosted a discussion about sustainable urban transport. The event opened a series of national discussions
that mean to lead Georgia to developing a national concept of sustainable urban transport, including for the first national strategy and policy framework. The discussion brought together Gigla Agulashvili, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Protection of Georgia; Niels Scott, Head of UNDP in Georgia; and representatives of the Georgian government, Parliament, and local governance and international organizations.
FEBRUARY 28 - MARCH 2, 2017
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McCarthy: I See a Hunger to Take Off in Georgia TIFLIS KIS TARIFESI 7.5x6cm ING.indd 1
INTERVIEW BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI
ndrew McCarthy, an Academic Director at the IE School of Human Science and Technology in Madrid, a man regarded as a guru of innovation, with numerous start-ups to his name and who has been brought in to consult such corporations as BBVA, Google Spain, Adidas, MTV Productions, Paramount, and BP, held a lecture in Marriott Tbilisi Hotel this Saturday. GEORGIA TODAY met with Professor McCarthy after the lecture to speak about his views on financial innovations and how they will shape our future.
WHAT DO YOU THINK THE ROLE OF BANKS AS FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS WILL BE WITH TECHNOLOGIES CHANGING SO FAST? The question of how the financial institutions, or finance service organizations, operate is really changing with the rise of internet, and of artificial intelligence and connectivity. There are going to be different models of how we interact with objects, and with objects as services. iTunes and the App store are perfect examples of this- micro transactions: all I need to pay for an App is my fingerprint. It doesn’t feel like a monetary transaction, but it is. So, the producers are going to be investing much more in that. Again, with the rise of automated currency, if we’re better able to automate the entire process coming out of a manufacturer, what do we need a finance company for? Or, if we look at it from the perspective of the finance company, what value can we offer? Where do we deliver value and how can we then partner with a manufacturer, for example? They will have to rely a lot more on collaborative partnerships and alliances.
WILL IT BE CHALLENGING
FOR THEM TO DO SO? I think it’ll be increadibly challenging. I think they’re going to have to change the way they think about their own experience and institutional knowledge, maybe what they are good at in this example is large movements of financial resources and so perhaps they could partner with manufacturers in micro transactions as a way to provide a service managing or trafficking flow. It’s going to require lots of reflection, a lot of sort of self-inquisition.
WHY DO YOU THINK ADVANCED FINANCIAL TECHNOLOGIES ARE BENEFICIAL TO CUSTOMERS AND WHAT FUTURE TENDENCIES CAN YOU HIGHLIGHT? Well, we’re still trying to understand it and how our behaviour can be affected by it; to realize how it can help us do a job, or satisfy a need or requirement.
IS IT SAFE? Let me answer that question from a different angle. There’s an organization called Code For America, it’s quite old now and the way it operates is as an agile, nimble programming team. It’s very responsive, experimental, very informative, and it works very fast. They are also very tight with government, and are well-connected. What they’re doing is acting as a third party to provide solutions for people: they’ve launched and run programs for food assistance for example, helping people to stay out of the justice system for small things, like not paying a fine, etc… and they can operate like a modern development crew because they are not government but they provide services for the government. Some of the fundamental regulations and laws that govern how digital is done in American government were written quite some time ago. It could not predict any of the way we operate now and yet it has some very smart laws, some of them even good for
personal safety now. Yet they inhibit the kind of responsive, proactive, people-centered innovation that is posible and necessary. The question of safety should always be a paramount question.
ALTHOUGH INNOVATIVE SERVICES ARE WIDELY USED IN GEORGIA, IT IS OFTEN A CHALLENGE FOR THE ELDER GENERATION TO WORK WITH THEM That’s not their fault, that’s the failure of the people working in that sphere, and again, it comes back to design. When we talk about design that is focused on people, be it consumer or customer, there’s a great phrase in civil architecture and design that “it should be 99 percent invisible”- it should just work. And if the older generation is tensing up, that’s because it’s not working. We may need a different solution; we may need multiple solutions, because if we’re trying to change culture, we can’t have just one brute force attempt, because the way we people interact, the way we group ourselves or segregate ourselves, is far more complex.
WHERE DO YOU THINK GEORGIA STANDS IN TERMS OF INNOVATIONS?
baggage of organizational structures, etc… but what I see is a hunger to take off.
WHAT DIFFICULTIES DO YOU FORESEE FOR IMPLEMENTING CHANGES? I would say stay in power and endorse, because these are marathons, not sprints. We have to address the small things first and build up from there.
WHAT DOES CREATIVITY MEAN TO YOU PERSONALLY AND CAN IT BE TAUGHT? No, in a lot of ways it can’t…. I’m teaching the unteachable. I don’t know if it can be taught but I know it can be learned. Learning is a personal journey, a personal transformation; a sort of realization process. I’m really fascinated with neuroscience and this is the golden age of investigation into the brain and how lots of things happen- many white papers published are on the process of thought, ideas and creativity. Creativity is thinking something that you haven’t thought before. Because I’m engaged in education and facilitating practices and activities, I can say for sure that the process of creativity isn’t finished until you have something out and you’ve shared it.
My brief impression is incredibly hopeful. I’ve been really impressed [during my visit], particularly with the attitude to innovation. I went to TBC Bank and met with people there who were engaged and very interested. I also spoke to clients of Bank of Georgia and found them equally switched on. I get the impression that this is the challenge that people are living in, engaged in. You have to believe that you can make change, that you can respond to a challenge in a postive way, that you can deliver some value to someone’s life. Of course like Spain, Georgia has economic problems, movement is difficult, regulations are difficult, we’re dealing with the historic
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February 28 - March 2, 2017