Page 1

Issue no: 1087

• SEP. 28 - OCT. 1, 2018



In this week’s issue... Latest Report on Air Quality in Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Batumi NEWS PAGE 3



25 years since Georgia lost Abkhazia, and Georgia-Russia relations

Shevtsova on the Tsunami of Change in Russia POLITICS PAGE 5

National Bank of Georgia Tightens Lending Regulations BUSINESS PAGE 9

PAGE 4-7

Will We Ever Get There? SOCIETY PAGE 12

Niels Scott Rounds Up his 5-year Tenure at the UNDP

Nicolas Namoradze – First Georgian to Win Honens International Piano Competition CULTURE PAGE 15



iels Scott, the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative and UNFPA Representative in Georgia of the past five years, has ended his tenure and this week headed off to his next position in Tripoli, Libya. We caught up with him quickly prior to his departure to get his take on Georgia past and present, and his outlook for the future of the country. “I was looking out the window as I was heading to work this morning at about 8:30 in the morning. What I saw looked like a really modern, bustling city, which unfortunately comes with a lot of traffic, but people were heading off to work and moving with a sense of purpose, thinking about the day ahead. That’s what symbolizes the biggest change for me of the past five years: Georgians have become more business-like in their approach to life but have still retained their poetic and romantic character. Continued on page 7

Georgian Judoka Tushishvili Becomes World Champion SPORTS PAGE 15

Source: rovingsnails.com





Georgian Fine Arts Museum to Open to Public from October 2 BY THEA MORRISON


he Georgian Fine Arts Museum had a soft opening on Rustaveli Avenue on September 26. Over 3500 works of wellknown Georgian artists of the last 80 years will be exhibited in the museum, which have been collected by collectors Gia Jokhtaberidze and Manana Shevardnadze in the family private collection over 20 years. Art pieces belong to the period from 1945 to the present day. Among the exhibits, visitors can see the works of Apolon Kutateladze, Korneli Sanadze, Natela Iankoshvili, Edmond Kalandadze, Sergo Parajanov, Jibson Khundadze, Albert Dilbarian, Zurab Nizharadze, Lev Baikakhiev, Givi Toidze, Tengiz Mirzashvili, Radish Tordia, Temo Japaridze, Gaiane Khachaturiani, Tamaz Khutsishvili, Gogi Chagelishvili and Irakli Parjiani.

Photo source: 1TV

The exhibition space is of 7,000 square meters and consists of three floors and 31 exhibition halls. The museum also has a storage facility equipped with the latest high-standard technologies that can keep 6,000 pictures. The building has a 120-room conference hall and an exhibition space for temporary expositions. The museum, which was built in the place of the former Artist's House on Tbilisi’s main artery road, besides the promotion of Georgian modern art, gives artists an opportunity to conduct research. Periodically, new works will be added to the existing, permanent exposure. An “Art House” complex has also been designed for guests of the museum, which combines restaurants, cafes, swimming pools, sauna, exercise hall and boutiques. There is also a three-story garage for 155 cars. Income received by the "Art House" will be spent on the development of the museum. People can visit the Georgian Fine Arts Museum from October 2, 2018.

Opposition Accuses Regulatory Commission of Censorship BY THEA MORRISON


eorgia’s opposition parties have criticized Georgia’s National Communications Commission (GNCC) after it requested the removal of the opposition’s pre-election videos about the presidential candidate Salome Zurabishvili, saying they were “inappropriate and insulting.” Zurabishvili is supported by the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party, and the opposition believes that by restricting videos about her, the GD is trying to prevent society from seeing the reality. The three videos depict Zurabishvili running away from reporters, making mistakes while talking in Georgian, and using inappropriate words and expressions. The GNCC sent letters to all broadcasters, demanding the removal of the videos. “The clips contain obscene content, regulated by Paragraph 4 of Article 54 of the Broadcasting Act, which prohibits pornography and violation of human dignity. The clips are considered indecent,” the GNCC stated, adding that if the TV stations to not obey their demands, they will be fined. The United Opposition, which has their own presidential candidate, held a briefing to say that the advertisements were not inappropriate as they depict the reality. “The videos show Zurabishvili speaking and using the words herself. We only showed this and nothing more…The decision of the GNCC means that the GD majority is doing their best to help Zurabishvili win,” Giorgi Vashadze, Chair of the New Georgia party stated, calling

on the authorities not to prevent them from carrying out their pre-election campaign. The European Georgia opposition also held a press-conference, accusing the GNCC of breaking the law. The party says it is censorship when they ask to remove only the videos where Zurabishvili is portrayed in a negative context. “The GNCC is a tool in the hands of the ruling party, in order to help them accomplish their political aims and make Zurabishvili President…This is political censorship,” Giga Bokeria, member of European Georgia, stressed. “Any broadcaster which obeys this absurd decision of the commission will restrict free political speech and become a supporter of Zurabishvili’s election campaign,” he added. Member of the GD majority, David Matikashvili, says he agrees with the decision of the Regulatory Commission. Matikashvili believes that the opposition parties are trying to discredit Zurabishvili, which, according to him, is wrong. “Salome Zurabishvili is the target of a black PR campaign... They [the opposi-

tion] want to take the presidential election in a destructive direction,” he stated. Kakha Bekauri, the chairman of the Georgian National Communications Commission, said that the GNCC had demanded the withdrawal of several political advertisements from TV companies due to “unethicality.” He says the decision of the commission is not connected to politics. “Three of the four political advertisements contain unethical expressions that are prohibited by Georgian legislation. This is a political advertisement, and according to the Law on Broadcasting, it is prohibited to launch inappropriate advertising. That is why we said that these advertisements cannot be broadcasted anymore,” said Bekauri. Rustavi 2 TV says they will not obey the decision of the GNCC and call on the other broadcasters not to remove opposition’s advertisements. “The Regulatory Commission exceeded their powers and tries to impose censorship. This is why we will continue to show videos,” Nika Gvaramia, Director General of Rustavi 2 TV station, stressed.





Latest Report on Air Quality in Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Batumi BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE


he National Environmental Agency (NEA) of the Ministry of Environment Protection and Agriculture of Georgia conducts continuous monitoring of atmospheric air quality using automated measurement stations. The most recent tests measured the concentration of eight pollutants in the atmosphere in Tbilisi, Batumi and Kutaisi. The NEA found the presence of all measured substances to be within normal levels, except for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and solid particle (PM10) concentrations. Specifically, concentrations of nitrogen dioxide were observed in Tbilisi on Tsereteli Avenue to be 1.4 times the annual average. On Abuseridze Street in Batumi, the NO2 was 1.5 times the annual average. The solid particle (PM10) concentration was observed on Tsereteli Avenue in Tbilisi to be 1.4 times the annual average, on Kazbegi Avenue and Asatiani streets in Kutaisi at 1.1 times the annual average, and on Abuseridze Street in Batumi – 1.2 times. The NEA is working to expand the scope of monitoring of lead in atmospheric air. Specialists have already started a weekly survey to determine a baseline quantity in Tbilisi. Last week, air samples were taken in four locations around the city: near the Philharmonic building, on Tamar Mepe and Kazbegi Avenues, and in Gldani’s first micro-district. The air samples were sent to a laboratory for evaluation. Results revealed that the lead content in the samples taken in all four locations did not exceed the permissible norms. Air quality monitoring is a priority for the NEA, and it is carried out continu-

ously. An online air quality monitoring information portal is currently being developed where the public will be able to get daily information about air quality immediately and consistently. Due to high public interest, the weekly survey will continue until the end of the current year. To determine the concentration of potentially harmful particles in Tbilisi’s air, including lead, specialists will select locations for samples to be taken in advance, and the results will be reflected in a single weekly report. The National Environmental Agency will publish its data on concentrations of contaminants in atmospheric air in Tbilisi daily on the agency's website: www.nea.gov.ge. On a weekly basis, details about atmospheric air quality across Georgia will also be available. Air quality is a continual subject of concern for residents of Georgia, especially in cities. The World Health Organization's (WHO) 2018 report ranked Georgia 70th in the number of deaths caused by air pollution – the worst in Europe. In July, Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze announced his new green economy concept. “The policy that Geor-

gia has had over recent decades has been completely unacceptable and brought us to very serious consequences. The main focus of the Green Economy concept is to protect the environment to improve the ecology of the country and maintain natural resources for future generations,” said Bakhtadze when he announced the concept. As part of the Green Economy, starting August 1 Georgia began implementing a standard air monitoring system modeled after European practices. The evaluation is based on the automatic monitoring network that was previously in place and is being expanded. A web portal will also be developed to allow citizens to receive regularly updated online information on the air quality in certain locations. Last week, the Georgian environmental non-profit EcoVision presented the results of their research on air quality in Tbilisi. EcoVision teamed up with the Committee on Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of the Parliament of Georgia to conduct a study on atmospheric air conditions in Tbilisi, finding dangerously high levels of small particles.

Georgia Ranked 7th in Economic Freedom 2018 BY SHAWN WAYNE

G Image source: National Environmental Agency

eorgia has been ranked 7th among 162 countries in the "Economic Freedom in the World" rating carried out by the Fraser Institute, an independent non-partisan research and educational organization based in Canada. The annual overall rating was developed by the Canadian institute along with independent researchers and educational institutions from more than 100 countries. "This positioning of Georgia in international ratings is very important. We have been improving for years; it is important that we steadily maintain our position among the freest countries in

the world," said Deputy Economy Minister Ekaterine Mikabadze after the presentation of the rating. The assessment of Georgia is a "respectable rating," she added, and an "important signal for investors and the international community." When creating the rating, five main indicators of countries were analyzed: the size of the government; protection of property rights and court; a firm monetary policy; freedom of international trade; regulation of loans, and employment and business. Leading in the ranking of "World Economic Freedom" in 2018 is Hong Kong, followed by Singapore and New Zealand. The top ten also includes: Switzerland, Ireland, the USA, Georgia, the Republic of Mauritius, the United Kingdom and Australia.





White Taxis to Be Mandatory in Tbilisi from 2019 BY THEA MORRISON Photo: Time Out

Tbilisi’s Sololaki Named among 50 Coolest Neighborhoods BY THEA MORRISON


ime Out editors and experts have revealed the 50 neighborhoods in the world, which travelers should visit this year. Along with the neighborhoods of London, Paris, Tokyo, Seoul, Strasbourg and many others, Tbilisi’s Sololaki is also listed as one of the most attractive places to visit in 2018. “Bars, restaurants and even clubs pop up in the neighborhood’s countless courtyards, letting the locals (often artists and musicians) add their personal touch. Locals and travelers alike frequent the many whimsical apartments-turnedcafés, which often double as live music venues,” the article reads.

It also says that visitors can experience Georgian polyphonic singing in the street, adding it is unlike anything else in the world, or see a performance on Sololaki’s vibrant jazz scene. “Sololaki is home to many famous landmarks and tourist attractions, its cobblestone streets maintain an air of mystery,” the article says. The media outlet gives recommendations to visit famous sulphur baths on Meidani Square, some of which are open almost 24 hours for late-night soaking. It also suggests visiting the restaurant Ezo, which serves delicious, traditional Georgian dishes in one of Sololaki’s characteristic Italian yards, or checking out the bar Zoestan, owned by a French musician who has lived in Georgia for over a decade, which is a comfortable, no-nonsense bar famous for live music, reasonable prices and quirky decor.

Twenty-Five Years Since the Fall of Sokhumi



wenty-fiveyearshavepassed since Georgia lost control over its Russian-occupied territory of Abkhazia (Sokhumi). This day has different meanings for Georgians and Abkhazians, as the latter celebrate the “day of gaining independence from Georgia” and the former commiserate a loss by lowering flags on state institutions across the country. In September of 1993, the Abkhazian Guards, an armed formation created by the Head of Abkhazia’s High Council, Vladislav Ardzinba, violated the ceasefire agreement and opened fire on the National Guards of Georgia, who had entered Abkhazia in order to protect the Sochi-Inguri part of the Georgian railway. The State Council of Georgia decided to send the National Guards to Abkhazia, with Ardzinba’s consent, on August 11, 1992. In spite of the agreement, the Abkhazian Guards confronted Georgia’s National Guards and war soon followed. Military activities lasted 13 months and 13 days

and ended with the fall of Sokhumi on September 27, 1993. On September 27, Georgian soldiers were forced to leave the city. Abkhaz forces stormed the government building and took members of the local government as hostages. Many of them were shot shortly after. Abkhaz forces took full control of the territory on September 30. In the lead up to the fall of Sokhumi, part of the civilian population fled the city by sea, while the majority fled by foot through the Kodori Gorge in the mountains, where many died of cold and starvation. Around 10,000 civilians died as a result of the ethnic cleansing, and more than 300,000 became refugees. The conflict remains unsolved, and the regime in Abkhazia refuses to allow for the return of the refugees to their homes. At present, the Russian Federation is exercising its power in breakaway Abkhazia, after occupying 20% of Georgian territories in the wake of the GeorgiaRussia August war in 2008. Georgian ministers and officials visited the Memorial of Fallen Heroes in Tbilisi and paid tribute to those soldiers who lost their lives for the unity of their homeland.


rom October 1, 2019, all taxis in the capital of Georgia must be white. The decision was made by the City Hall and announced by Mayor Kakha Kaladze on Wednesday. “Some visual standards for taxis in the capital will be mandatory from October 1, 2019. We have had a lot of discussions about the color. We decided on white as the mandatory color for Tbilisi taxis from October next year,” he said, adding that three-door vehicles as well as right-handdrive vehicles will not be allowed to provide this service. The Mayor called on all taxi drivers to apply for the mandatory registration launched on August 1, which must be completed by November 2018. “More than 6,200 licenses have been issued. Providing the service without a license will be impossible from October 1. There will be a very strict attitude towards those who do not have the license – a 200 GEL fine,” Kaladze said. Taxi drivers who want a permit to taxi need to fill in the online application at

www.taxi.tbilisi.gov.ge and afterwards pay a one-year permit fee of 50 GEL for hybrid vehicles, 100 GEL for ordinary cars. There is no charge for eco-friendly electronic vehicles. A permit-seeker who has already passed authorization then needs to indicate the unique taxi code and registration number of the vehicle, after which the vehicle will be reflected in the applicant’s personal space, creating an electronic application for permission.

The applicant will then receive an invoice stateing the registration fee, which can be paid online or at the bank. The permit will be issued only in electronic form, upon payment of the fee. The permit certificate, which the driver receives electronically, contains the following data: the driver's photo, driver's name and surname, permit number, date of issue of the permit and validity period, state number of vehicle, model of transport, and a fast feedback code (QR code).

“The Other Way” in Inclusive Dance BY MARIAM MERABISHVILI


he British Council continues to cooperate with the Tbilisi International Theater festival and with its support, the Tbilisi Inclusive Dance company presented its first performance ‘The Other way’ on September 27 at the Marjanishvili Theater. The troupe consists of persons of limited capabilities as well as able-bodied dancers. The main idea of the performance is the expression of experiences, and the stages of inner transformation resulting from traumas and difficulties, through dance and motion. A synthesis of improvisation, dancing and live music is used in the staging. After the performance, the audience was able to talk not only with the troupe members and the choreographer Keti Zazanashvili, but with Ellie Douglas, the Candoco Dance Company Learning Producer who was invited especially for the occasion.

Zazanashvili and several wheelchair users were actively involved in the British Council program "Unlimited opportunities: Taking the right step” aiming to raise awareness about disabled people. British Council’s Culture & Development: Unlimited in Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Ukraine aims to explore models of good practice and develop partnerships to (a) create a network for disabled arts practitioners and presenters/producers and (b) establish a series of cross-country public platforms (including digital) for disability arts development, production and training which will bring disabled people to the center of the planning and policy-making processes, challenge social attitudes by exposing audiences to integrated arts practice and, ultimately influence social policy and legislation. Events implemented within the program so far: 21 September 2017 - Barbara Lisicki, a trainer from Shape, the disability-led arts organization, conducted an access audit at the Rustaveli and Marjanishvili

theaters. Recommendations prepared by B. Lisicki will help to improve accessibility for disabled audiences as well as for disabled artists. 22 September 2017 - Lisicki conducted a workshop for theater professionals in Georgia. The aim of the workshop was to share the UK experience in the area of venue accessibility. 30 September 2017 - Deaf Men Dancing, an all-male deaf dance company with a fusion of different dance styles incorporating British Sign-Language, performed at the TBS International. 31 October - 2 November 2017 – Candoco’s Dance Lab 1 for Georgian dancers interested in inclusive dance was organized in partnership with Marjanishvili Theater, Tbilisi. 18 - 20 April 2018 – Candoco’s Dance Lab 2 (as above). “We hope that submission of integrated art models to the audience will contribute to changes in social approaches, which will positively affect the public's attitude and ultimately influences social policy and legislation,” the British Council states.





Georgia: Geography & Relations with Russia BY EMIL AVDALIANI


ooking at Georgia’s position from a larger, regional perspective, one could think that the country is in most part defended by large geographic features. On both the western and eastern sides, you have the Black and Caspian seas (although Georgia does not border the latter), which have served Georgia well, as no foreign invader ever came by sea (well, aside from the legendary Greeks searching for that golden fleece). To the north, there are the Caucasus Mountains, through which it is extremely difficult to enter. Thus, the only natural invasion route into Georgia has been to the south, where the Lesser Caucasus Mountains lie but do not represent an insurmountable geographic feature. This might suggest that Georgia’s position is actually enviable, but the reality is different. Although no-one thus far has invaded from the Black and Caspian seas, the two have been essentially closed to larger transoceanic trade. This did not create a need on the Georgian side to ever create a trade fleet (the defense of which might have later resulted in the creation of a military fleet) and as such, Georgia has historically remained cut off from European naval developments. The seas and mountains also diminished the ability of the Georgians to gain more territories, as there was simply no land to expand to except for a rugged southern flank. This context is important for understanding why, throughout the centuries,

Georgia developed the way it did, especially so in its relations with Russia and other neighboring countries. Although the majority in Georgia regard Russia negatively, its geographic proximity to Georgia forces the country into economic relations. Georgia’s location allows Tbilisi to be a regional transit hub, and it can’t afford to be oriented towards only one country. This also does not preclude Georgia and Russia from talking to each other and fostering said economic relations. The non-existence of diplomatic relations as well as fundamental differences regarding Abkhazia and Samachablo (South Ossetia) does not stop the Georgian government from creating closer economic contacts with Russian businesses. It could be argued that Georgia is pursuing a clever strategy of positioning itself not as an anti-Russian state, but also not abandoning its pro-western course. The ideal scenario for Tbilisi is when all the neighboring countries have a stake in the security of Georgia. In addition, large players such as China, with its Belt and Road Initiative, the EU, the US and others are also involved in the economics of the country, creating a certain balance in the region. This is a strategy that Georgian rulers have pursued throughout centuries: playing one big dominant neighbor against the other. The history of Georgia also teaches that the country might be enemies with a neighboring state, but geopolitics can at times mean Georgia still has to maintain relations. This is especially so nowadays, in an era of increasing interconnectedness where neighboring rival countries

Image source: maps-of-the-world.net

cannot ignore economic cooperation. Economic interconnectedness through supply chains eventually breaks down large geographic and Man-made barriers like those, for instance, created between Samachablo and the rest of Georgia. What is the future of Georgian-Russian relations? How far could cooperation go? These are too big to answer, but it

nevertheless shows that Tbilisi and Moscow have much to talk about. Both could cooperate in the security realms as well as deepening economic ties. However, this potential limited cooperation doesn't guarantee a rosy picture for the future of Russia-Georgia relations. Moscow is very unlikely to give up on its policy towards Samachablo and Abkhazia, while Tbilisi will remain on prin-

ciple pushing for keeping its territorial integrity. Moreover, Russia has issues with Georgia’s pro-western course, as it endangers Russia’s geopolitical goals in the Caucasus. These fundamental problems will cap any improvements in relations, which brings to mind the current essentially frozen state of relations between the two countries.

Shevtsova on the Tsunami of Change in Russia to Crimea [a previous holiday destination] and choose Georgia instead, but not Abkhazia, as it's too controversial. They say Georgia is the most hospitable nation. I’ve been to Georgia twice with my children. Georgian hospitality changes the moods of Russians towards Georgia and that’s important.



n September 11-12, 2018, the McCain Institute and the Economic Policy Research Center (EPRC) co-hosted the 4th annual Tbilisi International Conference in the Georgian capital. This year’s title was “World in 2018: Upside Down?” The conference brought together regional experts on security issues, Georgian policymakers, civil society activists, and representatives in the private sector “with a view toward keeping Georgia high on the transatlantic agenda and keeping Georgia on track in its democratic progress and transatlantic aspirations.” At the conference, GEORGIA TODAY spoke to Dr Lilia Shevtsova, an Associate Fellow with the Russia and Eurasia Program at Chatham House, a prominent and worldwide respected scholar when it comes to Russia and the former USSR. She was also the founding chair of the Davos World Economic Forum Council on Russia’s Future. We quizzed her on that future, what it will take for Russia to get there, and how Georgia will fit into it.

AT THE CONFERENCE, YOU MENTIONED HOW THE PERCEPTION OF GEORGIA HAS CHANGED OVER THE YEARS IN RUSSIA. HOW AND WHY? Russians have become less anti-Western and for me it was a puzzle because 68%

THIS MIGHT CHANGE THE PERCEPTION OF RUSSIAN TOURISTS BUT HOW MUCH CAN IT AFFECT THE PERCEPTION UP THERE IN THE KREMLIN? I’m not sure that the Georgians, Ukrainians nor Russians themselves can change the Kremlin’s view of the world much but we have to understand the logic: Putin cannot backtrack on what he has done and you understand the cycle of such dictatorial people: if you backtrack, you lose face.

WOULD YOU AGREE HIS REFUSAL TO BACKTRACK IS WHAT HOLDS HIM IN POWER? of Russians, in this year of sanctions and anti-Western hysteria, demand a normal relationship with the West, and the Russian attitude towards Americans has become much better. Before, it was a 20% positive attitude, but this August 42% showed a positive attitude to the West and, in this context, the perception of Georgia has changed. In 2009, 62% [of Russians] thought of Georgia as an enemy; of course, the result of the hysteria, the Kremlin policy and the

war as shown on Russian TV. Now, though, only around seven or eight percent of Russians considers Georgia an enemy; so people do change their attitudes and when I walk on Tbilisi streets, I see many tourists from Russia. Russians are occupying Tbilisi but these are Russian tourists, not tanks.


MARKET IS UNRELIABLE, THAT ANY CHANGE TO OUR RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA CAN NEGATIVELY AFFECT THE WINE OR TOURISM MARKETS HERE I do believe that Georgians are much smarter in this policy than Russians because they open their borders, airports, restaurants, apartments, and houses to Russians, and so the perception has changed. In Russia, I know several families who don’t want to go

I would agree but at the same time look at the Russian President: he seems to me, I'm using the term “impotent omnipotence,” meaning that while he has the control, at the same time he's constantly shooting himself in the foot. Take the Skripal case- he lost so much; the pension reform in fact killed his own electorate base; Ukraine - how to get out of that? Syria - supporting Assad. So, on the one hand his policies give tactical gains but on the other hand they bring strategic disaster. Continued on page 7





A Law-Breaker or a Simple Researcher? Tokarev on his Deportation EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE


t the beginning of the month, the South Caucasus Media Forum organized by the Russian Presidential Foundation in Tbilisi became a hot topic, not least because a large part of society labeled the event a tool of Kremlin propaganda, with many of the Russians set to speak notorious for openly supporting the Kremlin narrative. No less furor was caused by the fact that three Russian speakers were refused entry to Georgia, as the Ministry of Internal Affairs stated, due to the violation Article 3 of the Law on Occupied Territories. One of those speakers is a scholar from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, Alexei Tokarev, who claimed that his deportation had no connection to law or politics and that the border guards merely confused him with an NTV journalist. GEORGIA TODAY spoke to Tokarev to find out more. “Of course, I knew the forum was funded by the Russian Presidential Foundation, something I personally have nothing to do with: I represent the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO); I am a scholar. As far as I know, the foundation does not force anyone to talk in favor of or against anything, including Kremlin policies. The funds of the foundation are spent on flights, hotels and similar organizational issues, but nobody is instructed on what to say and what not to. Paramount is the fact that this foundation does not carry out antiGeorgian propaganda. And while some of my colleagues might support what you’ve called ‘the Kremlin narrative,’ in my opinion, journalism – the issue we were going to talk about – makes it possible to listen to different sides, different opinions. I thought we would have discussions about this with the representatives of the Georgian media. I don’t think this event should have become a mouthpiece of the Kremlin policy.”


THAT WOULD NOT BE HARD TO FIND OUT. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT RUSSIA'S POLICY IN ABKHAZIA AND SAMACHABLO [TSKHINVALI REGION, “SOUTH OSSETIA”]? There are many issues on which I personally disagree with the Kremlin. Myself, alongside other experts such as Sergei Markedonov, Nikolai Silaev, and Andrei Soushentsov, are all adequate, dare I say, competent people and we study the topic of Georgia. And, of course, we examine this policy critically in our research. Imagining that I, as an MGIMO scholar, would go out to a rally and start screaming “Russia without Putin, the Kremlin is deceiving us!” and so on is nonsense. We are academic researchers and we criticize what we disapprove of in forms that are accept-

able to us. I cannot tell you that I fully support the Kremlin's policy in these regions; on the contrary, I have critical opinions and some advice on how this policy could be better implemented.

WOULD YOU SAY THAT WHAT RUSSIA IS DOING IN GEORGIA AMOUNTS TO OCCUPATION? What we have here is the recognition of two independent states by Russia, which happened following military conflicts and after a period of Russia firmly supporting Georgia's sovereignty for 25 years. I certainly would not call it occupation. If the fact that I do not agree with the term occupation, that I emphasize that Russia has recognized Abkhazia after 25 years of unsuccessful support for Georgia's sovereignty, after the blockade of Abkhazia, only after yet another military conflict - if all this makes me a Kremlin propagandist, then I agree to be presented as a disseminator of the Kremlin propaganda.

25 YEARS OF SUPPORT OF THE GEORGIAN SOVEREIGNTY FROM RUSSIA? DO YOU NOT THINK THAT WHAT RUSSIA ACTUALLY DID WAS UNDERMINE GEORGIA’S SOVEREIGNTY? From 1991 to 2008, all Russian officials confirmed that they recognized Georgia's sovereignty over these territories. There are complaints about us: for example, we have distributed passports and it is mentioned in the Tagliavini report as one of the factors that contributed to the conflict. On the other hand, yes, we supported the Georgian sovereignty - an example of this is Abkhazia's blockade, and the Abkhazians still remember it and it remains a black spot in the Russia-Abkhaz relations. In addition, Russia committed itself to being a true peacekeeper and Russian peacekeepers were stationed there. I remember the photo in which President Yeltsin is holding the hands of both President Shevardnadze and President Ardzinba and I think it is a very symbolic and powerful image. In addition, I would like to highlight another important fact that no one seems to bring up anymore: Russia was the mediator in the process of transferring power during the Rose Revolution; Igor Ivanov, the Russian Foreign Minister, made Saakashvili, Zhvania and Burjanadze on the one hand and Shevardnadze on the other, sit at the negotiating table. Ivanov rooted for Georgian statehood when Aslan Abashidze left for Moscow with him. Russia also contributed to strengthening Georgian sovereignty in Adjara. I’m sure you remember the situation in Adjara back then – they did not pay taxes, the customs service answered only to Abashidze, who had his own Armed Forces, and Adjara was actually not a region, but a fiefdom of sorts.


No, because Georgia is a sovereign country and it is fully entitled to decide who it wants to allow entry to or not. No-one can deprive you of this right and I do not have any complaints here. As for the Soviet Union, there is a good Soviet Union and a bad Soviet Union. I will give the example of stupid Soviet provincialism - one of the Georgian journalists, I will not mention his name here, first alerted the authorities about my supposed “wrongdoings”, and then came over all swashbuckling onto my Facebook page and insulted me and my country - this really is Soviet provincialism.

DO NOT YOU FIND IT IRONIC WHEN THE REPRESENTATIVES OF THE COUNTRY CONSIDERED BY THE DEVELOPED WORLD AS THE IDEOLOGICAL HEIR OF THE SOVIET UNION, ACCUSE OTHERS OF HAVING A SOVIET MENTALITY? I cannot judge Mr. Malashenko's statements - he said what he thinks. As for the Soviet Union, I think it is appropriate to mention President Vladimir Putin's famous quote here: “Whoever does not miss the Soviet Union has no heart. Whoever wants it back has no brain.” This phrase perfectly expresses my position. I do not think Russia wants to restore the Soviet Union because the Soviet Union cannot be restored.

DO YOU CONSIDER THE COLLAPSE OF THE SOVIET UNION A TRAGEDY? This was a huge tragedy for my people: 25 million Russians broken into pieces by the collapse of the Union. Of course, there were black spots in Soviet history, such as the Stalin repressions, but at the same time, it was a country that won the most important war in human history and was the first to open the window into space. History does not consist of black-and-white images: it should be perceived as a whole. I accept the history of my country as it is; you, the Georgians, are trying to cut out the Soviet past and I don’t think it's right. In my opinion, Armenians go about it in a much more reasonable manner: they had the first republic, then the second, the Soviet republic and now they have a third republic. They do not turn a blind eye to their own past.

I DISAGREE THAT GEORGIANS ARE TRYING TO CUT OUT THE SOVIET PAST OR ARE IGNORING IT. ON THE CONTRARY, WE TRY OUR BEST TO REMIND THE NEXT GENERATIONS OF WHAT KIND OF EVIL THE SOVIET UNION WAS As I said, the Soviet past has its black period, such as when the Soviet machine destroyed its own people. This was madness and a totalitarian regime and there is nothing good in it. But you ignore the

fact that afterwards, this regime won the main war of Mankind and 16 years later sent the first person into space. This is the glory of the Soviet Union that we cannot ignore. As for the fact that you do not deny this past, I disagree. You have the Museum of Soviet Occupation, where a photo exhibits how the Bolsheviks demolished the Cathedral in Kutaisi. I cannot justify this action and the same thing happened here: in 1934, the Cathedral of the Savior in Moscow was destroyed. But in the same museum, there was no place for the photo showing Mikheil Saakashvili's government demolishing the memorial of the Soviet soldiers in the same Kutaisi in 2006. Why? It was the war in which we all fought together. The photo where the Bolsheviks destroy the cathedral found its place in this museum, and it tells us about the horrors of the Soviet era, and the photo where Saakashvili and the Nationals destroy another monument is nowhere in sight. This makes it a propaganda museum. I do not think that the destruction of the past and monuments is the right thing to do.

LET’S RETURN TO YOUR DEPORTATION AND THE REASONS FOR IT. WERE THEY EXPLAINED TO YOU? I don’t know why they didn’t let me in. As far as I know from my sources, the opposition party European Georgia demanded that Alexander Tokarev, NTV journalist, not be allowed to enter Georgia. Afterwards, madness ensued: no one checked anything and ultimately it was me, Aleksey Tokarev, who was not allowed to enter Georgia instead of Alexander Tokarev. We have the same surnames, but I do not know the man. The Georgian policemen who carried out our deportation were very polite. They even apologized and I have no complaints about them. They themselves had no idea what was going on. I have the impression it was a political gesture, but I cannot understand what I am guilty of because I have never been detained before, I was not involved in propaganda and I have traveled nine times to Georgia without any issue and have met a lot of people there.

THE MINISTRY SAID THE REASON FOR YOUR DEPORTATION WAS A VIOLATION OF THE LAW ON OCCUPIED TERRITORIES. DID YOU VIOLATE THIS LAW OR WAS IT ALEXANDER TOKAREV? First of all, there is no such law: what you have is a legal norm that you use for political purposes. When any political party wants to score political points, it is then this leverage is used and people are not allowed to enter the country. A law is something that is mandatory for everyone and is applied to everyone: this is not a law. Second: one cannot study Georgia and post-Soviet conflicts and not to

go to Abkhazia and South Ossetia, especially if you want to be a good researcher and understand the position of both sides.

WHY DID YOU AND YOUR COLLEAGUES NOT ENTER ABKHAZIA VIA GEORGIA? NO ONE WOULD HAVE REFUSED YOU, AND YOU WOULD NOT HAVE HAD TO BREAK THE LAW I can only answer for myself: it is a matter of principle from the perspective of the Georgian authorities. For the first time in five years I was not let in, for a made-up reason. After this incident a number of Georgians, whom I did not know, swamped my Facebook page: an ill-mannered, rude crowd insulting me, my country and its government. They rejoiced at the fact I was not let in and also had a bit of a fascist lean about them. It’s nothing but foolishness to attack a person who does not spread propaganda, who has never said that Georgia should be divided, who has never expressed opinions against you, who does not call for the invasion of Tbilisi with tanks. You cannot find any such statement in my writings.

THERE ARE SCREENSHOTS ON YOUR FACEBOOK ACCOUNT WHICH SHOW YOU IN SOKHUMI AT THAT TIME. THIS IS THE SAME FACEBOOK PAGE WHERE YOU EXPRESSED YOUR FRUSTRATION OVER THE DEPORTATION AND WHERE, AS YOU SAY, GEORGIANS VERBALLY ASSAULTED YOU. I congratulate Georgian social media users if they have nothing better to do than dig into my Facebook account. I am overwhelmed by your attention to my Facebook status. I, personally, am more interested in how to maintain the relationship with those Georgian people who have in the past met me with open arms.

DID YOU BREAK THE LAW OR NOT? Georgian media and Georgian politicians are knotting up a big lie about this. An NDI survey shows that only 12% of the population is concerned about the relationship with Russia and the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Their main concern is poverty, unemployment and a weak economy. As to the law, I do not consider it a law, because I've been to Georgia nine times and no-one was worried about it. The fact that an academic researcher is asked where he has been in order to study a conflict is complete idiocy. Do you want to severe the remaining threads between two peoples? Yes, from a tactical perspective, it is bad for me and I feel very bad because of this, but from a strategic perspective, it will be Georgia’s loss. The relationship between the two countries will worsen by tearing even this one thread.





Niels Scott Rounds Up his 5-year Tenure at the UNDP Continued from page 1

It made me think of the Mediterranean combined with the Northern-European. There’s a real sense that development is happening, and changes can be seen.”

ON THE POLITICS Territorial integrity is one issue that needs to be dealt with sooner rather than later- we can’t just keep throwing around the blame; people must assume some responsibility and then try to work together to solve the issues. We’re already at a point now where the political agreements being looked at are subsidiary to actual livelihoods, to the people who have been caught up in it for 25 years now. The time has come for change. It’s not the fault of the 250,000 people who were displaced or marginalized, and while not everyone is still aspiring to return, I’d say the good majority I’ve met do. But they need guarantees of security, decent living conditions, tolerance. Given those guarantees, they would go back and begin their lives anew. People in Abkhazia don’t wake up in the morning and think: “We want to make a political agreement today,” they think “we’ve got to get bread on the table to feed our families.” We need to make sure the gains can be safeguarded- livelihoods, economy and trade- so that the people will one day be willing to take a more positive look at that political agreement. I’m looking at a 5-year span for this. It’s been a pleasure to be a back-seat driver in advice-giving. The Georgian government is firmly in the driving seat, as it should be, and of course can take and use the advice we give as they will. It’s very difficult running a country and is something I’ve never done myself. You need to appreciate the multiple demands on those running the country, and when you give advice, you have to

accept the fact that it isn’t necessarily as easy as you might think to implement it. With the current state of affairs, like the Geneva International Discussions, we need to ease off on the political side and look at new ideas moving forward. The old formulas don’t work. We’ve got to start thinking in terms of some sort of reconciliation process where people take responsibility and admit their mistakes but also start to engage in solutions, like trade. The government has come up with a very good packet of measures for encouraging trade across the boundary lines. It would be great to have that happen. My main concern is with the people. It’s simply not fair that they should be isolated or internally displaced or marginalized.

ON REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT I remember one head of state, when met at the plane by President Margvelashili, asked him: “Do you want to be rich or do you want to be happy?” The logical answer was, of course, “both.” But it’s not always that easy. Poverty, be it in Georgia or any country, is a substantial barrier to sustainable development. There are differences in the standards of living between those established in Tbilisi and those who live in the countryside. If we see no changes, migration will continue, eating away at the point of life. Migrants live on the edges of society and don’t have the same opportunities. We need to develop the countryside to make it a place they would want to live in. I’ll give the example of Ireland here. The GDP per capita before it joined the EU was the same as that of Georgia today- it had the same kind of population made up of the same agrarian society engaged in non-industrialized farming. There came a realization that a large amount of people was employed in agriculture, and that agriculture wasn’t

hugely productive, being mainly made up of small-holdings. They realized that to turn it around, they would have to offer those in the countryside compensation. You only need one person and a tractor to work a hectare, not seven. So agricultural processing was encouraged, and tax incentives were given to companies to train and then benefit from a new labor market. The Irish government focused a lot on vocational education (VE), introducing a plan that everyone subscribed to. You can have the best plan in the world, but it will fail if no-one believes in it. VE is one area that Georgia has yet to achieve in. In Switzerland and Germany, VE is common currency. One obstacle is that parents need to accept that their children might want non-academic jobs. Parents may not understand IT, for example, but they have to trust their children, and trust the educational system to prepare them adequately for employment that might not necessarily be in an academic direction. It’s a big ask right now, and such professionalism is not valued as highly as it should be. Employers also need to realize the value of VE, and to appreciate the gains that come from investing in employee training. I see more and more small businesses seeing the value of VE, though. Lots of market research is being done, good business plans made, employers engaging in trying to develop their staff. I wouldn’t say there’s been a massive overhaul to date, but there is clear progress. The UN has invested massively in VE. Study tours to Switzerland, for example, open the eyes of Georgian businesses of the need to train and develop employees. The EU is also contributing immensely to providing sound technical advice to Georgian institutions, based on its own experience.


To address environmental challenges, there comes a need to pool together in a sectoral way- not health, education, or economic growth, but a unity of all. Around one in four people in Tbilisi are under 20 – it’s a very young population. And upper respiratory tract infections are suffered more by the young here, likely as a result of unprocessed car emissions. Such infections mean the youth miss school, don’t get the qualifications they need, can’t get the jobs, and this affects the economy and the means to address the root cause of the environmental issues. A lot is being done; there are a lot of new ideas in terms of creating green spaces, good initiatives to address the urban sprawl. Parking in the city center, the development of public transportthese are issues still needing to be addressed, and it is an expensive endeavor. Change needs courage and you have to make tough decisions. You can’t please everybody all the time. To achieve the balance mentioned above- not just rich, not just happy, but both, you have to make changes that may be painful for people. But if you explain to them

why you’re doing it, they will come to see that in the long run it makes sense. And a big argument for change is the next generation.

ON THE FUTURE The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals is a pledge we have made to the next generation. It’s a very compelling argument here in Georgia and I think people understand that. It applies to the little things as well as the large – the plastic bags, water management, subregional energy cooperation, and always education, education, education. Georgia fought very hard for its freedom. Georgia has every incentive to maintain that freedom – not only territorial freedom but the freedom for people to aspire to have decent lives, balanced growth, to make sure nobody is left behind, that people in remote mountain areas aren’t forced to go to towns to work because they have no other choice, to make sure people, regardless of where they’re born or where the come from, have the same access to healthcare. I leave optimistic that Georgia is heading in the right direction.

Shevtsova on the Tsunami of Change in Russia Continued from page 5

YOU ONCE COMPARED PUTIN TO THE ROMAN EMPEROR NERO. IT WAS COMMON PRACTICE FOR ROMAN EMPERORS TO PICK A SUCCESSOR WELL BEFORE ABDICATION OR ASSASSINATION. WE’RE NOT SEEING THAT TREND IN PUTIN’S REIGN. WHY? New times have brought some modification to this kind of reproduction of power. Putin is likely wondering who can secure his tenure and guarantee his legacy after he is gone. But he is reluctant to point at any one person, most likely to avoid the potential loss of supporters who would gather around his chosen successor after his doing so.

This kind of power and system doesn't tolerate any kind of old king-young prince system. There will be no new Medvedev because Medvedev was a temporary solution, while the new Russian President, to legitimize his power, will need to pull down the past and offer it up as a sacrifice, as all Emperors did. [Answer edited for clarity].


don't have an answer but at the same time are very skeptical about many things regarding Russia’s trajectory. Looking at the younger generation last Sunday on Moscow’s streets and looking on the web at these teens and people in their twenties in Ekaterinburg, in Petersburg, I do believe that there is a new Russia. I don't know how big it is but even this 68% of Russians who want good relations with the West could be the soil for it. The problem that has emerged is the elite, which has always been the engine of change: in Russia, the elite is much worse than general society and is blocking all change, it's the most cynical of them all and is not ready for something new.


THEY PICTURE AS THE NEW RUSSIA, THEY MIGHT POINT TO NAVALNY. IS HE THE MAN TO BRING THE CHANGE? I belong to the generation of liberals who have apparently been too idealistic, looking for the perfect man, but I have to admit that even thinking critically about some of Navalny’s rhetoric, I do recognize that he is the only representative of their position who has the courage and charisma to become the leader of the new tribe, of the new tsunami that is coming, and he's the only person who can create a network across Russia: so far he's the only player on our lonely stage and he has to be supported.


OSSETIA ARE INDEPENDENT STATES, THAT CRIMEA SHOULD HAVE RETURNED TO RUSSIA. THESE ARE QUESTIONS OF PARAMOUNT IMPORTANCE TO GEORGIANS Navalny is a hypothetical option, but in your question I see some concerns and worries that I share. As yet, Navalny has not been leading the tide; he's trying to understand what is popular. He’s a populist and he’s trying to press the buttons of nationalism, which is of course disastrous. This is the problem that we have to deal with, but it seems to me that he is evolving, and he doesn't know how to react to many challenges. He may change his views, and other options may come along. A tsunami is going to rise, and god knows who will be driving it.

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ADB to Expand $1.5 Bln Investment Portfolio in Georgia BY THEA MORRISON


he Asian Development Bank (ADB) is to expand its 1.5 billion investment portfolio in Georgia. The issue was raised at the meeting of the Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, Giorgi Kobulia, and the ADB Resident Mission Country Director, Yesim Elhan-Kayalar on September 26. Kobulia stated later that the meeting was very positive since numerous key issues were covered during the conversation. According to him, the ADB’s investments in Georgia amount up to S3 billion while at this point, the investment portfolio is $1.5 billion.

“In fact, this sum makes up 10% of our GDP. The ADB is still planning to expand this portfolio – we discussed the possibility of increasing the ADB participation in our energy sector as well as its support in the pension reform and PPP Law implementation,” he stated. The sides also discussed active support of the ADB towards SME development in Georgia. “The ADB will provide technical and financial assistance to the SMEs in the regions in order to improve connectivity between the different businesses – for example, between the hotels and producers of the food and beverages. The ADB will also allocate money for the SMEs, allowing them to produce different product or even build new hotels,” he added.

Ex-PM Kvirikashvili Becomes EBRD Advisor BY THEA MORRISON


eorgia’s ex-Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili was appointed as an international adviser to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

The Information was released by the media outlet BMG. As Kvirikashvili told BMG, he will help the Uzbek government create a dialogue platform between public and private structures. According to him, the contract with EBRD has been signed several weeks ago. Kvirikshvili held the post of Prime Minister of Georgia from December 30,

2015 to June 13, 2018. Prior to that he was the Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development from October 25, 2012 until September 1, 2015. He was also a Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1 September 2015 until 30 December 2015, and Deputy Prime Minister from 26 July 2013 until December 30, 2015.





National Bank of Georgia Tightens Lending Regulations BY THEA MORRISON


rom November 1, 2018, the decree of the President of the National Bank of Georgia (NBG) enters into force, which means the additional restrictions will be activated on issuing loans in the country. The NBG says that after tightening rules on lending, the banks will not be allowed to give their clients loans if they are not sure the client will be able to pay back. The regulations apply to any entrepreneurial entity where more than 20 individuals have a loan or credit obligations. The project reads that it is unacceptable that the financial institution issue a loan without a detailed analysis of the revenue, expenses and liabilities of the borrower in order to assess if the borrower is capable of paying back the debt. According to the changes, financial institutions should issue loans based on a client solvency study. In addition, loan services (PTI) and provision (LTV) coefficients should not exceed the maximum norms established by the National Bank. The total amount of loans must not exceed 25% of the supervisory capital of commercial banks and the total amount of loans guaranteed by real estate must not exceed 15 percent of the bank’s supervisory capital without an analysis of the

TBC Bank Signs Loan Agreement 30 mln with EIB

Photo source: Finagent.am

client’s solvency, while the loan-to-value ratio must not exceed 50 percent. Depending on the provision of loan for individuals, the maximum amount of loan coefficient will be determined by the monthly income of the borrower. For example, if a person has GEL 1000 salary, he/she should not spend 20% of the salary to be able to pay back the loan, i.e., the loan amount coefficient should not exceed 200 GEL. The same rules apply to customers whose income is from 1000 to 3000 GEL or GEL 3000-5000. However, if the borrower's income is between 5,000 - 7,000 GEL, the maximum

amount of lending must not exceed 25% of the monthly income. According to the draft project, with incomes from 7,000 to 10 000 GEL, the loan amount should not exceed 30% of the income. In case the borrower’s income exceeds GEL 10,000 a month, then it is up to the financial organization to decide what amount of loan to allocate. According to the provisions of the regulations, it tightens rules for lending by guaranteeing real estate. In particular, such a loan is issued if the borrower owns more than one residential property and, at the same time, these properties are not on lease.


BC Bank and the European Investment Bank (EIB) signed a loan agreement of EUR 30 million. Resource maturity is five years and it will be used to finance small and medium businesses. “We are pleased to have such a successful partnership with the European Investment Bank. This is the fourth transaction our institutions have implemented since 2012. Resources will be used for financing small and medium enterprises, which will further strengthen TBC Bank's position in this segment in

Georgia,” said the Bank's General Director, Vakhtang Butskhrikidze. With the financing of TBC Bank, the EIB promotes the implementation of the goal of EU foreign policy to stabilize and support the private sector in the Eastern Partnership region. “With this transaction, support for long-term financing for Georgian small and medium-sized enterprises is on the up, which will have a positive impact on their growth and competitiveness; more jobs will be created and the Georgian economy will grow,” said EIB Vice President Vazil Hudakim.





Phasis Oil Refinery in Kulevi: Innovative Tech will Tackle Environmental & Ecological Problems BY MARIAN SIDAMONIDZE


HASIS Oil company plans to build a high-technology oil refinery in Kulevi. Intense negotiations are underway with Spanish Technicas Reunidas regarding the construction, as it has participated in the building of more than 300 refineries worldwide. PHASIS OIL has also signed a memorandum on operating and management of the refinery with another experienced Spanish company, CEPSA, which owns three oil refineries in Spain. The oil refinery construction will have no harmful impact on the environment because PHASIS OIL plans to make use of the Isotherm technology of the world’s recognized chemical concern DuPont, a process whereby crude oil is 100% processed, leaving no solid waste and resulting in ecologically clean EURO5 standard petrol and diesel. The company developed this technology especially for oil refineries several years ago and established it in the USA. The Kulevi oil refinery will enable Georgia, as an oil importer, to become an independent country in terms of oil products and, moreover, to launch exports to a number of other countries. PHASIS OIL director Gia Shavdia spoke about the project with Versia newspaper.

WHAT GOT YOU INTERESTED IN THIS PROJECT? WHAT EXPERIENCE DO YOU HAVE IN THE FIELD AND WHO WILL BUILD THE KULEVI OIL REFINERY? I’ve been in the oil products business since 1992, living in Switzerland until 2014. In 2015, the Government of Georgia announced a tender and I was interested in it. I applied to Multiplex investment company for partnership, one of the strongest and most reliable finance groups, founded by Levan Kacharava, who has also operated in the oil products field for many years. He was one of the founders of the Silk Road Group and several years ago this group operated in the oil business. We initially offered the government to fully rehabilitate the Batumi oil refinery, but after a year, they decided that Batumi should be a resort zone and the oil infrastructure should be developed elsewhere. In general, an oil refinery with scope on the international market should be

located near a seaport in order to be able to handle huge volumes of raw materials and products. Two years ago, we learned that, under an investment agreement, a territory of 60 hectares had been allocated to SOCAR Georgia Investment in Kulevi. We bought this territory after negotiations with SOCAR and launched the project implementation.

WHAT PHASE IS THE PROJECT AT? WHAT PRODUCTS WILL THE OIL REFINERY MANUFACTURE AND WHO WILL BE YOUR CLIENTS? The main idea behind the Kulevi oil refinery is the fact that Georgia does not have its own oil resources, completely depending on imports. This refinery will be able to supply premium class products to the market at competitive prices. Preparatory works have been finished. According to legislation, the minimum annual output of this type of refinery is 2 million tons. However, the refinery has quite serious infrastructural expenditures which an output of 2 million tons could not remunerate. Consequently, according to our estimations, the minimum output will be 4.2 million tons of light crude oil. We have scrupulously explored the 60-hectare land in Kulevi. The project was prepared by our engineers and we hired Deloitte to examine the first business plan- they gave a positive conclusion. Under our investment agreement, we are authorized to manufacture only EURO 5 standard products. This signifies that our refinery will manufacture only EURO5 standard petrol and diesel. Under this standard, the main and most hazardous product contained in fuel, sulfur, must be under 10ppm. The technologies that we will introduce in our refinery will reduce the sulfur content to only 5-6ppm in EURO5 standard fuel. Our products will be targeted on various consumers, from ordinary vehicle owners to trucks and other transport. Naturally, under the antitrust legislation, we will not be able to supply the market 100%, but we have conducted negotiations with all major distributors in Georgia and they expressed a lot of interest. Moreover, according to the investment agreement, we will supply our products at 10% lower tariffs to satisfy State needs. We also want small and medium distributors to buy our products, as they often do not have the resources to import high-quality fuel to Georgia. Our refinery will be loyal to all categories of distrib-

utors, available to take even a cistern of fuel by truck or supply it ourselves. Major distributors will take fuel by train and we will export our products by ship. Georgia’s annual fuel consumption is 1.3 million tons of oil products, while our refinery will produce 4.2 million tons of oil products and this factor will enable the export of 2/3 of our products abroad.

WHO WILL CARRY OUT THOSE EXPORTS? We will buy oil on the free market and export it by sea. Our products will be also sold on the free market by international traders. I believe this refinery is of crucial importance, because Georgia will become an independent country in terms of fuel. After inauguration of this refinery, major, medium and small distributors will save considerable funds on transportation.


ECOLOGICAL PROBLEMS? We hired international company Eco Specter, which cooperates with the World Bank and Asian Development Bank. The company has explored the ecological condition in Kulevi and prepared a 1000page conclusion and environmental impact assessment. As to environment impact, Isotherm technology from our major partner DuPont will see the crude oil processed in a closed cycle into NAFTA, diesel and aviation fuel JAT A1. After this, the dissolved oil will be returned to the DuPont cleaning machines for hydro cleaning. The hydrogen ejects sulfur content and reduces its concentration in the whole product to 5-6ppm. The received petrol or NAFTA, purified, will be processed anew through isomerization to get an octane of 95. This is a premium-class petrol. After this process, another product, purified and clean gas LPG, will be manufactured. Other gases also remain (the so-called Fuel Gas). They’re not our key products, but we will have two 25-megawatt steam power plants and these facilities will work on this gas. This existing volume will not

only satisfy the refinery’s need for electricity, but will also supply 20 megawatts to the network.

HOW MANY INDIVIDUALS WILL BE EMPLOYED AT KULEVI OIL REFINERY AND HOW MUCH WILL YOU PAY TO THE STATE BUDGET? About 400 persons will work at the oil refinery on a permanent basis and they will receive high salaries. In the construction process, which will start in spring 2019 and last three years, we will employ many more citizens. Under the agreement, 70% of the employees will be local residents. We will attract young personnel and during the first six months we will teach them English. After this, we will refer them to the refineries of the CEPSA managing company to receive practical skills and experience. The government has granted the status of free industrial zone to us for a period of 5 years, but after 5 years, when the refinery launches operations, we will pay taxes in the ordinary regime. The state budget will receive about $40-50 million a year from us.


A Round-Up of Campaign "Clean Air, Safe Movement" lation will be more responsible for these issues and together will try to overcome the challenges faced in the area." The campaign week ended in Batumi and Lanchkhuti on September 21, followed the next day by the Car-Free Day event in Tbilisi aimed at promoting



eptember 17 kicked off a week of awareness-raising within the "Clean Air, Safe Environment," campaign. The campaign was organized by NGO CIDA, Georgia's Alliance for Safe Roads, and Poti Port. In order to increase public awareness about road safety, the week included events in 10 regions besides the capital: Kakheti, Racha, Kvemo Kartli, Shida Kartli, Mtskheta-Mtianeti, SamtskheJavakheti, Imereti, Guria, Samegrelo and Adjara. In these regions, campaign organizers held work and informational meetings with drivers and the general population. “Never before has such a large-scale campaign been held in Georgia,” said Executive Director of CIDA, Salome Zurabishvili. “The aim of the campaign was to help citizens understand how each one of them can take steps to pro-

mote road safety. This campaign was the largest of its kind so far in the number of people that were informed, especially with NGOs and private sectors uniting their efforts around this specific social issue. We had quite interesting informa-

tional meetings with drivers and local residents in these 10 regions. Overall, about 1000 people received information on the significance of air pollution, road safety and technical inspection of transport in Georgia. We hope that the popu-

environmental awareness and healthy lifestyles. The organizers called on the public and business sector to participate in the campaign which was marked by numerous citizens choosing to walk or ride bikes instead of driving in the capital that day.




The First UN HighLevel Meeting on the Fight to End TB



he UN held a meeting to discuss the growing rate of multidrug-resistant Tuberculosis (TB), or MDR TB. Georgia has one of the highest rates for drug-resistant TB in Europe, and is currently working on the fight against it. In July, the launch of SimpliciTB took place at the National Center for Tuberculosis and Lung Disease in Tbilisi, a trail which combines four new medications and aims to shorten treatment times to six months instead of 24. World leaders and senior representatives came together at the first United Nations highlevel meeting on TB in New York on Wednesday, where heads of state adopted a political declaration with commitments to accelerate action and funding to end the tuberculosis epidemic by 2030. According to the World Health Organization’s latest TB report, it killed 1.6 million people in 2017, which makes it the most deadly infectious disease worldwide, and experts say progress is not happening fast enough. Drug-resistant TB (MDR TB) has become a growing problem, with the majority of new Tuberculosis patients classed as having it, meaning that they are resistant to more than one first-line drug. Treatment in these cases can be lengthy, complex, and expensive, with severe side-effects. As a result, only 55% of MDR-TB patients are cured, according to WHO. Georgia has the highest rates of drugresistant TB, but infection rates have been increasing rapidly in parts of Africa and Southeast Asia. The Tbilisi drug trials offer hope for patients with drugresistant TB by giving them access to combined oral-only regimens in place of older, injection-based treatments, which are less toxic and require a shorter treatment time. Patients on the ZeNix trial, which started last year and is set to run for four years, are already showing promising results, according to lead clinician Lali Mikiashvili. Eight patients have now

finished the six-month treatment and have been “cured,” however they will be kept under close observation for signs of relapse for a further 18 months. “It is a revolutionary regimen; it’s unbelievably simple and short, every patient has responded quickly, showed high efficacy and tolerability … [and] none have shown serious side effects. If successful, this is the future treatment for hundreds of thousands of patients suffering from one of the most dangerous diseases in the world,” said Mikiashvili. The ZeNix trial focuses on patients with highly-resistant TB, however, the SimpliciTB trials’ focus lies on those with both ordinary TB and MDR-TB. The trial is testing a regime of four drugs, all of which can be taken orally, known as BPaMZ, to see whether it can cut and simplify the treatment process down to four months for those with drug-sensitive TB, and six months for those with more resistant strains. Current treatment times for MDR-TB can be up to two years. Marika Eristavi, who is leading the SimpliciTB trial, said patients are responding well to the new treatment. If successful, it could “reduce the rate of TB in Georgia as well as worldwide,” she said. TB Alliance, a nonprofit that works to accelerate the development and affordability of new TB drugs, is managing both trials. “As resistance to current TB treatments continues to grow, we need to introduce all-oral drug regimens that can treat every person with TB in six months or less, regardless of their resistance profile. If proven successful in SimpliciTB, the BPaMZ regimen would represent a major step toward this goal,” said Mel Spigelman, President and CEO at TB Alliance. The recent high-level meeting has been described by WHO as an unprecedented step forward by governments and all partners engaged in the fight against TB. “Heads of state and government attending this first-ever UN High-level meeting on TB agreed to mobilize $13 billion a year by 2022 to implement TB prevention and care, and $2 billion for research. They committed to take firm action against drug-resistant forms of the disease; build accountability and to prior-

itize human rights issues such as the stigma that still prevails around TB in many parts of the world,” the WHO said. The President of the General Assembly of the United Nations, María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, noted that ending TB is both “a moral and a political responsibility,” and that TB is “not egalitarian” in its impact, as it primarily affects the poorest and most marginalized communities. After adopting the political declaration on TB at the start of the meeting (PDF at UN.org), Garcés called on heads of state to “move from words to deeds.” Lucica Ditiu, executive director of Stop TB Partnership, a key body mentioned in the declaration, said that the final document is sufficient in terms of its targets, but it could be stronger on accountability and access to medicines. In addition to the main commitments in the political declaration, Aaron Motsoaledi, Minister of Health of South Africa and Chair of Stop TB Partnership, added two more. One is that “heads of state should speak spontaneously on TB, without referring to their prepared remarks,” and the second is that when asked if there is enough money to end TB, heads of state should respond with the question: “Can we afford not to?” Bill Gates, business luminary and founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, gave the keynote address during the first multi-stakeholder panel of the meeting, noting that there has been progress, but also highlighting a major challenge: that some 40% of people with TB still remain undiagnosed. “The private sector has the skills to play a key role in this effort, particularly pharmaceutical companies,” said Gates. He also called for increased engagement with private sector health providers, as a key strategy to expanding access to diagnosis and treatment. During the first multi-stakeholder panel, the representative from the German mission to the UN noted that it is everyone’s shared responsibility to achieve the ambitious targets that are in the political declaration and that without strengthening the health system, they will not stop TB.






Will We Ever Get There? OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE


have written before that Georgia is a land of poetry. Almost every Georgian is a poet. Poetry is in our blood and verve. The word ‘poetic’ would be the fittest epithet to describe Georgia as a nation. One can hardly imagine a Georgian who has not written at least one verse in his or her lifetime. Some of those poetically-minded people become qualified poets and earn fame and make money by effectively marketing themselves. Some remain in the shadows forever. Those who are luckier successfully feed their poesy to the public, leaving a noticeable trace in their hearts and minds. Some of the talents even manage to get the word beyond the boundaries of their motherland. They manage to do so because they have managerial talent in addition to their poetic gift. Some of the greatest poets of Georgia have never become known to the world because nobody has bothered to translate them from the Georgian language, spoken by only several million people, into English, used by most of Mankind. Nobody has tried to promote them commensurately with the extent and degree of their poetic aptitude. Georgia truly has some world-level poets who will never be known to humanity in the way and dosage they deserve to be. Among the lucky ones is poet Dato Magradze. As a Georgian, I welcome his

success unconditionally (and sobermindedly too for that matter). His poetry has been translated into several languages and recognized by a number of nations. Last Monday, September 24, was marked the continuation of his flourishing poetic career thanks to his book of poesy, titled Footprints on Water. The edition marked the propitious debut of the lucky Georgian in the United States, a man who has already earned international acclaim, including: the Europe International Medal from Pope Benedict XVI for his collection ‘Salve’; the Golden Feather from the International Federation of Journalists in 2005 for his text of the Georgian national anthem; and an international medal from the Academy of Culture of Verona for his work promoting free speech. Obviously, his own nation is also celebrating its poet son and his works because he has taken Georgia’s name and fame beyond its modest limits. I can’t be happier than this because my countryman has made it and will go even further as soon as another opportunity pops up. And I am more than certain that the chance will come again, knowing how professional Magradze sounds in his poetry and how adamant he happens to be in his determination to have translated his creative output into other tongues and to get his poetic word across to peoples other than Georgian. I only have one straightforward and unassuming question to ask: in which particular case, out of the given two,

would Georgia be a bigger winner – if Magradze energetically promoted his own poetry in the international arena or if he dedicated his talent and capacity with the same vigor to the cause of upholding the genuine sovereigns of Georgia’s poetic thought and flair like Galaktion Tabidze and Vazha Pshavela, or others of that enormity, especially if we already have the translation of some of their works ready to be presented to the world for appreciation, like the recent outstanding translation of Galaktion Tabidze by professor Innes Merabishvili. In other words, should the world know Georgia more via Poet Dato Magradze or Poet Galaktion Tabidze? I mean, what would make the nation stronger? I understand that men value their own skins more than those of others, but we are now talking about the chance to have the world think of Georgia the way this nation needs and deserves. Dato Magradze definitely has my consideration but I can’t escape the burning query of my lifetime – what is it that our little darling Sakartvelo needs most in order for it to swing its intellectual power to the fullest possible extent? Well, poetry is just a drop in a bucket – I just came across the issue and trivially dwelt upon it. What hurts my soul and pricks my conscience is not that! It is my doubt as to whether this nation remembers or not that ‘first things first’ really matters and precisely answers the most commonplace rhetorical question in Georgia – ‘will we ever make it?’

Jerrymandering: Etseri, Svaneti BLOG BY TONY HANMER


ne of our more unusual guests appeared recently. He was on foot, with a small backpack, American, alone, for lunch initially. During the course of the acquaintance process he let drop that he was a carpenter and general handyman who would work for room and board. He also had no firm plans to be anywhere by any time, so if we needed his services, we might be able to come to an arrangement. My wife and I talked. Such a person could certainly make himself useful around our place; we were writing the mental lists already. If he proved able to do what we needed, with the tourist season winding down anyway, there was much he might do to help winterize the place and also accomplish some special projects. Drill a hole through our bedroom wall through which to insert the satellite dishto-TV cable? (Without damaging the new stucco more than the hole itself!) Check, once I’d borrowed the required foot-long masonry bit from my neighbor. Weatherproof the new concrete windowsills so that water wouldn’t get into them, freeze, and damage them? There are a couple of options we’re batting around, of which the most likely to succeed seems to be a simple waterproof paint job rather than the also suggested sheets of galvanized steel, which might be unsealable, thus keeping moisture in where we don’t want it rather than shielding against it. Make a small test run gazebo! Not the full-size one seating 20 or so which we want on the south side of the house, but a separate one near the main gate, to see what he can do, and it’d also be really useful there as a stop point for passersby, local or tourist. He had plenty of good wood of all sizes and shapes to choose from, and pretty well all the power tools he could want. (The circular saw would better have been replaced by a bandsaw or table saw, but it would do.) We talked dimensions, height, materials at hand and needed, power needs, and so on, and it began to come together. I helped when necessary

and available (between ferrying the last of the season’s guests around). The thing is finished now, the 5th structure on our land which originally only had house and barn, and all of them now corrugated metal-roofed. Solid, heavy, elegant but also rustic enough to fit in to its setting. A fine addition. Next? Maybe a workbench for me in the garage, somewhere to do further light

projects, somewhere to which I might attach my vise at last! Protecting the 1000L water container in the garage from cold with a small insulated enclosure which we could heat with a simple incandescent light bulb (before those are all gone off the shelves). Re-doing the main entrance steps to the house, removed by the stucco guys last month as a necessary part of their work… in wood, metal

(done by locals as he doesn’t weld) or concrete block? Even some little roofs to cover those entrances so you no longer get rained or snowed on while entering, and so the snow doesn’t build up there in the first place? Oh, we can certainly put him to use in these couple of months max before the snow arrives and changes everything. Jerry, welcome to your new home away from home.

Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 1900 members, at www.facebook.com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri: www.facebook.com/hanmer.house.svaneti




Eastern Promotions & TBC Status Present “Jazz & Wine Kakheti” Festival



here is nothing better than spending an autumnal weekend in Kakheti, where the tiring process of harvesting grapes and dipping churchkhelas is accompanied by the unforgettable performances of prominent artists. On September 21-23, Kakheti region became the most attractive place for Jazz and Wine lovers with the second annual festival of Jazz and Wine Kakheti held at the Lopota Lake Resort & Spa within the Check in Georgia government project. The whole month, Kakheti had been knee-deep in harvesting, but true autumn could not begin until the annual Jazz and Wine festival kicked off. The festival offered guests the chance to meet and listen to world-renowned musicians while enjoying traditional dishes and wine throughout each performance. It’s an old and true story that good wine always goes well with great music. This year, the main headliner was well-known LA vocalist Judith Hill, an author-performer of jazz-funk, soul and R&B. Over the three days of the festival, guests saw headliners of various genres, like the new wave Zydeco blues, with its best-known artist Dwayne Dopsie, a legendary accordionist and one of the most famous representatives of modern Zydeco blues, gracing the Kakheti stage with his band Zydeco Hellraisers. Sugarpie & The Candymen headed the festival as one of the most uplifting bands, offering covers of well-loved hits. The group comes from Italy, where the band was founded in 2008, having since traveled around the world with

their music. Bahama Soul Club, Aglio Olio & Swing and the New York Brass Band also kept the festival pumping, with jazz, blues, funk and almost every genre in between. And for the night stage, DJ Machaidze was invited to entertain. Besides the concert, the days were spent in the bosom of wine-related activities, with nine Georgian wine companies arranging their own wine tastings and harvesting, allowing guests the chance to absorb the true harvest culture of the region. Participant companies were: Zakro, Chateau Nekresi, Shalo’s Cellar, Artana Wines, Tanini, Stori Marani, Kai Winery, Chotiashvili Marani and Sasmuri. Guests also got to try wine-making, dipping churchkhela and tasting mtsvadi (Georgian barbecue). Two top Italian Chefs were also present, surprising guests with cooking demonstrations of the tricks behind the perfect Italian style risotto and pasta dishes. The sponsors of the Jazz and Wine Kakheti Festival are official representatives of Lexus in Georgia – Lexus Tbilisi and Chronograph Georgia. During the event at Lopota Lake Resort & Spa, guests got to give the new Hybrid Lexus 2018 a drive and to look through the latest collections of leading brand watches and jewelry as presented by Chronograph. The Jazz and Wine Festival was not only about fun, music and wine, as a charity component was added as a result of the partnership between Eastern Promotion and the Solidarity Fund this year. At the event, a stand of the Solidarity Fund was arranged for guest to be able to find out more about the fund and make their contribution to the cause with the motto “Kindness is Contagious.” Taking every component into consideration, the organizers excelled in making the 2018 edition of the Jazz and Wine Festival truly unforgettable.







TBILISI INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF THEATER September 28 THE OVERCOAT Nikolai Gogol Directed by Nikoloz Sabashvili Language: Georgian English Subtitles Start time: 13:00 Venue: Tbilisi Giorgi Mikeladze State Professional Puppet Theater September 28 PASSPORT Directed by Mikheil Charkviani Composer: Erekle Getsadze Language: Georgian English Subtitles Start time: 18:00 Venue: Beri Gabriel Salosi I Turn 2, Former Elektrowerk. September 28 TARTUFFE Moliere Directed by David Doiashvili Language: Georgian English Subtitles Start time: 20:30 Venue: Vaso Abashidze Music and Drama State Theater September 28 HOUSE/BORDER Fundacja Art Junction Directed by Bernar Go Based on stories collected from the people of Shida Kartli Created by Dariusz Błaszczyk/ Zbigniew Olkiewicz / Barbara Pradzynska/Jarosław Siejkowski. Music: Andrzej Izdebski & collective Start time: 19:00 Venue: Sioni Str. 13/40, yard of seminary September 29 WHEN THE WORLD IS ENDLESS Irakli Gurgenidze, Koba Shonia Directed by Irakli Gurgenidze Language: Georgian English Subtitles Start time: 18:00 Venue: Tumanishvili Film Actors’ Studio Theater

English Subtitles Start time: 18:00 Venue: Royal District Theater September 30 DIALOGUE IN SKIN South East Asia Music, Contemporary Percussion Directed by Bernar Go Writer, adaptation: Khelebis Ritmi Georgian, English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15-30 GEL Venue: Marjanishvili Theater TBILISI ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 04 56 October 2 ABESALOM AND ETERI 67 Season Opening Z. Paliashvili Dedicated to Zurab Sotkilava Starring: Teimuraz Gugushvili, Khatuna Chokhonelidze, Sulkhan Gvelesiani, Irina Aleksidze, Gocha Datusani, Marika Machitidze,Tamaz Saginadze, Gia Makharadze, Manana Iordanishvili, Givi Peikrishvili Music Director of the ProductionZaza Azmaiparashvili Director - Gizo Zhordania Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-70 GEL MUSIC AND DRAMA STATE THEATER Address: 182 Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 234 80 90 October 2 WELCOME TO GEORGIA A musical, theatrical play and romantic comedy telling a story about Georgia and its people by combining song, dance, culture, traditions, history, national costumes and local cuisine. Musical Language: English, some Georgian (with English subtitles) Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 50-80 GEL SHALIKASHVILI THEATER Address: 37 Shota Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 595 50 02 03

RAMONA Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL September 29, October 3 STALINGRAD Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL September 30, October 2 An animated documentary film REZO Directed by Leo Gabriadze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL CINEMA

AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL September 28-October 4 A SIMPLE FAVOR Directed by Paul Feig Cast: Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery Language: Russian Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 15 GEL THE NUN Directed by Corin Hardy Cast: Bonnie Aarons, Taissa Farmiga, Jonny Coyne Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 13-14 GEL CAVEA GALLERY Address: 2/4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 200 70 07 Every Wednesday ticket: 8 GEL September 28- October 4 JOHNNY ENGLISH STRIKES AGAIN Directed by David Kerr Cast: Rowan Atkinson, Olga Kurylenko, Emma Thompson, Jake Lacy Genre: Comedy, Action, Adventure Language: English Start time: 22:00 Language: Russian Start time: 22:30 Ticket: 16-19 GEL

September 29 THE CONDEMNED OF ALTONA After Jean-Paul Sartre Directed by Ioane (Vano) Khutsishvili Language: Georgian English Subtitles Start time: 19:00 Venue: Liberty Theater

September 28 CHRIST Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 20 GEL

September 29 DEMONS Lars Noren Directed by Mikheil Charkviani Language: Georgian

GABRIADZE THEATER Address: 14 Shavteli Str. Telephone: 2 98 65 93

A SIMPLE FAVOR (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 14:30 Language: Russian Start time: 21:45 Ticket: 15-19 GEL

September 28


September 28 LULLABY Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 15 GEL

(Info Above) Language: English Start time: 20:00 Language: Russian Start time: 22:30 Ticket: 14-19 GEL MUSEUM


Performers: Mondrian Ensemble (Switzerland): Ivana Pristasova- violin, Petra Akerman- viola, Carolyn Omancello, Tamriko Kordzaia, piano, Peter Konradin Zumtor- drums (Switzerland), Nino Kasradzepiano (Georgia), Nino Jvaniapiano (Georgia), Tamar Jvaniapiano (Georgia), Mariam Abramishvili- piano (Georgia) Start time: 16:00 Ticket: 50 GEL October 1 CLOSE ENCOUNTERSSWISS-GEORGIAN FESTIVAL Concert 4 “Antinomies” Performers: Ensemble ‘GEORGIA MODERN’ (Georgia): Lela Mchedlishvil- violin, Teimuraz Kharadze- viola, Sandro Chidjavadze- cello, Shota Gogodzeclarinet, Nino Jvania- piano, Tamar Jvania- piano, ‘MONDRIAN ENSEMBLE’ (Switzerland): Ivana Pristasova- violin, Petra Akerman- viola, Carolyn Omancello, Tamriko Kordzaia- piano, Sabina Meyer- light & space Start time: 16:00 Ticket: 10 GEL October 2 CLOSE ENCOUNTERSSWISS-GEORGIAN FESTIVAL Dedicated to experimental music With participation of: Zagareli & Strings (Georgia), Klaus Lang- organ, (Austria), Ivana Pristasova- violin (Switzerland), Carolina OmaniCello (Switzerland), Tamriko Kordzaia- piano (Switzerland/ Georgia), Peter Konradin Zumthordrums (Switzerland), Reso Kiknadze- electronics (Georgia), Kordz/Aleqsandre Kordzaia- piano (Switzerland/Georgia) Start time: 16:00 Ticket: 5 GEL MTKVARZE Address: N. Baratashvili Left Bank

September 19- October 4 Exhibition UNITY IN DIVERSITY. BRISTOL & TBILISI: 1988 -2018 The exhibition showcases the development of the cultural, educational and civic relationship between the two cities from the beginning to the present day.



TBILISI CONCERT HALL Address: 1 Melikishvili St. Telephone: 2 99 00 99


THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 215 73 00 September 11 – November 25 EXHIBITION BERNINI'S SCHOOL AND THE ROMAN BAROQUE After the works of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli, Titian and other great Italian artists, the Georgian National Museum and the Embassy of Italy in Georgia present the exhibition MUSIC

TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE Address: 8 Griboedov St. Telephone: 2 93 46 24 September 28 CLASSICAL MUSIC COGNITIVE PROGRAM Classical Music Program Start time: 16:00 Ticket: 50 GEL September 30 CLOSE ENCOUNTERSSWISS-GEORGIAN FESTIVAL Concert II

September 28 Within the "Check in Georgia" project, the state academic ensemble of Georgia folk music and songs ‘Abkhazeti’s’ concert GEORGIAN GENI Famous Georgian national folk music and songs Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-15 GEL TURTLE LAKE Address: Turtle Lake September 28 STEPHANE MGHEBRISHVILI Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 25 GEL REPUBLIC Address: First Republic (Rose Revolution) Sq. September 28 AZYMUTH Band: Alex Malheiros, Ivan Conti, Kiko Continentino Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 70-300 GEL IN THE DENSE FOREST Address: Tskneti, The last stop Telephone: 514 07 50 00 September 29 CES STUDENTS DAY IN THE DENSE FOREST Start time: 16:00 Ticket: 15 GEL





Nicolas Namoradze – First Georgian to Win Honens International Piano Competition EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY LIKA CHIGLADZE


n September 7, young Georgian pianist Nicolas Namoradze won the world’s largest prize for piano $100,000 (CAD) and an Artist Development Program valued at a half-a-million dollars. What makes his achievement even more special is that he is the first Georgian to receive this extremely important award. Within the Artist Development Program, the musician will be able to deliver debut recitals in some of the world’s leading concert houses as well as have concert opportunities with leading orchestras. Namoradze is a pianist of international standard who stands out among the world's musicians for his individuality and interpretative performance skills. By winning such an important competition and receiving top prize, he once again proves that he is unbeatable and a truly rare talent. The Honens International Piano Competition takes place every three years and is considered one of the world’s most prestigious events of its kind. Established in 1991 in Calgary, Canada, its mission is to discover new bright talent capable of thoughtful, expressive music-making and to create opportunities for their growth and exposure. “The Honens discovers, nurtures, and presents Complete Artists—21st century pianists for 21st century audiences,” reads the statement of the competition. Even though Namoradze is only 26, he has already managed to earn international recognition and catch the attention of world’s leading media publica-

tions. The New York Times coined his performances as “sparkling … sensitive and coloristic” whereas the Wall Street Journal labeled the pianist “simply gorgeous.” Born in Georgia, he grew up and formed as a professional musician in Budapest where he moved with his family as a little boy. Over the years, he has given recitals at prestigious venues in several countries around the world and has appeared as a soloist with renowned orchestras and conductors in Europe and the United States. Highlights of his current season include appearances at the Chelsea Music Festival (New York) as a featured composer and pianist, recitals in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut as Artist-inResidence at The Drozdoff Society, as well as commissions for ensembles such as the Barkada and Verona Quartets and a series of concerts with violinist Rolf Schulte. Namoradze also recently earned the Fidelio Fortissimo Prize for young composers in Budapest. He has taken music to the next level, known for composing personal pieces that are considered both progressive and extraordinary. You can check out some of his compositions on https://soundcloud.com/nicolasnamoradze. Last season he also composed and produced the soundtracks for Walking Painting, a film by Fabienne Verdier, and Nuit d’opéra à Aix, a short film made in association with the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence. The musician received a Master’s Degree at The Juilliard School and is now pursuing his Doctorate at the CUNY Graduate Center (New York). The celebrated pianist talked to GEORGIA TODAY about his accomplishment and career.

jump-start one’s career; it includes management, mentorship and incredible performance opportunities. My upcoming activities as part of this program include debut recitals at Carnegie Hall in New York, Wigmore Hall in London and the Konzerthaus Berlin, recordings on the Honens and Hyperion labels, performances with orchestras such as the London Philharmonic, and residencies at leading festivals and music centers around the world such as the Banff Center for Arts and Creativity.

YOU ARE FROM GEORGIA BUT GREW UP AND STUDIED IN BUDAPEST. WHAT MEMORIES STILL CONNECT YOU TO GEORGIA? YOU WON THE HONENS INTERNATIONAL PIANO COMPETITION. PLEASE TELL US WHAT IT LIKE TO BE THE 2018 HONENS PRIZE LAUREATE? It’s a remarkable feeling. One puts so much work, dedication, heart and soul into one’s art, and to have it so well received by a jury of some of today’s leading pianists and musicians is very special. The opportunities that lie ahead as a result of winning the Honens are just incredible, and I can’t wait for what’s to come.

WHAT STAGES DID YOU PASS TO REACH THE FINAL AND CLAIM FIRST PLACE? Out of hundreds of applicants, 50 pianists were selected to perform at the international quarterfinal rounds that took place in Berlin and New York. Following this, ten candidates advanced to the rest of

the competition in Calgary. We all had to play two rounds in the semifinals: one solo round, where I played Bach, Schumann and some of my own music, and a chamber music round, where we performed with baritone Philip Addis and violinist Jonathan Crow. Three pianists were subsequently picked for the finals, where we had two more rounds – another chamber music round, this time with the Azahar Ensemble, and the concerto finals with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Karina Canellakis, where I played Brahms’s Second Piano Concerto. It was a lot! I had to prepare more than four hours of music for the rounds in Calgary.

HOW WILL YOUR PRIZE AND THE PROGRAM HELP YOU ADVANCE IN YOUR CAREER? The three-year Artist Development Program is an absolutely invaluable way to

Despite having never lived in Georgia, I grew up speaking Georgian at home and visited the country regularly. In addition, Georgian folk music is very close to my heart, and has been one of the most significant influences on my voice as a composer. I hope to return to Georgia to perform as soon as possible!

APART FROM BEING A VIRTUOSO PIANIST, YOU ARE ALSO A COMPOSER. WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT OCCUPATION AND WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS? As well as performing and composing, I also teach at Queens College and pursue my doctorate at the CUNY Graduate Center – it all keeps me very busy! Given the win at Honens, however, I will be focusing most of my enery on my concert career from now on. I’m based in New York, but hope to divide my time a bit more evenly between North America and Europe in the future.


UEFA Awards Georgian Football for Contribution to Sport’s Growth BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE


EFA has recognized the Georgian Football Federation with the silver medal in its Grassroots Award for significant contributions to the popularization of football and a healthy lifestyle and increasing the number of people engaged in the sport. Specifically, the Georgian Football Federation’s Amateur League project was awarded the 2018 UEFA Grassroots Award in silver for Best Grassroots Project. This is the first time Georgia has received the award, seen as especially significant as UEFA is one of the top priorities for Georgian football. "The Georgian Football Federation has received the silver prize for the first time in the history of the Grassroots Award. As you know, the number of people involved in football in today's reality is the main challenge for [football in] Eastern Europe. Accordingly, this recognition

Photo: Ministry of Education, Science, Youth, and Sport

is especially significant to the Georgian Football Federation. Several times we have mentioned that the initial point of the ‘football pyramid’ is youth football, and we should start developing from that stage. The UEFA Award is proof that the project, which embraces the whole country, plays an important role in the development of football in Georgia,” said Nika Jgharkava, Vice-President of the Georgian Football Federation.



Commercial Director: Iva Merabishvili Marketing Manager: Anuka Poladishvili



Editor-In-Chief: Katie Ruth Davies

The Amateur League has been held in Georgia since 2016 and its aim is to engage as many people as possible, using their love of football, in a healthy and active lifestyle. There are 400 Amateur League teams across the country, represented in every municipality. This means that the standard 11-on-11 format generally has more than 8000 amateur players. The Grassroots Award is given annually to national associations or federations in different categories, including the Best Leader, Best Club, and Best Grassroots Project. It was first award in 2010. The Best Grassroots Project award aims to distinguish initiatives that are innovative, have a social component, and serve to increase and sustain public engagement in football and support the campaign UEFA RESPECT. First place for the UEFA Grassroots Award in the Best Grassroots Project category went to Iceland’s FC Sækó for undertaking “impressive work to help improve the mental and physical health of people through football.”

Journalists: Tony Hanmer, Zaza Jgarkava, Maka Bibilashvili, Dimitri Dolaberidze, Maka Lomadze, Joseph Larsen, Vazha Tavberidze, Nugzar B. Ruhadze, Nino Gugunishvili, Thea Morrison Photographer: Irakli Dolidze

Georgian Judoka Tushishvili Becomes World Champion BY THEA MORRISON


eorgian Judoka Guram Tushishvili, who was competing in the over 100 kg category, has become a world champion. Tushishvili defeated Ushangi Kokauri, a Georgian national who participated in the championship for Azerbaijan, held in Baku. Earlier, Tushishvili defeated his Romanian rival Daniel Natea and Ukrainian

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Iakiv Khamo. In the ¼ final, Tushishvili competed against Roy Mayer from The Netherlands. Last year, Tushishvili won the European championship. He also won the Grand Prix in Tbilisi and Zagreb in 2018. He took gold at the Grand Slam in Baku in 2017. Moreover, he is the World Cadet Champion of 2011. Before Tushishvili, other members of the Georgia’s National Judo team also won medals: Varlam Liparteliani (100), captain of the Georgian team won Silver Medal on September 25 and Amiran Papinashvili (60) - the Bronze Medal.


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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1087  

September 28 - October 1, 2018

Issue #1087  

September 28 - October 1, 2018