Issue no: 891
• OCTOBER 28 - 31, 2016
• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY
PRICE: GEL 2.50
In this week’s issue... Sandra Roelofs Refuses to Participate in Election Run-off NEWS PAGE 3
The ABC of Diplomacy, or Flying Doctors POLITICS PAGE 6
Rushing towards Amending the Constitution POLITICS PAGE 7
Presenting Planta - the Largest Greenhouse in Georgia BUSINESS PAGE 10
Genuine Brazilian Cuisine in the Heart of Tbilisi
SOCIETY PAGE 14
ON RESTORING FAITH NATO needs to start being honest with Georgians before it's too late
World Bank: Georgia among Top Reformers in Doing Business BY THEA MORRISON
eorgia is among the top global improvers for implementing business friendly reforms, according to the World Bank (WB) report Doing Business 2017 (DB17) - Equal Opportunity for All, released on Tuesday. Doing Business measures regulations affecting 11 areas of the life of a business. Ten of these areas are included in this year’s ranking on the ease of doing business: starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency. Doing Business (DB) also measures labor market regulation, which is not included in this year’s ranking. Continued on page 12
World Bank released its report- Doing Business 2017 Equal Opportunity for All on Tuesday. Source: World Bank
HALLOWEEN SPECIAL: A Georgian Make-up Artist Prepares for Halloween SOCIETY PAGE 15
Tbilisi Fashion Week Wrap-Up CULTURE PAGE 17
Davit KipianiThe ‘Moving Feast’ of Football SPORTS PAGE 18
OCTOBER 28 - 31, 2016
Renovated Turtle Lake (KusTba) cable car. Source: on.ge
KusTba in 7 Minutes with the Renovated Cable-Car BY THEA MORRISON
he renovated cable-car to Tbilisi’s Turtle Lake has returned to serve Tbilisi locals and visitors. The transport can take people from Chavchavadze Avenue to Turtle Lake in just 7 minutes. After a 7-year break, the renovated two-car cableway will be able to transport around 2,000 people per day, which will help to reduce road traffic to the Lake, located at the top of a hill that overlooks the central Vake district. Tbilisi City Hall allocated 1.1 million GEL (about USD 469 thousand) to local company Bagirmsheni to restore the old cableway. Though the cable cars
were renovated, their original 1965 design was maintained. Before its official opening earlier this month, Tbilisi City Hall tested the new cable car over several days to ensure its safety. A one way ticket costs 1 GEL. One cable car can carry 10-12 people and both cars are adapted for people with wheelchairs and other disabilities. Special bicycle hooks were also installed on the cable cars. The new cable cars will serve people from 08.00 am to 10.00 pm in winter and from 08.00am to midnight during summer. Turtle Lake, known as Kus Tba in Georgian, is a small lake on the outskirts of Tbilisi popular with the city’s residents as a recreational zone and venue for concerts and festivals.
President Appoints New National Security Council Secretary
President of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili, and new NSC Secretary, Davit Rakviashvili
BY THEA MORRISON
resident of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili presented the new secretary of the National Security Council (NSC), Davit Rakviashvili, on Monday. Rakviashvili, 48, replaced former NSC secretary Irine Imerlishvili, who was appointed by the President as a judge of the Constitutional Court of Georgia in September. Davit Rakviashvili was a Deputy State Minister for Reintegration in 2008-2010 and was involved in the Geneva Discussions. In 2011-2013 he served at the Georgian Embassy to the United States. For years he led the supervisory board of Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (GIPA), where Giorgi Margvelashvili served as Rector. The President described him as an interesting and important nominee for the position and noted he had known him for 30 years. “I assure you that Mr. Rakviashvili is one of the most prominent climbers of my generation and people from this field all know him well. This is a serious personal indicator, which is also necessary to hold the position of the Secretary of the National Security Council and to serve the country in strengthening its self-defense,” Margvelashvili stated. The newly appointed NSC Secretary thanked the President and noted that serving one’s homeland is a "great honor for every Georgian." The opposition approved the President’s choice, saying Rakviashvili is a very experienced and competent person and recognizing that he will have a
lot of complex tasks ahead of him as the ruling party Georgian Dream (GD) "is trying to reduce the Presidential System and weaken the role of the Security Council." “Rakviashvili is a professional and knowledgeable person in his field. I want to wish him good luck,” UNM member Sergi Kapanadze stated. However, majority member Gia Volsky said it would have been better if the President had discussed Rakviashvili’s candidacy with the members of the NSC. “It would have been good if the President had consulted with the members of the NSC. However, it is the President's choice- the NSC Secretary is his assistant, whose job it is to organize NSC meetings,” said Volsky. Political expert, Soso Tsiskarishvili, believes that Rakviashvili will be able to fulfill his duties well, because he has worked in a number of relevant positions and, as such, has good experience. Statutory Members of the NSC meetings are: The Prime Minister; Parliament Speaker; Minister of Foreign Affairs; Defense Minister; Minister of Internal Affairs of Georgia; Chairman of the Defense and Security Committee of the Parliament of Georgia; and Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Parliament of Georgia. The President of Georgia approves the structure of the National Security Council Office, its personnel, and regulations concerning the Office and its subdivision. The National Security Council is an advisory body to the President of Georgia empowered to consider issues determined by the Organic Law on the National Security Council of Georgia in order to draft the highest political decisions.
GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 28 - 31, 2016
Georgia’s Interior Ministry Opens New Operative Management Center
Sandra Roelofs Refuses to Participate in Election Run-off BY THEA MORRISON
BY THEA MORRISON
he Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of Georgia has opened a new alternative Emergency and Operative Management Center ‘112’ in Rustavi, Kvemo Kartli Region. This is the second 112 Center in Georgia, after the main office in Tbilisi. According to the MIA, the new center will help to offload some of the work of the main center. The new center is equipped with modern technologies and will work in a 24-hour regime to connect citizens in need with the emergency rescue services. Georgia’s Interior Minister, Giorgi Mghebrishvili, stated that Georgia is the 4th country in the world to have implemented services for disabled people- a special mobile application for patrol crews– ‘112 for everyone’ which is adapted for disabled people and can receive video calls and messages from people with special needs. Furthermore, the Minister noted that 112 has also implemented a special service for tourists. The program represents an alternative channel, which, with the help of a GPS tracker, can connect people in need with 112 even from regions out of mobile operator coverage areas. “The new center will improve the security system of the country and will enable any citizen to contact 112 both verbally and visually,” the Minister said, going on
Government Officials visit newly-opened 112 Center in Rustavi
to underline that Georgia’s 112 has been awarded as Best Innovative Services out of 82 foreign countries for the third time. The opening ceremony of the Rustavi center was attended by Georgia’s Prime Minister, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Cabinet members and foreign guests. According to the PM, Georgia is ready to provide qualified assistance to its citizens. “We are working hard to ensure the safety of every person and always take into account international best practices,” Kvirikashvili stated. 112 is a Legal Entity of Public Law of the Ministry of MIA, which ensures operative response to emergency situa-
tions. The main purpose of 112 is to protect human lives, as well as private and public property. 112 receives emergency calls from all over Georgia via a unified emergency number - 1-1-2 throughout 24-hours. The 112 service is free of charge from all fixed lines and mobile networks even if the number is disconnected from both sides or there is no SIM-card in the mobile phone. 112 unifies three different services in Georgia: patrol police, fire/rescue and medical services. The 112 Emergency Response Centers ensure the processing of received calls and transferring them to the relevant services.
andra Roelofs, Majoritarian Candidate of the opposition party United National Movement (UNM) in Zugdidi, Samedrelo region, and estranged wife of ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili, has announced that she will not participate in the October 30 second round of Georgia’s parliamentary elections. Roelofs, 47, claims that the elections were unfair and falsified. She believes participation in the run-off of such elections is insulting. The initial election results in several polling stations in Zugdidi were invalidated by the Central Election Commission (CEC) after violent incidents marred the voting process on October 8. The repeat vote was held on October 22 and the results revealed that the exFirst Lady had gained the second highest number of votes after the candidate of the ruling party Georgian Dream (GD). Roelofs thanked her voters for supporting her, however, noted that the government stole her supporters votes. “Everyone knows that I won the first round, so it's insulting for me to take part in the second round of these unfair elections,” Roelofs stated, adding that the elections were falsified not only in Zugdidi but throughout Georgia. Roelofs' decision was not approved of by the majority of UNM members, who claim it will be harmful to the party. "Our party’s political board made a decision to participate in the second round. Therefore, Ms. Roelofs' decision is unacceptable and it damages the sec-
Sandra Roelofs. Source: radioazadlyg.org
ond round campaign,” said UNM member Givi Targamadze. Other UNM majoritarian candidates will be taking part in the second round, saying they will not let GD party form a constitutional majority in parliament. “The second round will be very difficult, however avoiding this battle is simply unacceptable,” UNM member Nika Melia said. According to the CEC, if a candidate refuses to participate in the second round, his/her name still appears in the election ballots and people can still vote for them. If this candidate wins the second round, a by-election will be held to fill the vacant majoritarian seat in Parliament. Ex-President Saakashvili, who currently serves as governor of Ukraine’s Odessa region, responded to the criticism of his wife, saying it was Sandra’s personal decision and her choice should be respected. “I respect Sandra’s decision, as well as the decision of the other UNM candidates to fight in the run-off. I wish them luck,” Saakashvili’s Facebook post reads. Ex-President expressed hope that more Georgian people would support the UNM in future.
OCTOBER 28 - 31, 2016
Pro-Russian Alliance of Patriots Demands More Seats in Parliament BY THEA MORRISON
ro-Russian opposition party Alliance of Patriots of Georgia (APG), which is the third party to enter new parliament after the parliamentary elections, is demanding 8 instead of 6 mandates. The party, which hardly managed to pass the 5 percent election threshold during the October 8 parliamentary elections, says the election results were falsified and filed a lawsuit in Tbilisi Civil Court asking for an annulment of the final protocol of the Central Election Commission (CEC). The APG claims that the CEC attributed 6 mandates to them but that they deserve at least 8 seats. “We will try to carry out a large-scale investigation of the elections. By law, the percentages of the parties that could not cross the threshold should be added to the parties that have entered Parliament,” the leader of the APG, Davit
Davit Tarkhan-Mouravi, Leader of the Alliance of patriots. Source: jeje.ge
Tarkhan-Mouravi, stated. He also added that the Alliance of Patriots will try to be a representative of the parties that could not cross that threshold.
Moreover, Tarkhan-Mouravi has decided not to go ahead with his previous plans to enter the Adjara High Council as he was hoping to become the Head of the Adjara Autonomous
Republic Government. The APG managed to gain only one mandate in the Adjara High Council after the elections and Tarkhan-Mouravi, who had intended to enter the Council,
gave his seat instead to the second number on the APG party list, Zaza Okruashvili. “Our party also hoped to gain at least 8 mandates in Adjara High Council, however, we were given only one mandate, which is unfair. I hoped to become the Head of Adjara Government,” Tarkhan-Mouravi claimed. Alliance of Patriots formed a political bloc with five other opposition parties in early June, saying teaming up with five small parties will help them achieve better results. Others in the bloc are: Free Georgia, led by Kakha Kukava; Freedom, led by Konstantine Gamsakhurdia; Traditionalists, led by Akaki Asatiani; New Christian-Democrats, led by Gocha Jojua, and Political Movement of Law Enforcement and Armed Forces Veterans. The bloc is famous for its anti-NATO and anti-Western statements, saying Georgia should mend ties with Russia and find a common language with the occupant neighbor in order to join Georgia’s occupied territories South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Resetting GeorgiaNATO Relations
Time to face the facts. Jens Stoltenburg needs to be honest with himself and with the Georgian public to help mitigate the feeling of betrayal and disenchantment that Georgians are currently feeling towards NATO
BY EUGENE KOGAN
ollowing the 2016 NATO Summit in Warsaw, it seems clear that Georgia has little chance of being granted a Membership Action Plan. However, it is evident that a business-as-usual approach towards its relationship with NATO is ill-advised. Top officials from both Georgia and NATO now need to sit down for a serious brainstorming session to iron out their differences on difficult issues and set out new guidelines for relations going forward. The last eight years have exposed the eternal lack of consensus among NATO member states, starting with the infamous Summit in Bucharest where NATO’s open door policy towards Georgia was proclaimed. They have also highlighted Georgian officials’ exaggerated expectations and optimism about this issue. Following the 2016 NATO Summit in Warsaw, it seems clear that Georgia has
little chance of being granted a MAP and, as a result, the country remains in limbo. Furthermore, were Georgia to be offered a substitute for a MAP by NATO, perhaps an Associated Partnership, it would not ease the feeling of disappointment or even betrayal inside the country. The biggest question that remains unanswered by both Georgian and NATO officials is the nature of relations between the two after the Warsaw Summit. Will Georgian officials realize that Georgia is a close “partner” and not a NATO “member”? That the process of membership has come to a standstill and needs to be reinvigorated but lacks new content? Or will they continue to delude themselves, as has been the case over the last eight years, in order to not lose their spirit of optimism and maintain their country’s Euro-Atlantic orientation? Will NATO speak with one voice and say loud and clear that the Alliance’s open door policy towards Georgia has failed and that the door is, in reality, shut? Or will NATO’s ambiguity continue as if nothing has happened? Continued on page 8
GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 28 - 31, 2016
USA-Russia Relations at a New Low- Return of the 1962 Caribbean Crisis?
Battleship! The strategic exercise ‘Kavkaz-2016,’ conducted in the North Caucasus region included a hypothetical scenario of a second strategic wave of units from the Central Military District, previously transferred to the European part of Russia from beyond the Urals. It seems that Russian General Staff seriously considers the reality of a war taking place in the South Caucasus
BY DR. VAKHTANG MAISAIA
he recent processes in global politics have apparently gone above the heads of Georgian society, which of late is interested only in petty local politics. This is why Georgia is slowly disappearing from the so-called international radar. However, a new kind of geostrategic tsunami is gathering strength in the vicinity of Georgia – the Black Sea geopolitical area, vitally important from the national security perspective. The deterioration of relations between Russia and USA that has recently taken place points to a stalemate in international processes that can affect Georgia’s foreign policy provisions. In accordance with the international law perspective and definition, “war in a legal sense occurs when two or more states officially declare that a condition of hostilities exists between them,” certainly, if one analyzes the condition of two great powers at the time being, one can easily determine that Russia and USA have already declared a condition full of hostilities of geopolitical, geoeconomic and even geostrategic origin. As for the legal sense, the ongoing war is a clear indication and explanation of such relations between the Russia and USA. This war was declared, paradoxically, not on land, sea or air, but in virtual space. It happened when the Kremlin decided to employ a preemptive strike strategy and ordered its cyberwarfare units to attack the official sites and webpages of the US government and political parties. It is noteworthy that just several weeks before, Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized and endorsed the creation of a special service with direct subordination to Putin’s personal bodyguard and most loyal supporter Army General Viktor Zolotov, head of the National Guard. So appeared the Cyberwarfare Department, intended to coordinate and execute information warfare against the Western community. This also means that, essentially, Vladimir Putin holds leadership and command of the newly created Armed Forces formation. It seems he has been successful so far: soon after the creation of the new department, American cyberspace was targeted with highly sophisticated attacks from an unknown enemy. Nevertheless, as soon as they occurred, the US state special services – CIA, NSA and Cyber Command - blamed the Russians. Moreover, Vice President Joe Biden announced in an interview with NBC the
ongoing preparation for a counteroffensive - massive cyber-attacks on Russian governmental servers and key information institutions, most likely media holdings controlled by the Kremlin. In addition to that, the Kremlin has allegedly also ordered a strike against EU institutions by means of cyberwarfare in an inforwar. In mid-October 2016, the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee created and adopted a resolution noting and condemning an aggressive propaganda and information offensive on the populations of EU member states, as well as the increase in frequency of cyberwarfare attacks. By the abovementioned definition, this is a declaration of war against Russia at the virtual level. This means that a Cuban or Caribbean Crisis-like scenario is looming ever closer. Moreover, the geoeconomic background of the war is also clearly visible – economic sanctions and economic blockade proclaimed by the White House almost a year ago, including the so-called Magnitsky List barring several Russian officials from the US and the Kremlin’s decision to counter-attack with economic sanctions of its own also means a declaration or, at least, a threat of war between Russia and the USA. And at the last, geostrategic, level a war-game scenario is very likely to develop and can occur at any moment. Russia has made dangerous steps towards curtailing what its leadership claims to be American aggression against Russia. The 152nd Missile Brigade, possessing Iskander ballistic missiles (500 km range) has been relocated to the town of Chernyakhovsk in Kaliningard Oblast, ready to reinforce the already deployed 26th Missile Brigade in the same area. Additionally, the Kremlin is considering deploying a motorized rifle division armed with Iskander missiles in Kamchatka, close to the Alaska State, representing a direct threat to American territory – with a nuclear strike capability to boot. On October 18, the Russian State Duma ratified an agreement according to which Russia will be creating a special army grouping in the occupied Georgia territory of Abkhazia, at least 15 thousand strong and possessing tactical assault and defense armaments. According to some sources, the Russian MoD has already deployed four sets of S-400 missile defense systems in Abkhazia, aiming to create A2/ AD area denial zones against possible NATO interference in the Black Sea area. In addition, the military HQ currently stationed in Abkhazia also includes local separatist military formations (approximately 5 thousand strong) and is ready to relocate and put
on combat readiness level all subordinated military formations as well as the 49th Army units stationed in the Krasnodar Krai region. It would take the latter from 24 to 48 hours to reach Abkhazia, while the Novorossyisk-based airstrike-capable 7th Maritime Division and 10th and 21st Special Destination Brigade attached to GRU leadership would require up to one week. The strategic exercise named ‘Kavkaz-2016,’ conducted in the North Caucasus region in September included a hypothetical scenario of using a second strategic wave of units from the Central Military District, previously transferred to the European part of Russia from beyond the Urals. It seems that Russian General Staff seriously considers the reality of
a war taking place in the South Caucasus. It seems that Russian senior militaries have drawn some serious conclusions from the Russia-Georgia war of 2008. The third location for military competition between Russia and the US is Syria. On October 15, Russia decided to reinforce its naval grouping in the Mediterranean in order to “promote Russia’s naval appearance in important operative regions of the World’s Oceans,” as the MoD press center claims. Two nuclear-capable carriers “Admiral Kuznetsov” and “Petr Velikii” have entered the operational zone of the Russian Naval Force Grouping close to Syrian shores. It means that Syria is highly likely to become a frontline between the two parties in the near future.
OCTOBER 28 - 31, 2016
The ABC of Diplomacy, or Flying Doctors OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA
ccupied South Ossetia has decided to create its own airport, de-facto ruler of the territory, Leonid Tibilov, announced last
week. “We need an airport urgently and we are actively discussing this issue with Moscow,” Tibilov told Tass news agency. In general, transportation issues are nothing new in occupied Tskhinvali- the issue of the Roki tunnel was raised at the beginning of this year. However, then, Moscow was able to soothe this demand by promising increased subsidies on transportation to officials from Tskhinvali. Nevertheless, we are now witnessing another impromptu – “an airport”. The territory of occupied South Ossetia is 3.8 thousand sq. km, running alongside the river Liakhvi valley near the watershed range of the Caucasus. The only open space is the city of Tskhinvali itself, which is almost divided by the occupational line. Given its geographical arrangement, talking about building any sort of serious airport infrastructure is comical. The only infrastructure that
we can realistically imagine there is a helicopter pad. However, if we take into consideration the meteorological conditions with which the Java valley is connected with the main watershed range of the Caucasus, we can safely assume that this, too, is quite unrealistic. It is hardly believable that the de-facto leader of the occupied territory is unaware of these geographical nuances, which adds even greater intrigue to this strange initiative. It is no surprise that the policy of medical diplomacy carried out by Official Tbilisi is already wielding positive results. In both the occupied territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, people are already openly speaking about the hospitality of Georgians and the healthcare which is in compliance with European standards. Local officials even say that “Georgians are reaching a goal which they weren’t able to attain through weapons- through healthcare.” Exactly these arguments were presented by Tibilov in the Kremlin when he demanded the creation of an “independent airport.” “There is only one highway connecting us with Russia. The road is damaged quite frequently and we have trouble getting medical assistance to patients in need. Therefore, in order to
receive treatment they are obliged to travel to neighboring Georgia. This p ro j e c t , w i t h which they are trying to attract our citizens to Georgia, is financed by the West,” Tibilov told Vladislav Surkov, whom he met last week in Moscow. Surkov is the personal adviser of President Vladimir Putin on relations with Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Ukraine. Why did Tibilov raise this airport issue now? What will the transfer of, for example, one or two Mi-24 helicopters change for de-facto Tskhinvali when they have a long and cold winter ahead, most days of which will be completely unsuitable for flying? At a first glance, the answer would be – nothing. However, in reality, as Dmitry Sanakoyev, current Head of the Provisional Administration of South Ossetia established in 2007 in the Georgian-controlled territories of this separatist region, says, by doing so Tibilov is negotiating the decrease of their debt with the Kremlin. “The so-called South
Ossetian government runs a program which sends its citizens for medical treatment to different cities in Russia. However, these clinics have a limit which regulates the number of patients from the so-called South Ossetian territories that they are obliged to provide with assistance. This limit has long expired and the Administration of Tskhinvali has a large debt which needs to be paid back. Exactly because of this debt some of the Russian hospitals have started refusing to give medical treatment to South Ossetians. One such clinic is the hospital of Saint-Petersburg, which demands about RUB 5 million, (USD 80-90,000),” said Sanakoyev. While Moscow and Tskhinvali are clarifying the issue of offsetting debt and setting up “great aviation” between
them, the Red Cross is bringing two or three patients from Tskhinvali to Tbilisi on a daily basis. Treatment for these people is free of charge and naturally the ordinary citizens living in these occupied territories prefer to get free assistance in Gori or Tbilisi rather than travel thousands of kilometers to SaintPetersburg or Moscow, where they can only get limited (and expensive) treatment. Even the government officials from Tskhinvali prefer to send unhappy people to Tbilisi for treatment and put the money that is allocated for this from Moscow directly into their pockets. Simply put, the events taking place in the occupied territories are developing in favor of Tbilisi. Apparently, we are starting to learn the ABC of diplomacy and are building our long-term strategy exactly on such controversies.
GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 28 - 31, 2016
Rushing towards Amending the Constitution BY LINCOLN MITCHELL
he election that occurred earlier this month demonstrated that elections and democracy are improving in Georgia, but it also reinvigorated concerns about a pattern of one party dominance re-emerging. There were moments in the last four years when it seemed to many that Georgia could be moving towards a two party system. The simple fact of the United National Movementâ€™s (UNM) survival, even despite arrests and indictments of several of their leaders, was unusual by recent Georgian standards and suggested that the Georgian Dream (GD) was not as committed to consolidating one party dominance as the UNM had been when they came to power in 2003-4. The recent election, however, raises questions about the future of multi-party politics in Georgia. This is not, as might initially be suspected, due to any efforts of the GD to fraudulently increase their margin of victory in the election. Almost all election monitors agreed that had not occurred. Rather, the failure of the UNM to grow beyond their base and of parties like the Free Democrats and Republicans to take enough voters away from the GD, contributed to electoral victory for the GD that, pending the outcome of the second round elections on October 30th, could give the GD a constitutional majority. If that happens the GD will have enough votes in parliament not only to pass more or less any law they want, but to make changes to the Constitution as well. Given the likelihood that the GD will either have a constitutional majority or something very close, the question of what they will do with that majority is very important. At the moment, there is some reason for concern. Shortly after the election, it was reported that the GD was going to explore constitutional amendments that would focus on two issues:
The best way the GD could use their likely constitutional majority to deepen Georgian democracy and help build a genuine multiparty system would be to, at some point in the not too distant future, tinker with the electoral system to close this discrepancy between votes and seats
Georgian PM and leader of the ruling Georgian Dream party hugs ex-PM Ivanishvili. Source: AP
making the President appointed by parliament rather than directly elected by the people, and defining marriage as being between a man and a woman. If you programmed a computer to arrive at two proposals that would be bad for Georgia and damaging to the image the GD seeks to project internationally, it probably would have arrived at these two issues. The government has not affirmatively stated their commitment to making these amendments and the Prime Minister has suggested other approaches to amending the Constitution. However, at this writing it remains very possible that these two amendments will be part of any constitutional changes. A constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman would be a bad mistake for several reasons. First, it is never good to write discrimination into a constitution. The arguments in favor of this amendment are firmly on the side of reaction and intolerance and have been discredited in many countries around the world, particularly those that Georgia most admires. Second, as Georgia continues to move closer to Europe and becomes more integrated into European economics and culture, public opinion in Georgia will change. This is precisely why supporters of this amendment want it in the Constitution, because they know time is not on their side. Thus, if this amendment is passed it will, in a few years, be out of synch with Georgian public opinion and be a reminder of a less tolerant time for many Georgians. Third, given the efforts the Georgian government in undertaking to demonstrate to the west that it is genuinely western in its outlook, it is not wise to pass an amendment that sends the precise opposite message to most western governments as well as to the citizens of those countries. Georgia does not need its image in Europe or the US to be as another country that has laws discriminating against LGBT people. This is a particular problem for a country that seeks to increase western tourism and present itself as a culinary and cultural hub. Talk of amending the Constitution to make the president appointed by parliament rather than directly elected by the people is also problematic, albeit for different reasons. The Georgian Constitution, and the division of power between the President and the Prime Minister is an awkward construct, more the product of the ambitions of former President Mikheil Saakashviili than of any persua-
sive constitutional theory. Nonetheless, it has worked surprisingly well over the last few years. President Giorgi Margvelashvili, who was elected in 2013, has proven to be both a check on the government and a clear voice for democracy, reform and human rights in Georgia. Margvelashvili has been able to serve this role partially because of his political skill, but also because he is not responsible to anybody other than the voters. He is outside of the other political structures and has an independent electoral base. That base was, of course, initially created for him by the GD and its leader Bidzina Ivanishvili, but he has been able to put it to good use. If Parliament were to appoint both the Prime Minister and the President it would be dividing power among two executives who do not differ in how or by whom they were elected. In that scenario, dividing the power, even if only minimally, between the two Office holders would create confusion without any democratic or political rationale. Amending the Constitution in this manner would also be an unambiguous sign that the GD is trying to consolidate power and become not just the dominant, but essentially the only relevant political force in the country. The next presidential election is currently scheduled for 2018. That means that two years from now the Georgian people will have the opportunity, if they so desire, to reign in the power of the GD by electing somebody of a different party or who is critical of the GD leadership. Removing this option by changing the Constitution will make it easier for the GD to monopolize official political life in Georgia. In addition to possibly creating further obstacles on what has proven a very treacherous and winding road that may or may not lead to a multi-party democracy, efforts to consolidate power like this send absolutely the wrong message to international actors and play directly into the hands of the GDâ€™s domestic critics. Opponents of the GD are already darkly warning that after this election the GD will tighten its one party grip on the country. Given the magnitude of the GD victory that is both a real concern and perhaps even a political inevitability, it also may be an overstatement as, heated rhetoric notwithstanding, the GD spent a lot less effort consolidating its power than its opponents would like to think. Similarly, winning a big majority of seats is not the same as undermining democracy. However, by quickly pushing for
reforming the Constitution and getting rid of an independent elected president, the GD is creating problems for themselves, and for Georgia. The GD won an impressive victory in this election, one that is likely to be increased by the second round of elections, but they have also benefitted from an electoral system that turns small margins of votes into medium sized differences in seats, and in the case of this election, medium sized vote margins into large differences in seats. Accordingly, while the GD has the support of the people, they do not enjoy quite the mandate that their likely constitutional majority suggests. In this context, it is hard to view the proposed change to the presidency and the Constitution as anything other than an attempt to consolidate power. Moreover, it is a move that originates with fear and weakness, not with the strength and confidence that might be expected from a party that just won such a resounding election victory. Eliminating the elected presidency suggests a fear of any powerful critical voices, rather than a belief that the GD vision and policies can carry the day. The best way the GD could use their likely constitutional majority to deepen Georgian democracy and help build a genuine multi-party system would be to, at some point in the not too distant future, tinker with the electoral system to close this discrepancy between votes and seats. One easy way to do this would be to abol-
ish the single mandate seats altogether, but they could also replace these single mandate districts with larger multi-member districts or even lower the party list threshold. Significantly, nothing the GD is trying to do now is illegal or unconstitutional, nor have they committed fully to these amendments. They won this election and the election was generally viewed as free and fair. They benefited from opponents like the UNM that allowed themselves to be captured by the personal ambitions of former President Mikheil Saakashvili, the failure of like-minded parties like the Free Democrats and the Republicans to run together and, in general, opponents who neither coordinated nor executed a good strategy for the single mandate districts. The GD now finds itself pulled between a natural urge to enjoy the spoils of a legal and fair election win and the need to put short term political advantage to the side and do what is best for the longer term political development of the country. This is a tough conundrum, but it is clear that, at the very least, slowing down on any constitutional reforms would be the right thing to do, and in the long run would strengthen the GD, particularly internationally. The Georgia Analysis is a twice monthly analysis of political and other major developments in Georgia. Lincoln Mitchell is a political development, research and strategic consultant who has worked extensively in the post-Soviet space.
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OCTOBER 28 - 31, 2016
Resetting Georgia-NATO Relations EU Continued from page 4
UNANSWERED QUESTIONS Undoubtedly, both NATO and Georgian officials are frustrated by the situation, since NATO’s words do not reflect NATO’s deeds, while Georgia’s expectations have failed to materialize. The implicit veto that Russia has over Georgia’s desire to join the Alliance hangs over that country like the Sword of Damocles, despite repeated statements by western politicians and diplomats that Russia has no such veto. Although Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President François Hollande and United States President Barack Obama said “no” to a Georgian MAP, European NATO officials have kept a low profile, failing to clearly articulate that Georgia’s chances of receiving a MAP were, and still are, very low. On the other hand, American NATO officials have been more forthcoming, since they have felt obliged to be frank, blunt and less constrained by political correctness. There is no doubt whatsoever that the European leaders’ official political correctness hindered them when it comes to speaking clearly on this crucial issue. At the same time, Georgian officials have made a grave mistake by not challenging European NATO officials on the issue of a MAP or membership. On the other hand, maintaining a calm and amicable position has not helped Georgia. In the end, their officials are left with plenty of unanswered questions and thus have a difficult task in trying to convey a clear message to ordinary Georgians.
DISAPPOINTMENT AND ANGER Bearing all this in mind, what can we expect from Georgian officials after the Warsaw Summit? What Georgian leaders have to understand and acknowledge is that they were the ones who failed to revise their policies and relations with NATO over the last eight years. Today, they urgently need not just revision, which is long overdue, but a whole new way of thinking, a new approach and finally, a new understanding with NATO. On the other hand, NATO is likely to be very reluctant to admit that its consistent open door policy towards Georgia has failed. Even so, NATO has to realize that its open door policy, which successfully brought Albania and Croatia into NATO in 2008 and which has recently led to Montenegro being invited to join, cannot be equaled by granting Georgia a MAP and ultimately bringing it into the Alliance. The decision to grant Georgia a MAP means that the Alliance is ready to defend Georgia against Russia, even though Georgia is not yet a member. The threat of Russia attacking Georgia cannot be underestimated and is very real. Defending Georgia remains the most difficult issue for the Alliance to unanimously agree upon. NATO pursues a very cautious approach towards Russia, not because it is afraid of it but because it understands that confrontation with Russia would require the support of the EU population, would be very costly and would create a heavy burden for the allied leaders to carry. These crucial points are neither explained nor understood in Georgia and, as a result, need to be conveyed and explained at length to both Georgian politicians and ordinary Georgians alike. What is evident is that after the Warsaw Summit, both Georgian and NATO top officials need to sit down for a serious brainstorming session to iron out their differences on difficult issues and set out new guidelines for Georgia-NATO relations. Transparency aside, certain parts of these new guidelines should be conveyed to the Georgian public. They should receive a clear explanation as to why NATO has failed to bring Georgia into the Alliance over the last eight years. Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary General of the Alliance, should clearly state that: “Yes, Georgia is our closest partner but is not a member, since the Alliance lacks consensus on that issue.” Being honest with himself and with the Georgian public will help mitigate the feeling of betrayal and disenchantment that Georgians are currently feeling
towards NATO. Furthermore, Stoltenberg’s statement would help counter Russia and Russian sympathizers in Georgia who claim that: “We informed you Georgians all along that NATO was not ready to bring you in. You never believed us and clung to the hope that the indecisive Alliance would stick to the promise it made at the Bucharest Summit back in 2008. It is time to face the facts.”
TO START ANEW Several key points outlined below should be taken into consideration when determining the best way to reset relations following the Warsaw Summit: First and foremost, Stoltenberg should state loudly and clearly that a MAP is obligatory for Georgia. It is also of the utmost importance that the North Atlantic Council (NAC), as the principal decision-making body of NATO, reinforces Stoltenberg’s statement that a MAP is not just important but crucial for Georgia. Countries that receive a MAP are not simply Alliance aspirants, but official candidates for NATO membership. Thus, it is critical to emphasize the linkage between a MAP and membership to Georgian officials and the expert community in Georgia. Second, discussions in Georgia about receiving a MAP should be toned down, de-politicized and the Georgian leadership should ultimately be sober-minded about the chances of Georgia quickly getting a MAP. Third, there is a notion in Georgia that “We Georgians are entitled.” As a result of the country’s progress in following NATO and EU guidelines in pursuing various reforms and strengthening democracy, Georgia feels that it deserves to get NATO membership. This sense of entitlement needs to be toned down. For those impatient Georgians who live in the shadow of a belligerent Russia, this
is easier said than done. Nevertheless, both sides need to determine how to solve the issue of strategic patience. It should also be stressed that questions such as when Georgia will receive a MAP will be asked repeatedly. Fourth, NATO constantly praising Georgian achievements (particularly in Afghanistan) whilst at the same time pouring cold water on that country’s expectations, confuse and exasperate Georgians. Therefore, NATO officials need to be forthright. Fifth, European and American NATO experts on strategic communications should form a link between NATO, Georgian officials and ordinary Georgians. This team of experts must have expertise in Georgian domestic, foreign and security policy and be capable of delivering concise and precise messages from NATO to Georgia and back. They also need to be fluent in Russian. This point is of utmost importance, since the team should debate NATO issues throughout Georgia, not just in the capital, Tbilisi. It is up to NATO and Georgian officials to agree whether or not one of the aims of this team is to counter Russian anti-NATO propaganda, as well as some of Georgia’s political anti-NATO rhetoric. is no guarantee that these suggestions will be seriously considered by either side. However, without a new impetus in bilateral relations, Georgia has little chance of overcoming its impasse, while NATO’s eternal lack of consensus will remain a stumbling block. The only winner in this situation will be Russia. In the end, acrimony and accusations may fly, but they do not help Georgia or NATO under the current, difficult circumstances. Kogan is a defense and security expert affiliated with the Tbilisi-based Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies.
to Grant Georgia EUR 30 mln
Kvirikashvili at the Government meeting
BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI
newly allocated grant of EUR 30 mln is to be given to Georgia for the successful implementation of the public management reform, Prime Minister Kvirikashvili announced. “Public Management is an integral part of the four stage governmental reform and support from the European Union is very important in this regard,” Kviri-
kashvili said. “It underlines the significance of establishing European-type governing institutions in Georgia. Effort will be needed to ensure that all the requirements of the EU Association Agreement are dully met and that Georgia has governance that complies with European legislation, and involves each citizen in the governing and decision-making process,” he added. Kvirikashvili and the the Ambassador of the EU to Georgia, Janos Herman, will discuss the details of the agreement during a briefing scheduled for Friday.
GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 28 - 31, 2016
In the Constitutional Majority We Trust OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE
onstitutional Majority- this pair of words is the most overused and overcharged polit-lingual entry in today’s political vocabulary of Georgia. The talk about majority in general, and constitutional majority in particular, is presently big and bitter in the country. Technically, the word ‘majority’ is not difficult to comprehend but perception-wise it might take a lot of time and smarts to figure out. There are 150 deputies in our parliament and the majority is made up of seventy-six of them, which is called a simple majority: 75+1= 76. The so called constitutional majority, according to the current text of the main law of the land, is made of three fourths of the parliamentary membership, which constitutes 113 members. This figure was constitutionally established with the only purpose to render practically impossible any further changes to the big document if it occurred to somebody to go against the will of the introducers of the ‘one-fourth’. The generic information has it that in most countries the figure is ‘two-thirds’. A majority is used for passing most of the laws to the liking of the extant majority, but its majesty, the constitutional majority, is meant for getting bigger jobs done, like alterations of the constitutional text or amendments to said text, if necessary. We could probably call the election results in Georgia a “trilateral democracy,” or democracy expressed in the will and act of three political parties, – one of them the ruling majority, the other the minority and the third the mini-minority, so to speak. Well, this is better than nothing because the expectations concerning the new parliamentary forces were much more diversified than this. Let us call it a surprise if nothing else. But the bigger surprise is yet to come, and that is the constitutional majority to be won by the ruling party. This is exactly where the nation is split on whether it is good or bad for the country. Having talked to some of the most reliable experts, I came to believe that a constitutional majority, in its classic understanding of the term, is not quite
what a salubrious democratic process is asking for in terms of nursing and maintaining it as part of our public life. If a relevant American paradigm would mean anything when dwelling upon the issue of constitutional majority, here it goes: the US House and/ or Senate can only do business if a majority of members, called a quorum, are present in the respective chamber. Changing the Constitution is difficult. There are only 27 amendments, and 10 were adopted in the late 18th century. Any change requires both the House and Senate to pass an amendment and the president to sign it. Then
European Parliament Calls on EU Council to Start Negotiations over Georgia’s Visa-Liberalization BY THEA MORRISON
uropean Parliament's Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE) has sent a letter to European Chair country Slovakia, requesting they start negotiations over Georgia’s visa-liberalization without further delay. EP Members (MEPs) are calling on the Council to start trilateral negotiations "as soon as possible, ideally in early November." According to the European Parliament, Georgia has fulfilled all obligations undertaken under the Visa Liberalization Action Plan (VLAP) which includes four blocks of benchmarks related to document security, including biometrics; border management, migration and asylum; public order and security; and external relations and fundamental rights. Moreover, in their letter, the MEPs disagree with the decision of EU Council, according to which the three-party talks should not begin until an agreement on a “suspension mechanism” is reached. The Committee of Permanent Representatives in the European Union (COREPER) agreed to engage in final discussions about Georgia’s visa-free travel to the European Union (EU) in early October. The decision came after members of the LIBE voted in favor of opening inter-institutional negotiations on Georgia’s visa waiver proposal– a legislative procedure in which the European Parliament enters into negotiations on a legislative proposal with other EU institutions, including the European Council, whose approval is also required for the visa-liberalization to enter into force. The Council approved the Commission’s proposal to allow Georgian citizens to travel in the Schengen Zone without visas for a stay of 90 days in any 180-day period. However, the European Council has the view that Georgia’s visa-liberalization should come into effect at the same time as the "suspension mechanism”. The “suspension mechanism” makes it easier for member states to highlight circumstances which might lead to a suspension, by enabling the Commission to trigger the mechanism on its own initiative, and by tasking the Commission to send an annual report to the European Parliament and Council on the extent to which visa-exempt third countries continue to meet the necessary criteria. European parliament building. Source: edu.hstry.co
comes the hard part: seventy-five percent of the 50 state legislatures have six years to pass it, otherwise it will not happen. Here is an example: In 1946, Congress passed and the president signed an amendment to limit the presidency to two four-year terms. By 1951, the required 75 percent of the state legislatures had passed it. Bingo: the XXII Amendment! This example won’t help us much in designing a more rational pattern for the main law, but it might, as a minimum, serve as an instance of practicality in politics. There is of course suspicion that the ruling party, which is in a couple of days is expected to win the
constitutional majority, might use the newly acquired absolute power in its own interests. On the other hand, the self same ruling party has shown no inclination towards dictatorship in the last four years, so the people’s trust in their anti-dictatorial character is firm enough to have them give the majority of their votes to that party. Hopefully, the next four years of rule will remain clean of the desire to usurp the entire political power even if the constitutional majority is at their disposal. In this case, any majority, be it simple or constitutional, is not going to be overly dangerous for our budding democracy. Maybe even the contrary!
OCTOBER 28 - 31, 2016
Holy C**p: Ogden on the Pope, Russia & Georgian Sentiment OP-ED BY TIM OGDEN
n the whole I've nothing particularly against faith and the belief in life after death. While I personally hope that the afterlife resembles something like the Viking notion of Valhalla, I don't particularly mind if some devout Georgians would prefer it to be an everlasting supra with their families; to each their own. So, Bebo (the Georgian for 'grandmother'), you enjoy listening to endless toasts about your family given by your late grandfather, I'll be in the next field spearing my celestial enemies and then rolling around on the grass with big busted Valkyries. (I hope there's not a hell, but if there is I imagine it would resemble something like an eternal debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, or reading an endless version of one of those insane and nonsensical posts from that chap Winston Davison or whoever the hell he is.) I have, however, never been foolish enough to confuse religion with belief in God. I feel I should point out that while this is indeed a problem that affects Georgia, my adopted homeland is not alone in its affliction, and at least hardcore Orthodox Christians can be trusted not to start terrorist groups and fly planes through buildings and put bombs on buses. However, the Orthodox fervour in Georgia has become stronger and more worrying recently, as the national reaction to the visit of Pope Francis showed. The old schism between the Orthodox and the Catholic churches was ostensibly the reason behind the demonstrations against Pope Francis' visit to Georgia, as they claimed that the Pope was intending to convert Orthodox Georgians to
CARTOON: Brian Patrick Grady
Catholocism, but it is likely it has far more to do with the increasing antiEuropean sentiment in the country. I feel that I should also say that on a personal level, I don't see what all the fuss is about. Were it a Muslim imam coming to preach in a stadium, I might see the point of any protesting angry Georgians who have a rather mixed (putting it mildly) history with Islam, but to the layman (and from what I've seen, I can't help but think that even churchgoing Georgians have only the most basic
understanding of their faith) the differences between Catholicism and Orthodoxy matter little and less. After all, both are branches of the same religion, both believe in Jesus, and since it is from him that Christianity takes its name and the beliefs are fundamentally the same, you'd think that Christians might be able to rub along well enough without too much hassle. My doubt about Georgian church-goers' knowledge of their religion stems from the fact that few traditionally-minded
Georgians I've met have claimed to read the Bible, and from hearing that those who say they do go to speak to their priests have gone to seek advice about matters such as relationships, finance and employment. I can understand one going to a priest for clarification on matters of faith, or perhaps with understanding a tricky passage of the Bible. I cannot see how a priest could do a better job in advising people about finance than TBC Bank employees, nor can I see how a man
sworn to a life of celibacy could give meaningful relationship advice beyond 'Be a good wife, it's written in the book that you should be'. I could be wrong; perhaps the Georgian priestly academy is a combination of monastery, the International School of Economics, and the Dr. Phil show. I would be prepared to bet that most Georgians, offhand, could not say what the major differences between Catholicism and Orthodoxy might be, and that the anger felt by Georgian conservatives stems from the fact that the Pope represents a foreign entity rather than a different religious doctrine. Religion and culture are so historically entwined in Georgia, a perceived threat against one is seen as endangering the other. It seems that anti-West is synonymous with pro-Russia, hence the election of the Alliance of Patriots into Parliament in this month's election. Growing apathy and disenchantment with the West is something I can well understand, but pro-Russian sentiment from Georgians is far beyond me. Some Georgians, it appears, have selective memories of their history; the 2008 war, the Abkhaz conflicts of the 1990s, the 1989 Tbilisi massacre, the Soviet occupation, and Russia's failure to aid Georgia against its Muslim enemies in the 1800s despite military assistance being the chief term on which Georgia was incorporated into the Muscovite empire...NATO and the EU might not have lived up to their promises yet, but a little Western hesitancy pales in comparison to Russia's relations with Georgia. Perhaps if the EU sticks to its word and grants Georgia visa liberalization with the continent in January it would go some way to restoring Georgians' opinion of the West, but whatever happens, I would love for someone to explain to me exactly how Putin's Russia would be a better partner for our country.
Presenting Planta - the Largest Greenhouse in Georgia BY THEA MORRISON
n Wednesday, Georgia’s Co-Investment Fund (GCF) presented the largest greenhouse complex in the country - Planta. The complex is another successful investment project administered by the GCF, implemented in cooperation with the French Richel Group and Dutch Company Certhon. The greenhouse is located in Gardabani, Kakheti region, and its first stage, which envisaged developing the greenhouse complex on an area of 4.4 hectares, was finalized in 2015. More than 10 million GEL was initially invested in the project. The second stage was implemented in 2016 and the complex was extended to 12 hectares, which enabled the complex to triple its production. The investment of the project was increased to USD 22.2 million. Planta greenhouse is equipped with modern technologies and has experienced Dutch and French agro engineers,
Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili and gov’t officials at Planta- the largest greenhouse complex in Georgia
technologists and biologists supervising the working process. The high quality products grown in the greenhouse complex carry the trademark of Planta. It is the only exporter of cucumber in Georgia, exporting large quantities to the Russian Federation. This greenhouse complex has been
producing 2000 tons of goods per year but since increasing the greenhouse area, annual production capacity is now expected to exceed 6000 tons. The Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, and other government officials visited the complex on Wednesday. Kvirikashvili noted that Georgia’s
Co-investment Fund plays an important role in developing local industry and fostering employment opportunities. “I am very glad that an agricultural enterprise of such high quality exists in Georgia today," the Prime Minister stated, adding that the production of Planta, which meets European standards, will be sold on the local market and will also be exported.
“This is a clear example of using existing opportunities, including the Free Trade Agreement with the European Union, to increase local investment and employment opportunities,” said Kvirikashvili. 146 local residents are currently employed at the enterprise but this is expected to increase to 250 by the end of the year.
OCTOBER 28 - 31, 2016
World Bank: Georgia among Top Reformers in Doing Business
TBC Bank Group Becomes the Owner of KOPENBUR Insurance Company BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI
Continued from page 1
The report revealed that Georgia has improved its positions in several areas compared to the report of the previous year, now in the 16th position among 190 countries. Last year Georgia’s overall position in this raking was 23. According to the report, globally, Georgia stands at 8 in the ranking of 190 economies on the ease of starting a business. The WB notes that in 2012, Georgia simplified business start-ups by eliminating the requirement to visit a bank to pay registration fees. The report also found that in Georgia women could start a business in the same way as men. As for the dealing with construction permits, Georgia stands at 8 in the ranking, preceding Armenia, Turkey and Azerbaijan. According to the report, in 2016 Georgia made dealing with construction permits easier by reducing the time needed for issuing building permits. According to data collected by Doing Business, Georgia is in the 39th position on ease of getting electricity. Last year Georgia held 65th position in this category. The report underlines that in 2013 Georgia made getting electricity easier by simplifying the process of connecting new customers to the distribution network and reducing connection fees and in 2016 the government increased the reliability of power supply by rolling out
an electricity network remote monitoring system for the monitoring of outages and introducing penalties on the Utility for excessive outages. As for registering property, the WB report says that globally, Georgia stands at 3 in the ranking of 190 economies on the ease of registering property, preceding its neighbor countries in the region. “Georgia improved the quality of land administration by increasing coverage of all maps for privately held land plots in the main business city,” the report reads. Georgia stands at 7 in the ranking of 190 economies on the ease of getting credit, the same position as the previous year. However, the report says that Georgia improved its credit information system by implementing a new law on personal data protection. According to WB, Georgia is in 7th position on the strength of minority investor protection index, which is a huge step forward, as it held position 22 in this category last year. “Georgia strengthened minority investor protections by increasing shareholder rights and role in major corporate decisions and by clarifying ownership and control structures,” the DB 2017 report reads. As for the category of paying taxes, Georgia is in the 22nd position, up from 35 in the DB 2016 report. DB 2017 high-
lights that Georgia made paying taxes easier by abolishing an additional annex to corporate income tax returns and by improving the efficiency of the online system used for filing VAT returns. Moreover, Georgia stands at 54 in the ranking of 190 economies on the ease of trading across borders. According to the previous report, Georgia stood at 62 in the ranking. DB 2017 underlines that this year Georgia made export and import documentary compliance faster by improving its electronic document processing system, as well as introducing an advanced electronic document submission option. Georgia stands at 16 in the ranking of 190 economies on the ease of enforcing contracts, slightly improving its position. According to DB 2016, Georgia made enforcing contracts easier by introducing an electronic filing system for court users. The report says that well-functioning insolvency systems can facilitate access to finance, save more viable businesses and sustainably grow the economy. Georgia stands at 106 in the ranking, without having made any progress in this field, as last year, it was in the 101st position. Doing Business 2017 presents the indicators, analyzes their relationship with economic outcomes and presents business regulatory reforms. The report is based on the data of June 1, 2016.
BC Bank Group has signed an agreement with insurance company KOPENBUR, becoming its 100% shareholder in a decision made by the TBC Bank Group according to their strategy for diverse financial services and varied products to offer clients. The re-branding of KOPENBUR is planned for the upcoming months, with clients able to use the insurance company’s products from the New Year. KOPENBUR was set up in 2014 with a focus on car insurance, holding 9% of the market, according to the data from June 30. Following the acquisition, KOPEN-
The group plans to expand its service portfolio by adding new insurance products: travel insurance, credit line, life insurance, business property and loan insurance
BUR, as a new and re-branded insurance company, becomes a major partner for TBC Bank, while the group also plans to expand its service portfolio by adding new insurance products: travel insurance, credit line, life insurance, business property and loan insurance to its spectrum. The new insurance company will be oriented towards the retail market and services for physical entities. TBC Bank plans to reach 25% of the market, the first investment to be up to 8 million GEL for the upgrade of the company capital and its technological development. KOPENBUR currently employs almost 100 professionals who will continue to work under the experienced management of Paata Ghadzadze - Deputy Director of TBC Bank and David Kiguradze, who has previously worked as a director for numerous TBC Bank-owned companies in Azerbaijan and Georgia, in addition to the experience of managing one of the leading insurance companies in the country. “We will primarily focus on the development of retail business. TBC Bank gives an excellent opportunity for that, which most importantly means introducing new products and providing better service offerings to our clients, for which TBC is already well-known. We aim to have the best service and product that our clients can fully benefit from,” said Vakhtang Butskhrikidze TBC Bank CEO during the press conference to introduce the recent acquisition. According to Paata Ghadzadze by becoming the 100% shareholder of Kopenbur, TBC Bank will be better able to accommodate for complex insurance policies as required by its clientele, not only specially tailored to their needs but also designed to be less time consuming and extremely client-friendly. At the same time this transaction fully complies with the group’s financial strategy to expand its area of financial services and make the company more attractive to the investors.
PASHA Bank to Sponsor TMG 2016 – Telecom Meetings in Georgia
or the second consecutive year, PASHA Bank is to sponsor Telecom Meetings in Georgia, a two-day annual event that will take place on October
26-27. Since 2010, Telecom Meetings in Geor-
gia (TMG) have acted as an important platform for around 100 representatives of medium and large sized enterprises from Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Europe. TMG is an important event for both local and international operators to share
experiences and make new connections. Among the participants are mobile and fixed line operators, internet providers and manufacturers of various telecom equipment, such as LINX Telecom (Netherlands), Apelby Communications (Czech Republic), PCCW Global (Hong Kong), OTEGLOBE (Greece), Turkcell Superonline (Turkey) and other telecom sector players. There has been a growing interest towards the region recently, which is why, the above-mentioned companies
visit TMG every year in order to strengthen the existing contacts with local operators and to seek new opportunities. “It is the second year that PASHA Bank is sponsoring TMG, once again underlining our desire to support the development of local business and economy. We hope the meetings will contribute to the development of the country’s telecom industry. Considering our focus on corporate business development, we are willing to continue supporting similar
business events in future,” said Goga Japaridze, Commercial Director and Member of the Board of Directors at PASHA Bank Georgia. “PASHA Bank is sponsoring our event for the second year. Considering the Bank’s strategy to support those projects aimed at development and growth of the country’s economy, we are more than happy that TMG 2016 is among those projects and PASHA Bank sees its importance,” said Sophie Amiranashvili, organizer of TMG 2015.
OCTOBER 28 - 31, 2016
Doing Doors: Etseri, Svaneti BY TONY HANMER
building project up here in the middle of nowhere can be a daunting prospect, where materials, skilled labor and equipment might be few and very far between. Take my garage. My father in law and brother in law came about 600 km from Kakheti to build its walls; not because no one else could, of course, but just to help us out. The roof was added a year later, by two local men who have "putting in two small windows" as part of their agreed role; we’re still waiting a year later, despite much pleading. But the doors... two big main ones through which I'll drive the 4x4, and a small personal one? The sheet steel and other components for them I bought in Zugdidi, 110 km below us, about two years ago, following my father in law's instructions. There's a big metal bazaar there. The only thing is, you have to buy things in certain minimum amounts. If you want a 6 mm thick steel sheet of a particular size, cut, you have to buy the perhaps several square meters extra which it came from; they don't store and sell off-cuts, more's the pity. It can get expensive! Now we want to have the thing lockable, before the onset of yet another winter, so we can, you know, PUT stuff into it. So the doors' designer and builder are separated by about 600 km and two years. Would things still line up? More or less; the builder decided that we were short a few 90-degree angle irons of various
lengths, so I made a special Saturday trip to Zugdidi, public transport from our village being the cheapest and most convenient way to do this, and ordered them, paid, picked them up, and delivered them home. Then began a lengthy welding process, for which my "puny" 400 GEL welding machine was inadequate; another neighbor's ancient, heavy monster one was called for, one which takes so much electricity that they had to wire it straight into the house mains. What a saga! The builder even made a platform of logs and planks at working height so he could weld in comfort without having to bend to the ground; he and his university-age son did the lifting while I was out. I returned, and two huge, ponderously weighty main doors were assembled, leaving us (me, at least) to consider how we would move them into position for the critically accurate step of welding the doors, hinges and frame to each other. The son left for Tbilisi; he's about to start a uni course in Ukraine. So I asked a couple of other neighbor lads to help with the remaining heavy work. They soon appeared. Lift onto concrete blocks; lever, wedge, stabilize; rinse and repeat, getting ever closer to the level in all three dimensions, and fixing each door there. It was a good demonstration of using mechanical advantage to do jobs both much too heavy and too exacting for one or two people alone, brains winning over brawn. I was impressed; he's clearly done this many times before! Welding four hinges into place seemed almost trivial compared to what had just
gone before, but I could see myself getting this, too, badly wrong, and ending up with two doors fixed and unable to move at all, or welded to each other, or some other such travesty. In my workman's hands it went smoothly; or at least if anything went awry and needed him to repair it, he coolly kept this knowledge from me, which was also fine. He added a mechanical lock from the
inside, so that these doors can't be unlocked at all from outside; my idea, but he agreed that it was useful because, after all, the main lock can be on the smaller, person-size door. Which we'll get to once my wife and I return from a few days' trip to her people in Kakheti. And THEN... not only the car, but a whole houseful of tools will have its permanent 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 1350 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
OCTOBER 28 - 31, 2016
Games for Peace, Melting Ice between People Living in Frozen Conflicts
To break conflict-related stereotypes between divided parts of society, tech specialists from Elva Community Engagement developed an online game named Peace Park that connects peers from across the dividing lines. Source: Elva
BY TAMAR SVANIDZE
decade ago if someone had mentioned that internet games and new technologies would be an effective way to build trust between conflicting parts of society, it would have been akin to science fiction. But today it is a reality, with internet being actively used to diminish physical borders between divided parts of society and make it easier to fill the information gap between communities in conflict, who often know very little about each other. At least two decades have passed since ethnic conflicts broke out between Georgia and its two breakaway regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Today, this conflict remains “frozen,” which means there are no clear military activities, but the territories are still occupied, administrative borders are drawn between Georgia and its breakaway territories, people lack free movement inside the country and internally displaced persons
are unable to return to their homes which they were forced to leave after the wars. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, this small country of 3 million people suffered a number of civil wars which left thousands of people homeless and about 20 percent of its territory occupied. Nino Kalandarishvili, Chair of the Board of the Institute for the Study of Nationalism and Conflicts (ISNC) emphasizes that negative narratives and propaganda from both sides have created an informational vacuum between communities, causing them to lose trust in each other as they perceive their own version of reality, where very often information is either out of date or feeds a common narrative disseminated by more vocal parts of society. “From 2012 the Georgian Government changed the narrative and policy toward its breakaway regions and is now focused on trust building. The Ministry of Reintegration became the Ministry of Reconciliation and Civil Equality. Such tiny details in the trust building process make a lot of sense. And if youngsters from
both sides think about such small details, the peace resolution between us will be much more effective,” Kalandarishvili said. Sandor Koles, a Hungarian-born sociologist and Senior Advisor to the Budapest based International Center for Democratic Transition (ICDT), who has carried out a number of peacebuilding projects across Eastern Europe, emphasized that to build trust it is important to break through the mental borders dividing separated parts of society, and equally important to change the narrative from conflict to cooperation. “If people see that they are similar and understand each other's motivations and attitudes, we have made the first steps towards building confidence, which leads us to the next step, which is finding common practical themes and issues around which the people can start to cooperate with each other,” Koles said, highlighting that, together with physical barriers, in many cases mutual mistrust is a psychological obstacle, a mental border which prevents the two disputing parts from communicating. Today, the internet has changed peace building approaches and organizations focused on conflict resolution projects often use the internet as a tool to connect people from different sides with different backgrounds. Two years ago a group of Georgian and Abkhaz teenagers participated in a project which aimed to build trust by play-
ing Minecraft, a well-known internet game, which is popular among youngsters around the world. To break the conflict-related stereotypes between the divided parts of society, tech specialists from Elva Community Engagement, in cooperation with the European Union and UNDP in Georgia, developed an online game named Peace Park that connects peers from across the dividing lines, with the goal of transforming them into peace brokers. Nino Nanitashvili, Country Manager of Elva, emphasized that the aim of the project was to overcome political, geographical and even verbal barriers between youngsters who have had little communication with each other over the last 20 years. “Participants of the project were born after the civil war between Georgians and Abkhaz. Their perception of and attitudes towards each other were based on stories which they had heard from the older generation, narratives which are mostly negative. Our goal was to create a positive experience and positive narratives between Georgian and Abkhaz peers,” Nanitashvili said. Lana, a facilitator of the Gali team in a town located between Georgia and its breakaway region of Abkhazia, believes that games which are separated from arguments and politics should ‘definitely’ be used for peacebuilding between those parts of society not on speaking terms. “When I saw how they played as a
strong team, though apart and able to see each other only through the screen, it really amused me. Not being able to talk each other's languages, they tried to use a "third" language that only they could speak and understand,” she said. Yet Sandro Asatiani, coordinator of a new media and technology master program at Georgia’s Institute of Public Affairs (GIPA), emphasizes that although virtual reality has its advantages in bringing together a divided part of society, giving them the chance to go and see different places, and meet with different people without restrictions, at the same time it runs the risk of spreading a vast amount of “dis-information” potentially damaging to the peacebuilding process. “People are not always nice enough to use technologies to make the world a better place to live in,” Asatiani says. “Internet is uncontrolled and a perfect means to spread any kind of information or propaganda which can aggravate the conflict rather than solve it. We should be very careful when using the internet as a tool for peace promotion.” The participants of the project, however, see things in a positive way. “Decades have passed since Georgians and Abkhaz people lost faith in each other. I think it’s time to start rebuilding the broken bridge. If we don’t start, the right time for it will never come. I believe now is the time to start rebuilding peace between us,” said project participant Keti Evsia from Zugdidi.
Genuine Brazilian Cuisine in the Heart of Tbilisi BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES
he first of its kind in Georg i a , a n d h e a d e d by renowned Brazilian chef Luiz Alberto Chimello- who has a plethora of restaurants under his belt- seven in London alone, Rio the Brazilian Grill opened just three weeks ago. Luiz’s inspiration? His mother’s kitchen. “I miss my mother very much,” he says. “She was an incredible woman- so talented, so professional, so creative. She never needed a recipe book. Cooking was my first love- it is my life.” A five year stint working in a bank confirmed his life choice and he took himself to Italy in 2005, where he happened upon a Brazilian restaurant and
offered his help. His career as a chef took off from there and now he spends his time traveling around the world opening restaurants and training staff in the Brazilian way. He has so far opened restaurants in Italy, London, Scotland, the USA, Ukraine and now Georgia. Rio the Brazilian Grill has already seen the elite of Tbilisi society passing through its doors- from the Brazilian Ambassador himself to various government officials, models and TV personalities. Yet the restaurant is also aiming to cater for other segments of society- with the Tbilisi State University just one block away, Rio is offering the student population a 10 % discount on meals. The deal for all is “come hungry and eat all you can” of the set price buffet: soups, daily fresh salads, a cheese assortment, and a variety of hot and cold dishes- including the famed Brazilian Grilled Pineapple with Cinnamon and Churrasco a Rodizio, already very popular with the Georgian clientele. “They come for an original experience,” the Chef says. “And we give it to them- I don’t compromise on that.” You will find no fusion dishes in Rio – just pure Brazilian tastes, smells and sounds. “All the meat comes from Georgia- the beef, chicken, pork and lamb. The ingredients here are just right. Every day at Rio restaurant we offer around 15 meat dishes- pork & parmesan, chicken with bacon, lamb chops...all presented just so.” Chef Luiz admires the Georgians and says he has enjoyed training them. The only challenge he has faced so far is trying to get Georgians to like the famous
black bean ‘Feijoada’- “They just won’t go for it,” he says. Presentation is everything- and each dish, from fresh buffet salad to spit-roast, appears against a backdrop as colorful and energetic as the Brazilians themselves. “We are a happy people,” the Chef tells me. “Always smiling. That is how it must be in every restaurant; that is how it is here.” And certainly the staff were very attentive, friendly and smartly dressed. The restaurant features a blend of homely and contemporary- equal parts wood and glass, with high ceilings and a cozy mezzanine. “Since opening two weeks ago we have been giving each of our customers feedback forms to fill in before they go,” Amir, son of the owner, told me. “We value
their opinion. So far we’ve been getting top reviews and ‘5-star’ ratings.” Amir and his father Amin, from Iran, became interested in Brazilian cuisine from their experiences in China and Ukraine. They first heard about Chef Luis in Kyiv. The only feature lacking in Rio right now is a live Brazilian band. “We’re looking,” Amir says. “But before that we’ll have a few well-known Brazilian singers coming- we’ll let you know the line-up soon. For now, it’s a secret!” Our advice? Give Rio a try this weekend. Not only will you leave full, but you’ll take away a little piece of that Brazilian warmth and positivity, too. 8 Napareuli Street, Vake 591 68 00 02 Open: 12:00PM - 2:00AM
OCTOBER 28 - 31, 2016
HALLOWEEN SPECIAL: A Georgian Makeup Artist Prepares for Halloween creative, but at the same time precise: one tiny mistake can ruin the look. Getting it right takes practice.
HOW DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN THE FUTURE: A PROFESSIONAL MAKE-UP ARTIST OR A LAWYER?
Tina Shalikashvili’s Halloween Makeup
BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI
ith Halloween just around the corner, GEORGIA TODAY got in touch with upand-coming make-up artist, Tinna Shalikashvili, 19, who is gaining popularity with her horrifying makeup transformations through her private hobby-studio “Make-up By Tinnash.”
WHY AND HOW DID YOU DECIDE TO GET INTO THEATRICAL MAKE-UP? At the moment it’s more like a hobby as
I’m focused on my studies at the Free University Faculty of Law, Tbilisi, which takes up a lot of my time. I really have to study hard, but the make-up side is becoming increasingly important to me- so I often study at night and practice make-up during the day. I often find myself lacking in sleep!
HAVE YOU ENROLLED ON ANY TRAINING COURSES FOR MAKE-UP? No. I don’t think it’s necessary; I would say you can learn through practice and the Internet is an enormous resource for that. Of course, it’s important to know the structure of the human face and application techniques. I’ve been drawing since
my childhood, that’s why I already knew the basics of it. Youtube videos are extremely helpful and I watch a lot of them. Make-up is a hugely popular trend in the world right now, but not in Georgia, unfortunately,
WHAT DREW YOU TO HALLOWEEN MAKEUP SPECIFICALLY? Probably my love of everything extraordinary and different… I like to do things according to my own tastes, independently. In regular make-up you are limited to the choice of the palette, whereas Halloween make-up has no boundaries and you’re free to improvise, to do whatever you would like to do. It’s very
I don’t know… I think make-up is still my hobby, a second profession maybe. There are so many lawyers in Georgia, and the competition is so high- you have to really be a top professional in the field to succeed. I’m often told I have to have another profession, too. For some it will sound funny for a lawyer or judge to also be a make-up artist, but I don’t think it’s impossible. I think there’s nothing shameful in having additional income.
DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER HOBBIES? I love painting and singing. I admire people who are extraordinary and do not allow themselves to be stuck in a box of limitation. I often go out to see exhibitions and art events.
WHAT DOES HALLOWEEN MEAN TO YOU? At the age of three, I started studying English and our teacher always made Halloween parties for us kids, and we always dressed up, so Halloween for me is associated with happy childhood memories and warmth. It’s a celebration
where you can express yourself, and it has nothing to do with something evil, as is often thought in Georgia. I don’t watch horror movies at all, but I think scary makeup goes wonderfully with Halloween.
DO YOU HAVE A STUDIO? I use my own room in my apartment, where I have loads and loads of material, a mirror and everything I need. My family is hugely supportive. I prefer buying make-up equipment and material to spending my money on clothes. I buy everything online, to be sure it’s the exact quality I need. There’s only one shop I use locally.
WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU RECEIVED AN OFFER TO WORK AS A MAKE-UP ARTIST ON A MOVIE SET? That would be great! I don’t have much experience yet, but having a chance to work as an assistant to someone would be wonderful!
DO YOU PLAN TO PURSUE YOUR STUDIES IN MAKE-UP? Yes! Definitely! There’s a make-up school in Hollywood I would love to study at and my mom supports me in that. But studies first, and maybe make-up for the future. I still have time… Check our Tinna’s Facebook page to see more of her horrifying creations!
Georgian Magazine ‘Arril’ Showcases Italian Characters and Masterpieces BY MAKA LOMADZE
n October 24, the Georgian National Library hosted the presentation of a special issue of the monthly Georgian literary-societal magazine ‘Arril’ dedicated to Italy and the 70th year of its being a republic. The issue was made with the cooperation of the Italian Embassy in Georgia with the intention of tightening relations the two nations. It speaks about the Italian genius and offers an imaginary journey from Dante to Umberto Eco, from Dario Fo, recipient of a Nobel Prize in Literature, to film director Pasolini. It features Cesare Pavese’s poetry, translated into Georgian for the first time, as well as music, gastronomy, architecture and history – an ample gallery of characters and masterpieces. The Ambassador of Italy, Antonio Enrico Bartoli, said: “After World War Two, the Republic of Italy was born. In the referendum, for the first time, Italian women were entitled to take part. The monarchy was defeated. There is some similarity between our two countries– Italy and Georgia are both ancient nations, but quite young republics. By publishing this issue [of Arril], we were particularly interested in what Georgians think about Italy. This is about the past of Italy, but it also implies a vision of the future. Seventy years ago, Italy was reborn. The restored freedom and new republic was followed by abrupt political, economic, social and cultural progress. The October issue of Arril showcases this.”
Levan Berdzenishvili, philologist, writes an article about Dante in which he presents Dante’s hell in a jovial way, seeing positivity in Dante’s ability to remain alive amidst his own hell. “This is a country of design, beauty, football, splendid authors and more,” Berdzenishvili said of Italy. “It is also a country of paradoxes. In 2002, the BBC held a TV survey – 100 best Britons, which included the likes of Winston Churchill and Lady Di. In the Italian version of this list, Italians said that there was no place for Garibaldi or Victor Emanuel in the top ten because the first place belonged to Leonardo Da Vinci. The second position went to Giuseppe Verdi. Italy always prefers form to content, with a special attitude to life, wine, women, beauty… If there were any contests between the states, I think Italy deserves to be a champion country in all aspects!” he added. In this issue of Arril, Carlo Petrini,
founder of “Slow Food,” says that those who think cooking is not art are totally mislead. His idea of eating without haste was born in philosophical and somehow hedonistic talks, but reached the level of art. Arril also presents famous Fernanda Pivano, translator, who translated Faulkner, Fitzgerald and others to Italians. The publishers do not forget the Italian architects either, who have contributed a lot to Tbilisi – the most European capital of the Caucasus – in creating its unique air, giving it a multicultural and multifaceted character - names like Scudiere, Moret, Fuksas. The issue ends, but this is only the start of such bilateral relations between Georgia and Italy. “We have to develop our capacities via talent, love and friendship,” said the Ambassador.
Read. Learn. Enjoy. Pick up a copy of Georgia Today Education at any BIBLUS shop or phone 229 59 19
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OCTOBER 28 - 31, 2016
Hearts Beating as One: Libby CinéDoc 2016 Concludes in Tbilisi Skala on the 3 Amazing Women that Inspired Her BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI
ibby Skala returned to the GIFT International Arts Festival in Tbilisi with her new show -Felicitas this week- telling the story of her aunt, a midwife who escaped the Nazi regime in Austria and immigrated to America to start a new life there.
BY ZYGIMANTAS KAPOCIUS
etween October 21 and 25, the Georgian capital hosted the fourth edition of the only international documentary film festival in the Caucasus region CinéDoc Tbilisi 2016. With a diverse line-up consisting of 45 films and 6 competitive categories, the festival garnered an international audience, who had the chance to not only appreciate the work of talented filmmakers, but also to delve deeper into the creative process through Q&A sessions and master classes with the participants of the festival. An award ceremony held on the final day of the festival at Tbilisi’s National Youth Palace honored the jury’s and the audience’s favorites. Wojchiech Staron’s (Poland) monumental film ‘Brothers’ triumphed in the international competition of CinéDoc 2016, in addition to winning the sympathies of the Student Jury. ‘Brothers’ is an impressive manifestation of more than 20 years of work of Staron, who accompanied two Polish siblings, displaced in Kazakhstan following the mass deportations in the 1940s, on their journey back to their homeland. Rather than focusing on the grand history or sentimental journeys to the past, Staron provides an insight into the daily rituals of two inseparable yet different characters as they aim to rebuild their lives in spite of dramatic events. As CinéDoc is the sole festival in the Caucasus region focusing on documentaries, it dedicated one its sections, Focus Caucasus, to presenting local and regional productions. The main award in this category went to Arman Yeritsyan’s (Armenia) light-hearted film ‘One, two, three…’ which focuses on a group of “The Chosen Ones,” a troupe of elderly Armenians defying their personal struggles and the harsh conditions for senior citizens in the country through dance. A collection of very individual yet intertwined stories, it was described as “a study guide for all generations” by the competition’s jury, emblematic of the protagonists’ courage to live in a world many don’t have the necessary boldness to live in. The 2016 edition of CinéDoc introduced a new competitive section, CivilDoc, dedicated to films dealing with human
With a diverse line-up of 45 films and 6 competitive categories, the festival garnered an international audience, who had the chance to not only appreciate the work of talented filmmakers, but also to delve deeper into the creative process and social rights, coming in conjunction with a pitching forum Civil Pitch where Georgian NGOs presented their work to Georgian filmmakers. The inaugural CivilDoc award went to Pankaj Johar’s (India, Norway) investigative documentary ‘Cecilia,’ shedding light on the issue of child labor trafficking in India. The film joins Cecilia, a 54-year-old housekeeper, in her fight for justice following the death of her 14-year-old daughter under mysterious circumstances. It persistently exposes deep-rooted problems and showcases the integrity of the protagonist in her struggle for children's rights. CinéDoc is the first film festival in Georgia supported by the Creative Europe Program of the European Union, and aims to introduce the wider Georgian public to the world of documentary cinema. The festival will be followed by a year-long screening tour ‘CinéDoc-On Tour’ covering all Georgian regions.
TELL US HOW ALL OF IT STARTED AND WHY YOU DECIDED TO MAKE A TRILOGY ABOUT YOUR FAMILY? Gary Austin inspired me, the way Mikhail Tumanishvili inspired Keti (Keti Dolidze - Georgian film and theater director and the founder of GIFT International Festival of Arts) and all of the other wonderful artists. Austin is a teacher who travels and teaches improvisation, working with some of the greatest actors based on Del Close’s technique. He started the Groundlings Theater in Los Angeles. and came to Seattle to give workshops. He had me do a special exercise talking to the class about someone I found interesting, compelling or fascinating. I spoke about my grandmother Lilia Skala who came from Vienna and was the first woman architect in Austria. I said nothing about her being an actress, I said simply that she was someone of a high social standard I suppose, and then, when Hitler came to power, she left for the US, without a penny to her name, and started work in a factory, knowing no English. Each of her sisters came separately to the US, each having their own circumstances, but when they came they became a very close-knit family. When I first started writing the first show about my grandmother Lilia, it was really with the nurturing influence of this teacher Gary Austin, who, after I spoke for several minutes about my grandmother (again, nothing said about her being an actress and ending up as an Academy Award
I’m telling the truth about life… I feel that somehow, in being so personal, it becomes universal
Libby Skala with her husband Steven May
nominee), suggested that I write a one woman show about my grandmother. So I wrote that show, performed it, and brought it to Tbilisi in 2006. In the meantime I wrote another one about the middle sister, the dancer, who was only sister still alive when I started writing the show about my grandmother. I interviewed her and had three audiotapes about their childhood. My great aunt would answer every question like: I don’t know about Lily, but I… it was all about her. After she passed away I made a play based on the stories she told me, supposedly about my grandmother. The third sister was the total opposite, the midwife, Lizy. She was the midwife at my birth. She had a very busy nursing practice and never talked about her work because of confidentiality. She was a very private and quite person.
TELL US ABOUT THE MUSICAL SIDE OF FELICITAS
When I shared the most interesting aspects of the story for me with my family members, they asked me not to include them in the story. I felt a bit of conflict, because for me they were exactly the details that made the story interesting.
HOW DID YOU COME UP THE IDEA FOR A MONO PLAY?
WHAT ARE YOUR IMPRESSIONS OF TBILISI AND GIFT?
When I first began it was difficult to hold the stage all by myself, but because I began in small segments, where I would maybe do just five minutes in the class, it was like a muscle. At first it was very difficult and sometimes if I wasn’t feeling energetic that day the performance would suffer, but as the play took off at full length, and after performing it hundreds of times, I now feel like the audience is my support, my scene partner. They are the ones that I talk to, the ones I feel there listening; I can feel them with me.
Oh, there are so many changes since my last visit 10 years ago! Many new buildings, beautiful, just gorgeous! We’ve seen some amazing performances so far, from classical Georgian music to modern plays and King Lear from director Zura Getsadze which was so done so well here. Somehow, Keti Dolidze recognized the need to bring international artists together and although we all come from a different background and experience, when it comes to the arts it’s as though our hearts can beat as one.
WASN’T IT CHALLENGING TO TELL SUCH AN INTIMATE, PERSONAL STORY? HOW DID YOU FIND A BALANCE?
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With Felicitas and all my other shows I feel that I’m telling the truth about life… About a person, about their struggles, how they see their lives, how they interpret them. I feel that somehow, in being so personal, it becomes universal. I feel that the audience takes away with Felicitas a little window into how we can get through our difficulties.
All I knew at the beginning was that I wanted to include music in the third play. Steve is a musician [Libby’s husband Steven May] and he’d never written music but he does improvisations. His primary instrument is violin and we thought we would try Felicitas with it, because the play begins in Vienna. But we found that my voice was very similar to the pitch of the violin and so we had to rethink- Steve would simply follow the emotional tune of the story and that’s how it evolved. People often told us afterwards that the music in Felicitas seems to represent the babies in the life of my great aunt.
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OCTOBER 28 - 31, 2016
Tbilisi Fashion Week Wrap-Up BY NATIA LIPARTELIANI
n October 19, the 14th season of Tbilisi Fashion Week was officially opened. During the five-day celebration of Georgian fashion, established designers and newly emerged designers showcased their collections in 20 fashion shows. With the support of National Tourism Administration, Tbilisi Fashion Week was attended by representatives of major international publications, including Vogue Italia, Vogue Britain, Vogue Russia, ELLE Russia, Fabulous Muses Blog, Harper's Bazaar Kazakhstan, and British GQ. Givi Razmadze, editor of streetstyle. ge, shared his impressions of this year's fashion week with GEORGIA TODAY: “Tbilisi Fashion Week 2016 saw the discovery of 14 times more new designers, as well as the promotion of already established ones. Respected international fashion news outlets like W magazine and Harper’s Bazaar all promoted and exposed Georgian designers to the wider public throughout the event. These very magazines dictate the fashion climate in the world and now, in our case, with a help of such foreign media presence, it became possible to mark Georgia firmly on the world fashion map,” Razmadze said. Tbilisi Fashion Week featured a num-
ber of young and talented designers. GEORGIA TODAY talked to new designer Merry C, who had her first ever showcase this year. “The name of my collection is #TasteGraffiti, inspired by the human mood. I wanted to create the type of collection that gives out positive vibes. In almost everyone’s life there comes a ‘grey period’ like those grey, dull walls present on almost every street- people pass them by, but no one pays any attention. It is enough to add some colors to those walls and suddenly everything changes for the better. I wanted my collection to have that same free street-art-vibe” Merry Shengelia said of her debut collection. Razmadze commented on the importance of giving a platform to such new designers: “This year we saw lots of new faces and learned about the works of new designers who were previously unknown to society. This is very important as newcomers give stimulus to established designers to develop and improve their products, as well as offer fresh, often risky but innovative perspectives. However, I would not say that this season was the best so far. I’d say the most outstanding designers participated in the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. But there is a huge amount of progress in Georgia’s fashion industry overall,” he said. Razmadze considers the major highlight of the 2016 Tbilisi Fashion Week Nino Ramishvili’s performance: “The
20s vintage inspired collection had a special impact on guests, with the showcase style also being very original- the Sukhishvili dancers replacing the models of Fashion Week on the catwalk for the very first time,” Razmadze told us.
“If You Do Not Live, You Will Not Die” Tariverdiev Tribute Concert BY MAKA LOMADZE
n October 25, a gala concert was held to commemorate Mikael Tariverdiev, famous Tbilisi-born composer of Armenian descent, at the Georgian Opera and Ballet Theater. Tariverdiev lived in Tbilisi until the age of 19. His debut as a composer took place on the Opera theatrical stage in 1949, where his choreographic etudes were performed. His multicolored creative works comprise music for opera, ballet, organ, as well as still-popular soundtracks. The list of the participants of the 3-hour anniversary concert to mark the 85th year of the deceased maestro was almost as impressive as the music itself. The invited musicians from Russia – Alexander Polianichko (conductor), and Alexei Goribol (pianist) were the main and nearly constant personages of the evening. The 16-year old Georgian young composer and pianist Sandro Nebieridze and actors of the Tbilisi Alexander Griboedov Russian Drama Theater, Orchestra of Georgian State Opera and its soloists, also took part in the grandiose musical event. The first act opened with Nebieridze’s performance of prelude from the film “I will go, as I have promised” followed by Russian trio Meridian who offered the vocal cycle of verses by Andrei Voznesenski. The first act was capped by the mono-opera “Anticipation,” performed by young soprano Termine Zaryan.
The second part of the event was packed with film-music. Tariverdiev was fond of cinemaand never took part in anything he did not love. “Goodbye, guys” was the first motion picture from which the prelude was performed by Alexei Goribol. The overture and final was played from the movie “Golden River” by the Orchestra. Young Georgian female singer Lela Telia performed a suite from the film “King-Deer”, namely, “Angela’s Ballade.” Maia Baratashvili, singer, soloist of the Tbilisi Big Band, Best Jazz Vocalist of Monte Carlo International Jazz Awards 2007, performed “Don’t Vanish” from the film “Olga Sergeevna.” And more…
The greatest ovation went to Tariverdiev’s songs and shots on screen from the immortal Russian film “Irony of Fate”, which is still watched in Georgia every New Year’s. The lyric of the most popular one goes like this: “If you have no wife, she will not go to another man… If you have no home, you will not fear fire… If you have no dog, no neighbor will poison him…If you do not live, then you will not die…” The gala concert was staged by director Andro Enukidze and organized by the Mikael Tariverdiev Charity Fund and International Cultural-Educational Union Russian Club.
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OCTOBER 28 - 31, 2016
WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI THEATER
GEORGIAN INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF ARTS GIFT IN TBILISI October 15 – November 25 October 27 AS MANY DEMONS AS YOU LIKE Based on Jerzy Pilch’s story “Wieledemonów” Directed by Jašek Glomb Batumi Drama Theater Start time: 20:00 Address: Tumanishvili Fim Actors Theater, 164 Agmashenebeli Ave. October 29, 30 ITALIA YEAR 10 By Eduardo Erba The GIFT FESTIVAL 2016 in collaboration with Italian Embassy Tbilisi presents a new program “ITALIAN FOCUS" ATIRTeatroRinghiera Directed by Serena Sinigaglia Milan, Italy Start time: 20:00 Address: TumanishviliFim Actors Theater, 164 Agmashenebeli Ave. November 1-7 MANANA MENABDE PERSONAL EXHOBITION Start time: 15:00 Address: Tumanishvili Fim Actors Theater, 164 Agmashenebeli Ave. TBILISI ZAKARIA PALIASHVILI OPERA AND BALLET THEATRE Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 04 56 October 28, 29, 30 GORDA Davit Toradze Choreography by Vakhtang Chabukiani Chorographical redaction and staging by Nino Ananiashvili Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10 - 50 GEL GEORGIAN STATE PANTOMIME THEATRE Address: 37 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 63 14 October 28 CHRIST Directed by Amiran Shalikashvili Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10 GEL October 29 SONNETS Adaptation of William Shakespeare Directed by Davit Shalikashvili Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10 GEL
GRIBOEDOVI THEATRE Address: 2 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 93 43 36 October 28 ELDER SON Directed by Gogi Margvelashvili Comedy Language: Russian Start time: 18:00 Ticket: 5 GEL October 3 CHIPOLLINO Jianni Rodari Directed by Gogi Todadze Small Stage Language: Russian Start time: 12:00 Ticket: 5 GEL GABRIADZE THEATRE Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 October 27 MARSHAL DE FANTIE’S DIAMOND Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15, 20 GEL October 28 AUTUMN OF MY SPRING Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15, 20 GEL October 29 STALINGRAD Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15, 20 GEL
October 31 VEZHLIVY OTKAZ A TROIS Start time: 20:00 Ticket: Free TBILISI CIRCUS Address: Heroes Sq. October 29, 30 TRIUMPHS OF THE ARENA Start time: October 29 – 17:00, October 30 - 13:00, 17:00 Ticket: From 10 GEL
JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK Directed by Edward Zwick Cast: Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Danika Yarosh Genre: Action, Adventure, Crime Language: Russian Start time: 17:00, 19:45, 22:15, 20:00 Ticket: 10-14 GEL MUSEUM
AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 Lari October 28 – November 3 DOCTOR STRANGE Directed by Scott Derrickson Cast: Rachel McAdams, Benedict Cumberbatch, Mads Mikkelsen Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy Language: English Start time: 19:30 Language: Russian Start time: 16:45, 19:30, 21:15 Ticket: 10-14 GEL JUSTE LA FIN DU MONDE Directed by Xavier Dolan Cast: Nathalie Baye, Vincent Cassel, Marion Cotillard Genre: Drama Language: Russian Start time: 22:15 Ticket: 13-14 GEL
October 30 RAMONA Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15, 20 GEL
I, DANIEL BLAKE Directed by Ken Loach Cast: Dave Johns, Hayley Squires, Sharon Percy Genre: drama Language: Russian Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 13-14 GEL
MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260
RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 www.kinoafisha.ge
October 28 RECITATIVE IN THE CITY Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 21:00 Free Entry
Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL October 21-27
October 29, 30 Premiere THE TEMPEST Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL
DOCTOR STRANGE (Info Above) Start time: 12:00, 14:40, 17:20, Ticket: 10-14 GEL
GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge PERMANENT EXHIBITION: GEORGIAN ARCHAEOLOGY FROM 8TH MILLENNIUM B.C. TO 4TH CENTURY A.D EXHIBITION OF GEORGIAN WEAPONRY NUMISMATIC TREASURY The exhibition showcases a long history of money circulation on the territory of modern Georgia from the 6th century BC. to 1834. June 11 – March 11 (2017) EXHIBITION "MEDIEVAL TREASURY" June 16 – December 16 THE EXHIBITION “NEW DISCOVERIES GEORGIAN ARCHAEOLOGY” September 27 – September 22 (2017) EXHIBITION "STONE AGE GEORGIA" MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 3 Sh. Rustaveli Ave. PERMANENT EXHIBITION
INFERNO Directed by Ron Howard Cast: Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones, Ben Foster Genre: Mystery, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 11:45, 19:30 Ticket: 8, 14 GEL
IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM KARVASLA Address: 8 Sioni St. Telephone: 2 98 22 81 October 15-27 EXHIBITION "HERE THERE. MATTERS OF LOCATION, CONTEMPORARY GEORGIAN ART" The third international exhibition which is composed of five artists who live and work in Europe and Georgia. The question is: does their location make a difference to the character of their work? Is there specificity in each work determined by where it has been made? Does their place of birth and upbringing determine and shape their work? Or, perhaps place and location simply informs and artists work, as one of many factors influence a person's life and work. October 19-28 EXHIBITION "NEW BABYLONIANS" GALLERY
THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. www.museum.ge PERMANENT EXHIBITION Niko Pirosmanashvili, David Kakabadze, Lado Gudiashvili and sculptor Iakob Nikoladze. June 24, 2016 – June 24, 2017 NIKO PIROSMANASHVILI’S WORKS “YARD CLEANER” AND “EAGLE SEIZING A HARE”
September 28 - September 28 (2017) PIROSMANI’S ROE AT A STREAM November 3-23 THE ANNIVERSARY EXHIBITION BY GOGI ALEXIMESKHISHVILI The exposition will showcase artworks created in different media in over 50 years. Gogi Alexi-Meskhishvili has created sets and costumes for hundreds of performances around the world. In 1999, he represented The Republic of Georgia at the Venice Biennale at the Prague Quadrienalle in 2011 In addition to his design work, Alexi-Meskhishvili is a recognized artist, his painting and collages has been displayed in the numerous galleries, museums and private collections around the world. Gogi Alexi Meskhishvili continues to work with different theatres around the world. NECTAR GALLERY Address: 88 Bochorishvili Str. October 11 – November 5 SHINDISI SCREENS KETUTA ALEXI-MESKHISHVILI IN COLLABORATION WITH LEVAN CHOGOSHVILI NATIONAL PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY OF GEORGIA Address: 7 Gudiashvili Str. October 27-31 TBILISI BIENNALE OF STAGE DESIGN MASTERS' LABORATORY Robert Sturua – Artistic director of the Shota Rustaveli State Drama Theatre, Liubov Oves - Ph.D., Associate Professor of Russian Theatre Department of the Russian Institute of Art History, Elena Stepanova - Theatre designer, twice winner of the "Golden Mask". Curators: Nino Gunia-Kuznetsova Executive Director V. Gunia Union of Young Theatre Artists (YTA UNION) - Georgian Centre of OISTAT Inna Mirzoyan ARTAREA GALLERY Address: 10 Dodo Abashidze Str. Telephone: 599 91 05 06 October 4 – November 1 LOVE SONG EXHIBITION MUSIC
FABRIKA Address: Ninoshvili Str. October 30 NIGHTMARE IN DIVEXFABRIKA HALLOWEEN NIGHT David woo (dj set Psycho) Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 10 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260 November 1, 3 JAM SESSION Leaders: Reso Kiknadze (sax), Nika Gabadze (guitar), Misha Japaridze (bass), Irakli Choladze / Gio Kapanadze (drums) Start time: 21:00 November 2 TANGO EVENING Milonga La Kumparsita Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 5 GEL
GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 28 - 31, 2016
Davit KipianiThe ‘Moving Feast’ of Football
BY GIORGI GORGODZE
ere goes the remembrance of Davit Kipiani, our Dato – the legendary Georgian football player of the world renown! Let us refresh our memory for a second and think of the virtuoso athlete and his exquisite personality, he who possessed the magic ability to turn a football game into a real feast which would stay with you forever. In the period between 1976 and 1981, Kipiani was the first fiddle of the magnificent ‘orchestra’ called Tbilisi Dinamo. This was the time when his beloved team defeated the greats of football like Liverpool, Inter Milan and others in various European tournaments. Kipiani is one of the representatives of the outstanding Group of Number 10s which has become a literal pride of world football. He is often compared to contemporary football stars like Johan Kruiff and Michel Platini. Once, FIFA rightly noted that Kipiani was an amazing player who helped place his club Tbilisi Dinamo on the map of world football. His international career was recognized by fans around the globe. The World Soccer magazine wrote: ‘If Kipiani were a player on a western team, he would be a real superstar.’ In March 1982, just before the World Football Championship in Spain, the French football journal Mondial published a survey about the three best footballers. Kipiani came second after Zico among the best three named by the Brazilians. Among the three selected by the Spaniards – the hosts of the championship – Kipiani’s name came second after
Maradona, and in the group of three compiled by the Mondial itself, the list was made up in the following order: Maradona, Kipiani, Platini. Incidentally, it was the French themselves who placed Kipiani before Platini. Yet Davit Kipiani never made it to the championship because, in a preceding match with Real Madrid in Spain, he double-fractured his leg, and at the peak of his career the 31-year old football star was compelled to give up his sporting career. The legendary Russian goal-keeper Lev Yashin wrote: ‘David Kipiani is the most illustrious figure in Soviet football; he is simply unparalleled. The intelligent Kipiani, with his exquisite manner of playing, is able to see his teammates excellently and has the capacity to resolve the most difficult of issues on the football field.’ Still needing an athletic career, Kipiani continued working in the capacity of coach. When he was working in
David Kipiani is a national hero for football fans in his home country of Georgia, both as a player and a coach- FIFA
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Georgia, only the teams trained by him would become champions; for instance, Tbilisi Dinamo six times and Kutaisi Torpedo twice. Twice, at different times, he was the head coach of the Georgian National Football Team. He won numerous prizes and high titles, but one of them is exceptional indeed. FIFA awarded him Order of Merit for his outstanding achievements and special contribution to world football. In the Diploma for this honorary order we read: ‘David Kipiani is a national hero for football fans in his home country of Georgia, both as a player and a coach.’ The great Indian Swami Vivekananda once said: “Each individual has only one central theme at the basis of his life – a central tune around which all other tunes of harmony are accumulated.” With Davit Kipiani, it is not difficult at all to identify the unique theme on which his entire life was based. He was haunted by a craving for a feast of a game which he would then dedicate to the spectators, hundreds of thousands of fans who jammed the world stadiums- there to watch him give genuine delight to his happy audience. His love for fans, who in their turn adored him, was the greatest award for Kipiani. Like the legendary Brazilian footballer Garrincha, he too deserves the title of ‘People’s Delight’. The following are the words of famous Georgian actor Kakhi Kavsadze, dedicated to Davit Kipiani: “Is there a man or a machine anywhere that would be capable of measuring the amount of delight Kipiani granted the Georgian people? I don’t think there is. Davit belonged among those people endowed with a rare gift of bestowing love on everybody around – once and for all.’
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