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Issue no: 1011

• DEC. 28 - JAN. 8, 2017/18

• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY

PRICE: GEL 2.50

In this week’s issue... WHERE to Go, Stay, Eat, Drink & Buy This Winter NEWS PAGE 3

Whenever I read Vazha-Pshavela, I’m more and more assured in the simple truth that you can’t always be a hero, but you should always remain a human being

FOCUS

ON PM KVIRIKASHVILI’S PRIVATE LIFE & PAST

Exclusive comments from the Georgian PM on his private life and New Year memories

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Christmas & New Year in Georgia: What Do Foreigners Think? INTERVIEWS BY TOM DAY

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hristmas and New Year are the most anticipated celebrations of the year for Georgians, probably because it is yet another excuse to lay out an enormous feast (or ‘supra’)! The New Year Supra starts on December 31 and continues all the way up to January 14 (including Bedoba [Day of Luck] on January 2 and Christmas on January 7). Celebrating New Year over two weeks and Christmas on this day are strange concepts for expats and tourists. It’s not just the dates that are different; the Georgian traditions are too. The Western cultures are compelled to buy a Christmas gift for everyone they know, whereas Georgian’s only give gifts to close family and friends. Continued on page 10

Disappointed: President of the Eastern Partnership Institute on Georgia’s Jerusalem Stance POLITICS PAGE 4

Saakashvili as an Inspiration POLITICS PAGE 9

Psych War Xmas: Svaneti SOCIETY PAGE 12

Cancer Control Measures: Raising Awareness in Georgia

SOCIETY PAGE 12

Tiflis Meidani: A Gastronomic Journey at the Crossroads CULTURE PAGE 13

Georgian Alphabet Brought to Life through Art CULTURE PAGE 15


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NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 28 - JANUARY 8, 2017/2018

Tbilisi Mayor Talks about Structural Reforms & Future Projects Mikheil Janelidze, Vice Premier, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia with Dursun Hasanov, Ambassador of Republic of Azerbaijan to Georgia

Georgia and Azerbaijan Celebrate 25 Years of Diplomatic Relations BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI

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eorgia and Azerbaijan celebrated the 25th anniversary of mutual diplomatic relations on December 26, with a concert of the Ganja State Philarmonic Orchestra at the Shota Rustaveli State Theater, organized by the Embassy of Azerbaijan in Georgia. Mikheil Janelidze, Vice Premier, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia addressed the attendees of the event, noting the deep historic links existing between Georgia and Azerbaijan and the growing potential of relations between the two countries. “We have surely achieved the peak in

bilateral relations; the neighborhood and cooperation that we have today is exemplary. This cooperation is important and resultative not only for our countries but also for the region. We have managed to realize strategic projects together; projects that link Europe and Asia,” Janelidze said. “In the future, we will undertake more steps for this partnership, to make this friendship more visible to all our partners and friends, so as to bring even more tangible results for our country and for all countries interested in partnership and cooperation,” he added. Dursun Hasanov, Ambassador of Republic of Azerbaijan to Georgia, also delivered a speech, highlighting the strategic partnership and talking about future perspectives of the relations between Georgia and Azerbaijan.

Photo source: Kakha Kaladze Tbilisi Mayor

BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI

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bilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze discussed the structural and future projects planned, during a weekly city government meeting on December 26. Kaladze announced that 35 families living in the Tskneti area will now legally own homes for a symbolic price. “We’ve started working in this direction actively lately, giving families a possibility to own their homes for a symbolic price. These are the families that have been living in Tskneti for years and had no previous chance to legally own their homes,” Kaladze said. In the last month, this amounts to 132 families. He went on to note that 19 previously existing commisions established by the

local government have been cancelled, enabling Tbilisi Municipal services to work more effectively. The Tbilisi Mayor also talked about the Orbeliani Square rehabilitation project, noting that a parking lot will be built on the territory, alongside pedestrian streets and the renovation of the buildings in the area. “The project will cost approximately GEL 52 million and 2000 people will be employed. It’s very important for us that people that have been living there for many years feel comfortable and, most importantly, safe. The condition of the buildings there needs to be much better and, after the rehabilitation, this will be one of the best places in our city,” Kaladze said. At the weekly meeting, the Mayor also talked about illegal constructions and stricter rules to be established for construction norms. He noted that 216 warn-

ings had been issued in the last month by the municipal supervision agencies, related to construction safety violations and illegal constructions. Further, 500 illegal land constructions were identified, 270 of which submitted to legal actions. Kaladze stressed that special vehiclecleaning areas need to be established on construction sites to prevent said vehicles taking construction dirt beyond the site. “Every construction site must have such areas and no construction permits should be issued without them,” the Mayor said. Kakha Kaladze also talked about the upcoming New Year celebrations to be held in three different locations throughout the city: in Gldani, Varketili and Old Tbilisi, pointing out that public transport is to work free of charge on December 31.

New Dormitory for Tbilisi State University Students Opens at Lisi BY THEA MORRISON

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European standards dormitory for Tbilisi State University students was officially opened near Tbilisi’s Lisi Lake on December 26. The building was opened by the Education Minister of Georgia, Mikheil Chkhenkeli, and Tbilisi State University (TSU) Rector, Giorgi Sharvashidze. The campus building was transferred from the Education Ministry to TSU in connection with the university’s

100th anniversary. TSU Deputy Chancellor, Lasha Saghinadze, says that at present the campus has 50 university students, but the building can accommodate 320. The monthly fee for campus residents is 150 GEL, but for socially vulnerable students or those who live on campus with their siblings, the fee will be reduced to 120 GEL. Students with an excellent academic record will also see benefits in terms of dormitory payment. 20 of the dormitory rooms have been adapted for people with disabilities. The TSU Student City at Lisi consists of four buildings. The campus also

includes a library and areas for sports and other activities. “We received the first wave of students at Lisi dormitory on December 1. Gradually, we will increase that number. We also plan to accommodate students of exchange programs here,” the TSU Deputy Chancellor said. He added that the next stage of online registration for dormitory use will be announced in January 2018. Saghinadze said that the majority of students still live in the Bagebi dormitory, which was built in 1975, and needs renovation. The Deputy Chancellor explained that

The new dormitory already houses 50 students but is able to accommodate 320

the restoration works at the old campus will start as soon as the Ministry of Economy hands the buildings to the State University for disposal. “Negotiations have already begun and as soon as we reach agreement, the res-

toration works of the Bagebi campus and its infrastructure will be launched,” he added. At present, around 300 students live on the old campus where the monthly payment is 50 GEL.


NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 28 - JANUARY 8, 2017/2018

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WHERE to Go, Stay, Eat, Drink & Buy This Winter BY GEORGE SHARASHIDZE, PUBLISHER & GENERAL MANAGER

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he Winter issue is out! Check out the Where.ge team’s top tips of what to do and see this holiday season! We close the current year celebrating that your favorite travel guide WHERE.ge now stands as winner of the prestigious ‘Welcome to Georgia! National Tourism Awards 2017!’ in the nomination of Best Marketing Campaign of a Tourism Destination! On behalf of the whole team of WHERE.ge, I would like to thank the jury members, leaders and opinion-makers of Georgia’s hospitality industry who voted for us. And of course, I would like to express my deep gratitude to the WHERE.ge team, headed by British Editor Katie Ruth Davies, marketing managers, designers, photographers, distributors and every single contributor. Being a winner of a ‘Welcome to Georgia’ award is a measure of our high standards and an extra reason for us to keep up the good and

responsible work we do. The WHERE.ge December-January issue is full of recommendations and updated information about Where to Go and Stay during the wonderful winter season in our famous and rapidly-developing ski resorts, including Bakuriani, Gudauri and Svaneti. Our Eat and Drink sections are always full of the best gastronomic ideas, but the New Year and Christmas holidays

give us an even more important reason to spread the word on the Georgian tradition of feasting, with a focus on the special must-have dishes of the season, which in Georgia lasts from December 25 to ‘Old New Year’ on January 14, with two major holidays in between – New Year’s Eve on December 31 and Orthodox Christmas on January 7! In 2018, we pledge to keep to our mission to provide travelers from around the world with the most accurate information about Where to Go, Stay, Eat, Drink and Buy in Georgia. This ambitious goal will be achieved through the recently launched web portal www.where.ge, with an innovative service component embedded in the website - a 24/7 travel consultancy and service providing by WHERE.ge professional travel managers; offering tailor-made tours in Georgia, hotel bookings, car rental and more! Once again, dear readers and partners, thank you for your continued support during 2017! We believe that, together, we will celebrate much success in the New Year of 2018! For the latest special offers and event news, and to plan your New Year weekend, go to Where.ge and search ‘New Year,’ for WHERE to Go, Stay, Eat, Drink and Buy this holiday!

PASHA Bank Funds Planting of 2018 Trees within ‘Aghadgine’ Campaign

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s a New Year gift for its partners, PASHA Bank is to plant 2018 trees as part of the ‘Aghadgine’ campaign that aims to recover the burnt territory of Borjomi forest. “In 2017, PASHA Bank initiated and participated in several environmentalfriendly projects,” said Anano Korkia, Head of PR and Marketing Department at PASHA Bank. Last year we congratulated our partners on the New Year by planting 2017 Georgian Pine Trees in damaged territory near Borjomi. As the feedback we received was uniformly positive, it encouraged us to stay on course, and this year to once again join the ‘Aghadgine’ campaign and fund the planting of 2018 trees. We truly hope that our partners will enjoy this gift.” Below is the list of environmental projects carried out by PASHA Bank: • Initiation of a project aiming at col-

lecting paper for recycling, where companies donate used paper and in return for each kilogram, 13 Tetris are transferred to the ‘Aghadgine’ campaign; • 1,000 Georgian Oak (Quercus Iberica) and Imeretian Oak (Quercus Imeretina) trees were planted in the Ajameti Managed Reserve, the latter being on the Red List of threatened plant species; • An additional 500 trees planted in the scope of Aghadgine near Borjomi, before which PASHA Bank had already planted 2017 trees in the area that was destroyed by fire in 2008; • Support of the green project by Rotary Club Tbilisi Ambassador carried out in Kondoli village (Telavi region, Kakheti), which implied planting trees in the school yard, building a playground and formation of an eco-club; • Donation of Caucasian Fir trees to 10 schools in Tbilisi in the scope of GEORGIA TODAY’s CSR project on International Children’s Day, June 1.


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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 28 - JANUARY 8, 2017/2018

2017: Geopolitical Wrap-up

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Three mobile conference halls are available with a total capacity of about 100 persons. (XURSHDQFXLVLQHFDQEHHQMR\HGLQWKHJURXQGĂ€RRUFDIp and a grill-bar menu in the roof top restaurant with panoramic views over the city. The International Hotels Management Company “T3 Hospitality Management,â€? providing the hotel management, has 20 years’ experience in hotel management in different countries globally.

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his year, was important in many ways in international relations. Several major shifts took place, primarily across the Eurasian landmass – a territory where the main geopolitical scenarios influencing the rest of the world are being played out. A major struggle has been seen between Russia and the US. Russian hopes that the newly-elected President Trump would be able to assuage the crisis in the bilateral relations of the two countries turned out to be false. The US has considerably increased its military pressure on Russia’s borderlands. There is even an increasing number of facts pointing to further escalation in relations. 2017 showed that there happened an important shift in the US military stance as well towards Russia across the former Soviet space. Georgia and Ukraine are to receive more US military assistance. For instance, several days ago, the US announced it will provide Ukraine with "enhanced defensive capabilities" to help Kyiv "deter further aggression." The move prompted an angry reaction from Moscow, as everyone understands that this will embolden Ukraine in its struggle with the Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. Another interesting development is the return of geopolitical thinking, pure realism, or its German equivalent - Realpolitik - to the Eurasian theater. Calculations based on the premises of balance of power are now taking precedence. This has been a slow process, but was eventually solidified in the new National Strategy of the United States. In Europe, the year yielded some very positive results for the EU. There were serious doubts about the future of the Union as numerous far-right parties sprang up across the continent. However, the French elections, followed by the German ones,

once again put aside any hopes of the enemies of EU integration. In this particular case, Russian plans were dashed as Moscow was pinning its hopes on said far-right parties, as they would have significantly weakened the notion of the European Union. In 2017, in the Middle East, the war in Syria reached its culmination and, quite surprisingly, Russia, Iran and the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad gained some significant results in the conflict. Aleppo fell, as did major cities under ISIS control. Damascus is now almost entirely controlling the country. The Middle East has also seen the rise of the Kurdish state in northern Iraq. Geopolitical constraints disabled its eventual creation, but the holding of a referendum of independence was a strong message of Kurdish ambitions. Overall, this year was also a year of separatism. Catalonia tried to separate itself from Spain, but failed, even after declaring independence. In Asia Pacific, we witnessed interesting developments around North Korea and its nuclear ambitions. In all probability, the Kim dynasty already possesses a minimum nuclear arsenal and what is more troublesome is the fact that the US cannot do much to disarm Pyongyang. Related to the latter development is the increased pressure heaped on the iconic Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) signed between the US and the Soviet Union. There have been numerous hints in the media that the INF treaty would eventually be scrapped. Both Washington and Moscow simply do not see any reason for keeping the agreement when there are other rising powers attaining/increasing nuclear capabilities. The developments chosen and discussed here would have major repercussions for the year ahead. Geopolitics has now officially returned to Eurasia. This will only increase pressure on major powers and will make it more difficult to find compromises around major military and diplomatic crises (eastern Ukraine, Nagorno-Karabakh, the Kurdish issue etc.) across the continent.

Disappointed: President of the Eastern Partnership Institute on Georgia’s Jerusalem Stance INTERVIEW BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE

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ast week, a rather strongly-worded statement from an Israeli political scientist caused quite a public outcry. Jerusalembased and long-time Caucasus analyst, Avraham Shmulevich, President of the Eastern Partnership Institute, who also happens to be a Rabbi, did nothing to hide his dissatisfaction as Georgia elected to stay mum and not voice support for President Trump’s unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel. “If Georgia is declaring that in an issue of para-

mount importance to Israel, one of its capital cities, they are guided only by a “pragmatic approach� and consideration of the positions of their other “partners,� Turkey and Iran, sworn enemies of the Israeli state, then we, Israelis, should also only be guided by pragmatic thought in all matters concerning Georgia. No unconditional international support to Georgia, including on the issue of territorial integrity. If next time Russia decides to swallow Georgia whole, it won’t be Israel’s problem any longer.� Why does Shmulevich compare the issue of Jerusalem with the recognition of Sokhumi and Tskhinvali? GEORGIA TODAY and Panorama TV show contacted the man to find out. Continued on page 6


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GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 28 - JANUARY 8, 2017/2018

Disappointed: President of the Eastern Partnership Institute on Georgia’s Jerusalem Stance Continued from page 4

YOUR STATEMENT WASN’T RECEIVED IN GEORGIA TOO KINDLY. MANY THOUGHT IT WAS POLITICAL BLACKMAIL It’s not political blackmail. I believe that in politics there exists morality. In politics, there exists a particular relationship between countries. In modern Russia, they say that in politics there’s no morality, only pragmatism. I don’t agree. Countries in friendly relations take into account each other’s interests. For Israel, the issue of Jerusalem is a matter of life and death. Modern Israel emerged as a movement for the rebirth of the Jewish State, which was destroyed during the struggle against the Roman Empire. It seems that in Georgia, they should understand this. According to the Georgian chronicles, Jews arrived in Georgia 2,600 years ago after the destruction of the first temple. But I hear Georgian politicians and Georgian journalists say that there should be only pragmatic relations and these relations should be guided by the interests of Georgia. If this is the case, then we’ll be guided by our interests [too]. Actually, those who stood against the proposal of the Georgian MP said that Israel, for Georgia, is like Uruguay or New Zealand. It’s natural to expect that for Israel Georgia will also “be like Uruguay or New Zealand.” I don’t think that opposing Trump’s initiative corresponds to the interests of Georgia, because Trump said it’s just an accomplished fact and one does not need to proceed from political reality. I think it’s a very important principle, as many boundaries existing in the modern world fail to correspond to the political reality. There’s a fact not being recognized by international law. It also has to do with the borders of the South Caucasus, including in relation to the occupied territories of Georgia. I recently talked with an American who is engaged in determining the US foreign policy.

We talked about Abkhazia. He said that Abkhazia will not go back to Georgia and that’s an accomplished fact. I told him that it’s immoral, that there’s the issue of Georgian refugees in Abkhazia. He responded that there are many refugees globally who will never get their homes back. At the time, I opposed him but, actually, I had only moral arguments. If Georgia does not support the territorial integrity of Israel, the return of the historical land of Israel, why should I have a moral obligation to support the Georgian point of view, because the issue of Jerusalem will be followed by other issues.

ACCORDING TO YOUR LOGIC, ISRAEL DOESN’T RECOGNIZE ABKHAZIA AND OSSETIA BECAUSE OF ITS RELATIONSHIP WITH GEORGIA, NOT BECAUSE IT’S UNACCEPTABLE THAT IN THE 21ST CENTURY ONE COUNTRY IS ANNEXING AND OCCUPYING ANOTHER I’m not an employee of Israeli state agencies nor do I consult with Israeli state institutions. What I am saying is my personal point of view. I’m not responsible for the position of Israel which recognizes Abkhazia and South Ossetia to be a part of Georgia. In this regard, the position of Israel does not differ from the position of the USA. Israel does not recognize the annexation or the separation of these regions and considers it to be an act of aggression. Such issues may be resolved either in terms of pragmatism or morality. In terms of morality, Israel is entitled to claim Jerusalem. We struggle for our existence. Trump, in his speech, underlined that one should not proceed from the reality of international law. If Georgia or any other state thinks it can be guided only by pragmatism in relation to Israel, then why should Israel be guided by other considerations?

YOU SERIOUSLY COMPARE ISRAEL AND ITS CAPABILITIES TO GEORGIA AND WHAT IT CAN DO? The possibilities of Israel are much greater. It would be useful for Georgia to have Israel, the Jewish lobby, as a sincere friend. Some issues will be put in a vein not favorable for Georgia. Already have been. There was a harsh statement about Georgia in Congress.

AS A SCHOLAR OF THE CAUCASUS, YOU MUST BE AWARE THAT HAD GEORGIA RECOGNIZED JERUSALEM, THERE WOULD BE A RISK OF ARAB COUNTRIES RETALIATING AND RECOGNIZING ABKHAZIA AND OSSETIA IN RETURN I don’t think Arab countries will recognize Abkhazia. It’s not that simple. It’s a very difficult game. It was not about Georgia recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. I was upset by the harsh response from Georgia society concerning this statement. Behind-the-scenes negotiations about the future of the seized Georgian territories are underway. The main player here is Russia and not the USA. The political map will be changed. All the frozen conflicts, the redivision of boundaries that exist in reality, will be recognized. This process has already been launched. We saw this process in Kurdistan. Trump’s statement legitimizes this process.

AND WHEN THIS PARTICULAR REALITY COMES TO BE, YOU SAY ISRAEL WILL SUPPORT RUSSIA? Of course, it shouldn’t. I personally oppose Russia’s aggression. On the other hand, we should understand that in the behind-the-scenes trade, which is underway, there will be some arguments and we should determine which way we adhere to: the way of pragmatism or the way of morality and particular relations.

Jerusalem belongs to Israel like Tskhinvali belongs to Georgia.

AND WHAT ABOUT, SAY, TURKEY? LIKE ISRAEL, IT’S ALSO A STRATEGIC PARTNER FOR GEORGIA. WHAT YOU OFFER MEANS MAKING A CHOICE BETWEEN TWO PARTNERS No, I offer nothing. Sometimes the art of diplomacy is not to make a choice. In this case, it’s merely a set of instruments. If you think that that you can say that Jerusalem is not a Jewish city, then maybe it lifts some moral obligations.

CONCERNING MORALS – YOU WROTE ON FACEBOOK THAT, “SELLING WEAPONS TO GEORGIA WAS A MISTAKE. WE SHOULD HAVE SUPPORTED RUSSIA INSTEAD.” CONSIDERING THAT YOU’VE BEEN LECTURING IN TBILISI, AT ILIA STATE UNIVERSITY, WHICH MEANS THAT THE GEORGIAN STATE PAID YOU, DO YOU FIND MAKING SUCH STATEMENTS MORALLY JUSTIFIABLE? If Georgia thinks it can purchase arms in other countries, it can. At that time, Russia pressurized Israel to stop providing military assistance to Georgia. It didn’t happen. It brought us many problems. Israel supported Georgia. We armed

and prepared the Georgian army. If you say that you must be guided by pragmatic considerations, as they write to me that Georgia has obligations before Iran and Turkey, why do you think Israel would take another position? During the war, I supported Georgia. I say again that it was an act of aggression on the part of Russia. We should understand that good relations with Israel are not something given by default. There should be reciprocity. The interests of Israel should be taken into account as Israel takes into account the interests of Georgia. The issue of Jerusalem is the most important issue for Israel. It’s like Russia stating its claim on Tbilisi.

WHERE DOES THAT COMPARISON COME FROM? HOW HAVE YOU ARRIVED AT THAT CONCLUSION? If you think that the Palestinians have any rights to Jerusalem, it’s an extremely anti-Israeli statement and you don’t differ from Turkey. Georgia, as an ancient nation, should have a sense of history. Once, Russia conquered Tbilisi. In the same way, Arabs once conquered Jerusalem. One event happened 560 years ago and the other 1,500 years ago. Jews came to Georgia after the seizure of Jerusalem by Babylonians. Other nations, less ancient than ours, don’t have such historical memory at all.

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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 28 - JANUARY 8, 2017/2018

PM Kvirikashvili’s 1st Ever Interview on His Private Life & Past to become the target of attacks that may cause them pain. I want them to live like normal children; I want the life of my family to be normal during and after the time of me being Prime Minister. I don’t want my children to feel they are in any way special just because their father is a Prime Minister. They, like all other children, are special, with their own dreams and goals. I want to do for them what we’re doing for any other youngster: to give them a chance to receive a good education, have a fair today and a stable and hopeful future.”

BY THE GT TEAM

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n an EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW in OK! Magazine Georgia’s New Year issue, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia, talks on the major achievements of 2017, his childhood, New Year memories, and famous Georgian poet Vazha-Pshavela. Check out a sneak preview below.

MAJOR ACHIEVEMENT OF 2017 “One of the biggest successes in my life is related to 2017. The visa liberalization is not the achievement of one or two people; it’s the achievement of the whole country, the result of the joint hard work of the government. There were polemics and hard debates, but everyone had one, shared goal. The diplomatic team did an excellent job in order to reach this goal quickly. The declaration of trust in our country was the most important thing. Athens, the cradle of Europe, was where we chose to travel to after the visa liberalization came into effect, together with students, startupers and scientists… I will never forget that emotion of crossing a border without needing a visa: I felt like I was travelling to Europe for the first time. I would never have dreamed such a possibility in my childhood.”

CHILDHOOD & NEW YEAR “I had a wonderful childhood; we lived together, my great grandmother, grandmother, my parents, and two children, in a three room “Khrushchevka” [lowceilinged standard soviet block of flats].

ON VAZHA-PSHAVELA

Photo source: OK! Magazine Georgia

My grandmother was a well-known math teacher at Komarov School, and it’s from her I inherited my love of math. She sat with me and taught me sometimes until 2 o’clock in the morning. My father is an economist. My mother was a philologist and a specialist in ancient Greek and Latin. She taught me Horatius’s Odes in Latin, which I still remember, at the age of 50. “The emotion of New Year is something I always remember from my childhood. Even today, New Year is the warmest, most family-friendly and romantic

celebration for me. I remember my family and those no longer with us. I remember the joy of Santa Claus, too. My father used to be the Santa Claus for us, and for a long time I didn’t know it was him. I remember how he steamed up the windows for me to draw on, the smell of roasted pumpkin, and I’m happy that now, my children have the same emotions. “Just as I did in my childhood, I always make a wish on New Year’s Eve. But my wishes now are, of course, more difficult and bigger than the ones from my youth.

I wish the people in my country could live happily, with fewer hardships. Not a day goes by that I’m not troubled by this fact. I know very well what people are in need of, and I feel a great responsibility towards them. My biggest wish is the unification of Georgia; I want to breathe air filled with the smell of sea and pine-trees in Abkhazia and step foot on the land of Samachablo.”

ON HIS CHILDREN “I’m trying to keep my children out of the media spotlight. I don’t want them

“There are many we can name as a standout figure in Georgian history, be it a king, a thinker, a commander. But I say Vazha-Pshavela. The best characteristic our nation has, which I would like to have preserved even a thousand years from now, is the philosophy of Vazha-Pshavela. I can’t compare him to anyone. It’s the code of our nation that helps us survive, which is so precious for us, and one you want to pass on to your children; one which makes you proud that you’re a human being: all this is Vazha-Pshavela. You can take each of his phrases and dedicate a scientific study to it. Vazha-Pshavela is all about spirituality, the infinity of forgiveness, tolerence and inner freedom; the essence of pride, bravery, battle. Whenever I read Vazha-Pshavela, I’m more and more assured in the simple truth that you can’t always be a hero, but you should always remain a human being.”


POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 28 - JANUARY 8, 2017/2018

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Saakashvili as an Inspiration INTERVIEW BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE

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is reputation has certainly been diminished in Georgia (and Ukraine) somewhat, but it appears that Ex-President Saakashvili’s divisive persona still fascinates people far and wide. Among those who admire him and his achievements is Christina Pushaw, a development specialist from the US, who was one of the organizers of the rally in support of Saakashvili in front of the Ukrainian embassy in Washington DC this month. Christina, who has spent several years working in Georgia, was glad to share her insights on the man she calls her “political mentor” and “inspiration”.

YOU KNOW THE MAN PERSONALLY. WHAT’S YOUR SAAKASHVILI’S STORY? My Saakashvili story is interesting. I was studying history, Russian history specifically, at university. It was in 2008, of course, that many of us really heard for the first time about Georgia, during the war. I was always Republican and volunteered for JohnMcCain’scampaignasastudent.When McCain said: today we are all Georgians, I started to look into the country and its leader, and soon realized what he had done for his country: quite significant accomplishments compared to the neighboring countries, and I admired him for it. Then I began volunteering at the Reagan Library in California and Saakashvili was speaker there a couple of times. My family is sort of political. I’d say we move in the same circles [as him], especially on the Republican side. When I applied to move to Georgia after I graduated university, Saakashvili’s government was running a program for native English speakers to teach English in villages. And that was originally my motivation to go to Georgia. I went to Georgia, loved it, had a couple of different jobs,

mostly in education. It’s a quite long story but in the end, I think it gives me quite a different perspective on the political situation in Georgia and now in Ukraine.

THERE IS QUITE A GLORIFYING ASSESSMENT OF SAAKASHVILI ON YOUR FACEBOOK PAGE. YOU CALL HIM THE SIMON BOLIVAR OF EASTERN EUROPE AND YOUR MENTOR First of all, he calls himself that. When I was getting my MA in International Development and Economics last year, I did my field research in Ukraine. Me and my 10 classmates had a meeting with Saakashvili. During that meeting he called himself that because Bolivar was one of the few people in history to lead two countries. So, I liked that. I thought, he is not a leader of Ukraine yet, but I can see so many parallels as far as Ukraine’s great struggle against corruption, against Russian occupation, etc. I think he was joking a little and my class laughed, but we all understood the truth in it. As for political mentor, I’d say more of a political inspiration because, as I said, I’ve been always active in politics in the US. I wish we could have people over there as committed to fighting corruption and special interests as he is. And that’s what I aim to do in my own career. A lot of Americans look up to that because we see how much bravery it takes to stand up to in countries where the rule of law is weak.

THERE IS ALSO A MOTTO: NEVER SURRENDER! THAT’S PROBABLY ALSO APPLIES TO SAAKASHVILI It’s from Winston Churchill’s famous speech against Germany. That was Saakashvili’s office quote. I like it; it suits him very well. Because something about him that’s interesting from my perspective is that he could have been living in the US right now, teaching or enjoying life, but he chose not to. Most people in his position, who were presidents of a country facing controversy at home, would love the lifestyle he could

have had in the US as a political exile. Instead, he went back to Ukraine at the risk of life and health, at risk of arrest. I think he’s really a political animal, with no interest in life other than pushing forward, fighting for what he believes is right.

is a little supportive of Saakashvili. I’d say the people in power right now in Washington, while not jumping on his side and defending everything he does, are maybe more sympathetic than Obama’s admin was, or your government is in Georgia.

HIS REPUTATION IN GEORGIA IN THE FIVE YEARS SINCE THE END OF HIS 9-YEAR GOVERNANCE IS DAMAGED. HOW IS IT IN THE US?

WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON THE CURRENT GEORGIAN GOVERNMENT? WERE THEY BROUGHT IN BY RUSSIAN FORCES, AS SAAKASHVILI CLAIMS?

That depends who you ask. Let’s start with experts in Washington. I have to say it’s very divided along partisan lines. A lot of conservative republicans support the government in power right now, while democrats tend not to support. A lot of experts from the Atlantic Council or various reputable think tanks, which focus on the post-Soviet sphere, get donations from people in power in Ukraine. Many experts have personal consultation businesses in which they advise businessmen who’d like to invest in Ukraine or Georgia. So, in order to carry out those businesses successfully, you cannot be critical of anybody who is in power in those countries. Even though they are experts, expertise is kind of for a sale there, and here, I’m referring to those who are writing that Saakashvili is destabilizing Ukraine. If you look at their backgrounds, many have consultation businesses that rely on a good relationship with the Ukrainian government. As for what Americans think in general; it’s split, and there are people who legitimately criticize him. But whose opinion matters? Not mine, not the Atlantic Council’s, but Kurt Volker, our president and those people who actually have the position to make policy, yes. Volker, Special Envoy to Ukraine, is very careful not to take a side publicly because he’s a diplomat, but he said after Saakashvili crossed the border in Ukraine, which Kyiv said he did illegally, “No, let him have a fair trial and I trust your country to fight corruption”. So, reading between the lines: Volker

I have nothing negative to say about the current government of Georgia, though I have lot to say about the current government in Ukraine. On the current government in Georgia, I think there’s a lot of speculation as to how they came into power and I’ve spoken to many Georgians whosupportedandvotedforthem.Saakashvili’s biggest achievement was stepping down and peacefully transitioning power to the new government. I can’t tell you how rare this is in Georgia’s part of the world: it almost never happens. We were amazed in the US to see that peaceful transition of power and that he didn’t start a war to try and stay in power. I respect democracy. If people voted for this government and still support it, which it seems, as recent elections show, who am I to say you cannot support them or you are brainwashed by Russia? You can’t overturn the results of a democratic elections.

WHAT’S AHEAD FOR SAAKASHVILI IN UKRAINE? When that judge released him from prison and said: no house arrest, I was shocked, but after that we saw that our President signed an act authorizing defense assistance to Ukraine, basically increasing it quite substantially. I think there are many things happening behind the scenes that we don’t know about.

SO, THAT ACT ON DEFENSE ASSISTANCE IS

RELATED TO SAAKASHVILI BEING FREE TO GO? I cannot say 100% for sure, but I think pressure from the US helped. Ukraine’s judiciary is very corrupt. There might be a good judge there and I’ll be happy to see that. I do think, though, it is more likely somebody, maybe not directly our President, maybe the Special Envoy for Ukraine, was behind the scenes in this. Saakashvili still has a lot of friends in the US. Ukraine values its relationship with the US, as does Georgia. General Prosecutor Lutsenko said that there is a high chance that Saakashvili will be extradited to Georgia. I don’t see that happening because I don’t see why the Georgian government would want to do so. Extradition is a difficult process, taking several months, and I think if Saakashvili was to come back or be convicted of crimes and imprisoned, it would cause not only unrest in Georgia but also lead us to question what’s going on. We had presidents in the US who committed crimes…

NIXON, FOR EXAMPLE Yes. And he wasn’t sent to prison. You have to have tradeoffs. In democracy, the most important thing is to avoid anything that could be shown as political persecution. For somebody who admires Georgia for its democratic development, it looks bad, and I’d foresee some pressure from the US if it happens. This is a projection into the distant future, but I want to emphasize that we in the US value our bilateral relationship with Georgia very much and the reason we value it is that it’s one of the few democracies in the former Soviet space and we want to see it stay that way. That’s why it’s important to be careful how you approach the very delicate issue of Saakashvili.


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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 28 - JANUARY 8, 2017/2018

Confusing the Priorities OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE

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have always wondered if this nation and its leaders of older and current times were well enough versed in the meaning of priorities i.e. in doing first things first and second ones second. Georgians entertain the proclivity of setting too high a value upon the things that are in no way worthy of our attention, and vice versa; we suffer a propensity of lowering the value of things that truly deserve our exertion. Meanwhile, mishandling of priorities is usually conducive to blunders that are almost impossible to atone for. It is said that geniuses are those who possess the levers for regulating those priorities, setting them neither too high nor too low. Do our political elite, especially the leaders of our people and their opponents, possess those levers? One of the best examples of our inaptitude in the art of regulating priorities is Georgia’s stance in evaluating the debilitation, fall and disintegration of

the soviet regime. It is exactly then that we overestimated our potential for independent national development and underestimated Russia’s power to hurt us in revenge for breaking away. That was the time when Georgia badly needed to know the ropes on which our priorities were hanging. We rebelled against the wicked giant, and when the oil was already on fire, we lost every chance to extinguish it. And the result is at hand – one third of our country’s historical territory is almost irreversibly gone. Consequently, Georgia has found itself stuck between Scylla and Charybdis, having no idea where the survival opportunity was buried. This is just one example of our crippled orientation when it comes to priorities. Should it make any sense, I could invite a couple more instances of our allergic attitude towards differentiating between issues of national magnitude that have to be strongly prioritized. When our current Prime Minister was nominated and approved by the Georgian Parliament, I thought it expedient enough to run a laudatory article in

GEORGIA TODAY about this utterly important event in the nation’s political life. For the good thing I believed I was doing, a number of vituperative comments were heaped on my poor head, like brownnosing, sucking up, hypocritical, unctuous, double-dealing, etc. I felt a little depressed then, but I never stopped believing that all I had written about our new chief executive was fair and totally compatible with our priorities at the time. I reread it before I embarked on writing this particular piece and I came to believe that I was right – all my accents were in the right place at the right time. I can’t help recollecting my recent experience: that day, I happened to have been watching the evening news in company with a good friend of mine on the much spoken about recent skirmish in Parliament that ended in the PM swearing at one of his most passionate opponents. Now do me a favor and listen to how my friend commented on the incident: “I’ve never liked this man, but I just fell for him; he seems to be a character I never noticed and appreciated

before”. Well, this was uttered a little facetiously, but as the saying goes, there must be a vestige of truth in every joke. Personally, I don’t really care if the Prime Minister of Georgia used rough language in the lawmakers’ palace but what I am definitely concerned about is the priorities that we align for handling by Parliament, or the administration or any other branch of government. No doubt, that day in the Parliament of Georgia, the priorities were confused and mishandled by the players of the game, and all of them turned out losers. Only the fourth government was a winner. The cameras caught the hot moment

and they got the story, which they sold for quite a price, and kept replaying it myriad times in the days and nights that followed. And you can’t help it – we all need to make money, and stories like that are big money-makers. You see, mishandling of priorities has again brought a huge inconvenience to us all, except the hungry-for-a-story media who would never lose a chance like that.

Christmas & New Year in Georgia: What do Foreigners Think?

SOCIETY

Continued from page 1

GEORGIA TODAY interviewed a selection of travelers to find out how they celebrate, and what they think about the Georgian Christmas and New Year traditions.

HAZEM ALHALABI, SYRIA Coming from an oriental society, my family and I usually celebrate the New Year on December 31, for which the country puts up lights and decorations. In Syria, it’s different because people put their own decorations on their own balconies and windows. They tend to compete for the best decorated house because it somehow reflects the status of the family. In the streets, Christmas trees are everywhere, to share happiness and joy. Households also have their own rituals; they buy gifts for the children, or something memorable for the house. As well as this, we prepare for the New Year dinner, or just provide a collection of sweets and cakes; inviting close family

members to spend the night together. Sometimes, families meet at a restaurant or café where they can celebrate with live music and fireworks. I adore the way Georgians celebrate it together; they enjoy the moment like they enjoy every moment when they gather at the Georgian table. I also love how the city gets brighter because of decorations and lights, and how people start getting wearing Christmas jumpers. What I don’t like, and I think everyone will agree, is the reckless and the unorganized selling of fireworks and Christmas trees. People sell those trees on the sidewalks, making it difficult for pedestrians to pass, and fireworks are fired from almost every balcony and every house everywhere, at any time, from very morning till late at night, which is pretty disturbing.

KATIE DAVIES, UK I find it strange that people work on 'Christmas Day' here. The kids are still

at school and the shops are open. If I'm not in back in the UK with my parents, I try to get the day off and keep the kids home, too- I do the whole Santa visit that morning and we open our presents. The Georgians are not big on gift-giving, which saves the financial stress that Westerners suffer, but I always go overboard for my kids anyway! As my husband is Georgian, we do the big New Year feast on the 31st, then go out with friends. Georgian Christmas (January 7) is a quieter affair- we're not religious, so my mother-in-law might take our eldest to church, and we do a roast dinner and invite family and friends round. Old New Year on the 14th is barely celebrated, but we use it as an excuse to meet up with friends and enjoy the last celebration before the long work-slog leading up to the next big holiday (Easter!).

KENNETH MONETTE, USA The best thing is the Georgian tradition of 'first footer', the first person to enter their house on New Year’s Day, which brings the family good luck throughout the year (hopefully). The ‘supras’ are great; full of good food and endless wine to drink and good times and conversation. Simple times among family and close friends is heartwarming and it’s good to see it still remains in the modern times of holiday commercialism. I'm not a big fan of Satsivi, but I do enjoy the rest of the Georgian food. The Georgians always keep it simple and sweet to enjoy! They keep everything in perspective, and it is something I’m proud to be a part of: the simple way of life!

10 Galaktion Street

DARIA KHOLODILINA, UKRAINE I’ve lived in Georgia for more than four years and I live alone, so I enjoy the freedom of choice: which events to attend and which friends to visit! I celebrated New Year 2015 and 2017 in Batumi, which was a nice experience with all the lights reflecting in the sea, beautiful evergreen plants and local omelette borano for a very, very late breakfast of January 1. If I’m in Tbilisi, I prefer to spend it with my friends Maite and Vakho, who are like my second family. This is what I like about the Georgian way: family spirit and big gathering I’m in love with chichilaki instead of a dead fir tree. Once, I also was a mekvle (the ‘first-footer in the house, bringing luck, love and sweets to the family). Bedoba, the Day of Luck, was something new to me in the beginning. If you spend the January 2 in a good way, the year will be happy and successful, and I find it cool that Georgia gives a chance to celebrate Old New Bedoba after the Old New Year in case you totally failed to be happy, merry and sober on the 2nd of January. The only thing I don’t like is too much is the fireworks which scare kids and stray animals, but most people find them beautiful.

NATALIE ANNE TAYLOR, USA I celebrate Christmas on December 25 with my close family in America. On December 24, Christmas Eve, my family and I each choose one gift to open before midnight. We make sure to leave a plate of cookies and a glass of milk out for when Santa comes. Typically,

we have a big Christmas feast on Christmas Eve that includes dishes like baked chicken, ham, mashed potatoes, persimmon bread, and many types of pies. On Christmas Day, we open our presents and make sure to write down who sent us what, so we can send them thank you cards in the mail. After opening presents, we usually visit family and have a lighter Christmas dinner that night. New Year’s is usually spent with close friends in the nearest big city (San Francisco), watching the fireworks go off at midnight, and drinking cheap prosecco. I love most of the traditional Georgian dishes for Christmas and New Year’s. Satsivi is a favorite. I’ll never forget making churchkhela in Martkopi with my host family last year; the process is unique and the love for tradition is alive and well, especially in the village. Otherwise, one of the most memorable Georgian Christmas traditions is ‘Alilo’, with a church service in the morning and afterwards people walk around the village wearing traditional Georgian outfits and singing traditional Christmas songs. As one big group, we walked from door to door singing songs. Every house offered food and wine, and let’s just say the party went well into the evening! It was a very special day. One thing I don’t is the pressure to drink wine and cha-cha at every feast. I feel that pressure especially as a foreigner. From the GEORGIA TODAY team, we wish all our readers and friends a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

Tel: (995 32) 2 45 08 08 E-mail: info@peoplescafe.ge


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SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 28 - JANUARY 8, 2017/2018

Psych War Cancer Control Measures: Xmas: Svaneti Raising Awareness in Georgia The future cancer control clinic to be built in Zugdidi

BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE

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n Georgia, about 10,000 new cases of tumor are observed annually. Over the last three years, tumor cases have increased by 36-37%. According to the National Statistics Office of Georgia, last year, 6,819 people died due to tumors. The National Center for Disease Control and Public Health states that the increased tumor cases are not caused by the rate of the disease itself, but due to the regulation of its registration. "The cancer population register was only introduced in Georgia in 2015, showing the correct figures," said Amiran Gamkrelidze, Head of Disease Control Center. Specialists link the increase in the number of tumors to medical insurance, availability of health care and the increase of visits to doctors. However, statistically, there are more cases where the disease is detected late. People need to have more information about the importance of early detection of cancer in order to take the necessary treatment and prevent unwanted consequences. Oncologists say that the most effective weapon against cancer is its detection at early stages and prevention that is supported by promoting a healthy lifestyle among the population and involving healthy populations in cancer-screening programs. The citizens of Georgia can undertake a state-sponsored tumor diagnosis program which is free of charge, namely: breast tests for persons from 40 to 70 years old (mammography and mammogram consultation, cytology or ultrasound); cervical tests for persons from 25 to 60 years old (Pap test and if required - colposcopy); large intestinal tests for persons from 50 to 70 years old (tested on occult

bleeding); and prostate tests for persons from 50 to 70 years old (prostate specific antigen test). The awareness of the population plays an important role in preventive and early detection measures. One of the most important measures is the awareness of the first tier of healthcare providers, meaning rural / family doctors and nurses. One of their functions is to educate the population and provide information about preventive and early detection activities, and they may be able to direct a healthy population to participate in the statesponsored cancer screening programs. This depends on the competence and qualification of the rural doctors and nurses, and whether women visit screening centers, especially if there are no obvious symptoms. The Memorandum of Cooperation signed between the Czech Development Agency and the Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia, aims at raising the awareness of family doctors on oncology issues. Czech Republic Caritas, Oncoprevention Center and Center "Tanadgoma" carry out educational measures on prevention and early detection of cancer. In the framework of the project, in SamegreloZemo Svaneti, Guria and Tbilisi, Georgian and Czech trainers conducted trainings for rural / family doctors and nurses on oncology issues aimed at strengthening the role of the first tier of healthcare in cancer control measures. In addition, educational activities are underway in order to overcome the stigma related to cancer. At the meetings, Samegrelo and Guria populations were provided with necessary information on the importance of cancer prevention and early detection. Most importantly, thanks to the Czech efforts, a screening center will soon be opened in Zugdidi, equipped with the most advanced technologies.

BLOG BY TONY HANMER

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ot your attention? Good. Disclaimer: usually I disdain and refuse the use of “Xmas” instead of “Christmas”, but this time, I wanted a shorter title, is all. It is, after all, the Christ Mass, like

it or not! “A Christmas of Psychological Warfare” would be the more complete form of the title, because that’s what this season and day (Western calendar) feel like. We’ve been nearly buried under sudden deep snow: that’s what I would call it when you open the front door and have to dig down to find the top step outside! Not a first, but an early occurrence of this phenomenon. The windows on the north side of the house, which gets the least sunlight, are already half covered with the stuff coming off the roof. In addition, the electricity has been not only going on and off with despairing frequency, but also been varying considerably in intensity. We have a group of nine guest-volunteers staying with us, from the organization Youth with a Mission, and their room heating by electricity has been a challenge, but their purpose and fulfillment of help for needy people in Etseri has far outweighed the difficulties. Power on upstairs, off downstairs, or the reverse: is this even possible? Apparently so! Also, I was forced to resort to the petrol generator to prevent our freezers from defrosting; both, including the massive chest one, are full. Ironic when it’s winter! But vital. I’ve stopped recording the power on/off incidents on the calendar as it’s just too depressing; six offs per day was enough, some days ago, and this has been worse. We’ve unplugged the two water heaters we were using, and downstairs heaters too,

replaced by the massive Svan stove burning wood, to reserve power for the freezers. At least the weather is staying mild, hardly going below freezing, which makes a big difference. The snow IS pretty, of course, but when you see how much of it is on the road up to the house, you think, can even the chains on my 4x4 get me anywhere? The local tractor has begun clearing it at last, so this will help. But winter driving is a whole different game, regardless. Every meter needs focus. All the tall, straight aspens have had their topmost branches snapped off by the sudden, massive, windless snowfall, rather than being able to bounce back and release it; I saw one of these breaks happen. Two of the guests went with me to clear snow off the roof of an invalid brother and sister, neighbors of ours. If you don’t do this, you risk the roof simply caving in. A huge blessing for me has been that the roof of our own house is of smooth, unpainted corrugated metal, to which very little snow ever sticks: every time I see someone on their roof doing the shoveling, I’m thankful for this. Around us lie the ruins of houses abandoned by their owners, for which a single winter was sufficient to destroy the roof with the relentless fall of flake by flake, until one last one was too much, the proverbial last straw. So, in the cold, darkest, snowiest period of the year, when everything together weighs one down, we welcome the light represented by Christmas, twice: on our own and the Orthodox dates, thirteen days apart. Gloria in excelsis Deo! 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 nearly 1800 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


CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 28 - JANUARY 8, 2017/2018

Tiflis Meidani: A Gastronomic Journey at the Crossroads

ADVERTORIAL

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ight in the heart of Old Tbilisi, at 6, Rkinis Rigi Street, you’ll find the Wine Restaurant Tiflis Meidani, situated on a spot where, centuries ago, merchants arriving from Europe and Asia traded goods brought along the Silk Road; and where caravans arriving from north and south met, leading to a blend of European and Asian cultures, traditions and history. Tiflis Meidani Wine Restaurant today offers a unique atmosphere to drink and dine in. In the red-brick arched dining area, you’ll have a chance to experience a true gourmet adventure filled with traditional Georgian recipes from various regions of the country, offering fresh, natural, and ecological products. The restaurant menu aims to preserve the distinctiveness of Georgian recipes, its tastes and spicy flavors, creating the fusion of a contemporary approach and breathing new life into often ancient Georgian dishes. That, plus the diverse assortment of Georgian dishes, will surely suit the tastes of anyone willing to take a gastronomical adventure, paired with a wide range of Georgian wines from local wine companies, as well as organic wines from the small wine cellars!

Although Tiflis Meidani restaurant can accommodate 120 guests, it is equally able to offer a cozy dining experience for a small group of friends or family. There are nightly Georgian song performances and traditional Georgian dance shows five days a week from Tuesday to Saturday. On New Year's Eve, we are ready to offer an authentic festive environment for your special New Year's Eve experience, with a traditional Georgian program

and an incredibly delicious Georgian festive menu. The New Year’s program starts at 23:30 and includes two leading Georgian bands: "Metekhi" and "Alegro," as well as a folk dance performance from famous ensemble Rustavi. The night will be closed by a DJ. Your Georgian special New Year celebration experience is waiting for you at Tiflis Meidani!

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CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 28 - JANUARY 8, 2017/2018

WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI THEATER

TBILISI OPERA AND BALLET THEATER Address: 25 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 200 44 66 December 29, 30, January 4 The State Ballet of Georgia presents THE NUTCRACKER The ballet is in two acts Pyotr Tchaikovsky The State Ballet of Georgia presents Start time: December 29, 30 - 19:00, January 4 – 14:00, Ticket price: 10-80 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 598 19 29 36

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Kevin Hart Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy Language: Russian Start time: 16:45, 21:45 Ticket: 12-14 GEL SANTA & CIE Directed by Alain Chabat Cast: Alain Chabat, Audrey Tautou, Golshifteh Farahani, Pio Marmai Genre: Comedy, Family Language: Russian Start time: 17:15, 19:30, 21:30 Ticket: 11-14 GEL RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL December 29 - January 4

December 29 RECITATIVE IN THE CITY El banda del "მუდო", Kakha Bakuradze, Sandro Nikoladze, Irakli Menagarishvili, Simon Bitadze, Dato Kakulia Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10 GEL

JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE (Info Above) Start time: 21:15 Ticket: 13-14 GEL

TBILISI CIRCUS Address: Heroes’ Sq.

SANTA & CIE (Info Above) Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 13-14 GEL

December 29 NEW YEAR CIRCUS SHOW Start time: 13:00, 17:00 Ticket price: 10-25 GEL CINEMA

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI (Info Above) Start time: 22:30 Ticket: 13-14 GEL

CAVEA GALLERY Address: 2/4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 200 70 07 December 29 - January 4

AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava Str. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 GEL December 29 - January 4 STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI Directed by Rian Johnson Cast: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Tom Hardy, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy Language: Russian Start time: 13:30, 22:00 Ticket: 12-17 GEL JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE Directed by Jake Kasdan

FERDINAND Directed by Carlos Saldanha Cast: Kate McKinnon, Bobby Cannavale, David Tennant Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy Language: English Start time: 16:15 Ticket: 16 GEL SANTA & CIE (Info Above) Start time: 22:15 Ticket: 19 GEL JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE (Info Above) Start time: 14:15, 17:00, 19:45, 22:30 Ticket: 15-17 GEL

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 12:45, 18:45, 22:00 Ticket: 15-19 GEL MUSEUM

GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge Exhibition GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF 18TH-20TH CENTURIES Exhibition NUMISMATIC TREASURY IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA Address: 8 Sioni St. Telephone: 2 98 22 81 November 28 – January 10, 2018 GNM Tbilisi History Museum Contemporary Art Gallery will host the exhibition STATE OF PLAY: ART IN GEORGIA IN 1985-1999 MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS Address: 1 Gudiashvili Str. Telephone: 2 99 99 09 March 6 – December 31 EXHIBITION MASTERPIECES FROM THE MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS COLLECTION December 14 – March 14 THE ANNIVERSARYRETROSPECTIVE EXHIBITION GIGO GABASHVILI 155 LITERATURE MUSEUM Address: 8 Chanturia Str. November 17 – January 25 (2018) 200TH ANNIVERSARY EXHIBITION OF FAMOUS GEORGIAN POET NIKOLOZ BARATASHVILI GALLERY

DIMITRI SHEVARDNADZE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Shota Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 215 73 00

December 15-January 16 GIVI TOIDE’S ANNIVERSARY RETROSPECTIVE EXHIBITION

BIOLI HALL Address: Bioli Medical Wellness Resort, Kojori

December 20-January 20 EXHIBITION KARLO KACHARAVA TODAY Karlo Kacharava's solo exhibition takes up two galleries on the museum's ground floor. With a few exceptions the majority of the works on show are oil paintings. The first gallery is dedicated to the General-one of his largest paintings, done in1988-and several other romantic-heroic portraits. In the second gallery, the late artist's paintings are displayed together with the works of three young Georgian artists.

January 2 GEORGIAN NATIONAL BALLET SUKHISHVILI RENEWED ASSA Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 500 GEL The price covers: Festive dinner and wine

ERTI GALLERY Address: 19 Ingorokva Str./5 9 April Str. Building B. Space 1 December 2 – January 15 Tato Akhalkatsishvili's solo show NEVER SLEEP UPSIDE DOWN A multimedia installation related to the galaxy. PROJECT ARTBEAT Address: 14 Ingorokva Str. November 24 – December 30 Project ArtBeat presents MAKA BATIASHVILI’S SOLO EXHIBITION Of artworks made in different techniques in 2015-17. Black and white sketches and canvases MUSIC

TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE Address: 8 Griboedov St. Telephone: 2 93 46 24 December 29 CONCERT OF THE ABKHAZIAN CAPELLI Guram Kurashvili State Cappella of Abkhazia The concert is dedicated to the founder, The conductor and the choir Former artistic director Guram Kurashvili memory. Artistic director and conductor Zviad Bolkvadze Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 5-25 GEL

CONCERT HALL MOZAIKA Address: 61 Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 247 92 20 December 30 THE CHILDREN NATIONAL BALLET LITTLE STARS By Potskhishvili Represent a new choreographical show Creative director: David Potskhishvili Repetitor- choreographer Nino Kartvelishvili Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 12, 15 GEL TBILISI CONCERT HALL Address: 1 Melikishvili St. Telephone: 2 99 00 99 December 30 BASTI BUBU Listen and enjoy the songs chosen by you and meet your favorite heroes. Follow the beats of DJ– Santa, he made the mix of song only for this event. Start time: 14:00, 15:00, 18:00 Ticket: 15-30 GEL TBILISI SPORTS PALACE Address: 1 26th Sq. Telephone: 233 33 11 December 30 British pop artist and rock musician CHRIS REA’S CONCERT Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-300 GEL DJANSUG KAKHIDZE TBILISI CENTER FOR MUSIC & CULTURE Address: 123/125 Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 295 01 19 December 29 NEW YEAR CONCERT IN THE WORLD OF FILM MUSIC Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra Conductor- Vakhtang Kakhidze Violinist- Sandy Vartanova Soundtracks from favorite movies by famous classical and modern composers- Hector Berlioz, Edward Elgar, Jean Sibelius, Michel Legrand, John Williams and Sulkhan Tsintsadze. Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10-28 GEL SPACEHALL Address: 2 A. Tsereteli Ave. December 31 MUZAME NYE: STEPHANE Start time: 23:58 Ticket: 60 GEL January 1 MOVEMENT: GAMOUVALI MDGOMAREOBA SVANSIKH / KORDZ / L8 Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 30 GEL ZALIKO'S CENTER Address: 3 Vekua Str. Telephone: 557 72 91 91 December 29 KIDS NEW YEAR PARTY Start time: 11:00, 13:15 Ticket price: 35 GEL


CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 28 - JANUARY 8, 2017/2018

15

Kordz: Promising Georgian DJ & Composer Hits the Int’l Scene EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY LIKA CHIGLADZE

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lexandre Kordzaia is a young Georgian artist and DJ better known by his nickname Kordz. This newly emerged musician and producer masterfully combines various sounds to produce amazing pieces that stir cheerful feelings and trigger positive emotions within you. Born in Tbilisi, Georgia, in January 1994, at the age of five he moved to Switzerland where he went into the Music Academy there and started creating his own signature music. Alex simultaneously plays on piano and synthesizer, as well as composing classical pieces and house music. His music is a mesh of carefully balanced oppositions: deliciously snappy transients punctuate shimmering soundscapes, gently morphing into funk; while a melancholic post-soviet feel pays sentimental homage to a private vision of the 80s. The artist hosted GEORGIA TODAY at his grandma’s house, where he usually stays when he is Tbilisi. “At the age of 15-16, I got interested in electronic music and started discovering how to do it on my computer. From early childhood, I was playing classical piano and taking part in music competitions. Then I also got more and more into jazz,

followed by house music. After experimenting with various sounds in the garage, at some point I decided to make an album and worked on it for a year. Over time, I got more serious about it and ended up doing my Bachelor’s degree in Sound Engineering and Electronic Composition in the Basel Conservatory, Switzerland”, Kordz told us. The artist has performed throughout Europe, in Switzerland, Prague, Germany, Vienna and The Netherlands. He first appeared in front of the Georgian public in Tbilisi two years ago. “When I first did a live set in Tbilisi, strange as it may sound, the audience at the show was mostly elderly people, friends of my grandparents, and it was somehow funny, but they enjoyed the music and had fun. Afterwards, I gradually got invited to play more in Tbilisi and the modern generation got to know me better,” the artist said. Even though the musician now lives in The Netherlands, from time to time he is invited to play for a Georgian audience at various venues. Kordz has performed in Heaven, Lolita, Mtkvarze, Fabrika, as well as at the Tbilisi Open Air Festival and Black Sea Jazz Festival in Batumi where he delivered his piece together with Giorgi Zagareli. The combination of the sound and energy of the live viola, played by Zagareli, with the electronic compositions of Kordz, impressed listeners greatly. The DJ has also collaborated with other celebrated musicians, conductor Nikoloz Rachveli and Nata-

lia Beridze. He recorded his own successful piece “We have been” together with Rachveli and an orchestra. His collaboration with foreign DJ Frederic Robinson, with whom he released several pieces under the German label Prrrrrrr Records, and their joint performances both in Georgia and abroad have been well received. On January 1, on his birthday, Kordz will take to the stage at SPACEHALL in Tbilisi before he heads back to The Netherlands, giving both locals and visitors the chance to celebrate the New Year at best. Kordz was recently nominated for the prestigious Tsinandali Award in music. He was also asked to write a piece particularly for the award ceremony that was performed by the string ensemble and the musicians of the Georgian Philarmonic Orchestra. The artist told us that, in future, he plans to get a string ensemble inside a club and pair it with his electronic music. One of his truest and biggest fans is his grandmother. “The funniest thing is that when I started playing here in the clubs, my grandmother, who lives in Tbilisi, told me she was curious about what I was doing and wanted to come to my concert. She enjoyed it a lot from the first, and started coming regularly. Now, whenever I’m playing, no matter what time it is, even 3 o’clock in the morning,

she’s always there, all dressed up and ready to party.” Alex’s grandma herself confirmed it, when she suddenly entered the room to offer us churchkhela and sweets. “My ear is so used to his music, that I can’t listen to any other,” she told us. In parallel with performing in different countries throughout Europe, Kordzaia is doing a Master’s in Acoustic Composition in Hague University, in The Netherlands. “I’d like to collaborate with as many Georgian musicians as possible from the orchestra and the Conservatory,” he said. Before coming back to Georgia to perform at the Close Encounters Festival in September-October, he has a thoroughly planned agenda of cities he’ll be playing in over the next few months. “My next show will be in Vienna with my record label, bringing together various artists, then in Amsterdam in the Muziekgebouw, which is the main concert hall for contemporary classical music, where my new piece that I’m writing right now will be performed. After that is a concert at the Elbphilharmonie, a new concert hall in Hamburg, where I’ll be accompanied by an orchestra,” he told us.

Georgian Alphabet Brought to Life through Art BY LIKA CHIGLADZE

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he Georgian alphabet has captured interest on a global scale over recent decades due to its ancient history and the beauty of its refined shapes. The fact that all three writing systems of the Georgian alphabet have been recognized as Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO serves as yet more proof of that. Contemporary Georgian artist Shota Saganelidze decided to take the Georgian writing system to a new level and transform it into artwork. He has experimented with all writing styles of the Georgian language, from the earliest to the current, and integrated them into various forms of art. As the artist told GEORGIA TODAY, he first came up with the idea of making art using Georgian letters when he created a logo for his music band Khidi in 1998. The musician, with a background in architecture, gradually started creating portraits of his friends, followed by the paintings of distinguished Georgian figures and eventually found a new attribute to the Georgian script. By creating calligraphy portraits of prominent people like great Georgian writer Shota Rustaveli, Queen Tamar, King David the Builder, actress Sopiko Chiaureli and film director Sergei Parajanov, he breathed new life into Georgian letters, presenting them in a creative and unusual way. “I create portraits of historical and important persons who walked a path through their deeds, and I perceive them using only Georgian letters. Apart from the artworks on the canvas, I have transferred my works onto various kinds of textile,

jewelry and even household items and furniture,” the artist explained. His jewelry, in particular bracelets and rings with portraits of Queen Tamar and Sopiko Chiaureli engraved on them, have attracted massive interest since before that, there were no such handmade accessories available on the Georgian market. Now the artist is experimenting on ceramic and wants to develop his art in this particular direction. “I use Georgian ceramic and combine it with glass to get a rare type of porcelain with various patterns and decorations. I discovered the technology of creating a fresco effect that adds an antique note to my artworks. Additionally, I’m in the process of making installations and producing 3D artworks through shaping Georgian letters from clay. The next stage will be creating a mobile application through which anyone will be able to create his/her or someone else’s portrait using Georgian letters,” Shota said, noting that the working process is underway to integrate his art into high tech. “At the Frankfurt Book Fair 2018, where Georgia will be the Guest of Honor , as part of the event, my artwork will be presented and will end up at the international calligraphy museum of Frankfurt,” the artist said, also revealing that at the beginning of February he will hold a personal exhibition in Tbilisi. “Currently, I’m actively preparing for the exhibition and am creating artworks on giant silk canvas. Since this year marks the anniversary of prominent and progressive Georgian theater painter Petre Otskheli, as part of my artworks, I have created my version of Otskheli through Georgian letters that I will put on display alongside my other paintings,” Saganelidze told us. Apart from creating art, Shota is also a musician and composer, in which he is equally successful.

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Issue #1011  

December 28 - January 8, 2017/18

Issue #1011  

December 28 - January 8, 2017/18

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