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Issue no: 813

• JAN. 29 - FEB. 1, 2016



In this week’s issue... Recognizing the Potential: WTO Statistics Committee Meeting Held in Georgia NEWS PAGE 2

Georgia’s Economic Prospects as Iran Re-Enters the World Economy



ON THE OPERA Opening its doors after six years’ renovation


Council of Europe: Repression of Minorities Remains on the Rise in Georgia BY TAMAR SVANIDZE


he Council of Europe (CoE) has released a new report regarding human rights in Georgia in which it emphasizes that despite great progress, the marginalization of national and religious minorities is still on the rise. The report highlights that over the past five years, Georgia has made progress in protecting national minorities: it has adopted new legislation and policies to ensure equality and integration and to combat discrimination, it has continued supporting media and cultural activities in minority languages, and it has promoted the participation of minorities in public life. However, according to the report, despite successful steps carried out by the Government,

Georgian Occupied Regions Security Threat for Europe? POLITICS PAGE 5

Cheers to the New Gen: Ogden on Georgia’s Swinging Sixties SOCIETY PAGE 8

national minorities remain marginalized, language barriers still exist, the quality of teaching at minority language schools is low, and hate speech and religious tensions are on the rise. “These are key findings of the new opinion by the CoE’s Advisory Committee of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM) that was published, together with the Georgian Government’s comments,” the report said.

Since the first cycle of monitoring in 2009, the CoE’s Committee notes the adoption of a comprehensive strategy and action plan for the civic integration of national minorities, and comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation adopted in 2014; a Law on the State Language contains guarantees for the use of minority languages, and amendments to the Criminal Code introduced racial motivation as an aggravating circumstance in respect of any offence. Continued on page 8

Ministry of Health Asks Georgia: “What’s the problem?” SOCIETY PAGE 11

Ramsey Lewis’ 80th Album to Open Jazz Series 2016 CULTURE PAGE 15

Tbilisi to Toast Revered Scottish Poet at 7th Annual Burns Supper and Ball CULTURE PAGE 15





ICC Prosecutor to Proceed with Investigation of Russia-Georgia War Crimes BY ZVIAD ADZINBAIA WTO Executive Director, Márcio Favilla with the head of the Georgian National Tourism Administration, Giorgi Chogovadze

Recognizing the Potential: WTO Statistics Committee Meeting Held in Georgia BY ANA AKHALAIA


he 5th session of the World Tourism Organization (WTO)’s Technical Advisory Board and 16th meeting of the Statistics and Tourism Satellite Accounts Committee was held in Georgia on January 25-27, 2016. Within the framework of the event, experts of the WTO in the field of statistics visited Georgia. WTO Executive Director, Márcio Favilla, also came to Georgia in order to meet the Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, Dimitry Kumsishvili, and the head of the Georgian National Tourism Administration (GNTA), Giorgi Chogovadze. The Statistics and Tourism Satellite Accounts Committee includes 12 member countries, including Austria, Spain,

Brazil, and Chile. Georgia was re-elected for a second term as a Member of the Committee. In the past, Georgia held the post of Vice President of the Committee and this year the country’s contribution was marked by holding the event in Georgia as opposed to in the Committee’s base country of Spain. Membership of the Committee and the hosting of the meeting in Georgia is a vital step towards improving the gathering of tourism statistics and approximation to international standards, as well as for the introduction of modern approaches. In addition to this session, under the auspices of the UN’s World Tourism Organization, another large scale event will be held in Georgia. Georgia will host the first global conference on wine tourism in autumn, 2016, which will further the tourism potential of Georgia as a recognized wine country.


n 27th January 2016, PreTrial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) authorized the Prosecutor to proceed with an investigation for the crimes within the ICC’s jurisdiction allegedly committed in and around South Ossetia, Georgia between 1st July and 10th October 2008. The ICC press release published Wednesday stated that Pre-Trial Chamber I is composed of Judge Joyce Aluoch, Presiding Judge Cuno Tarfusser and Judge Péter Kovács who appended a separate concurring opinion. According to the press release, on 13th October 2015, the ICC Prosecutor submitted her “Request for authorization of an investigation pursuant to Article 15” of the Rome Statute. On 4th December 2015, the Chamber received the rep-

resentations by or on behalf of 6,335 victims on this matter. “After examining the request and the supporting material, the Chamber concluded that there is a reasonable basis to believe that crimes within the ICC’s jurisdiction have been committed in the situation in Georgia. Such crimes include crimes against humanity, such as murder, forcible transfer of population and persecution, and war crimes, such as attacks against the civilian population, wilful killing, intentionally directing attacks against peacekeepers, destruction of property and pillaging allegedly com-

mitted in the context of an international armed conflict between 1 July and 10 October 2008,” the press release reads. According to the ICC, the Chamber also found that potential cases arising out of the situation would be admissible before the Court and that there are no substantial reason to believe that an investigation would not serve the interests of justice, taking into account the gravity of the crimes and the interests of the victims. “In conclusion the Chamber granted the ICC Prosecutor’s request to proceed with an investigation into the situation in Georgia.”

Azerbaijani Gas Import Up in Georgia BY ANA AKHALAIA


eorgia imported 1.51 tons of gas, worth USD 314.3 million, from Azerbaijan in 2015, according to a report from Azerbaijani publication trend.az based on data from the National Statistics Service of Georgia.

According to their annual data, the annual import from Azerbaijan in terms

of money has increased by 9.4% while the oil equivalent is around 9.2% or around 127.17 tonnes. In 2014, 1.38 million tons of gas (oil equivalent) was imported from Azerbaijan to Georgia, worth USD 287.34 million. Total import of gas from Azerbaijan was 57.9% last year. The remainder came from Russia and other sources. Total gas import carried out by Georgia was worth $419.44 million last year.





Georgia’s Economic Prospects as Iran Re-Enters the World Economy BY CHARLES JOHNSON


ast week, The United States lifted sanctions on Iran thanks to its compliance with the recently negotiated agreement on its uranium enrichment program. The deal was the hallmark of the Obama Presidency’s diplomacy, the world is now seeing one of the largest and most lucrative Eurasian economies re-enter the fold after years of isolation. Given that Georgia’s external economic relationships are shaky at best, given the recent economic crises in Russia and Greece, how then will the re-entry of Iran to world trade affect Georgia, oil prices, and regional power structures? For anyone, whether they be in Teheran, Tbilisi, or Moscow, looking for a silver bullet to their economic woes, this event will not be it; however, we will certainly see some realignment in the status quote that will likely prove to be noteworthy. It should be noted that Western relations with Iran are still tense and the present agreement only lays out the potential to be more cooperative. Should each set of interests be able to walk this path without major diplomatic spats, the outcome should be beneficial for all involved. The first major test in this regard was when Iran detained several US Navy sailors this last week for apparently straying into Iranian waters. The sailors were promptly released and apologies were exchanged on both sides, so it seems that cooler heads are prevailing; a rare

move for major powers in Eurasia. The greater geopolitical implications of Iran’s re-entry to the world market are notable, if not profound. A July 2015 futures report by the World Bank predicted that Iranian oil and gas hitting the market would drop prices by $10-$15. Right now oil is slightly above or below $30 depending on the day you might be reading this. It is highly unlikely that Iran alone would cause the entire world’s energy prices to fall by 50% (the World Bank report was published when prices were around $50-$55), but excess Iranian supply will most certainly not cause prices to rise. For Eurasian powers like Russia and Saudi Arabia who are so heavily dependent on energy prices for economic performance, this is exceptionally bad news. In a more long-term analysis, a benevolent energy-trading Iran offers European consumers an alternative to Russian oil and gas. In this regard Georgia’s geographic presents an opportunity to profit from being a conduit for this newfound trade between East and West. In a somewhat prophetic policy brief entitled “A Western Strategy for the South Caucasus,” from the Central Asia Caucasus Institute from Johns Hopkins University, the authors mentioned how both Western powers and South Caucasian governments are stuck in the past when it comes to their regional priorities and have not, “balanced [democracy promotion] with equal attention to security and economics, and have not adapted their methods to the evolving realities of the region.” Iran perfectly personifies

this “evolving reality.” The energy-rich country will be looking for markets to sell its oil and gas, and Europe is looking for any sourcing for energy that is not Russian. Right between these two opportunities is Georgia, which the Johns Hopkins paper calls the “land Suez” between the Caspian Sea Basin and Europe for its potential for massivelyprofitable over-land trade between the two markets. This trade, in the context of Iran, is manifested in two ways: Iranian energy going westward, and European light-industry going eastward. Put simply, Iranians, rich off energy profits, want to buy European cars, tea kettles, and furniture. Europeans want cheap gas for their cars that is not subject to the price shocks of a Russian supply controlled by a fickle Vladimir Putin. The question then turns to Georgia, and how it can structure policies to ensure its place as the trade corridor. Georgia’s economic relationship with Iran over the past decade has been guarded at best. However, it would be well served to jump on the Persian bandwagon this year, given that Georgia’s Western allies are less terse when it comes to trading and interacting with Tehran. What then can the Georgian government do in this evolving world of Eurasian economic realities and relationships? First, Georgia must know where its comparative advantages lie and use them to its benefit. It will never be a competitor to Iranian and European light industry or agriculture. However, it is a burgeoning tourist destination; an increasingly bright beacon to middle

Source: hamodia.com

class individuals from the East and West who have money to spend in the summer. Where Europeans may come to Georgia to hike, Iranians may come to Georgia to gamble and consume wine (or anything alcoholic) both of which are still banned in their country. Iranian tourists represented a maximum 2% of the total market share year-on-year in Georgia from 2005-2014 according to Geostat. This is one place where concerted government effort and marketing in Iran can bring a nice windfall of cash to Georgia in 2016-17. Additionally, the Iranian upper class will be looking for places to spend their newfound capital in the coming years. According to the same Geostat statistics, Iranian Foreign

Direct Investment into the Georgian economy leaves much to be desired in the last decade. With regards the previously mentioned potential to be a “land Suez” between Iran and Europe, the government should be moving to create favorable tax structures to incentivize such trade. An example would be allowing energy to transit cheaply, but profiting from the transit of consumer goods and light industry such as automobiles. There is no doubt that with a concerted government effort, and no more diplomatic backlash from Georgia’s European and American allies, Iran’s newfound economic freedom could potentially bring a lot of money to Georgian pockets in the coming decade.

The West Should Increase Support of Georgia BY ZVIAD ADZINBAIA


he Washington Post has published an article on Georgia’s Foreign Policy, comparing pro-EU and proRussian tendencies in the country prior to the 2016 parliamentary elections. A Foreign Policy Research Institute Scholar, Michael Cecire, in his article states that Georgia is not on the verge of a Kremlin-inspired political takeover, but nor is growing Russian influence a fantasy.

According to Cecire, getting a feel for Georgia’s geopolitical trajectory is too important to get wrong. “Georgia is arguably the most stable and most democratic of the post-Soviet republics outside of the Baltics, and plausibly the last hope in a region that has seen years of political stagnation and regression. The United States and Europe have poured billions into promoting democracy and economic development there, and Tbilisi has consistently responded with an enthusiastic embrace of Westernization.” The article says the government in Tbilisi is doing almost everything right. But expansion fatigue in the United States, and especially Europe, is breed-

ing fatalism in Georgia, and incubating a political environment where the antiwest crusades of pro-Russia factions are gaining traction. Cecire assumes that if Georgia turned away from the West, it would not only be a blow to the country’s nascent democracy, but it would also sew up the Eurasian interior for Moscow, give Russia a direct corridor to the Middle East, cut Western access to Eurasian energy sources and kill off any hope for regional democratization for the foreseeable future. “Under Russian domination, Georgia might fall back into a mirror image of its 1990s past: a failed state and open

The EU flag is projected on the government building in Tbilisi to celebrate Georgia’s approximation to the EU

air market for illicit trade. Racked by civil war and warlordism, it could be a fertile ground for radicalism,” the scholar states. Michael Cecire further declares that the 2016 parliamentary elections could have a decisive role in Georgia’s western trajectory. “With Russia looming on Georgia’s northern borders, and its forces garrisoning the Georgian separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, a certain amount of pragmatism from Tbilisi is essential to ensure stability,” the publication says, adding, “but a pro-Russia drift in Georgia would threaten the country’s Western moorings, making it dominated by Russia by default.” Accordingly, for the West, losing Georgia doesn’t just strengthen Russia, but gives it a strategic connector state between Europe and Eurasia—and the meeting point of regional powers Russia, Turkey, Iran and Europe.


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The strategic importance of Georgia is sufficiently clear for Georgian, European and American leaders, as the country has multifaceted potential in terms of alternative trade routes between Europe

and Asia, Europe’s energy diversification and regional peace and stability. In fact, the ongoing tension in the Middle East and potential spread of terrorism throughout the Caucasus once again emphasizes Georgia’s nontrivial role in her checkered neighborhood. Could the 2016 elections determine the fate of Georgian democracy and affect greater regional and international matters? Yes. As Cecire implies, the game is of greater importance than technically holding elections. In particular, the Russian information propaganda, the socalled Fifth Column (the ideologically pro-Russian part of society) and allegedly some direct involvement of the Russian special services in the process could give greater leverage to Putin’s government to push Georgia northwards. Should the EU and the US increase their political and financial support toward Georgia? The answer could depend on their future strategy in this region. If not, the final aftermath of the process could be dire; by dire, one might mean that all the accomplishments Georgia - along with her strategic allies and friends, including the US and EU - has accomplished for the common good, will be seriously jeopardized.





Georgian Occupied Regions Security Threat for Europe? for an ultimate resolution of the conflicts? This might seem a fairy tale to most bystanders; however, the efforts of the Georgian state and international com-



eputy Foreign Minister Davit Dondua last week met EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the Crisis in Georgia, Herbert Salber. During the meeting on Friday, the parties discussed outcomes of the 34th round of the Geneva International Discussions and issues on the agenda of the next round. According to the Foreign Ministry, Deputy Minister Dondua underlined the importance of achieving progress on the main issues on the negotiating table, highlighting the necessity of setting up international security arrangements in the occupied regions. He focused his attention on the need to respect the format, agenda and procedures of the Geneva Talks. Dondua also emphasized the need to restore, without any precondition, the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism in Gali (a district in Abkhazia populated by Georgians). He said this will considerably contribute to strengthening security and stability on the ground, as well as confidence-building and maintaining a positive dynamic in the process of negotiations. Meanwhile, Pedro Agramunt, who has been elected President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), in his speech emphasized that fighting against international terrorism, coping with the refugee crisis and solving the frozen conflicts inside Europe

OSCE Delegation in Georgia Meets Head of Government

A young woman from Georgia’s occupied region tries to reach the Georgian flag. The photo was taken as part of the anti-occupation campaign in Georgia

are his priorities. “Threats to security and frozen conflicts still exist in the regions of Transnistria, Republic of Moldova, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Georgia, and NagornoKarabakh, Azerbaijan,” Agramunt pointed out in his speech, adding that conflicts in Europe still remain unsolved and the situation is still fragile in Ukraine. “That conflict alone has claimed more than 9000 lives. Separatists, backed by Russia, still control a part of the country. Peace has still not been achieved.” ‘We should continue discussing frozen conflicts in several European regions [including the above-mentioned]. The conflicts create a threat to European security,” the newly elected official declared.

ANALYSIS: What real steps could be taken in order for the conflicts of Georgia to be progressed toward their final resolution? There is no answer to this question except one – a geopolitical change in the region that will be followed by Russia’s change of attitude toward Georgia and international society, powered by the

munity are/should be focused on the peaceful resolution. At the very least, Western engagement in the process should be increased in scope.

principal, strategic actions of the West. In other words, the conflicts will keep their current ‘frozen’ status unless Russia, as a major factor of creating and orchestrating Abkhazia and South Ossetia conflicts, changes its game rules. As for the current diplomatic actions from the Georgian side, this could of course serve to the positive as Gali residents - over thirty thousand local Georgians facing massive breaches of their fundamental rights – need to be protected. Although it is hard to say what concrete, measurable consequences international dialogue formats like the Geneva Talks could have, there are no better alternatives available for the Georgian side at this moment. Are the Georgia conflicts a security threat for wider Europe? In a broader sense, they are. As Georgia has occupied the role of a central connector between Europe and Asia, the country’s security, stability and prosperity matters have surpassed Georgia’s national interests. Instead, any, positive or negative developments in Georgia could have relevant correlation to Europe, too. Could international involvement serve



ead of the Georgian Government, Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, met with the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly delegation to discuss the upcoming annual session of the Assembly, the political environment in Georgia and the 2016 parliamentary elections. The 25th session of the OCSE Parliamentary Assembly will be held in Tbilisi on July 1st – 5th, 2016. Parliamentary delegations from more than 50 states, around 700 politicians, will attend the event.

Head of the delegation, Kristian Vigenin, and Secretary General of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, Roberto Montella, discussed the breakaway Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions and the conflict resolution processes with the Georgian Prime Minister. The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s delegation reaffirmed its support of the territorial integrity of Georgia. The parties also discussed GeorgianRussian relations and political processes taking place in Georgia as well as preparatory works for the 2016 parliamentary elections. The members of the delegation hope that the elections will take place in an open and transparent environment, as prescribed by international standards.





Dribbling their Balls

Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili at the meeting with NGO representatives Photo credit: Official Facebook page of Giorgi Kvirikashvili



he roads of sports and politics have intersected once again in Georgia. This time the meeting point is Gardabani, where the elections of the Head of the Municipality are to take place and where the candidates of the United National Movement (UNM) and Georgian Dream (GD) will oppose each other. The UNM candidate is local businessman Besik Kakhabrishvili, while the GD candidate is the former player of the National Football Team, Gocha Jamarauli. A similar controversy took place in rugby a while ago, where the favorite candidates of exactly that same political organizations were running for the post of the President of the Georgian Rugby Union (GRU). The former captain of the National Rugby Team, Ilia Zedgenidze, was supported by GD, while the UNM supported lawyer Gocha Svanidze. Nobody hides the fact that the GD candidate Gocha Jamarauli is lobbied by the Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Energy, Kakha Kaladze, who is a former footballer himself. Obviously, it is through this that the Minister plans to strengthen his position for the upcoming parliamentary elections in the Gardabani municipality as well as the Georgian Dream itself. Supporter of GD and political expert Mamuka Areshidze says that he himself was to be nominated as the candidate of GD in the Gardabani elections, though Kakha Kaladze took preference over his former colleague instead. “When the meeting was held with the management of the party, Kakha Kaladze told me that the party had agreed to me running for Governor,” Areshidze told

ported by the UNM. Almost an identical scenario took place in the Presidential elections in the Rugby Union last week. The attitude of GD has changed towards now former President Gia Nizharadze, only because the latter was elected during the UNM’s term in government. However, the favorite of the ruling party lost the elections to the candidate who was supported by Gia Nizharadze. Gocha Svanidze surpassed Ilia Zedgenidze with only two votes, which was followed by a tirade against Nizharadze about the squandered Federation budget in social networks. It was also not forgotten that Svanidze was Zurab Adeishvili’s lawyer in the past. How Gocha Jamarauli’s debut in politics will end is hard to tell, as, unlike sports, politics has different laws. However, there was a time when there were no elections at all, democracy did not exist and everyone knew that sports was the extension of politics, when the Head of the Football Division of the Georgian Sports Committee was assigned by the Head of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, who in turn was designated by the First Secretary of that same Central Committee, and when the First Secretary was appointed by Moscow!



eorgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili met representatives of nongovernmental organizations Tuesday to discuss various political and social issues. The PM emphasized that the involvement of the civic sector in the governmental decision-making process is vital. “We want to establish an even more transparent system of governance in Georgia and to ensure the engagement of representatives of various sectors of society in the decision-making process. I want to talk with you openly and frankly about all important issues,” the PM stated. PM Kvirikashvili updated NGO representatives concerning intensive processes currently underway and emphasized that ministers jointly scrutinize portfolios of their respective agencies to prioritize them on a daily basis. Following on from this meeting, a joint presentation covering the activities of all ministries is set to take place in the


near future to present currently prioritized activities. The Prime Minister elaborated, “The top priority projects are selected based on three criteria: the degree of actuality of the issue for society, compliance with the Country Development Strategy, and existence of the resources essential for solving the problem. 3 to 5 priority projects will be selected for each Ministry and respective packages will be reviewed to single out 3 to 5 government-wide priority projects. This process will be finalized within a month.” The PM articulated that to this aim each ministry conducts two meetings. During the first meeting, the portfolio and the top priority projects of the ministry are reviewed, while at the second meeting political challenges and responses are scrutinized. The PM then stated that the respective priorities will be discussed with the NGOs in order to guarantee maximum civic engagement. Prior to the meeting with the NGOs, PM Kvirikashvili met the inter-party group of non-parliamentary opposition at the governmental administration. Continued on page 7

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newspaper Versia. “Nothing more was said at the first meeting, however, at the second meeting he said that I didn’t suit them. Jamarauli is Kaladze’s friend and perhaps this led to his candidacy, in addition to this, Jamarauli was born and brought up in Gardabani.” By the way, unlike Jamarauli, Mamuka Areshidze is a relative of Minister Kaladze’s wife, however, apparently family connections have been beaten this time by sporting ties. Currently, Gocha Jamarauli is a member of the GFF Executive Committee. Jamarauli has already confronted his colleagues on political grounds in the Federation, when the Executive Committee turned down the demand of the President of the GFF, Kakhi Kaladze’s favorite Levan Kobiashvili, to dismiss the head coach of the National Team from his post. The refusal of the Committee was explained by Kobiashvili as political revenge and he blamed everything on the “invisible hand” of the United National Movement. Apparently, the President of the Federation is referring to revenge for his own win in the Presidential elections, when his candidacy was supported by GD and Minister Kaladze and when then VicePresident Revaz Arveladze was sup-

Georgian Prime Minister Meets Opposition and Civic Sector







Huntington’s Wisdom, Endless Conflict? OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE


re we really done with world wars? No, aren’t! No matter how civilized and sophisticated we become technically, we are still faced with the same old vicious, brutal and unforgiving world, one in which we have to defend ourselves from violence as we have always done, and we might continue to need to do now and in the future. One of the most expansive wars is presently being waged right in the middle of Europe, which is very expensive into the bargain. Explosions, plunder, mass rapes and attacks on civilians of various ages and status has become a routine part of dayto-day life. And the unusual manner of the current war is extremely bothersome, in that the confronting sides have found themselves a priori in an unequal posi-

tion – one side is invisible and operates under camouflage as a rule, and the other side is always caught napping and on the defensive. Those on the offensive have been named as terrorists by the attacked, while the attackers try to prove to the rest of the world that they are pursuing a heroic mission of reinstating justice; and those who are on the defensive are sure that the offenders are unfairly and violently taking away their peace and good life. The situation has escalated so badly that some European countries – the attacked and self-defending ones – are closing their borders and declaring a state of emergency on their territory before it gets too late to secure their civilized way of life. The embittered offenders are swarming towards the border-lines of well-to-do European nations from those parts of the world where they can no longer survive due to hunger, homelessness and disparity left by on-going wars in their respective

countries. The flow of migrants and refugees from those unfortunate places never ends, and Europe is getting terribly irritated by the influx of newcomers, although it wants to keep up the lofty idea of human rights which it has always championed historically. The problem is being compounded by the differences in cultural and behavioral patterns between the rooted Europeans and those who are trying to penetrate into a more civilized world than the one they came from, saying nothing about the breached habitual order of things on the old continent and financial bottlenecks that usually follow. How long will this last and how happy can the end be? My personal affordable answer is that the quagmire may last forever and the end is going to be clearly unfortunate if all remains unchanged. The prominent American political scientist Samuel P. Huntington quite a while ago predicted that people’s cultural and religious iden-

Prominent American political scientist Samuel P. Huntington predicted that people’s cultural and religious identities would be the primary source of conflict in the post-Cold War world

tities would be the primary source of conflict in the post-Cold War world, which seems to be inevitable, and the world would be wise to prepare for such a conflict. Civilizations do not mix well. They love their identity and want other civilizations to behave according to their cherished ideals and paradigms. It will not happen! The clash between them is clear and obvious, and the danger of the clash is ever-present. Why do people of various ethnic origins, races and civilizations not mix well and often experience confrontations on religious grounds? This question is not easy to answer. Volumes have been written to interpret

the differences, and the dilemma has remained unsolved for millennia. Huntington is right, although controversial to a certain extent. His descriptions could be right but solutions might leave some unanswered questions. There should be no panacea around to rectify the situation, but one thing is doubtless – violence will beget violence, so the sides might want to stop it and make an attempt to work out a model of mutual behavior, basing it on the knowledge and experience accumulated so far. If we don’t do this, medieval darkness and violence might be looming around the corner for us to taste again.

Georgian Prime Minister Meets Opposition and Civic Sector Continued from page 6

During his meeting with the opposition, he emphasized the importance of high engagement in political processes and expressed his readiness to conduct joint discussions over the ideas of interparty groups regarding the election environment. “We are more than ready to increase

engagement in political processes. We are willing to establish high culture relationships. This is particularly important during the pre-election period, to demonstrate to our partners across the world that we are capable of civilized interaction, and even more, we can listen to each other and conduct exemplary elections,” the PM stated. The importance of the above-men-

tioned is even higher since Georgia is in the process of association with the EU. “It is crucial to leave confrontation behind and enter a format of negotiation,” he said. During the meeting, it was also made known that regular meetings between the opposition and the government will be held, which “will enable the govern-

First steps in building Georgia’s future taken by Royal Group

Royal Group just started conquering new territories and already has 12 projects in Georgia. Construction development company is ready to make a loud shout out about itself and yet started widening company’s horizons by organizing the biggest supporting event in Georgia called Vote for Zaza. Royal Group is proud to be the one, who started collecting votes for Zaza Pachulia to make his dream come true and play in NBA ALL STAR GAME in Toronto 2016. After Royal group organized some activities agitating people to vote for Captain of the National Basketball Team, Zaza results ball players of the world. Royal group is not stopping and striving to the highness. Currently Royal Group offers its customers several projects throughout Georgia and its capital Tbilisi: Didube Tower on Tseretely Avenue being glass in Tbilisi. Residence will be completed in summer 2018. Complex in Spring 2018, “Eristavi Residence” will be ready to welcome its residents in summer 2017, “Villa Vera” project will be completed in December 2017 and unique building “Pearl of Ureki” on the seaside of Georgia was already Make a right decision today and let’s make our dreams come true together. Royal group is building your future. PR Manager of Royal Group Veronika Mchedlishvili

ment to exchange opinions regarding election-related matters with the interparty group.” The Prime Minister also presented the representatives of non-parliamentary opposition with draft amendments abolishing the ‘vicious practice’ established throughout the years, “namely, Ministers will not be authorized to establish special polling stations at their

own discretion.” During the meeting, members of the inter-party group laid out demands regarding the abolishment of a majoritarian system by 2016 instead of 2020, however, nothing was finalized and the PM said the benefits and shortcomings of the respective matter will be discussed by the coalition, and the group will make a relevant decision in future.





Council of Europe: Repression of Minorities Remains on the Rise in Georgia

Cheers to the New Gen: Ogden on Georgia’s Swinging Sixties OP-ED BY TIM OGDEN


he Georgian pride in the national culture and history is one of the first things that foreigners are confronted with on arrival. After listening to the inflated toasts of Georgian men dedicated to the past achievements of their country, one could easily be forgiven for thinking that it was Georgia, not Britain, which had once ruled the largest empire on the planet, or that all the things we hold dear – such as democracy, the motor car and the Xbox - had all been invented by Georgians. Foreigners often take to blogs or social media to complain about the prevalence of homophobic or sexist attitudes in the country, and there’s no doubt that Georgia still has some way to go before these sorts of issues are a thing of the past. But soon enough, I hope they will be. It seems to me that foreigners are often quick to idealize their homelands, forgetting that sexism and homophobia (to take two examples) are still rampant in the West. When Americans and Europeans talk about how the Tbilisi Gay Rights march of 2012 - which was violently dispersed by priest-led Georgians - would never have been assaulted in the West, I’m not inclined to agree. Oh, it would never have happened in central London

Continued from page 1

or New York, but it’s not hard to imagine such a rally sufferuffering a similar fate in parts ts of Birmingham, Manchester er or Bradford. In fact, the worst man I ever met in Georgia was homophobic, sexist, racist…and American, every bit as bad (and worse) as the traditional Georgian men he despised. But I suppose the main point of the attacks on the 2012 rally is that it wouldn’t have happened in a Western city center as it did in the middle of Tbilisi. Still, my point is that foreigners in Georgia coming across these sorts of attitudes firsthand - mentalities that they don’t associate with their own countries because they don’t reflect their own background – can start to think that the West is completely free of intolerance and segregation, and that homophobia, racism and sexism belong to their grandparents’ generation. Incidentally, that is what really gives me hope for the future. The young Georgians that I know who are of a similar background to myself – by which I mean educated, open-minded and strikingly attractive – hold the same beliefs towards the contentious issues as most Westerners do. Incidents such as the attack on the 2012 rally are as abhorrent to them as they are to me; more so, in fact, since it happened in their country. There is, really, a very easy way to think about it all; Georgia’s 1960s are just starting.

The next generation generatio of educated people wi will not (or do not, I should shoul say) have strong mem memories of the turmoil of o the 1990s; in addition, the Soviet period will be as much a part of history as the reign of David the Builder or Queen Tamar, and so political and economic comparisons between the present and the past will become even more redundant than they are now. Incidents such as the attack on the Anti-Homophobia rally will (I hope) be seen as the actions of a few bigoted morons rather than ‘the Georgians’. The next generation seem to be Georgian in all the right ways. For me, there is nothing wrong with patriotism, providing it falls short of nationalism; as tedious as the supra toasts of old men might be, in Britain things have gone too far. Our culture is being systematically abandoned, our history forgotten at best and misremembered at worst. I would not like to see similar things happen in Georgia. I’m optimistic that the next few decades will give us leading Georgian citizens who keep one eye on the past to make sure that it isn’t forgotten, but stop short of trying to drag it into the future and force a medieval mentality onto a modern country. My fingers are crossed for Georgia’s 1960s. Providing we avoid equivalents of JFK’s assassination and the Cuban Missile Crisis, everything will be fine.

The Committee notes, however, that while education in minority languages (Armenian, Azerbaijani and Russian) is offered in some 300 schools, the quality of teaching at these schools overall remains below average, as adequate standards are yet to be developed and high-quality education materials, in particular with respect to bilingual learning, remain scarce. While Georgian language skills amongst minority communities have improved, language barriers still exist and impede access to important rights, in particular among the older generations. This contributes to a general sense of marginalization of the national minorities’ identities and cultures in public life. Among other issues of concern, CoE experts noted low awareness in society of the applicable human rights standards, the lack of coherent government policy to promote their effective application, and low quality of broadcasting in minority languages. Despite concerted efforts at various levels, the participation of national minorities in public affairs remains disproportionately low, in particular at the central level. “While inter-ethnic relations are marked generally by good co-operation and dialogue, incidents of inter-faith tension and conflict have become more frequent in a number of regions,” the report notes. “There is an increase in hate speech against religious and national minorities that is often not adequately addressed by law enforcement.” The very low number of completed investigations and criminal prosecutions of hate crimes, as well as the reported

bias demonstrated in favour of the dominant religion, undermines trust in the police and is increasingly resented by persons belonging to national and religious minorities. Experts warn that the introduction of Orthodox religious practices at schools, often accompanied by the intolerant attitudes of teachers and school administrations, can result in the alienation and humiliation of students belonging to national minorities with different beliefs. In addition, it is contrary to the legislation which defines the school as a neutral space where religious indoctrination and forced assimilation is forbidden. With regards to Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the CoE Advisory Committee reiterated its call on all parties concerned to take a constructive approach with a view to ensuring the rights of persons belonging to national minorities as an integral part of universally applicable human rights throughout the territory of Georgia. Georgia signed and ratified the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities in December 2005, which entered into force in Georgia in April 2006.





Visa Free Travel with EU: Green Light to Georgia, but not for Unlimited Travel BY TAMAR SVANIDZE


itizens of Georgia are already making holiday plans in the Schengen zone countries for this summer, following the fourth and final progressive report on the Visa Liberalization with Georgia and Ukraine issued by the EU Commission on December 18, 2015. Although the EU authorities have given the green light to Georgian citizens to travel without visas in 26 countries of the bloc, this does not mean immediate unlimited travel. The European Commission said both countries had carried out the reforms they promised to enact to win Brussels’ backing and they planned to make a formal legal recommendation in early 2016.

HOW GEORGIANS BENEFIT FROM A VISA-FREE REGIME WITH SCHENGEN ZONE COUNTRIES On Tuesday, Georgia Today Business published details of a survey by the Caucasus Research Resource Center (CRRC) about the attitude and awareness of Georgians of the expected visa liberalization process. The survey highlighted that most Georgians (56%) do not have proper information and knowledge about the visa liberalization process. The Director of the Regional Center for Strategic Studies (RCSS), Mikheil

Mirziashvili, believes that visa-free travel will ease “tough” visa requirement procedures for Georgian citizens and especially for people who are living in Georgia’s regions, who have to travel hundreds of miles to apply for a visa in Tbilisi consulates, and then return later to collect their passports once a decision has been made. This involves additional financial expenses. Mirziashvili says the changes will lead to an end of such degrading practices at the Tbilisi-based European consulates. Hours, sometimes even days, standing in a queue for a visa, expensive visas on the black market, in some cases corruption – at one hit, all this is to belong to the past. “Georgians will feel relief from unpleasant visa procedures. Soon they will not have to plan travel in Shengen zones years and months ahead of time. But it’s important to bear in mind that it in no way gives Georgians the right to work, study or become residents of Schengen area countries – for these purposes, a labor, study or immigration visa will be needed,” Mirziashvili said. The Head of the RCSS emphasized that visa liberalization with the European Union does not abolish borders between Georgia and the EU, but makes it easier to cross. “This does not guarantee our instant membership to the EU, even if we have successfully fulfilled the Association Agreement (AA) with the EU signed in June 2014. For Georgia, this is a process to

become a country like European Union members are. We need to build our State like an EU country in economic, social and human rights areas and only then will we be able to make the fairly ambitious request for EU membership,” he said.

THE REPUBLIC OF MOLDOVA AS AN EXAMPLE With regards potential immigration threats if Georgian citizens are allowed to travel visa-free in the Schengen bloc, most experts bring Moldova as a successful example. The EU lifted the visa requirements for Moldovan citizens in April, 2014. According to data from the Moldovan border police, since this period, over 241,000 holders of Moldovan biometric passports left for EU countries and 90 percent of them have already returned to Moldova. Mirziashvili emphasized that visa-free travel will regulate the illegal flow of Georgian citizens to the EU. The free visa deal requires the Georgian side to strengthen border control and ensure proper regulations on illegal immigration. “In this case, post-soviet Moldova is very similar to Georgia. We have almost the same populations (3,559 mln). As I know, only 800 persons attempted to stay in Europe illegally after Moldavians got visa-free travel. According to unofficial information, around a million Georgians have already illegally lived in the EU, thus I do not expect that after

visa liberalization, the number of illegal immigrants from Georgia will increase,” he said.

role regarding Georgian citizen’s lack of information about the visa liberalization process.



Late December, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said that Russia, which backs Georgia’s separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, is ready to suggest visa-free access for Georgian citizens, following the positive report by the European Commission. “Russia’s integration strategy, which it has toward territories of post-soviet countries, could not compete with the politics of the EU in Eastern Partnership countries, if it does not contain security threats. We have Armenia, which also wanted to sign an AA deal with the EU, but as three years of negotiation were in vain, Armenia joined the Russian-lead Customs Union in January 2015. Georgia can expect more political pressure in the coming years,” Karasin said. Georgian experts believes that proRussian propaganda plays a significant

The visa liberalization agreement between Georgia and the EU was launched in June, 2012, and is expected to enter into force in summer 2016, allowing Georgian citizens holding biometric passports to enter and stay in Schengen area countries without a visa for up to 90 days in a 180-day period. In February 2013, the Visa Liberalization Action Plan (VLAP) was presented to Georgian authorities. The European Commission’s December 2015 progress report stated that “given the outcome of the continuous monitoring and reporting carried out since the launch of the EU-Georgia Visa Liberalization Dialogue, the Commission considers that Georgia meets all the benchmarks set in respect of the four blocks of the second phase of the VLAP.”





Ant on a Cold Tin Roof: Svaneti BY TONY HANMER


y nickname in my family was always Ant, from Anthony, my full name. So this week I became the Ant on a Cold Tin

Roof. We have four roofs of the same material, corrugated galvanized metal (tin, I think), but only one of them doesn’t let the snow slide off it. This is the garage roof, unheated and thus too cold. The barn and house roofs never gather snow as they are warmed from the inside by their inhabitants or by electric heat, and for some reason the little outhouse one doesn’t accumulate much either. The garage only got its roof a year after its walls went up, and I suppose I expected the slide. But the only time it started to happen was when things warmed up to above freezing recently, and the weight of the stuff was enough to let gravity take over. Now we’re just a bit colder, show is still coming from the sky, and some of us are getting anxious about what’s overhead. Traditionally, house and tower roofs in Svaneti were made of huge heavy pieces of the ever-present slate; the

beams under them were solid enough to take all this weight, tons of it, so they wouldn’t mind a few more hundred kilograms or so of snow on top. But modern unpainted metal roofs let much of it come off. Not so painted ones, or wooden ones, which have far too much “stick” to their surfaces. So, some of us have begun ascending and shoveling the

I’ve seen enough houses with collapsed roofs from an owner’s absence in winter to know that the danger is real, and so is the tragedy

snow off. Myself included, knowing the forecast. The first time I did this was as a volunteer, spending the second of my two winters in Ushguli. March 2009, while a Rustavi 2 TV crew was on its way to meet me and make me famous, a meter of snow fell in three days, cutting off our electricity for ten days and sending all of us up to protect our roofs from caving in. It’s the kind of thing where you don’t want to be wrong, because you could find yourself buried under both roof and snow, a grave situation indeed... I did actually try an experiment: I dragged our flexible water pipe up there with me and let water run under the snow in a few places for a while, to see if I could start some reduced-friction slippage. Imagine what fun that would be, the whole lot coming down by such

a simple method! Alas, it failed to work; I gave up and began shoveling. What was there was in several layers, the topmost and lightest being fresh, while that underneath had had time to be pressed down a bit and form a more solid mass. This I could cut into with the shovel and either throw or slide off the roof. I had to be careful, though, because the roof’s surface itself remained quite slippery once I was actually on it and not on snow! So I didn’t finish the job totally, just enough to satisfy myself that we wouldn’t hear a crash in the middle of the night and find a ruined garage. If I slipped off, it would only be into more snow on the ground, but I thought it best not to allow this if possible. A natural lack of fear of heights certainly helped, though. I have seen enough houses with col-

lapsed roofs from a single owner’s absence in winter, to know that the danger is real, and so is the tragedy. Prevention is SO much easier than cure, and you just never know, do you, how much weight of snow will be just too much? It’s the kind of test the results of which are only known when the subject has been destroyed, and the parameters of strength arising from materials and construction are unique for every roof. So we grit our teeth and get up there and do what we have to do. Tony Hanmer runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 1250 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





Ministry of Health Asks HWPL: Building Georgia: “What’s the Peace Through Art and problem?” Dialogue



he Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia has created an online questionnaire “What’s the problem?” to help identify the most important gaps and problems in the health care system. The Ministry is asking Georgian citizens to be active, to contribute and to help to develop a better health care system and reforms. The project started on January 25 and is set to last one month. “The Ministry of Health has a Strategy and Action Plan, in the framework of which we annually conduct a number of projects in the health care system,” said Georgian Minister of Health, Labor, and Social Affairs, Davit Sergeenko. “Some of these are analytical, and are implemented to identify and analyze important aspects of the system. In this case, we strongly believe we need more communication with the public in order to understand exactly what problems they are experiencing. With the help of the “What’s the problem?” project, we hope to gather the maximum amount of information in a short space of time.” The questionnaire is very simple; most of the questions can be answered with ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and mainly relate to how often residents use medical services, insurance, go to the General Practitioner doctor and how much money they spend on medicines. “Of course, we highlighted some important topics, which in any case will be solved this year – accessibility to medication, the development of primary insurance, access to quality health care. However, beside this we need more details from citizens,” said Minister Sergeenko. Another group of questions are estimates; with residents asked to specify where they see strengths and weaknesses in the system, what they like and dislike, and to evaluate existing projects and express their views regarding future reforms. The “What’s the problem?” project is being implemented in collaboration with



Jean-Elie Malkin, Director of Global Alliance for Health and Social Compact, and Georgian Minister of Health, Labor, and Social Affairs, Davit Sergeenko

the Global Alliance for Health and Social Compact. Jean-Elie Malkin, Director of Global Alliance for Health and Social Compact highly estimated the joint work with the Ministry and was sure that this program can significantly improve the health care system in Georgia and move it forward. However, he emphasized the need for the active involvement of citizens. “Undoubtedly, the Minister [of Health], and international organizations are aware of what the problems are in the health care system, but giving the floor to the population will help us to get very concrete information in order to be able to

pay specific attention to some issues,” said Malkin. “We are doing it for the citizens, to offer them the best service, better quality and also some consideration for the price of services. But, definitely, it is a very important step to be closer to the general public.” The questionnaire “What’s the problem?” is available online at 1505.ge or at all regional health care offices. According to the results of the questionnaire, the Ministry of Health, together with Global Alliance, will take relevant steps and additional measures to meet the needs and requirements of the Georgia population.

The English - Speaking Union ინგლისურ ენაზე მოლაპარაკეთა კავშირი Creating global understanding through English Patron: Her Majesty The Queen President: HRH The Princess Anne Invites 16-20 year old young Speakers to take part in the

Public Speaking Competition SPONSORED BY

The theme of the competition is “Integrity has no need of Rules”. Speakers may interpret this theme in any way they see fit, but they should not use the theme as their title. Each speaker will be allocated 5 minutes. The competition will be held in two rounds. The first round, March 14, at the English Language Centre “British Corner” (Vake Park). The second round will be held on 29th of March. The theme of the second round will be announced later. The competition is sponsored by the Bank of Georgia and British Petroleum ESU – Georgia will send the lucky winner to London in May to take part in the finals and organize 5 day stay in England. The deadline for registration is March 11. Contact us: The English Language Centre “British Corner”, Vake Park (entrance from I. Abashidze St.). Tel.: 557 400033, 5 77 477050; 5 55 302512 E mail: marinaesu@yahoo.com; www.esugeorgia.com https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnIKLMa7rBA

he Heavenly Culture World Peace Restoration of Light (HWPL) conducted an international convention seminar with the on-going aim to end war and achieve peace worldwide, together with the Georgian members of the International Peace Youth Group (IPYG) at Ilia State University on January 25th. The seminar was attended by Georgian youth, social leaders and local media. The focus was on ceasing armed conflicts and any kind of violation of human rights. HWPL will also be organizing the first short film festival in Tbilisi on May 21st, 2016, dedicated to world peace. Everyone is eligible to participate in the festival, yet the content must consist of a peace theme and the works should be submitted by the end of April. During the festival the winners will be awarded in three nominations: Best Film, Best Director, and Best Actor. “Today, conflict is intense throughout the whole world. This problem is not only of Georgia but of many leading counties. Art is one tool with the power to lay the groundwork for a peaceful dialogue,” Mariam Bolkvadze, Publicity Ambassador of HWPL and Short Film Festival organizer, told GEORGIA TODAY. “We believe that the festival is

a platform where the nucleus of artists who are in constant search can gather together and show us solutions to seemingly unsolvable problems.” In Georgia, the IPYG (Youth division of HWPL) is affiliating with 17 Georgian youth groups and media and is organizing Youth Peace Committee for more active peace projects. HWPL is a non-governmental organization registered under the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and is committed to community development through volunteer outreach, women’s advocacy, and cultural and religious exchange through International Women’s Peace Group (IWPG) and youth engagement through International Peace Youth Group (IPYG). The organization strives to facilitate comprehensive grassroots peace building involving voices of leaders in education, governmental and religious sectors as well as non-profit organizations and youth to create sustainable solutions and empower individuals and communities to be an integral part in global peace building. “I have no doubt that this is the time for peace, and we - the generation of today - are the ones who have the power to make it a reality,” says Man Hee Lee, Chairman of HWPL. “Join us in making peace a reality in our world, and let us leave to the generations that come after us a legacy of unity, hope, peace and security. May peace be with you, your loved ones, and your nations, always.”





Film in Georgia Program to Entice Filmmakers to Georgia



ithin the framework of a new state initiative by the Georgian government, the state program Produce in Georgia has added a new program for the film industry. Film in Georgian, part of the Produce in Georgia program, is to offer benefits to local and international producers interested in film production. Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, presented the program this week at Exhibition Center Karvasla. The program introduces a cash rebate mechanism which will give producers the opportunity to shoot films and get 25% of the qualifying costs back. This mechanism is approved in many countries, is based on market demand and has great potential in terms of Georgian socio-economic development, sure to make Georgia an attractive shooting center in Eastern Europe. The compensation mechanism is related to the following areas: feature film, TV film, TV series or mini-series, animation, documentary, promotional video production, reality show and music clips. The film industry encouragement program is an incentive for many recognized international directors and producers to

come to Georgia and use this new possibility; it also fosters Georgian potential in terms of shooting locations and promotes the country’s popularity and tourism potential, economic growth and employment of the local population. It also serves to create significant opportunities for the market in terms of the flow of new technologies and improves the skills of local film industry representatives; makes outdated material-technical base-substitution and develops fields related to the creation of various film types. “We all know the importance Georgian cinema had in forming the country’s image and culture,” said PM Kvirikashvili. “Cinema was always a visa on the international arena. There are few countries which have a hundred-year history of cinematography such as we have. We think this new initiative will contribute to the development of cinematography as an industry and as a business. And our country will become Eastern Europe’s most attractive filming location,” he said. The program was created by the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development and the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection in cooperation with the Georgian National Film Center. The presentation was attended by Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, Dimitry Kumsishvili; Minister of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia, Mikheil Giorgadze; and the heads of the Entrepreneurship Develop-

ment Agency and Georgian National Film Center, as well as representatives of public and private sectors, Georgian producers, travel agencies, Georgian airlines, hotel network, film production and various field members. Despite its small size, in Georgia, international filmmakers can shoot sea, desert, mountains and forests in one day; capture 22 climatic zones across only 69,000 square. km; and take advantage of the ideal mix of ancient and modern architecture- Asian, European and Soviet buildings. Public locations can be utilized free of charge. Furthermore, film-makers can enjoy the Single-window principle; exceptionally low bureaucracy and business-friendly tax system; less restrictive labor laws; high-speed, fiber-optic Internet infrastructure throughout the country; modern infrastructure, three international airports, travel and cargo ports and railways. Over the last three years, the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia has had close contacts with a number of foreign producers and, as a result, a group of Indian Producers have visited the country and shot three movies, two music and five promotional videos to date. Additionally, Georgia was chosen as the location for Michel Hazanavicius’ film The Search and Partizan – an Australian film starring Vincent Cassel, shot in Tbilisi, Rustavi, Likani, Borjomi, Tusheti and Javakheti.

Artist of the Month: Macoto Murayama Measuring Inorganic Flora BY LILY FÜRSTENOW-KHOSITASHVILI


he Japanese artist Macoto Murayama creates computer generated botanical drawings and models, bringing an ancient tradition of flower illustration into the digital age with the help of cutting edge technology. He observes natural forms with scientific sharpness and descriptive precision. Murayama starts as a true botanist: he collects a flower, e.g. sweet pea (Lathyrus odoratus) which he dissects, observes, draws and photographs. However his own model flower is born with the help of the 3D max software for three dimensional graphics, while composition and symbolic indications are created with Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop applications. We see here the “Flower of Totalitarian Scientific Conscious:” properly fixed, totally measured, strictly nominated and distinctly shown, overlapped by images of other similar species imitating the eternal cosmic movement of decay and evolution. The full body of Murayama’s work is called “Inorganic Flora.” It has two major branches, namely “Botanical Diagrams,” large drawings of a particular flower with detailed indications and measure-

ments and “Botech Art,” in which organic form discloses its mechanical elements while flower architectonics reveal its gentle, lively and even sensual nature. Paradoxically this scientific challenge to measure the universe is one of the sources where the art of Murayama draws its strength of fantasy and scent of romanticism. Makoto Murayama is the winner of the Asia Digital Award. His current exhibi-

tion is on at the Botanical Museum, Berlin. The exhibition is part of a larger project entitled Metamachine with 6 movies by 2 artists (Macoto Murayama and Atsushi Koyama) and 6 DJs/producers that created music for them. The music piece to Murayama’s flamboyant digital imagery is created by Doyeq. Entitled “Wireframe Photosynthesis,” it opens up the hidden worlds of hearing that augment the vision.

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Unforgettable First-Night Opera Performance to Open Renovated Tbilisi Opera House BY MAKA LOMADZE


fter 6 years’ break, the wonderful building of the Z, Paliashvili Tbilisi State Opera and Ballet Theatre is to open on the 30th of January with ‘Abesalom and Eteri’ composed by Paliashvili himself. The play is the Georgian analogue of ‘Tristan and Izolda’ and ‘Vis and Ramin’, and is thus a nationally decided international work about the eternal values of Mankind. The opera, in four acts, is based on the epic ‘Eteriani,’ conveying social antagonism – the feelings of the desperately in love couple are opposed by Abesalom’s father – a King who refuses his daughter Eteri permission to marry a peasant. With the support of the Georgian Ministry of Culture, the curtain of great Georgian painter Sergo Kobuladze has been reproduced and hung, scenes have been prepared, and the numerous details and accessories for the stage and costumes readied. Two powerful projectors have been purchased that will diminish the costs of staging. The theatre has also been equipped with the latest dubbing apparatus. “After 42 years, the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theatre has returned its main business card – by hanging the replica of Kobuladze’s curtain on December 12, it has been reborn,” Mikheil Giorgadze, Minister of Culture and Monuments Protection said, commenting exclusively for GEORGIA TODAY. “Many people gathered around the idea of renovating it. It is the result of research that this famous curtain is there. A number of events were dedicated to the opening of the Opera house, considering the great significance of it, including a centennial book of its history, a show-case of opera costumes, screening of documentaries and more. I thank the sponsors and am sure that a lot of high level performances will take place here, in consideration of the theatre’s history and high professionals.” The ‘Abesalom and Eteri’ opera spectacle has two casts. GEORGIA TODAY had the honor to meet the first cast members whose performance will take place on the 30th – an ‘invitation only’ event - and on the 2nd of February. The second cast will sing on the 31st of January and 21st of February. Lado Ataneli, Baritone, one of the most soughtafter interpreters of Verdi and Puccini, is to play the part of Murman, who is in love with Eteri and who sold his spirit to the devil to separate her from her sweetheart Abesalom. Ataneli’s international career began in 1996. Since then, he has regularly appeared in such roles as Scarpia, Sharpless, Tonio, Alfio, Gerard, Jago, Giorgio Germont, Jack Rance, Don Carlo Vargas, Renato, Simone Boccanegra, Amonasro, Rigoletto and Conte di Luna at the Vienna State Opera, the Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Hamburg State Opera, the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, and the most important Italian opera houses. He is equally at home on stages in Zurich, Paris, London, Tokyo, New York, to name only a few. “I am singing the negative part of Murman,

trying to give it some good emotions. He was also a man who loved Eteri, however, he surpassed the limits and the evil has no justification,” Mr. Ataneli told GEORGIA TODAY. “My debut was in 1993 in this theatre. So, after 23 years, this will be the most beautiful day for us. I wish our theatre a high level of economic development – this is the only thing it lacks - to be able to host a large variety of repertoires. In terms of the building’s beauty, technical side, and cast, it will have no problem.” Tamar Iveri, to take on the role of Eteri, is a worldfamous Georgian female singer. She made her debut in December 2011 at the La Scala in Milan as Donna Anna in Don Giovanni under Daniel Barenboim. She has since performed with the Vienna State Opera, the Metropolitan Opera, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Opera Bastille, and at the Salzburg Festival. A soprano, she has sung the roles of Fiordiligi in Cosi fan Tutte, Vitellia in La Clemenza di Tito, Elettra in Idomeneo, Elisabetta in Don Carlos, Amelia in Simon Boccanegra, Desdemona in Otello Otello, Mimì in La Boheme, and Tatyana in Eugene Onegin. “This role is a debut for me though I have performed on this Opera stage before. My father, Avtandil Javakhishvili, is an opera Baritone singer. Therefore, I was practically raised here. I was only 4 years old when he brought me here and enlisted me in the children’s choir of the opera ‘Carmen.’ The great Odissey Dimitryadi was conducting then. It was my baptism into the opera world and on our own opera stage,” Iveri told us. “I’m very happy that at last my serious appearance on the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theatre stage will occur. I’m also anxious that my Georgian colleagues feel the same, as when you are overseas you are not obliged to anyone, yet here, in our homeland, our friends, parents, relatives, and teachers are attending our concert. I’ll come back to Tbilisi with pleasure if there is an appropriate program for me.” Temur Gugushvili, singing Abesalom’s part, also spoke to GEORGIA TODAY. “I was Abesalom in a previous staging of Gizo Jordania. The painter is the same, too – our great artist Gogi Alexi-Meskhishvili. This time round, though, the colors are pleasantly lighter. Thanks to our sponsors, the Georgian opera now has one of the best stages in the world.” For Gizo Jordania, outstanding drama director, this is the fourth version of this particular opera art piece after his respective shows in Germany, Batumi and Tbilisi. GEORGIA TODAY asked him about the novelties he had brought to it this time. “My aim was to go deeper into the partitura of Paliashvili. This is an international motif about good and evil, saying that you should love others. These are biblical themes and therefore surpass national boundaries. The main aim is that nations should unite and act in kindness. This unreachable aim can be achieved at least for two hours, and exactly at the theatre.” Davit Kintsurashvili, artistic director, told us: “We will have a lot of new versions of performances: Abesalom and Eteri will be followed by Verdi’s Atila, Meri Davitashvili’s Idler, George Biset’s Car-


Lado Ataneli, Baritone, one of the most sought-after interpreters of Verdi and Puccini, is to play the part of Murman, who is in love with Eteri and who sold his spirit to the devil to separate her from her sweetheart Abesalom

men, Haydn’s Creation, Leoncavallo’s Clowns, and others. We will offer opera lovers oratorios as well as gala concerts.” Congratulations to all who will witness the brilliant results of the work of Gizo Jordania, distinguished director; Gogi Alexi-Meskhishvili, master painter; Iliko Sukhishvili, leader of the world-famous

Sukhishvili National Ballet; well-known conductor Zaza Azmaiparashvili; and all the talent to be conveyed in the performance of the aforementioned sparkling opera stars, besides whom Tea Demurishvili, Gocha Datusani, Irina Alexidze and many other wonderful voices will welcome us in through the open doors of the Tbilisi Opera House once more.






Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93

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January 30, 31 MARSHAL DE FANTIE’S DIAMOND Rezo Gabriadze Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10, 15, 20 Lari

AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge

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THE REVENANT Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Will Poulter Genre: Adventure, Drama, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: 13-14 Lari

January 30 CHERRY ORCHARD Anton Chekhiv Directed by Andro Enukidze Language: Russian Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: 5 Lari January 31 CHIPOLLINO Jianni Rodari Directed by Gogi Todadze Small Stage Language: Russian Start time: 12:00, 14:00 Ticket price: 5 Lari TBILISI VASO ABASHIDZE MUSIC AND DRAMA STATE THEATRE Address: 182 D.Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 2 34 80 90 www.musictheatre.ge January 29 DIVORCE Giorgi Eristavi Directed by Davit Doiashvili Musical Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: From 8 Lari January 30, February 2, 3 CHRISTMAS TALE Directed by Davit Doiashvili

Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 Lari January 29 – February 4

THE DANISH GIRL Directed by Tom Hooper Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Amber Heard Language: English Start time: 17:00 Language: Russian Start time: 16:30, 22:15 Ticket price: 10-14 Lari 13 HOURS: THE SECRET SOLDIERS OF BENGHAZI Directed by Michael Bay Cast: John Krasinski, Pablo Schreiber, James Badge Dale Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller Language: English Georgian subtitles Start time: 22:15 Language: Russian Start time: 19:15 Ticket price: 10-14 Lari THE BIG SHORT Directed by Adam McKay Cast: Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Margot Robbie Genre: Biography, Drama Language: Russian

Start time: 22:00 Ticket price: 13-14 Lari JOY Directed by David O. Russell Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Bradley Genre: Comedy, Drama Language: Russian Start time: 14:30, 19:30 Ticket price: 9-14 Lari RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 55 50 00 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket price: 5 Lari January 29 – February 4 THE 5TH WAVE Directed by J Blakeson Cast: Chloë Grace Moretz, Nick Robinson, Maika Monroe Genre: Adventure, Sci-Fi, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 11:30, 14:15, 22:25 Ticket price: 8-14 Lari DIRTY GRANDPA Directed by Dan Mazer Cast: Robert De Niro, Zac Efron, Zoey Deutch Genre: Comedy Language: Russian Start time: 17:00, 20:10, 22:25 Ticket price: 10-14 Lari THE BIG SHORT (Info Above) Start time: 16:45, 19:35 Ticket price: 10-14 Lari THE REVENANT (Info Above) Start time: 19:10, 22:35 Ticket price: 13-14 Lari 13 HOURS: THE SECRET SOLDIERS OF BENGHAZI (Info Above) Start time: 16:05, 19:35, 22:30 Ticket price: 10-14 Lari


GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge ARCHAEOLOGICAL TREASURE Permanent Exhibition November 17 - May 1 EXHIBITION DEDICATED TO THE GREATEST MILITARY AIRCRAFT DESIGNER ALEXANDER KARTVELI (KARTVELISHVILI /1896-1974/). December 21 - March 31 THE TRAVELING MUSEUM OF THE CAUCASUS The exhibition showcases the museum collection of Alexander Roinishvili, representing exhibits of a 7th-9th century collection of Georgian, Caucasian, Islamic, Asian and European items, including Roinashvili’s photographs of military harness; copper, silver, ceramics and porcelain tableware; coins, archeological and antiquities. GALLERY

THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. www.museum.ge PERMANENT EXHIBITION The unique collection of artworks from the Shalva Amiranashvili Museum of Fine arts is located in four major exhibition halls on the second floor of the Dimitri Shevardnadze National Gallery. The exhibition showcases works by the distinguished Georgian artists of the 20th century - Niko Pirosmanashvili, David Kakabadze, Lado Gudiashvili and sculptor Iakob Nikoladze.

December 25 – February 10 THE EXHIBITION DEDICATED TO THE 120 YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF DISTINGUISHED GEORGIAN MODERNIST ARTIST SHALVA KIKODZE. SHALVA AMIRANASHVILI MUSEM OF FINE ART Address: 1 Lado Gudiashvili St. Telephone: 2 99 99 09 www.museum.ge January 20 – February 5 EXHIBITION BY ARCHPRIEST ALEXANDER CHAKHVASHVILI AND ARTIST BUDU SIRBILADZE The exposition showcases up to 29 ecclesiastic sketches and 37 different artworks including landscapes, portraits and abstract paintings. It is the first collaboration project between the artist and the Archpriest. GALLERY VERNISAGE Address: 7 Zubalashvili Brothers’ St. Telephone: 2 99 88 08

January 22- February 2 GROUP EXHIBITION “TWO LANDSCAPES BY HERMANN HESSE” Painting, Drawing, Lithography, Photography MUSIC

TBILISI CONCERT HALL Address: 1 Melikishvili St. Telephone: 2 99 00 99 January 29 MAIA JABUA STAR OPENING Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra Conductor: Nikoloz Rachveli Davit Evgenidze, Eka Kakhiani, Liza Kenia Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: From 20 Lari





Tbilisi to Toast Revered Scottish Poet at 7th Annual Burns Supper and Ball BY ALASTAIR WATT

The annual Jazz Series will be opened by the legendary Ramsey Lewis on February 8th

Ramsey Lewis’ 80th Album to Open Jazz Series 2016 BY MAKA LOMADZE


he annual Jazz Series is a musical event that takes place once a month from February to May. This time, the Series will be opened by the legendary Ramsey Lewis on February 8th. The three time Grammy® award winner’s 80th album, entitled ‘Ramsey Lewis, Taking Another Look – Deluxe Edition’ features a new electric quintet with Henry Johnson on guitar, Michael Logan on keys, Joshua Ramos on bass and Charles Heath on drums. However, as Giorgi Kereselidze, Director of Eastern Promotions says, Lewis will play to Tbilisi in a trio with Joshua Ramos, bass, and Charles Heath, drums. “Ramsey is already 80 but feels perfectly fit. The jazz standards are tailored to the trio format that is popular and travels around the world. He will offer the Tbilisi audience new versions of his own compositions, too,” Kereselidze said. As always, the concrete program, as usual is being kept vague, inciting intrigue. Hopefully, Ramsey will play the muchloved Beatles repertoire. For the time being, speculation about the up-coming performance aside, we can look to the album. Rather than rerecording the title track Sun Goddess, Lewis has beautifully re-edited the original studio recording featuring Earth, Wind and Fire. Lewis and his Electric Band breathe new life into classic covers, such as the new high octane rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “Living For The City” and a tender interpretation of the timeless Betcha By Golly Wow. “I’ve recorded maybe 70-80 albums, and this album is definitely among the top five,” said Lewis. Thus, a really unforgettable soiree awaits us. The new album is released at Ramsey’s House - the innovative new label conceptualized by Lewis to help up and coming jazz influenced acts and to introduce fresh faces to the jazz world. The label is planning multiple releases each year and all A&R decisions and label signings are personally overseen by Lewis. The National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Award winner believes that there is a lot of great new talent out there, traditional and non-traditional, that will revitalize the jazz world he so dearly loves. Ramsey Lewis is even more important a musical persona for Georgians to encounter because of the fact that Maurice White,

founder of Earth, Wind and Fire, was raised in his trio. Many of the worldfamous group’s hits have been based on Lewis’ music. Who knows, maybe we will be given a wonderful chance to listen to some pieces from the Earth, Wind and Fire repertoire..? “Several years ago, with the support of the United States Embassy, we screened a jazz film divided into 20 parts. Ramsey Lewis was the presenter of the show and all the divisions gave a performance on different instruments,” Giorgi Kereselidze remembers. The initial gig is the most awaited and attractive and cannot be missed – what’s more, due to his age, this will most likely be Ramsey Lewis’ last long tour. As always, Eastern Promotions tries to maintain diversity in genres. Where the first gig is for classic jazz lovers, on March 9, Bugge Wesseltoft and Christian Prommer will arrive and offer us electronic madness. The two masters on piano, drums and electronics have come up with a unique improvisational projectwhere on one side of the stage you find Wesseltoft laden with the melodies and melancholy of Scandinavia and inspired by greats like Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock. On the other will be the energy and grooves of one of Europe’s best producers of electronic music and drumming, Prommers, last seen here at the Batumi Black Sea Festival. This performance is expected to open your ears, warm your hearts and make you dance. Two DJs is already a novelty for the Jazz Series. Having performed at the Black Sea Jazz Festival in Batumi in 2010, Mr Hargrove will bring his acclaimed hard-swinging Roy Hargrove Quintet back to Georgia on April 2, 2016. Trumpeter Roy Hargrove is one of a handful of jazz artists of his generation who have deservedly attained critical and commercial star status. April 30 is International Jazz Day. Therefore, Eastern Promotions decided to hold the fourth gig of the Series on this day instead of in May. Volcán, an all-star group featuring the prodigious talents of Jose Armando Gola, Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez, Giovanni Hidalgo and Gonzalo Rubalcaba, is the product of years of friendship, respect and a diverse and rich musical heritage... Latinojazz lovers, that is for you! And before you go, know this: Georgia has applied to become the city for the International Jazz Day gala concert. Let’s hope that this day will come soon! For more info visit www.tbilisijazz.com Tickets are available at tkt.ge or at box offices of the Tbilisi Concert Hall.



Commercial Director: Iva Merabishvili Marketing Manager: Mako Burduli



Editor-In-Chief: Katie Ruth Davies


n Saturday 30 January, the great and good of Tbilisi will gather at the Funicular Restaurant atop Mtatsminda hill to celebrate the life and works of Scotland’s most famous poet, Robert (or Rabbie) Burns. Born in the village of Alloway in the southwestern Scottish region of Ayrshire, Burns lived an eclectic but short life, dying at the age of 37 before the end of the 18th century. His poems cut across entrenched class divides, as well as borders and seas, with the poems, most notably “To a Mouse”, “Tam o’ Shanter” and “A Man’s a Man for a’ That,” well known across the globe. It is now a well-worn tradition to revel in his unsurpassed talent with a Burns Supper, which entails plentiful consumption of traditional Scottish fayre and whisky and, providing you haven’t indulged too much in the former, some Scottish dancing. Suppers take place on or near Burns’ birthday, the 25th of January, from Alaska to Invercargill and Tbilisi’s version has been running successfully since 2010 thanks to its organizer, Fiona Coxshall. Proceeds from the event, which sold out rapidly, will go to three worthy causes, namely the Temi Community in Eastern Georgia – caring for a wide range of vulnerable people, Catharsis - helping Tbilisi’s homeless elderly, and Dog Organization Georgia – providing shelter for stray animals along with sterilization, vaccination and homing programmes. Hopes are high that this year’s total funds raised will surpass last year’s recordbreaking 42,000 GEL. The festivities are punctuated by a

Journalists: Tony Hanmer, Tamar Svanidze, Zviad Adzinbaia, Beqa Kirtava, Meri Taliashvili, Eka Karsaulidze, Zaza Jgharkava, Ana Lomtadze, Maka Bibilashvili, Nina Ioseliani, Tatia Megeneishvili, Karen Tovmasyan, Dimitri Dolaberidze, Nino Japarashvili, Maka Lomadze

On Saturday 30 January, the great and good of Tbilisi will gather to celebrate the life and works of Scotland’s most famous poet, Robert Burns

handful of toasts, starting with the US Ambassador to Georgia, Ian C. Kelly, whose Scottish heritage should help him to navigate through the four-line Selkirk Grace with some gusto. From the culinary perspective, the star attraction is the haggis, a staple Scottish dish of spiced sheep’s innards served with tatties (potatoes) and neeps (turnips). Burns described haggis as “great chieftain o’ the puddin-race” in his poem “Address to a Haggis” the reading of which is a central part of any Burns Supper and will this year be delivered by EUMM’s William Boyd, one of the few Scotsmen in Georgia. In addition, the Immortal Memory

Photographer: Zviad Nikolaishvili Layout: Misha Mchedlishvili Webmaster: Sergey Gevenov Circulation Managers: David Kerdikashvili, David Djandjgava

toast, often the highlight of the evening, will be given by Hilton Batumi’s Stuart Nelson before the toasts to the laddies (men) and lassies (women) will be raised by Andrew Coxshall (husband of organizer Fiona) and Luba Protsiva of World Vision respectively. Once the food, drink and words have been carefully digested, guests take to the floor for some Scottish dancing led by the Glencraig Band composed of the multi-talented all-Scottish trio, Nicol McLaren, Isobelle Hodgson and Maggie Adamson. Just when the revelling concludes is anyone’s guess, as alluded to in the invitation which states “until the wee hours”.


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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #813  

Jan. 29 - Feb. 1, 2016

Issue #813  

Jan. 29 - Feb. 1, 2016