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facebook.com/ georgiatoday

Issue no: 976/93

• AUGUST 29 - 31, 2017

• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY

PRICE: GEL 2.50

In this week’s issue... Georgia Has 28,000 New Students This Year NEWS PAGE 2

Understanding the August War: Analysis of Georgian, Ossetian Territorial Defense Forces & Combat Strategies POLITICS PAGE 5

Single Economic Space to Be Created from Lisbon to Vladivostok

FOCUS

BUSINESS PAGE 7

As Russian Population is Set to Decrease, HIV Cases Increase

ON GERMAN-GEORGIAN RELATIONS Minister and VP Janelidze visits Germany to discuss bilateral relations

SOCIETY PAGE 10 PAGE 4

Batumi to Host International Photo Festival in September

Georgian Government to Launch Electronic Platform for Borjomi CULTURE PAGE 11 Forest Restoration Georgian Wins 3rd

Medal at World Wrestling Championship

BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI

A

s the business, banking and public sectors unite to restore the burned Borjomi Forest, the Georgian government has decided to create an electronic platform to bring together funds and donations allocated for the Borjomi Forest restoration campaign. The electronic platform will also aim to consolidate all the activities and initiatives undertaken within the Borjomi forest restoration program. In addition, a special account both in national and international currencies has been opened at the Treasury Service of the Ministry of Finance of Georgia to collect donations for the restora-

tion from all corners of the world. “All transactions and amounts spent on the forest restoration will be open and transparent,

allowing those interested to know clearly where their donations are going,” the Ministry of Finance claims.

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NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY

AUGUST 29 - 31, 2017

Georgia Has 28,000 New Students This Year BY THEA MORRISON

T

he results of the Unified National Examinations, officially published on Sunday, revealed that around 28,000 students have been enrolled in Georgian universities. National Assessment and Examination Center (NAEC) head, Maia Miminoshvili, says that around 39,000 applicants took part in the exams although 41,200 applicants were registered initially. “According to the data, the situation has slightly improved in terms of participation of students,” Miminoshvili said. As for the funding and grants, 1009 entrants received 100 percent funding from the State, while 1,457 will receive 70 percent funding and 4,081 will get 50 percent grants. In total, this year, 4,051 students will study at universities for free. “Over 6,000 students have obtained partial or full funding from the State. More than 1,000 students have received 100 percent grants and their studies will be fully financed by the State,” Mininoshvili said. The NAEC head added that this year, as a result of Unified National Exams, 1,047 non-Georgian language students became students.

Earlier this month, Mininoshvili noted the high number of university entrants applying to the faculties of law, business and international relations. She added that among those faculties,

Over 6,000 students have obtained partial or full funding from the State. More than 1,000 students have received 100 percent grants

The National Assessment and Examination Center Head, Maia Miminoshvili. Source: 1tv.ge

which are fully funded by the State, Georgian philology, history and archeology were the most in-demand among the students. The Unified National Exams for university entrants were launched on July

3 and finished on July 27. This year’s exams were held in a digital format, which means that those taking the exams received tasks on a computer screen but wrote their answers on paper.

22 examination centers were open for the Unified National Examinations 2017 throughout the country, though not in the occupied territories. There were 10 exam centers in Tbilisi, three in Kutaisi and one in each large town.

Coordination Headquarters for Grape Harvest 2017 Opened in Telavi BY THEA MORRISON

T

he Coordination Headquarters for the Grape Harvest 2017 has been opened in Telavi Municipality in Georgia’s winemaking region of

Kakheti. The opening ceremony was attended by the deputy ministers of Agriculture of Georgia, Yuri Nozadze and Revaz Asatiani, the Head of the National Wine Agency, Giorgi Samanishvili, Kakheti Governor Irakli Kadagishvili, and representatives of municipalities and wine companies. The Agriculture Ministry has announced it expects Georgia to have a good grape harvest this year. The harvest will begin from September in Georgia’s winemaking regions Kakheti, Imereti and Racha and it is estimated that around 150,000 tons of grapes will be picked in total throughout Georgia. Last year, in order to promote grape growing, the government issued subsidies on Rkatsiteli, Saperavi and Kakhetian Green grapes. However, this year the government decided not to subsidize grapes in the Kakheti region. “Taking into consideration the current conjuncture of the wine industry, there is no need to issue a subsidy on the grapes in Kakheti region this year. In recent years, the stable wine export has increased the interest of the private sector in buying grapes. This year, winegrowers will not have problems with the delivery of grapes,” Deputy Agriculture Minister Yuri Nozadze stated. The Coordination Headquarters is led

by Giorgi Samanishvili. “Due to the governmental decree on ‘Harvest 2017 Supporting Measures,’ wine companies that purchase 1 kg of grapes for the production of brandy spirit and concentrated grape sweet for 0.70 Tetri will receive compensation of 0.35 Tetri from the State,” Samanishvili said.

Photo source: Georgian Wine Agency

“Within the frame of Harvest 2017, grapes will be delivered to around 100 wine factories, 10 of which have already registered at the Harvest Coordination Headquarters,” he added. The Georgian Wine Agency reports that special areas will be organized in self-governing towns for grape works.

“Hotline 1501 will work 25/7. Information on the grape harvest process will be placed on the websites of the National Wine Agency: www.georgianwine.gov. ge and www.rtveli2017.gov.ge,” the statement of the Agency reads. The Agency noted that in 2016, 49.84 million bottles of wine were exported

from Georgia, a growth amounting to 38 percent. In January-July 2017, 38.3 million bottles of wine were exported, 60 percent more than during the same period in 2016. “We expect a plentiful grape harvest this year despite complicated climate conditions,” said Georgia’s Agriculture Minister, Levan Davitashvili.


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POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

AUGUST 29 - 31, 2017

MFA Mikheil Janelidze Holds High Profile Meetings in Germany BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI

D

uring his visit to Germany l a s t we e k , M i k h e i l Janelidze, Foreign Minister and Vice Premier of Georgia, held meetings with Michael Roth, Minister of State for Europe at the Federal Foreign Office; Lucia Puttrich, Minister of European and Federal Affairs of Hessen; and Norbert Kartmann, the President of Hessen State Parliament. Roth, who hosted Janelidze at Bad Hersfeld, highlighted that Janelidze’s visit to Frankfurt and Bad Hersfeld underlined the tight relations Georgia and Germany have, pointing to the fact of it being a positive signal for the future. “The two-country partnership is not based solely on political dialogue, but is a possibility for civil society members, culture, media, science and business representatives to participate in

Mikheil Janelidze, Foreign Minister, Vice Premier of Georgia held meetings with Lucia Puttrich, Minister of European and Federal Affairs of Hessen

Michael Roth, Minister of State for Europe at the Federal Foreign Office and Mikheil Janelidze, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia

deepening the cooperation further,” Roth said. The parties discussed the processes of Georgia’s Euro integration and the EU free trade agreement implementation, with a focus on the importance of support Germany provides. Janelidze spoke about the Eastern Partnership Summit preparation, the priorities of the Summit and Georgia’s expectations.

Alongside cooperation between Georgiaand Germany being discussed, covering education, culture, energy and security sectors, at his meeting with the President of Parliament of Hessen, Janelidze also talked about the liberal economic policy of Georgia, highlighting the importance of the free trade agreements between the EU, China and others. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia claims that particular attention

was paid to the importance of direct flights between the two countries. Janelidze also underlined Georgia’s being Guest of Honor at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2018 as an example of the thriving partnership between the countries. Deepening economic relations and Georgia’s investment potential was discussed when the minister met with Puttrich, as was Germany’s continuous

support in reforms, and towards Georgia’s European and Euro-Atlantic integration. The Georgian Foreign Minister also talked about the current situation in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions, with Puttrich noting the country’s progress in association agreement implementation. This year, Germany and Georgia are celebrating 25 years of diplomatic relations and cooperation.

GD Mayoral Candidate Promises Greener Tbilisi BY THEA MORRISON

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uling Georgian Dream (GD) Tbilisi Mayoral candidate Kakha Kaladze has promised the residents of the capital a greener city if he wins the

election. “We have to turn Tbilisi into a healthy and green city,” Kaladze stated at the opening ceremony of his election headquarters. The politician noted that his election headquarters will work every day and the office will be open to every Tbilisi resident. Kaladze called on the population to

10 Galaktion Street

take part in the October 21 local elections and vote for their favorites. “I will work for each Tbilisi resident. I will not get tired of working and serving Tbilisi and its citizens,” he claimed. Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili also attended the opening ceremony of the headquarters. “I’m sure that [Kaladze] will win the elections in the first round and I’m sure that it will be a fresh start for Tbilisi,” the PM stated. GD member Archil Talakvadze will be the head of Kaladze’s election headquarters. 10 other election headquarters will function in Tbilisi districts to help Kaladze’s team to learn more about the problems of the population and establish communication with the voters.

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


POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY AUGUST 29 - 31, 2017

5

Understanding the August War: Analysis of Georgian, Ossetian Territorial Defense Forces & Combat Strategies ANALYSIS BY VAKHTANG MAISAIA

W

e all know who has the final say and who was the main architect in the 2008 August war, but what about the party whose influence is often unjustly disregarded as mere medium or collateral in the conflict: South Ossetia? There is also the question that many contemporaries are loath to even consider: would South Ossetia, without the help of Russian “peacekeepers”, be as much a pushover as the Georgian side thought? Let’s analyze it with proper scrutiny. First of all, who was who in Ossetia? It appeared that the power structures (among them the Special Service) and military forces in South Ossetia had to knuckle under to the proclaimed President of South Ossetia (then Eduard Kokoiti). The joined forces were governed by: the Defense Minister, who was appointed mid-June 2008 and was proposed by the Transdniester Regional authority; Russian Colonel Anatoly Barankevich; the Minister of Internal Affairs, Colonel Robert Guliev (from North Ossetia); the Secretary of the Security Council, Oleg Alborov (former Head of the South Ossetian KGB); and the Minister of Emergency Situations, Boris Chochiev, who was con-currently the co-Chairman of the Trilateral Russian-Ossetian-Georgian Commission on the Conflict Resolution. According to some sources, two bodies, the ministries of Defense and Emergency Situations, informally united at the joint National Guard command under the aegis of the President of South Ossetia. At the same time, the main coordinator of power structures was the President’s Advisor in military issues (Major- General Petr Gatikaev). In order to achieve their political goals, the "republic’s" authority used military forces twice, announcing an emergency situation in both 1997 and 2002. In case of a military situation, forces would be commanded from a secure command point or reserve governing center which was located in Tskinhvali in the premises of the government. The hierarchy of these so-called South Ossetia power bodies was as follows: the National Guard, the Ministry of Interior, and the National Security Service. Let’s have a look at the characteristics of each of the mentioned institutions. National Guard: according to 2002-2003 data, the strength of this structure did not exceed 2000 men. The guard is headed by a commander who essentially performs the functions of the Defense Minister, at present Anatoly Barankevich. The National Guard, as well as the National Guard of Georgia, were set up in 1992: two Ossetian brigades were formed (among them the tank brigade “IRI”) at the end of military operations. According to 2003 data, the following structures were included in the National Guard: • battalion of mounted infantry on armored cars; • armored-tank battalion; • detached special purpose battalion (trained by Russian paratroopers); • first battalion of peacekeepers; • logistical subdivisions. According to South Ossetian data, each battalion consisted of 500 men (this structure had been adopted from former USSR service regulations). The most effective were the First Peacekeeping and Special Purpose battalions. The Special Purpose battalion was founded on July 12, 1992. The battalions effectively operated under the command of the head of the Trilateral Commission for the

Cessation of Hostility in Conflict Regions. According to 2003 data, 469 men were enlisted, among whom only 30% were local residents. That means that the bulk of enlisted servicemen there were nonOssetian and were hired professional mercenaries. The battalion is located in the 47th Tskhinvali military settlement. A certain Vice-Colonel Ferdinand Geguev was said to be the founder of this battalion. Obviously, he was one from the cadre of Russian Interior Troops Special Forces. The first peacekeeping battalion consisted of 700 servicemen and 300 reservists, the average age of whom is between 18 and 50 years. The Service term was 6 months to 3 years (on a contractual basis). That is the reason for the prevailing (Russian and Ossetian) cadre servicemen. The battalion was equipped with light arms and armored vehicles, with servicemen remarkably good in physical and military preparedness, commanded by Vice-Colonel S. Tuaev. Its units were located at seven crossing points between “borders” and (key bridges) and 19 observation points with a permanent location in the Tskhinvali lower military district. There was also ongoing military reform and the organization of a new military charter. According to some sources, the National Guard’s numbers swelled to 3000 men through the calling up of reservists in South Ossetia. According to data, the Guard had about 10-15 combat tanks (mostly T-55 types + 4 tanks that could be granted by Abkhaz side), 25-30 infantry fighting vehicles (Russian abbreviation БМП-1) and 70 entities of armored transporters, 20 artillery systems and 20-25 “Grad” and “Gvozdika” jet-propelled systems. The Ministry of Interior Affairs: has around 3000 men enlisted. The basic armed forces is the militia’s special purpose battalion consisting of several companies. The ministry’s subdivisions work in Tskhinvali, Java districts and some rural militia territorial units. The Minister of Interior Affairs is Colonel Robert Guliev. National Security Service: In 1998-2002, it was headed by Leonid Tibilov. There were about 300 staff workers. A special purpose detachment (Commander Aleksi Chibirov), operational and well-equipped with arms and equipment, was subordinated to the National Security Service. The duty of this detachment is to fight against terrorism and smuggling, thus, in the case of a military crisis, it will assume responsibility for the formation of small (5-10 men) guerrilla groups moving into the enemy’s rear. During the 1991-1992 war, this detachment was responsible for organizing terrorist acts in Tbilisi. Incidentally, in 1999, equipment and arms necessary for the National Security Service was purchased in Moscow. Among other units, there is an active radio-interception subunit, accomplishing radio signal, including cell signal, interception (in the Gori area). Ossetian security officers, based on secret memorandum, closely collaborate with their Abkhazian counterparts. According to some sources, two security representatives held confidential meetings and consultations in Moscow with other separatists. Special attention should be paid to the secret underground Phantom Group (forest group) that was organized in 1994 in North Ossetia with the objective to carry out diversion on strategic objectives (pipelines, arterial roads, etc.) in Georgian and Ingushetian territories. Structure and future objectives are unknown, as is whether it is still active or not at present and whether or not it

Planning the August 2008 war. Source: cast.ru

is somehow related to the South Ossetian “irredentist” government. Customs: this is smallest body, not exceeding 100 men in total, with small armed groups near the Georgian regions and in the area of the Roki Tunnel which borders the Russian Federation. The Russian Peacekeepers: the peacekeepers, present in the area since 1994, consist of 557 servicemen, 36 armored cars and vehicles, 9 artillery systems and several pieces of air-strike equipment like the ZU-23 and ZU-23M near Roki Tunnel and 120-mm caliber jet propelled systems. Commander: General-Major Sviatoslav Nabzorov. It is interesting to note how the law enforcement agencies are funded by the Diaspora in the Russian Federation and from funds received from the smuggling of alcohol and defrauded humanitarian aid. At the same time, there is a welldisguised financial support agency, entitled “Concord”. Officially, the level of funding is low and not sufficient for their real needs. For example, debts resulting from arrears in paying salaries in 1996 were paid by the South Ossetian government only by April 1997. Shortages are also evident in armored forces supply and equipment. However, in times of escalation, the funds will be allocated immediately from local and North Ossetian criminal groupings that are in reality backed by Kokoiti and the government of North Ossetia. To sum it up, the opposite side is experienced and skillful and Georgia’s new authority will envisage such during the making of geo-strategic decisions. Georgian history has many examples wheere armed men were capable of deal with foe of any kind. However, during its 22 years of existence, the Georgian Armed Forces have experienced three civil wars and one full-fledged war, nothing to say of the several coups and numerous skirmishes. One could say that it is a lot of “experience” for a national Armed Forces so “young” in age. From the other standpoint, however, the Georgian Armed Forces play a very crucial role, from the geostrategic consideration, in keeping a balance of power in the region where two main military coalitions: NATO (on average with up to 2 million combat strength) and the Collective Security

Treaty Organization (also with an average 2 million combat strength), with the USA and Russia’s domination per se, compete very fiercely to reach hegemony at the regional level. So, a question is to be posed: whether Georgia, with its current Armed Forces and combat strength of no more than 30,000, is capable of pursuing successful foreign and defense policy missions. The answer is already clear. Additionally, the issue of promoting true missions set for the Georgian Armed Forces are given to uncertainty due to the ever-changing nature of international politics. Instability rims stretching from the North Caucasus to the Middle East and from Central to South-East Asia are indications what the possible military risks and challenges for Georgia’s national security environment are. Officially, war between Georgia and Russia began on August 7, 2008. Despite Georgia’s unilateral ceasefire earlier in the day, South Ossetian separatist forces, including already mobilized Territorial Defense Units, continued shelling ethnic Georgian villages in and around the capital of South Ossetia, Tskhinvali. In response, the Georgian Armed Forces, to use President’s Mikhail Saakashvili words, “began restoring Constitutional Order” and commenced a heavy military offensive against South Ossetian military units. Only thirty minutes after Georgia began its offensive, Russia came to the aid of the South Ossetian side, moving its 58th Army combat tanks through the Roki Tunnel into Georgian territory. However, that day, the Georgian leadership announced mobilization of the Reserve Forces containing more than 60 battalions and composed on the basis of the “Soviet-type” mobilization standards (with a mere 18-day combat training program run under the aegis of the National Guard Department dispatched to proper military units). By doing so, the Georgian General Staff leadership called up and created up to 50.000 size Army Corps, at first sight a viable military outlet, but in reality, nothing but a mass of civilians with minimal military experience and at the end, proving to be more a hindrance than an advantage. Georgia had 15,000 regular militaries, 5,000 paramilitary servicemen from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and 30,000 reservists, whilst South Ossetian combat forces did not exceed even 6,000, including the Territorial Defense Force militiamen. Certainly, because of this, at the initial stage of combat operations, the Georgian Armed Forces took up a strategic initiative and successfully launched offensive operations from three directions. By midday of August 8, they were

even capable of seizing some parts of Tskhinvali and reached the central part of the city. By that time, the real ratio between offensive and defensive forces was 5:1 in favor of the Georgian side and in some strategic geographic areas even 10:1. However, the South Ossetian Territorial Defense Forces led by de-facto Defense Minister of the South Ossetia, Anatoly Barankevichch, managed to create a military trap for the Georgian Armed Forces, neutralizing heavy armaments in urban terrain, mainly heavy combat tanks modernized with Israeli “Elbit Company” T-72-SIM-1 Soviet tanks and Turkish “Kobra” armored vehicles – in order to make a breakthrough for the South Ossetian forces. However, at the same time, the South Ossetian Defense Forces halted the Georgian Armed Forces attrition rate and even at the tactical level were able to take over the initiative in urban warfare in the city. The South Ossetian Defense Forces managed to regroup their remaining formations and impose over the Georgian Armed Forces so-called “Chechen guerrilla” tactics designed especially for urban terrain. Fire and maneuver, as well as assault by bounds, are prevalent among the more seasoned groups but a normal attack consisted of 15-50 combatants moving in the same direction, firing as they go. Like Chechen guerrillas, the South Ossetian territorial forces attacks involved small groups acting in a somewhat coordinated manner. The attackers relied on the impact of suppressive small arms fire on the enemy as they advanced. By doing so, with the involvement of the Russian military Air Forces which starting bombing Tskhinvali at 2PM on August 8, the South Ossetian Defense Forces both in the center and outskirts of Tskhinvali lined at least seven combat Georgian tanks and three armored vehicles. The same day at 3PM, the Georgian Armed Forces departed from seized positions and left the city. Thanks to the analysis of the battle for Tskhinvali, we may conclude and identify interesting strategic military novelty and new tactics that could be named as Neo-Urban Warfare: a military operation of a special type conducted with the involvement of local defense territorial units and with the intention of playing attritional warfare on an enemy’s regular army. The Neo-Urban Warfare key characteristics are to be concluded as follows: • asymmetric type of engagement; •manoeuvering style of tactical missions; • regular Armed Forces vs. irregular/ Territorial Defense Forces; • massive causalities among peaceful and civilian population; • involvement of light armament and priority for special force. This type of warfare could be regarded as adapted for promoting military strategies of the 21st century.


6

POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY

AUGUST 29 - 31, 2017

British Ambassador Meets Leaders International Program Winner “Ambassador Justin McKenzie Smith thanked me for representing the Leaders International Program, which gives me the opportunity to take part with international high-level diplomats and politicians,” Katsarava said. “It is a great opportunity for promoting Georgia and informing [the British] about ongoing reforms in the country”. “I look forward to it and interesting discussions on a wide range of issues with a very interesting and diverse group of participants,” she added.

BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES

O

n August 25, British Ambassador to Georgia, Justin McKenzie Smith, met the Chair of Parliament's Foreign Relations Committee, Sophiko Katsarava, MBE. The Ambassador and Ms. Katsarava updated each other on current affairs in UK-Georgia bilateral relations. The two also discussed the constitutional amendments and ongoing and planned reforms in Georgia as well as the issues of UK-Georgia parliamentary bilateral relations and further strengthening these “on the basis of links between political, economic, education and peoples”. Katsarava was nominated for the Leaders International Program by the British government. She will soon be visiting London for a number of high-level parliamentary meetings and events.

It is a great opportunity for promoting Georgia

Special Commission Selects Candidates for Strasburg Court BY THEA MORRISON

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our people have been shortlisted by the special commission from the 28 applicants’ list of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) candidate judges from Georgia. The highest scores were received by Lali Papiashvili (4.82) followed by Tamar Alania (4.45). The other two candidates, Otar Sichinava and Ioseb Bachiashvili, each received 3.75. From the four, the government of Georgia will choose two. In total, Georgia will present three candidates to the ECHR for approval. The third candidate is Lado Chanturia, who was the only one approved by the Strasburg Court from the previously presented candidates. The third sector refused to participate in the selection process of judges, saying the process was neither transparent nor impartial enough. The Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) released a statement before the contest, saying they would not take part in the work of the special commission

There were a number of violations, as during the previous contests

headed by the Justice Ministry, and calling on the Georgian government to change the rules and procedures for forming the commission. “With such a composition and procedures, the commission failed to fulfill its task twice before. It could not carry out a strict, fair and transparent contest to choose such candidates that would be approved by the Council of the ECHR,” the statement reads. Public Defender Ucha Nanuashvili, a member of the special commission,

doubts the ECHR will approve the newlyselected candidates, as it rejected the previous ones. “There are no clear and specific criteria by which the competition process is assessed. In the end, we get such an outcome - qualified candidates keeping away from the leading positions,” Nanuashvili said, adding there had been a number of violations, as during the previous contests. The Head of the Lawyers’ Association, Zaza Khatiashvili, says the contest of ECHR candidates was a “farce” and he

refused to take part. “The commission members agreed in advance which candidates would be selected,” he claimed. “Georgia is the first country to have its candidates rejected by the Strasburg Court twice. The government failed to understand its mistakes and left the composition of the commission unchanged even during the third contest,” he stated. From three candidates selected last autumn, Aleksandre Baramidze, Nana Mchedlidze and Giorgi Badashvili, the

Strasburg Court disapproved of Mchedlidze. After this, the ministry substituted Mchedlidze with Eva Gotsiridze, but on January 24, the ECHR rejected all three candidates, saying none of them was suitable for the position. In May, the commission chose three candidates but only Lado Chanturia was approved by the European Court, with the other two, Sophio Japaridze and Shota Getsadze, named as too young and lacking in experience.


BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY AUGUST 29 - 31, 2017

7

Russia to Give $70 mln Loan to Belarus reasonable advice. He has been given advice for a long time as to how to modernize the economy, but he is threatened with losing power. With this loan, Russia is saving the Belarusian dictator," Shushkevich said, adding that while he understood the necessity to allocate a loan for Belarus, which will not suffer if it is used wisely, "Belarus will pay it for a very long time�. In the first four months of 2017, Belarus paid $120 million in repayment of the public debt. At the same time, it is expected that in 2017 alone, Minsk will return $741 million. According to the balance of payments, CBR (Central Bank of Russia) version, Belarus owes Russia about $6.4 billion. Russia remains a key partner for Belarus from a trade, financing and political perspective. The gas price dispute with Russia, which echoes various energy disputes in the 2000s, remains unresolved, thus creating uncertainty for the 2017 economic and financial outlook.

BY DAVID SMITH

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ussia is to give Belarus a l o a n o f $ 70 m i l l i o n , designed to repay Minsk’s debt to Russia, as well as to the Eurasian Fund for Stabilization and Development. The corresponding order was published on August 24 on the webpage law.by. The Belarusian side is to repay the loan twice a year (April 15 and October 15) for 10 years. The first instalment will be made in the spring of 2018. Moscow will give Minsk the necessary amount in Roubles, but the loan will be paid back in dollars. Ex-chairman of the Supreme Council of Belarus, Stanislav Shushkevich, has warned that further allocation of loans will lead to a default in Belarus. "He (the president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko), is driving Belarus into great debt. This will probably lead to a default. I cannot give him advice, because he does not recognize

10 Arrested After Protests at Georgian Railway Headquarters BY THEA MORRISON

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en people were arrested after protests escalated at the Georgian Railway headquarters at the weekend. A number of protest participants attempted to enter the building foyer. Two of the protesters were taken to hospital. Members of Auditorium 115 are also among the people arrested, having come to the protest to express their solidarity with the railway workers, according to Georgian media. The railway workers started a hunger strike on August 15, claiming that they had been transferred from Kakheti to the Sadakhlo line without additional salary or accommodation being given, which, as they say, left them without income. The railway workers demand to be sent back to their previous workplaces in Kakheti.

14 people are still on hunger strike at the Georgian railway headquarters. They also demand that the head of the public relations department and head of infrastructure department at Georgian Railway resign. Georgian Railway management has asked the employees on hunger strike to engage in open dialogue, and discuss the problems constructively.

14 people are still on hunger strike at the Georgian railway headquarters


8

BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY

AUGUST 29 - 31, 2017

Single Economic Space to Be Created from Lisbon to Vladivostok

BY DAVID SMITH

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chneider Group CEO Ulf Schneider, speaking at the international forum "Eurasian Week", presented the Berlin Memorandum, which assumes the creation of a single economic space from Lisbon to Vladivostok. The Berlin Memorandum was developed by the head of the Schneider group of companies together with the famous German political scientist, Alexander Rahr. Within the framework of the project, a working group has been set up which is to unite the business, business associations and politicians of Eurasia, and stand as an official dialogue between the European Union Commission and the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) Commission. The working group of the Berlin Memorandum includes five large business and industry associations in Europe, several large companies, including Siemens and Bosch, as well as 50 individuals, among them developers of general legislative rules and standards. "We believe that a single economic space from Vladivostok to Lisbon should be our joint future,”

There is not much difference between the quality certificates for goods inside the EU and inside the EEU, but there is a huge difference in the procedure for obtaining them

Schneider said. “In the EU, there are industry standards and very strong and interesting technologies, and in the EEU, especially in Russia and Kazakhstan, there are resources. In addition, good IT specialists live in the EEU - in Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. We started developing the Berlin Memorandum in order to unite the potential of the European Union and the Unified Energy System". According to the head of Schneider Group, the document is designed in 10 steps. And one of the most important is the requirement to start specific negotiations between the EU Commission and the EEA. "We suggested starting not with global political issues, like, for example, the abolition of customs duties between the EU and the EEU,” Schneider said. “This is too big a question and cannot be quickly settled. It is necessary to begin with questions that affect the average businesses of Europe and the EEU. For example, to deal with procedures for clearance and obtaining quality certificates for products. Certificates must be unified. We analyzed and came to the conclusion that there is not much difference between the quality certificates for goods inside the European Union and inside the EEU but there is a huge difference in the procedure for obtaining them. That's how we can start unifying so that any product, any bottle, could have a common quality standard, from Vladivostok to Lisbon". In addition, the authors of the Berlin Memorandum suggest negotiating exclusively at the level of the EU and EEU commissions, and not at the level of bilateral relations between countries. Meanwhile, Ulf Schneider separately spoke of the need to gradually abolish the visa regime between the countries of the European Union and the EEU. "It will make it easier to do business, communicate and create friendship among our peoples. Although a visa-free regime from Vladivostok to Lisbon, between the EEU and the EU, cannot come all at once, the first concrete steps are needed. And such steps are being taken. For example, Kazakhstan has taken the right step in this direction, announcing a visa-free regime for 30 days with citizens of EU countries. Now, this example has been followed by Belarus with the country introducing a 5-day visa-free regime. This is a very good contribution to the foundation of a visa-free project between the European Union and the Eurasian Economic Union," Schneider stated.


BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY AUGUST 29 - 31, 2017

9

Sila-Siberia Pipeline Construction 'ahead of Schedule'

BY DAVID SMITH

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he Chinese energy company Petrochina, which is the daughter of the state-owned CNPC (China National Petroleum Corporation), is to build a part of the Sila-Siberia gas pipeline on the Chinese territory before the end of 2019, with the supply of Russian "blue fuel" to begin late 2019 said the president and vice chairman of the enterprise, Wang Dongjin. The power of the Siberia (Sila-Sibiria) gas trunkline will transport gas from the Irkutsk and Yakutia gas production centers to consumers in Russia’s Far East

and China (eastern route). Earlier, Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said that, according to a signed agreement between the Russian gas holding company and the Chinese CNPC, Russian gas supplies via the Sila-Siberia pipeline will begin on December 20, 2019. To date, slightly less than 1,000 km of the pipeline have been built, but by the end of 2017 more than 1,300 km will have been constructed, Gazprom announced last week. The Russian gas holding company also announced that the construction is running ahead of schedule. The total length of the gas pipeline will be about 3,000 km, and the total length of the pipeline within Russian territory will be 2,158 km. It was also reported that the construction of the gas pipeline has encountered

problems, one of them being the shallowing of the River Lena in Siberia. Even with summer soon drawing to a close, only 74.8% of the necessary cargo has been delivered to the pipeline route due to the abnormal shallowing of the main waterway of the region. At its lowest capacity since June 19, there is currently a restriction on the draft of vessels. On August 21, the water depth in the section of Ust-Kut-Kirensk was only 125cm, Kirensk-Ichera 155 cm, meaning smallsized vessels can be loaded by only 40%. Yet, Gazprom is extremely interested in completing the work ahead of schedule, since then gas exports to the PRC will begin earlier. The contract for the supply of Russian "blue fuel" to China through the Sila-Siberia gas pipeline came into force two years ago, in May 2015. The timeframe for the start of fuel supplies is four to six years after the gas contract enters into legal force. Gazprom and CNPC signed a contract for the purchase and sale of Russian gas on the "eastern" route (through the SilaSiberia gas pipeline) in 2014. The contract is concluded for a period of 30 years and involves the supply to China of up to 38 billion cubic meters of gas per year. The construction of the gas pipeline started in 2015 and should end between May 2019 and May 2021. An underwater link at the Amur will connect the Sila-Siberia with the gas transportation system of China. It will consist of two threads, each of which will be laid in a separate tunnel with a diameter of 2.44 meters.

Rooms hotel Tbilisi. Source: wsj.com

Wall Street Journal Latest Newspaper to Publicize Georgian Businesses BY TAMZIN WHITEWOOD

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ew York's Wall Street Journal recently published an article entitled 'A Destination Neighborhood in the Georgian Capital of

Tbilisi' The article, published on the US-based website, focuses on the hip Vera neighborhood in Tbilisi that has, in recent years, become home to some of the city’s most prestigious spots for socializing and nightlife.

One of the places mentioned in the article is the Chaos concept clothes shop in Rooms hotel. "This hip hang-out, which backs onto the garden at Rooms hotel, boasts a skate ramp, an exhibition space and fashion from some of Tbilisi's top designers," the articles reads. Having hosted important events such as Tbilisi Fashion Week and a range of different concerts and go-to social events, it is no wonder that places such as Rooms in Tbilisi are starting to attract welldeserved international recognition. Both The Washingtonian and London's Calvert Journal have published articles on Georgia within the past month.


10

SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY

AUGUST 29 - 31, 2017

As Russian Population is Set to Decrease, HIV Cases Increase

BY EMIL AVDALIANI

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ast year, Russia’s AIDS epidemic reached a dangerous level, with the threshold of registered HIV-positive people hitting the 1 million mark. It was even reported that the real numbers could be even higher, as many people tend not divulge their problem. Thus, the number could be some 1.5 million, or almost 1% of the Russian population. Drug use is no longer the main cause of growing HIV rates in Russia and the disease is now increasingly being spread via sexual contact. If earlier the majority of HIV patients were lone drug users, these days it’s mainly entrepreneurs, workers, housewives, students or the most active part of the population. Although the spread of HIV has been decreased even in African countries, in Russia the rate of HIV infections is actually rising with each year. Since 1987, when it was first recorded in the Soviet Union, 204,000 people have died of HIV in Russia. The fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 and relative openness of borders particularly through the Central Asian region made heroin and other injectable drugs easily accessible to Russians. In the late 1990s and onward, through trafficking routes from Afghanistan, infection rates across Russia steadily rose. There are numerous reasons why the Russian government is not as successful as other states are in battling the problem. Central to HIV is the use of opioid substitution therapy (OST), which replaces intravenous drug usage with an opioid-based oral medication. This medication could be both methadone or buprenorphine which are prescribed by a physician. Through the use of OST, it has been shown that drug addicts are enjoying a more stable life, thereby reducing the transmission of HIV. Needle exchange programs, which are another way to decrease HIV transmission and save lives in programs across the world, have been largely neglected in Russia. The difficulty of the situation in Russia is quite surprising, as almost all of Russia’s neighbors have seen tangible progress in reducing HIV transmission. For example, China and Iran have established methadone maintenance programs. Russia has also lagged significantly behind what other countries usually spend on similar problems. For instance, in its most recent move, the Russian

government budgeted just $297 mln. for the treatment of AIDS-infected people. Unfortunately, this only allows for the proper treatment of up to 300,000 people or maximum 1/3 of the entire pool. Moreover, there will be no funding increase for that purpose until 2019, which could only further aggravate the situation. Some moves are being made, however. In September 2016, Russian healthcare officials announced they would be replacing foreign HIV medication with drugs produced in Russia. Many think locallyproduced medical solutions are not of the same quality and will only create more difficulties. Others disagree. Whatever the result, the tendency is that treatment is not available to everyone in need. Drugs are not accessible in remote towns of Russia and if a person in one of Russian provinces currently lives in Moscow, they will be expected to go to their local doctor to receive medicines. Aggravating Russia’s Stance as a Global Power A high spread of HIV has a direct link to the power of the State. More than one million people infected means that almost every 140th person in Russia is struck with the infection. According to some statistics, these are the people which are in their most capable period of life: the 18-50 age. Considering the poor healthcare conditions, their prospects are not bright, further limiting the workforce of Russia. And this goes hand-in-hand with the general trend in Russia of a gradually decreasing Russian population. Various statistics, including those published by the United Nations, claim the Russian population is set to decrease by 2050 by 10-15 million people. High mortality among HIV-infected people will complicate the situation. The population decrease could influence how Russia manages to project its power beyond its borders in future. It is true that a population decrease is a widelyobservable trend not limited to the former Soviet space. Even in Poland and Germany similar problems do exist. But while European countries invest more in technologies developing the telerobotic sphere in order to uphold industrial growth, Russia lags. A less competitive economy with a lower population would inevitably have an impact on the Russian projection of direct military or economic power in the former Soviet space. Bearing in mind how Russian influence has continued to diminish since the breakup of the Soviet Union, by remote 2050, the process might accelerate by an unfathomable pace.


CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY AUGUST 29 - 31, 2017

11

Batumi to Host International Photo Festival in September BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI

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he four-day Batumi-Odessa International Photo Festival is to kick off on September 7 in the capital of Adjara, Batumi. Photography lovers will have the chance to attend seven exhibitions, three-night shows and a musical performance. The festival, with the theme ‘Photography Today, Tomorrow,’ will showcase photographic works from Canada, Ukraine, India, US, Belarus, Armenia and Georgia. The focus of the festival is to be conceptual photography, contemporary tendencies and the influence of modern technologies on it, its role in today’s society, and how photography as art

has been defined over recent decades. The Festival was founded in 2015 and is an annual event held in Odessa in April and in Batumi in September. Attendance at exhibitions is free of charge.

Tbilisi to Host Georgian Wins 3rd Sportsway Medal at World Wrestling International Tourism Conference Championship SPORTS

BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI

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urab Iakobashvili has won the World Champion title in the 65-kilogram category at the World Wrestling Championship held in Paris, France, defeating his competitor Magomedmurad Gajiev. This is the third medal won by the Georgian wrestling team at the championship, with Geno Petriashvili winning the gold medal and Lado Khinchegashvili the bronze.

BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI

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he International Sportsway Tourism conference is to be held on September 28-29 in Hotels & Preference Hualing Tbilisi, organized by the Corporate Sports Federation of Georgia, with the support of Tbilisi Municipality, National Tourism Administration of Georgia, Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs of Georgia, and the Georgian Employer’s Association.

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Issue #976 Business  

August 29 - 31, 2017