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Issue no: 1207


In this week’s issue...


Risks of Draft Amendments to Law on Information Security


The Presidency of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers this week passed from France to Georgia



Economic Policy Research Center Celebrates 17 Years POLITICS PAGE 4


The US & the Black Sea: A Troublesome Year Ahead POLITICS PAGE 4

The Streetwise Political Dictate POLITICS PAGE 6

38% of FDIs Attracted by Georgia in 2010-2018 Come from Offshore Countries BUSINESS PAGE 7

Opposition Vows the Protests Will Stop If Gov't Agrees to German Model of Elections BY ANA DUMDADZE


Venue of the Week: Skola Coffee & Wine Bar SOCIETY PAGE 9


espite the fact that representatives of opposition and civil activists continue demonstrations in front of the parliament building in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi, the government has said it does not intend to change its position on replacing a mixed electoral system with a proportional one for the 2020 elections. "The topic is closed. A mixed electoral system will be kept in 2020," Kakha Kaladze, the ruling party's Secretary-General, said in a statement made at the Georgian Dream headquarters. He emphasized that members of the ruling team had expressed their attitude towards this issue publicly several times. “However, since there is still political speculation around this topic, I would like to share our position with the public again in a few words: First, the transition to a proportional electoral system in 2020 was a political initiative of the Georgian Dream. Despite the efforts of the team leadership, unfortunately, the bill did not receive adequate support. This result, along with the natural resistance of the majoritarian MPs, also led to the irresponsible actions of the destructive

Two Decades in Georgia

‘Batumi in Cinema’: a Retraining Program for the City Guides Begins CULTURE PAGE 11

Image source: France24

opposition. Secondly, it is clear to all that, given the moods of the parliamentary majority, there are no resources available to mobilize 113 votes around any new constitutional changes at present. The topic is closed - in 2020 a mixed electoral system will be kept, which fully complies with democratic principles, therefore the political spectrum should devote all its efforts to preparing for the elections and holding the elections in accordance with high democratic standards," he noted. Kaladze also noted that the Georgian Dream is ready to hold a plebiscite on the issue of the electoral system on the day of either the 2020

parliamentary elections or the 2021 local selfgovernment elections. “There is a group of majoritarian MPs in the parliamentary majority which is proposing to move to a fully majoritarian system. We told them that the team would not consider any new initiatives for the 2020 elections. However, we understand their general initiative and we agreed that they will continue to work in this direction, provided that a plebiscite will be held on the issue of the electoral system on the day of either the 2020 parliamentary elections or the 2021 local self-government elections,” he said. Continued on page 3

Ending Violence Against Women CULTURE PAGE 11

Special Offer for readers of Georgia Today -15% off all Diet Plans!






Georgia Takes on Council of Europe Chairmanship BY BEKA ALEXISHVILI


eorgian Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani has received the emblematic keys to commence the official assumption of the Presidency of the Council of Europe (CoE) from the Committee of Ministers in Strasburg. The presidency passed from France to Georgia at a session at the organization’s Strasbourg headquarters.

“In the capacity of the Presidency offers a unique opportunity to contribute to the 3 pillars of t/Organization: democracy, human rights&rule of law. This is both – challenging & encouraging at the same time. Glad to underline that Georgia & @CoE has been interlinked by 20 yrs collaboration” The FM Zalkaliani wrote on twitter. Minister Zalkaliani, the new Chair of the Committee of Ministers, proposed the priorities of the Georgian Presidency, which will continue for the next six months. “Taking over the Presidency of the

Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe today, Georgia makes an extraordinary voluntary financial contribution of 500 K. A large part goes to fighting violence against women #VAW. Thank you Georgia,” the CoE Spokesperson Daniel Holtgen reported. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Georgia's CoE membership. According to the CoE standards, the chair "acts in a neutral way and ensures that the rules and guidelines are respected”. The position must further “guide the discussions, puts proposals to the vote and announce decisions”.

The Georgian PM also commented on Georgia's attaining the CoE presidency. “Now we have the opportunity to take part in making an agenda and raise issues with our European colleagues we believe are crucial for our country,” Gakharia said. He further stated that Georgia stands firm on its European choice, which is the choice of the Georgian people. “We have confirmed our commitment to making a democratic state and strengthening democratic institutions. Even though the path [to Europe] is not easy and we have to be in a reform regime

for many years, we will not step aside from the path as it is the choice of our people. We confirm the irreversibility of the choice on a daily basis, even now, during the current developments in the country when the state government fully ensures the freedom of expression [of demonstrators in Tbilisi],” Gakharia said. The Council of Europe is the continent's leading human rights organization. It is comprised of 47-member states, 28 of which are members of the European Union. Georgia has been a member of the Council of Europe since April 27, 1999.

Eco-Corridors Fund for the Caucasus Holds Final Meeting of Regional Consultative Forum BY NINI DAKHUNDARIDZE

E Image source: Nika Tsiklauri - EcoFilms.ge

co-Corridors Fund for the Caucasus (ECF) held their final meeting of the Regional Consultative Forum in Tbilisi at the Hotel Moxy on November 26, the event marking the final formal gathering of the program. The meeting summed up and evaluated the successes of the start-up phase. The ECF unites four countries and the meeting was attended by representatives from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), KfW German Development Bank and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Caucasus, as well as governmental delegates from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. The meeting provided an overview of the ECF’s actions that have led to 19

conservation agreements between the WWF and local communities in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. The steps taken secure community-based conservation on 75,000 hectares of landscape. Presentations were followed by a facilitated panel discussion involving representatives of participating local communities and independent experts. The discussion focused on the lessons learned through the program related to opportunities for community conservation of biodiversity and opportunities for sustainable socio-economic development of rural communities of the Caucasus based on nature conservation and sustainable use of resources. The meeting only closed some doors to open others, as while the 26 November gathering concluded the beginning phase of the project, it also marked the commencement of the implementation phase. Continued on page 8





Risks of Draft Amendments to Law on Information Security BY TEA MARIAMIDZE


arly last month, draft amendments to the Law on Information Security were initiated by the Parliament of Georgia, which might contain a number of significant threats. The proposed amendments fundamentally change the current cybersecurity system in Georgia. According to the draft, LEPL Operational-Technical Agency (OTA) of the State Security Service is to become the main coordinating and supervisory body of information and cybersecurity. The Agency will be entitled to cover the critical infrastructure of both public and private entities. A further agency will be added to the governance pillar of cybersecurity, which will be authorized to supervise relevant institutions, and at the same time cooperate with them. The draft amendments suggest a threetier categorization for objects of critical information infrastructure: 1. State agencies, institutions, LEPLs (other than religious organizations) and state enterprises; 2. Electronic communication companies; 3. Banks, financial institutions and other entities of private law. Non-Governmental Organization, the Institute for the Development of Free-

dom of Information (IDFI) has said it feels the suggested changes will further complicate the cybersecurity management process, and will fail to provide precise roles and functions for the relevant structural divisions of the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The organization says that according to the draft law, DEA, a LEPL of the Ministry of Justice, will be responsible for exercising its power in coordination with the LEPL of the State Security Service- OTA. “Despite the fact that these two agencies will issue orders and other bylaws regulating information security, under the new arrangements, DEA will not have a supervisory mandate on the public sector and this function will be transferred to OTA. At the same time, DEA will be in charge of monitoring the standards of information security within the private sector only through close cooperation and coordination with OTA. Thus, in the given circumstances, the mandate of the DEA Computer Emergency Response Team is vague,” the NGO said. The IDFI further noted that the proposed amendments will enable OTA to have access to the information infrastructure, systems and assets of objects of critical information falling under tier 1. Moreover, OTA will be granted the authority to manage the sensors and monitors installed at these institutions in order to identify relevant cyber-attacks.

Image source: 3i-infotech.com

“Modern information and communication technologies can be configured in a way that enables the collection of relatively vast categories of data, including real-time monitoring of the content. The abovementioned factors increase the risk of the State Security Service of Georgia gaining unlimited access to information on an indefinite number of individuals with the help of modern technologies,” the organization stressed. It also noted that in the process of categorizing objects of critical information infrastructure, significant problems were identified related to objects falling under tier 2 and tier 3, which mainly include representatives of the private sector. The

Opposition Vows the Protests Will Stop If Gov't Agrees to German Model of Elections Continued from page 1 The united opposition has proposed its own model to Parliament for a new electoral system. Giorgi Vashadze, one of the leaders of the united opposition, told reporters that the model developed by them, based on the so-called German model, is consistent with the Georgian Constitution, expresses public opinion, gives preference to the proportional system and considers Georgian reality. "The novelty of all this is that votes will be proportionally distributed among candidates; the majoritarian system will be maintained, but there will be multimandate majoritarian constituencies: 6, 7 or 8-mandate constituencies. Each voter will have one vote and, therefore, no political force will be able to seize power. The interest of each individual will be maximally expressed and, most importantly, the government will serve people and not authoritarians, who were unfortunately developed under the old system," Vashadze said. "This document, which we have drafted, will be handed over to international organizations and will be initiated in Parliament. It needs only 76 votes, not a constitutional majority. This is a very easy way for Georgia to overcome, once and for all, the disastrous electoral system that exists in our country today. This document is fully in line with the Constitution. Our model is based on the 'German model,' which takes into account the Georgian reality. There will be a majoritarian system, but there will be multi-mandate majoritarian constituencies and the Georgian Dream will not be allowed to manipulate," Vashadze said, adding that the parliamentary session will be held peacefully only after their demand is satisfied. Davit Bakradze, the leader of the European Georgia opposition party, stated

that if the government agrees to adopt the so-called German model, the protests will stop. “We, the responsible opposition, have taken responsibility for the protests to be peaceful and nonviolent. The way out [of the crisis] is the so-called German model. This is a model that ensures fair elections and which can be adopted within the next three weeks with 76 votes. If the government agrees to it by the end of December, the protests will stop and the crisis will end,” he noted. Bakradze is convinced that the government has to make a compromise if the ruling party wants to return to normality. Yet another demonstration was held on November 26 in front of the parliament building, which was again dispersed by police using water cannons, just as on November 18. Law enforcers detained 28 people during the rally dispersal under Articles 173 (Non-compliance with the lawful order or demand of the law enforcement officer) and 166 (Minor Hooliganism) of the Administrative Offences Code. Three citizens received various injuries. They were provided with the relevant care at medical institutions. On November 28, there was a physical confrontation between law enforcers and protesters at the entrance to the parliament building after law enforcers blocked entrances to the building with metal structures for "security reasons." The clash started after protesters tried to graffiti the walls with messages. Three demonstrators were detained. Elene Khoshtaria, one of the leaders of the European Georgia party, said that the police were "hunting" protest participants and that “Nothing will stop us. We are not afraid of being arrested," she said. "These barricades will not separate the Georgian Dream from us, we will

harass them everywhere, they will not get rid of us,” the protesters claimed. Demonstrators in Tbilisi plan to continue the protest and say they will try picketing the parliament building again in order not to allow the Georgian Dream lawmakers to hold Parliament sessions. Amnesty International, an influential non-governmental organization focused on human rights, has responded to the rally dispersals in Tbilisi and reports that some of the protesters sustained injuries as a result of the use of water cannons. One person is reported to have sustained an eye injury, with several head bones fractured. “The use of water cannons was neither proportionate nor necessary,” Amnesty International wrote. “They may only be used in those situations in which it is strictly necessary to contain or disperse individuals or a group participating in a public assembly and when the level of violence has reached such a degree that law enforcement officials cannot contain the threat by directly focusing on violent persons only. Any decision to use them must also take into account contextual factors, such as extremely cold weather, which may exacerbate the harm they may cause,” reads the statement. The protests in Tbilisi were sparked after the rejection of an election bill, proposed by the ruling Georgian Dream party, offering the transition to a fully proportional electoral system from 2020 instead of 2024. The demonstrators accuse the current state leadership of "breaking its promise and cheating people" as the ruling party agreed to conduct the 2020 parliamentary elections using a fully proportional electoral system during the internationally renowned June protests in Tbilisi. Protesters demand a second hearing in Parliament on the proportional elections, and some are pushing for snap elections.

NGO claims that the most problematic aspect in that regard is the extent of tier 2, covering private electronic communication companies. “In this case, the approach based on which the companies are grouped within tier 1 and tier 2 is ambiguous. It is also unclear why electronic communication companies are subject to a higher standard of accountability towards OTA,” IDFI said. The NGO also stressed that according to a particular article in the amendments, the government will be given the authority to set certain restrictions for private companies purchasing, upgrading or using their respective IT systems. “The noncompliance with these require-

ments will result in the imposition of administrative fines of up to GEL 5000. Such an approach per se is contradictory to the core principles of the free market and fair competition,” it added. The IDFI called on the MPs not to support the suggested amendments due to the risks they contain. They also asked Parliament to start reforming the Cybersecurity System only after the National Cybersecurity Strategy and Action Plan are adopted. The NGO underlined that the involvement of the local and international organizations and the private sector in the process of preparing draft amendments to the Law of Georgia on Information Security is necessary.

Regional Workshop on Healthy Ageing to Held in Tbilisi

Credit: UNFPA Georgia/Gela Bedianashvili


he United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) regional office of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, together with the offices of Georgia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, this week held a two-day Workshop on Healthy and Active Ageing. Amid the symposium scheduled for November 28, the invited guests and international experts will discuss current demographic dynamics of population ageing and examine present-day practices for promoting health for the elderly. On November 9, training will be held on the effective organization and management of active and healthy ageing centers. Population ageing, the inevitable increase in the share of older persons that results from the decline in fertility and improvement in survival that characterize the demographic transition, is seen throughout the world. The same pattern, at even greater pace, is now being witnessed in developing nations and countries in transition; it is expected that on a global scale the number of persons over 60 will triple from 600 million to almost 2 billion by mid-century. In percentages, the proportion of persons over 60 will double from 10% to 21% compared to the overall population. It is thus essential to prepare for the economic and social shifts associated with an ageing population to fulfil the pledge of the 2030 Agenda for Sustain-

able Development that “no one will be left behind”. Sometimes lost amid the attention paid to population ageing in Europe and North America is the fact that older populations in developing countries are typically growing more rapidly than those in the industrialized world. This puts the economies of developed countries to a huge test. Nevertheless, the social and cultural features in many of these societies offer opportunities to address some of the most critical elements of ageing, such as the physical and mental health of older persons, which is significantly affected by isolation and loneliness. The workshop aims to share experiences of Eastern European and Central Asian countries and to foster joint approaches to advocating for active and healthy ageing and ensuring the wellbeing of the elderly population. Throughout the two-day workshop, the representatives of local governments, Ministries for Social Policy/Welfare and Centers for Social Welfare, Clinics for Out-patients (including mental health centers), NGOs and UNFPA COs from several countries in the East Europe and Central Asia Region discussed population changes and presented positive practices, learned about the HACs, and examined whether this modality can be replicated or adapted to their country’s concrete situation.





Economic Policy Research Center Celebrates 17 Years



he Economic Policy Research Center (EPRC), which just celebrated 17 years of operation on November 4, is a leading economic think and do tank in Georgia striving to promote sustainable development by focusing its activities on such issues as Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration, strengthening evidence-based policy making, rule of law, ensuring safety and security, and educating groups and the population in general. The organization was founded in 2002 by young individuals studying in top universities abroad. David Chkadua, Kakha Ugulava, Nino Evgenidze and

Giorgi Chiladze are among the founding members. Just before the Rose Revolution, where Georgia was bound by a high level of corruption and enticement, a think tank like EPRC was needed to respond to these challenges. Georgia in 2002 had a reputation as a ‘failed state’, and so the EPRC group sought to be a research and case-based knowledge institution to examine and apply economic and technical aid to Georgia’s internal policies and companies. The EPRC is mainly funded through international donor organizations, taking no money from the government so as not to jeopardize its impartiality. The nonprofit NGO is ranked high in the transparency index, having received a 5-star rating, and is included in the top 20. We had the privilege of sitting down with Nino Evgenidze, the Executive Director of EPRC, to discover what this organization entails and to learn about some of its most successful projects. “Our defense of democracy is crucial, because we are in the vicinity of Russia’s misinformation and fabrications while the European countries have institutions to counter act,” Evgenidze tells us. “The EPRC takes on the role of upholding Georgian democracy and the country’s further integration with the West.” The reason the West offers overwhelming support for Georgia is because the country is a flagship for democracy on the ‘frontline’ and a regional beacon for it. “The fight for liberty and defense of

democracy is a collective fight,” Evgenidze notes. Evidence-based policymaking and appliance are key affairs for EPRC. The center has a diverse set of projects and initiatives, one of which is the creation of the Fukuyama Democracy Frontline Center which just celebrated its first year anniversary. The project aims to merge the fundamental values of democracy, rule of law and liberal international order. These values have been vital to peace and stability, both of which are central to the EPRC group. Professor Fukuyama, Mosbacher Director of the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) at Stanford University, is overseeing the Fukuyama Center board. David Kramer, Senior Fellow at Florida International University, serves as the director. It has been one year since the Fukuyama Center started functioning. Strong institutions, democratic principles and rule of law are crucial for building a free modern nation, which is inherently important for Georgia. The center has translated books by Professor Fukuyama, Senator John McCain and Professor Larry Diamond and David Kramer, and has distributed copies among Georgian universities countrywide. This helps to raise awareness on evaluating the risks the world is facing and gives information on how to tackle them. These endeavors are precisely aimed at younger generations. “Georgia is not that fortunate to have enormous amounts of natural resources

to enter big markets, therefore the key is internationalization of services,” Evgenidze says, going on to advocate for strengthening the focus towards such spheres as architecture, design and business consulting. GEclose2EU, which is another project implemented by the EPRC, is funded by the Swedish government, as part of which 65 companies representing architecture, business consulting and ICT sectors were selected from a large pool through an open call competition. From the winning companies, 24 organizations are oriented toward architecture-design, 15 are from ICT and 26 are business consulting firms. The companies will benefit from technical assistance initiatives supporting them to internationalize and develop. Training sessions and seminars are also being prepared for the winning companies, and at the beginning of 2020, they will be sent to Sweden for a study tour. Overall technical aid will be given to about 100 SMEs. The project is implemented in partnership with the Enterprise Georgia Agency. Various tools, among them an online platform tradewithgeorgia.com, are utilized to popularize Georgian companies on the world’s market. It is of high importance to support SMEs since they are backbones of economy through job creation and economic wellbeing, which in turn serves as a guarantee for democracy. A strong and stable middle class is the assurance of development and democracy.

Sweden is one the leading nations in successfully implementing a socialdemocratic system, where small and medium enterprises prosper. GEclose2EU serves exactly this purpose, to train and stimulate Georgian SME owners. “We have to give companies opportunities and knowledge, funding alone is not enough,” says Evgenidze. Participant companies must detail what exact technical assistance they need and why, and describe how this will assist them in development and internationalization perspectives in the future. As part of the project, a media tour was organized for Georgian journalists to Sweden. They had a chance to meet with the high official representatives from public, private and non-governmental sectors. The EPRC prides itself on being an organization with long - standing experience. It has positioned itself as a civil society leader working on the issues of Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration and providing impartial analysis of its current and projected socio-economic outcomes. Multiple analytical pieces, delivered by the EPRC, in partnership with national and international actors, has earned the organization a reputation as a reliable source of information on a wide range of issues at the heart of the Europeanization discourse. Through promoting evidence-based policymaking, the EPRC strives to improve the business and investment environment in the country, in particular for SMEs.

The US & the Black Sea: A Troublesome Year Ahead BY EMIL AVDALIANI


he US is increasingly looking inwards as internal political problems, coupled with the ongoing election campaign, shifts Washington’s attention away from some regions in the Eurasian continent. One such region is the Black Sea. Being under considerable pressure from Russia since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Georgia looked to the US and NATO for security considerations. Though there was no direct military help in 2008 when Russia invaded Georgia and recognized the Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions as independent, several agreements on military cooperation (one signed just a few days ago) and economic aid have been signed between Washington and Tbilisi. Many in Georgia criticized the Obama Administration for initiating isolationist policies and looking away from the Black Sea. However, it is in recent years that the US policy has grown more inwardlooking, which is having a continuous impact on vulnerable Tbilisi. Impeachment hearings in the US are also shifting Washington's attention from the Black Sea region. US’ ties with Ukraine

Image source: Getty Images

are also being harmed and Georgians have already started asking “if the 40 million population strong Ukraine could be left alone, so can a tiny 4 million Georgia”. And it is not only about the impeachment. Many believe that the shift in US interests is also reflected in the case of the faltering Anaklia port project. Located on the Black Sea coast, the new deep-sea port will be capable of receiving large container ships and perhaps, as many suggest, even military ships. In the age of increased US-China geopolitical competition across Eurasia,

when there is essentially a battle going on to control crucial railways, roads and ports, Anaklia has become a focal point. This is not to say that the US is not interested in the port. In fact, Americans were behind stopping the Chinese from becoming sole investors in the port. In June this year, Mike Pompeo even said that Anaklia port’s “implementation will strengthen Georgia’s ties with free economies and will not allow Georgia to be under the economic influence of Russia or China. These imaginary friends are not driven by good intentions.” However since that time, American companies

have withdrawn major investments from the port and there is a noticeable reduction in the attention being paid to the project. More worrisome is that Russia might be the reason. Moscow is building its own deep-sea port in the Kerch Strait and there have been instances when the US chose to avoid raising Russian fears in the Black Sea. For example, during the latest congressional testimony in Washington, it was reported that a Navy freedom-of-navigation operation in the Black Sea with visits to Georgian ports was cancelled earlier in 2019 after Trump complained to then-national security adviser John Bolton that the operation would irritate Russia. There is more to this. As the impeachment hearings continue and the US moves into an election year, ever less attention will be paid to the Black Sea region, and Georgia in particular. Moreover, in the longer run, US competition with China will further limit Washington's ability to respond quickly and effectively to rising problems in the Black Sea region. This is also complicated by the absence of an appointed US Ambassador in Georgia, at a time when the country is experiencing demonstrations of various intensity ahead of the 2020 parliamentary elections, as a result of which major

repercussions might be seen from Washington. From South Korea to the Kurds in Middle East to Ukraine, everyone feels how unpredictable the geopolitical situation in the world has become, leading to many among the political elite questioning how long-lasting dependence on US support can in reality be. Like other states across Eurasia, the Georgian political elite is also starting to look into various possibilities to balance the US’ lack of attention. Talking directly to Russians is one such solution. No wonder the Georgian foreign ministry held its first meeting (since 2008) this September with the Minister’s Russian counterpart. Though diplomatically there is nothing wrong in this scenario, overall, however, it signals that Tbilisi now has fewer cards to play to evade Moscow’s increasing pressure in such crucial issues as energy, security, etc. As a result, Moscow’s influence is bound to grow in the Black Sea region – a borderline between Russia and NATO. Moreover, as Russia has heavily militarized the annexed Crimean Peninsula and uses the latter as a jump point for control of the Kerch Strait, US support for the construction of Anaklia’s deepsea port could serve as a good balance to Moscow’s Black Sea strategy.

H.E. Essa Albasha Alnoaimi Welcomes the First Ambassador of Georgia to the UAE BY SOFO BOCHOIDZE


nNovember28,theAmbassador of the United Arab Emirates to Georgia, H.E. Essa Albasha Alnoaimi, hosted the newly appointed Ambassador of Georgia to the UAE, H.E. Paata Kalandadze at his residence. It's noteworthy, that this is the first diplomatic mission of Georgia to the UAE. The meeting was attended by the representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia and its Deputy Minister Lasha Darsalia. H.E. Essa Albasha Alnoaimi spoke about the relations between the two countries,

Georgia and the UAE, noting that it stands on a solid base and that they are striving for more culturally mutual events to encourage more connections and more visitors. He also mentioned that the number of tourists is increasing from the UAE and from all GCC countries, affecting the economic growth of Georgia in a very positive way. The UAE Ambassador then announced that they will soon have another gathering to celebrate the 48th National Day of the UAE on December 2. H.E. Paata Kalandadze also delivered a speech, expressing his gratitude towards the Ambassador for hosting him in his residence. “The portfolio of our relationship is not very thick but it has huge potential, if we are thinking of bringing these two

nations closer to each other, if we are thinking of the prosperity of our people, which our profession is all about. You and I, with our colleagues and friends engaged in our profession, will do our utmost to make a solid grounding for

the meaningful development of the relations of our countries.” He also extended his best wishes on behalf of his family for the coming celebration of the National Day and wished the people of the UAE peace and prosperity.

Deputy Minister Darsalia also spoke about the ties between two countries based on a positive agenda, and the huge potential to expand in all directions, including tourism, economical, social and cultural.





The Streetwise Political Dictate OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE


here is nothing to worry about – our political system is very much alive and kicking, and it is also palpable and vibrant enough to rule the country. The only kink it suffers is that it has tended to function under open skies in the last 30 years. Otherwise, all is OK with it, based on a regular political dichotomy: the ruling force rules and the opposition does its portion of resistance and contest. Other nations practice the same type of politicking in their own countries, so nothing terribly different from the rest of the world is taking place in Georgia as I see it. The triviality of our streetwise political life is clear and present: we are once again doing politics al fresco, overwhelmed by our political fluids and disgruntlements. This time, the issue in question, which was moved from the habitual parliamentary floor to the protest-ridden Rustaveli Avenue of Tbilisi, is the difficulty of making a choice between the two different electoral systems, proportional and majoritarian. Proportional . . . majoritarian . . . even the terms sound a little weird but they are explicable. A proportional election means electing a legislature member as part of the bunch, in other words, based on the party list, giving a politician who might be anything but a real politician (this said not about them all, of course) a chance. The majoritarian electoral system is like electing an American senator or a congressman on individual basis, independently from a party list of presumable candidates of parliamentary membership, but still associated with a certain political power. In a word, the system is peculiar and

Image source: netgazeti.ge

complicated, but whatever it is, it still happens to be functional. The problem is that part of the Georgian parliament wants a mixed system and part of it will go for only the proportional one. And the electorate, who has a final say in the elections, has no idea which is better. Hence the confrontation, for starters on parliamentary premises, and consequently, in front of the same building, in the street! The entire united opposition is for the proportional system, thinking it guarantees the most optimal compatibility between the cast votes and the received

legislative mandates. A couple of weeks ago, the Georgian legislature was on the verge of voting for the proportional system but right at the eleventh hour, the voting majoritarians preponderated towards the mixed system again. As a result, the introduction of proportional representation, once casually promised by the ruling party, went bust. Now the leaders of oppositional parties maintain that they were sold a lemon and want to settle that account with the ruling party by means of prolonged and wide-range street manifestations, persistently demanding the fulfillment of

the made promise. I am the only one though who has been nursing a tricky unanswered question in the last ten years: why not the majoritarian system, like in America? When I ask this question, the only reaction I get from politicians and political experts is shrugged shoulders and unclear, deviating responses. How about fulltime dictatorship? is an even older question of mine. Openly declared, classic, sincere dictatorship! Would it be so bad? Democracy is not a ubiquitously working political system. Democracy needs time to mature within the hearts

and minds and the guts of the nation. Are we already there? Or, do we still need to go the additional mile? Yes, I am a captive of my own sarcasm, and this is awful, because I have been dreaming of squeezing this country’s political process somewhere under a solid roof, but the dream has yet to be realized. And this is happening because the political process here is extremely recalcitrant, wriggling in the hands of several generations of politicians in post-soviet Georgia, instigating the already customary political dictate heard in outdoor demonstrations.




38% of FDIs Attracted by Georgia in 2010-2018 Come from Offshore Countries

Image source: premieroffshore.com



n 2010-2018, the Foreign Direct Investments attracted by Georgia came from those countries which have offshore territories. They amounted to $5 billion, which is 38% of the total FDIs in Georgia in 8 years. The information was released by the non-governmental organization Transparency International (TI) Georgia, based on official statistics. According to the organization, the issue of offshore zones is relevant for Georgia as many offshore companies or their subsidiaries operate in the country. “Today, there are about 3,000 companies registered in Georgia that are fully or partly owned by offshore companies,” TI reports. “For example, about 1,000 companies are registered in the UK offshore, there are about 250 companies registered in the Virgin Islands, 280 in Cyprus, 74 in Panama, 63 in the Seychelles, 80 in American Samoa, 12 in the Bahamas, and so on.” It also said that most investments, $3 billion in total, came from the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, adding this does not mean that these investments solely came from the offshore territories of the mentioned countries. “It is difficult to sort the FDI data by this criterion. With $300 million, Panama tops the list of investors of those countries that are entirely offshore zones, followed by Malta with $239 million, the Virgin Islands with $6 million, Belize with $64 million and so on,” the NGO says. TI Georgia also stressed that in the first half of 2019, most offshore investments came from Panama, saying this was $59 million allegedly invested by the ex-Prime Minister and founder of the ruling party Georgian Dream (GD), billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, mainly through the Tourism Development Fund LLC. “This company implements several projects in Georgia and is fully owned by Frankston International, a company registered in Panama. Bidzina Ivanishvili’s affiliation with this company is also confirmed by the fact that the former and acting directors of the Tourism Development Fund are persons openly connected to him. Moreover, according to the Public Registry, Tourism Development Fund and Cartu Bank are registered at the same legal address. Frankston International also owns 100% of Bidzina Ivanishvili's main investment company, the Co-Investment Fund,” the organization reports. The NGO indicates that in October 2018, they published a study on offshore companies connected to Ivanishvili, according to which, at least 9 offshore

companies and more than 70 organizations registered in Georgia are in some form affiliated with the ex-PM. “While a politician's association with a private company, including an offshore one, is not always illegal, it is a potential source of conflict of interest and corruption, especially when all branches of government are in the hands of one party. Since offshore companies are mainly chosen to cover the real origin of money and for their low transparency, this circumstance raises additional doubts,” TI added. In addition to this, TI says that Ivanishvili and the former Minister of Defense, Davit Kezerashvili, were mentioned in the 2016 Panama Papers. In April 2016, Transparency International Georgia published an article stating that Bidzina Ivanishvili did not include an offshore company in the asset declaration which he filled out when he became Prime Minister of Georgia. Moreover, the study published by the NGO Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) in 2016 reads that Russian citizens own significant capital in Georgia and control several strategic objects through companies registered in offshore zones, which include thermal and hydro power plants, fuel companies, and precious metal companies, among them Beeline and Georgian Water and Power. “It is unacceptable for the political culture of developed countries to have such politicians which are directly or indirectly related with offshore companies. A good example of this was the Panama Papers scandal, when, for example, the British Prime Minister had to explain the sale of a 30,000 pound share of an offshore company,” the organization said. The NGO also underlines that politicians’ links to offshore companies encourages corruption. “Risks coming from offshore companies are higher in Georgia, as one of the major challenges facing our country today is the “high-level” corruption. Anonymous ownership of offshore companies is a contributing factor to high-level corruption,” TI Georgia added. An offshore zone is a country or a specific territory of a country where companies enjoy special concessional terms. Lower tax rates, the secrecy of company owner, simpler financial reporting rules and ease of company registration and operations can be among such terms. Further, the owner need not be a resident of said country or have a registered office (business representation) in order to have an offshore company. This makes the offshore option ideal for those wishing to escape state bureaucracy, legal control, and taxation.






Two Decades in Georgia BLOG BY TONY HANMER


hat’s the anniversary coming up for me on December 1, the date I moved here by train from Baku, Azerbaijan, in 1999. I’ve also celebrated 10 years of marriage to my dearest Lali (May) and 30 years since I set out from Stony Plain, Alberta, Canada, to bike around the world and find a place to settle down. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” There were a couple of times on that train between Baku and Tbilisi, in my early days, that the border guards on either side tried to intimidate me into bribing away their unwanted attention. I averaged about 3 round trips a year for the first few years of the new millennium, to see friends I’d made during my six months in Azerbaijan prior to moving here. Both countries were thoroughly corrupt then, but Georgia eventually surged ahead, goaded on by rose thorns. I knew that if I gave in once and coughed up some Manat or Lari, they’d expect it every time. So, despite the stress of three or four of them coming into my otherwise empty sleeping coupe in the train, shutting the door, and trying it on, I never gave in to their threats to throw me off the train for having “too much camera equipment” or some other excuse. They’d stomp off with angry promises that “We’ll be back!”, but that was the end of it. Two or three times and they gave up. I had won, somehow. Same with Georgian metro police who tried to rob me a couple of times: calm confrontation won out, and they backed off. Blind luck? Pulling into Tbilisi’s main railway station, we were about six hours late due to power out(r)ages en route. Some friends of friends who had been assigned to meet me had waited patiently all that time in the early winter’s chill, and greeted me on the platform. This was before I had my first cell phone, so there was no phoning ahead to arrange things. The station police were there too, of course, eagerly awaiting newbie foreigners on whom to prey. They asked for my passport in Russian and I

gave it to them without thinking, trusting them in already dying naivete, then went back into the carriage to fetch more of my considerable luggage. Unknown to me, with my complete lack of Georgian language at the time, my hosts warned them harshly not to press their luck squeezing me as they knew Mr X who was high up in the local chain of command. Ignorance being bliss, I ventured forth into Georgian life with my new friends, staying with them for a few months in that first cold, kerosene-heated winter and forging bonds which have lasted these decades and introduced them to Svaneti.

They had rescued me from I didn’t even know what, as I found out later. Tbilisi then was dark, dangerous, the police not ones to go to if you needed help as they were likely only to make it worse. A Georgian visa took many trips to many locations, needing much persistence; although an Azeri one, multi-entry for a year, was far easier to obtain back then than it is now. I survived a mugging and theft, got a bit street smarter, fell in love with Georgia in a way which I hadn’t managed to in Azerbaijan for some reason; and for a while now have lived here longer than anywhere

else in my life. This country just grabbed me and didn’t let go. I’ll never leave unless forced out. After half of my life wandering the world, the wondering is over. Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with nearly 2000 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

Eco-Corridors Fund for the Caucasus Holds Final Meeting of Regional Consultative Forum

Continued from page 2 “ECF is one of the most successful projects for WWF. It is new, innovative and the involvement of local people in nature protection is a key factor,” said Karen Manvelyan, WWF, Armenia. ECF is a funding instrument supporting community-based biodiversity conservation in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Eco-corridors connect various classifications of parks, protected areas and community-managed landscapes across the three countries. The organization uses simple steps and processes to engage communities in nature conservation, and what Mr. Hikmet Alizade from Azrbaijan’s Ministry of Environment noted is the best part of the program: “The best achievement of the project is the involvement of communities in conservation measures...this project turns communities into collaborators and sometimes friends.” The result is an interconnected mosaic of managed and unmanaged habitats under various land categories and classifications. These communitymanaged landscapes protect, connect and support healthy native ecosystems while ensuring the socioeconomic status of the communities is not diminished, and in many cases is improved.

The project is based on two parallel and interlinked processes: scientific identification then prioritization of critical eco-corridors and target species, and community-based approaches which develop trust, awareness, ownership and motivation for sustainable livelihood activities and long-term commitment for protection of these prioritized areas through conservation agreements implemented over a period of 10 years. “First, the eco-corridors are important for the migration of species and the connection of protected areas,” said Juri Nosadze from the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia. “Second, people’s social conditions are important. In the project it was very visible how it supports the environmental factors as well as the socio-economic situation. The local people are the main beneficiaries.” The WWF decided to sign Conservation Agreements with local partners for a period of up to 10 years with clear, achievable objectives and easily measurable performance indicators. “Payments under these agreements will ensure that opportunity costs for biodiversity-focused management of land are covered, and that sustainable land use practises are applied,” reports the WWF.




Venue of the Week: Skola Coffee & Wine Bar



he word school, translated into Georgian as ‘Skola,’ is usually associated with an academic, formal establishment with multiple subjects and endless homework. Yet, Skola Coffee & Wine Bar on Paliashvili Street in Tbilisi’s Vake district has something new to offer that is far from what its name might suggest. Skola Coffee & Wine Bar opened its first branch on Rustaveli Avenue nearly two years ago, fast establishing itself on the market as a pioneer, introducing and promoting the concept of specialty coffee to guests. Aside from a wonderful, eclectic menu and a wide assortment of refreshments, coffee and wine represent the two major priorities of the founders of Skola. Coffee is one of the oldest and best loved products worldwide, listed among the global leaders of sales, while, through 8,000 years of tradition, winemaking has become an inalienable part of the Georgian culture

and the country in general. Skola Coffee & Wine Bar offers a stunning array of the best coffees, served in cute mugs with an artistic design. Alongside this, the best GeorgianQvevriwinesareoffered.Whether you’re there for lunch or dinner, both beverages are sure to win your heart for their taste and presentation. The concept of the venue is equally refreshing, as the founders of Skola Coffee & Wine Bar have gone beyond the limits of a simple eatery and, though modest at first glance, the establishment makes a wonderful place for formal and semi-formal gatherings in the busy urban environ. Guests can benefit from an opportunity to socialize and establish new friendships or to enjoy a business lunch with colleagues. Skola, in a project that fits its name, recently launched a Book Club, where on specific days of each month, visitors, especially youngsters, have a chance to enjoy a pleasant evening, meet new people, discuss a specific book and share their impressions, and to expand their global outlook. The founders of the venue also have a focus on young artists, giving them a

chance to exhibit their works on site. It is no exaggeration to say that through this excellent initiative, Skola Coffee & Wine Bar has successfully assimilated the idea of Corporate Social Responsibility. In cuisine, the Skola team follows the latest trends of world gastronomy and spares no effort to offer the best choices from European cuisine, designed to suit the tastes of both local residents and foreign customers. They also promote the notion of healthy nutrition and offer high-quality dishes and snacks in their seasonal menu. In addition to mouthwatering burgers of beef and chicken, served with perfectly fried chips, to their quesadilla and fish salad, you can also try a number of diverse specialties, such as a pear salad. And their desserts are nothing short of spectacular. The venue is also distinguished for its huge assortment of healthy smoothies and lemonades, each made with health and presentation in mind. If you are looking for the ideal mélange of tasty food, comfortable environ and innovative concept, Skola Coffee & Wine Bar is definitely worth a visit at 17 Rustaveli Ave. and 80 Palishavili St.







OPERA AND BALLET THEATER 25 Sh. Rustaveli Ave. November 30 KETO AND KOTE Victor Dolidze's opera Music Director of the ProductionRevaz Takidze Director- Ioane (Vano) Khutsishvili Set, Costume and Lighting Designer- Giorgi AlexiMeskhishvili Choreographer- Iliko Sukhishvili Participants: Mariana Beridze, Armaz Darashvili, Otar Shishinashvili, Irina Aleksidze, Elene Janjalia, Irakli Mujiri, Paata Sukhitashvili, Legi Imedashvili, Manana Iordanishvili. Conductor- Revaz Takidze Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 40-200 GEL TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE 8 Grioedovi Str. November 29, December 1 KETO AND KOTE V. Sarajishvili State Conservatory Opera Studio Author of the libretto Victor Dolidze The performance is dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the opera "Keto and Kote" Choreographer- Vladimir Bakhtadze Executive Conductor- Papuna Gvaberidze Directed by Lela Gvarishvili Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 5, 10 GEL GABRIADZE THEATER 14 Shavteli Str. November 29 RAMONA Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL December 5 REZO Animated documentary film Directed by Leo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL MOVEMENT THEATER 182 Agmashenebli Ave. November 29 TAMADA IN MANHATTAN Georgian-American Premiere Washington Theater Company E and Movement Theater co-stage a performance in the format of a Broadway musical

Directed by Paul Gordon Author: Paul Gordon, Ioseb Bakuradze, Choreographer: Robbie Priore, Abby Leithart, Vanessa Owen, Gavin Strewart, Lasha Robakidze Genre: Musical Language: Non-verbal Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 25 GEL November 30 DIVINE COMEDY Based on the work of Dante Aligieri Three 20-minute choreographic statements Directed by Ioseb Bakuradze Music: Sandro Nikoladze Choreographer: Lasha Robakidze Language: Non-verbal Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL December 1 THE STORY OF A MURDERER Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Music: Sandro Nikoladze, Davit Kakulia Language: Non-verbal Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15 GEL December 5 IGGI Based on the work of Jemal Karchkhadze Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Music: Sandro Nikoladze Language: Non-verbal Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10, 15 GEL MUSEUM

GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM 3 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 299 80 22, 293 48 21 www.museum.ge Exhibitions: GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF THE 18TH-20TH CENTURIES NUMISMATIC TREASURY EXHIBITION STONE AGE GEORGIA ARCHEOLOGICAL TREASURE NEW LIFE TO THE ORIENTAL COLLECTIONS Until December 10 An international-scale archaeological exhibition THE COLORS OF ANCIENT ROME. MOSAICS FROM THE CAPITOLINE MUSEUMS The exhibition features 21 mosaics found in Rome, covering a wide chronological period ranging from 2nd century BC until 4th century AD

Until December 15 The first-ever exhibition of a remarkable coin from the time of King David the Builder The coin shows Kind David IV dressed in Byzantine imperial attire, wearing stemma, and holding a Globus cruciger. On the reverse is an invocation in Georgian surrounding a cross and listing the extent of David's kingdom: 'Lord, aid David, king of Abkhazians, Kartvelians, Rans, Kakhs, Armenians.' Until December 9 Exhibition MUSEUM OF CERAMICS Eight artists united around the idea of creating a museum of ceramics to describe the history of ceramics: Malkhaz Shvelidze, Nato Eristavi, Lia Bagrationi, Gigisha Pachkoria, Lali Kutateladze, Otar Vepkhvadze, Merab Gugunashvili, Ilia Biganashvili. IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA 8 Sioni St. TEL (+995 32) 2 98 22 81 November 29- January 19 The project "Contemporary Art Gallery" presents the exhibition "How to Catch up with a Dead Hare" by Georgian contemporary artist ILIKO ZAUTASHVILI MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION 4 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge The exhibition hall is equipped with monitors, where visitors can see documentaries of various historical events. MUSEUM OF ILLUSIONS 10 Betlemi Str. Discover the Museum of Illusions Be brave and jump into an illusion created by the Vortex, deform the image of yourself in the Mirror Room, free yourself in the Infinity Room, resist the laws of gravity and size, and take selfies in every possible pose. Enjoy the collection of holograms and discover optical illusions. GALLERY


TBILISI CONCERT HALL 1 Melikishvili Ave. November 30 Concert dedicated to the composer and songwriter MATSATSO SEBISKVERADZE Head of the orchestra: Davit Mazniashvili Participants: Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Vakhtang Kakhidze, with the participation of Nani Bregvadze, Eka Mamaladze, Nukri Kapanadze, Maya Jabua, David Nozadze, “Shvidkatsa”, “Teatraluri Kvarteti”, “Alilo” vocal groups, Neka Sebiskveradze, Giorgi Sukhitashvili, Nodiko Tatishvili and Maka Zambakhidze With the piano accompaniment of Nino Guliashvili. Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20-40 GEL DJ. KAKHIDZE TBILISI CENTER FOR MUSIC & CULTURE 123a D. Agmashenebeli Ave. November 29 VAKHTANG KAKHIDZE’S MUSIC FOR CINEMA AND THEATER, SONGS AND JAZZ The renewed musical project will be performed by Vakhtang Kakhidze and singers - Nato Kakhidze, Neka Sebiskveradze, Maka Zambakhidze, George Sukhitashvili and Goga Meskhi. Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 20-50 GEL SILK FACTORY STUDIO 59 Kostava Ave. December 3 Georgia National Music Center & Nikoloz Rachveli present a concert dedicated to the 90th birth anniversary and 35th death anniversary of Givi Orjonikidze Performers: Trinity Cathedral Choir, Svimon Jangulashvili- conductor Georgian Philharmonic Orchestra, Nikoloz Rachveli- conductor Giorgi Zagareli- viola Program: Georgian Choral Music, Giya Kancheli - Liturgy in memory of Givi Orjonikidze for orchestra and solo viola “Mourned by the Wind” Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 15-35 GEL

THE NATIONAL GALLERY 11 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 215 73 00



December 3 DIALOGUE OF CULTURES: LITHUANIA– GEORGIA Vilnius folk ensemble ARINUSHKA, Artistic Directors– Irena Zacharova and Nikolay Zacharov (Lithuania) Luka Mebonia, Giorgy Shanava– vocal (Georgia) Arturas Anusauskas– keyboard (Lithuania) Alexander Papiy– guitar (Russia) Percussion ensemble HAND VOICES (Lithuania) Tbilisi Vano Sarajishvili State Conservatoire Student Orchestra Conductor– Revaz Javakhishvili Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 5-10 GEL December 5 Vano Sarajishvili Tbilisi State Conservatory Student Symphony Orchestra Conductor: Revaz Javakhishvili I. S. Rachmaninoff- Concerto for Piano and Orchestra #2 Soloists: Gvantsa Kobalia- M.A. Ic (part I) Elene Kvantaliani- B.A. III c. (Parts II and III) II. P.I. Tchaikovsky- Symphony # 1, Sol Minor, "Winter Dreams" Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 5-10 GEL

ART HALL 26/2 A. Surguladze Str. November 30 ROBERT BABICZ STIMMHALT SOUND STUFF ENDORPHINS Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 25 GEL SPACEHALL Dinamo Arena November 29 TREEBAL: LIQUID SOUL Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 40 GEL MONOHALL 2 D. Bakradze Str. November 29 SALVE GROUP presents music band SAKHE Start time: 23:55 Ticket: 30 GEL TBILISI BAROQUE FESTIVAL December 1 FUOCO E CENERE Pulcinella o La Libertà ritrovat Performers: Natalie Perez- soprano Bruno Leone- master of marionnettes Jay Bernfeld- viola da gamba and direction Patricia Lavail- recorder André Henrich- theorbo Grégoire Laugraud– harpsichord Program: I. Giovanni Battista Pergolesi From the opera Flaminio: Sinfonia Mentre l’erbetta Con queste paroline Domenico Gallo Imaginary Sonata of celebrated melodies Moderato- Allegro- Presto Giovanni Battista Pergolesi Sinfonia per Viola da Gamba Adagio- Allegro Giovanni Battista Pergolesi Siciliana: Ogni pena Alessandro Parisotti Se tu m’ami II. Giovanni Battista Pergolesi From the opera Adriano in Siria Contento forse Vivere Conte Unico Wilhelm van Wassenaer Sonata Terza per Flauto Dolce Grave- Allegro Giovanni Battista Pergolesi From the opera Lo Frate ‘Nnamurato: Sinfonia Canzone di Don Pietro - Pupillette, fiamette d’amore Canzone di Vannella Sento dire Per te io ho nel core il martelin d’Amore (Flaminio) Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10-30 GEL Venue: Rustaveli Theater, Small Stage December 3 VIRTUOSITY À LA FRANÇAISE FUOCO E CENERE THE BOW’S CARESS Virtuosity à la Française Musical gems drawn from the works of Marin Marais And his illustrious compatriots Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 10-40 GEL Venue: Rustaveli Theater, Small Stage MOVEMENT THEATER 182 Agmashenebli Ave. December 3 JAM SESSIONImprov played by different Georgian and foreign musicians and instrumentalists. Musical art director- Sandro Nikoladze Start time: 21:00 Ticket: 5 GEL







iolence against women and girls is a global scourge and unfortunately still one of the largest human rights violations worldwide. One in three women globally continues to suffer from abuses at home or in the workplace during her lifetime. Despite the tremendous amount of resources and time invested in the prevention of Gender-Based Violence, women and girls continue to experience various forms of violence – from domestic violence to sexual harassment, from trafficking to early marriage and femicide – due to entrenched discriminatory social norms and traditions. In addition, survivors of violence often face social stigma, and victims are blamed as responsible for the violence they survived. If we look at some of the statistics that concern Georgia, it becomes apparent that we need to join forces to urgently address this phenomenon. The 2018 National Study on Violence against Women in Georgia conducted jointly by the National Statistics Office GEOSTAT and UN Women with financial support from the EU, revealed that women and men show a high degree of tolerance and acceptance towards the use of physical violence against women in relationships, and share inequitable views on sex and sexual violence. Of those surveyed, almost one-fourth (22%) of women and one-third of men (31%) believe that beating of the wife is justified in certain circumstances. Further-

more, approximately one-quarter of women (23%) and 42% of the surveyed men believe that the wife should obey her husband even if she disagrees with him. Moreover, at least one out of seven women has experienced domestic violence and one out of five says they have experienced sexual harassment in their lifetime. Georgia also has one of the highest rates of child marriage among European States. These official figures reveal only a small part of the picture because many

women do not speak out or come forward. Trends of deep-routed public perceptions and clichés in relation to the role of women in private and public spheres persist and therefore genderbased violence remains shrouded in a culture of silence. Many people think that women should stay silent, no matter what, to protect their family name and dignity. Dealing with violence against women means dealing with the underlying causes. Violence against women is par-

tially the effect as well as the result of inequality between women and men – that is, the unequal distribution of power, resources and opportunities. We consider women’s economic security as a key dimension of the GBV challenge. The World Bank recent findings point to the potential links between conflict, economic stress and GBV risk, as well as the value of economic security in women accessing support and GBV services. A more holistic response, including a focus on employment oppor-

tunities and economic independence, could help in addressing the challenge. A comprehensive approach that includes laws along with decisive implementation to protect women and girls from violence could also help in tackling the problem. The provision of services must be accessible to all survivors, including medical and psychological support, housing and legal advice. And, above all a complex and comprehensive response that will tackle relevant areas like education, economic development, governance, and institutional arrangements in order to prevent violence from appearing in the first place. The key is the prevention of violence from occurring and this needs to start at an early age. We can help instill a culture of zero tolerance towards violence in young people by creating awareness. The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is such an awareness-raising campaign, which commences on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and lasts until 10 December, Human Rights Day. Here in Georgia under the theme #Every WomanHasAStory we all have a chance to participate, to break the silence and stop the stigma. Let us use the 16 Days of Activism to challenge attitudes that blame the woman, the victim. Let us stand in solidarity with those who experienced violence and help women find their voices and speak out publicly. And let us work together to end violence against women once and for all. This is an indispensable precondition for development and for achieving the ambitious goal of leaving nobody behind.

‘Batumi in Cinema’: a Retraining Program for the City Guides Begins BY NINI DAKHUNDARIDZE


atumi has long been an interesting subject for movie directors, and it comes as no surprise that cinematography there has a great history. Nothing helps tourism more than connecting it to a cultural context, and with Batumi’s best interests at heart, a new retraining program has begun for the local city guides. Connecting the dots of cinematography to the tourism potential, the first day of training for the functioning city guides in Ajara opened with the topic of ‘Batumi in Cinema’. The ten-day retraining program not only focuses on the cinematographic aspect of the beautiful city of Georgia, though, as the city guides will go through trainings regarding the famous buildings of Batumi, the balconies, gardens, the people connected to the rich history of the city with background stories of their own, and the Georgian mythology and choreography – all crucial for the development of tourism in the region.

Image source: Ajara Tourism Department

The concept and plan of the training was created with the support of the Ajara Tourism Department. The Department worked closely with those competent in the field to choose the themes worth highlighting the most. “It is crucial for us to make the Batumi City Tour more fascinating and attractive for tourists,” said Tinatin Zoidze,



Commercial Director: Iva Merabishvili Marketing Manager: Sesili Tikaradze



Editor-In-Chief: Katie Ruth Davies

Chairperson of Adjara Tourism Department. “That is why we went through a process of consulting the guides and then from their feedback, created a retraining course for them. The new training program is focused on spotlighting stories from the city’s rich historic culture. These topics will give the guides the opportunity to indi-

Journalists: Tony Hanmer, Zaza Jgarkava, Maka Bibilashvili, Vazha Tavberidze, Nugzar B. Ruhadze, Beka Alexishvili, Tea Mariamidze, Ana Dumbadze, Nini Dakhundaridze Photographer: Irakli Dolidze

vidually develop the culture of city guiding in Batumi and better represent our city. We are already planning to issue an educational book which will include all the differently-themed city tours of Batumi and will help new guides plan their tours interestingly and efficiently.” All the entities interested, even those

Website Manager/Editor: Katie Ruth Davies Layout: Misha Mchedlishvili Webmaster: Sergey Gevenov Circulation Managers: David Kerdikashvili, David Djandjgava

who are not employed as guides, can and are encouraged to attend the trainings. Attendance is free for all, though it requires registration, the form of which can be found online on the Department’s website. The training program that kicked off this with the topic of ‘Batumi in Cinema’ will wrap up on December 8.


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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1207  

November 29 - December 2, 2019

Issue #1207  

November 29 - December 2, 2019