Page 1 georgiatoday

Issue no: 950/80

• MAY 30 - JUNE 1, 2017



In this week’s issue... Beeline Welcomes New CEO NEWS PAGE 2

Higher Equality for Higher Growth ISET PAGE 4


No promises but a lot of support seen at the Tbilisi NATO Parliamentary spring session PAGE

BUSINESS GEORGIA Organizes Kvemo Kartli Business Forum



BSEC Summit – B Is for Blame Games BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE

Georgian Railway Participates in Plant a Tree Campaign PAGE 8


ow, first things first: Despite the headlines that some of the Georgian media gleefully rolled forth last week, it wasn’t Vice PM Kumsishvili’s idea to get up and stand beside the Russian PM Medvedev in a group, or as they prefer us to call it, a family photo. If anything, he was late to attend and rather stone-faced. Nor so did an earlier meeting between the two take place, as much as the abovementioned Georgian media would like us to believe. How do I know that? Well, officially Medvedev had two meetings – one with the Turkish side and another with Moldovan President Igor Dodon. Could an unofficial meeting take place? Let’s indulge the thought, but it’s hardly believable – Both arrived late to Istanbul and Medvedev’s press aides spent the whole day with us except for those two meetings. In conclu-

NATO PA Assembly President: We Fully Support Georgia sion – we may pride ourselves in having the best ‘freedom of the press’ levels in the region, but when it comes to truthful reporting, we still have a long way to go. With that little scandal dealt with, let’s go on to what actually happened at BSEC (Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation) 25 Anniversary summit, which, courtesy of the Turkish embassy in Georgia, I was able to attend. First, here is some trivia for you: It first came

into existence in 1992, became what it is today in 1992, has 12 members (all Black Sea countries plus Albania, Serbia, Greece, Moldova, Armenia and Azerbaijan) and is essentially the biggest regional platform for Economic cooperation. Economy is the key word here: with all political and in some cases, military turmoil, that has been plaguing the region for decades now, the BSEC strictly deals with Economics and refuses the any political innuendo. Continued on page 9


Georgia Hosts International Music Project ‘Made in Georgia’ SOCIETY PAGE 11 Prepared for Georgia Today Business by

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MAY 30 - JUNE 1, 2017

Expo Georgia to Host Wine Expo 2017 BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI


he 10th international wine and spirit fair is to be held from June 9 – 11 at Expo Georgia, Tbilisi. It will be a three-day event and “the only international wine and spirits fair in Georgia and whole Caucasus region, presenting the full range of the wine industry, products and services,” organizers claim. Wine Expo 2017 is supported by the National Wine Agency of Georgia and Ministry of Agriculture. Over 80 countries are expected to participate in the fair, with 4000 visitors attending the event annually. Wine Expo

Wine Expo. Source:

2017 will bring together a wine and spirits fair, a competition and a business forum, and promises to showcase a wide

variety of local and international wine and spirit brands, gathering industry professionals, exhibitors and visitors.

for implementing this initiative. Significantly, the school will attract international students, and I am convinced that people from our neighboring states will be inspired to study in Georgia," the Prime Minister said. According to Giorgi Kvirikashvili, this project is in full participation with Study in Georgia, the Georgian Government’s new initiative which seeks to transform

Georgia into the region's hub for education. The education sector is a crucial precondition for the fast growth of tourism in Georgia. "There are 15 internationally branded hotels under construction in Tbilisi alone. One can imagine the scope of demand for hospitality professionals involved here! Tourism is developing throughout Georgia, which is why, to attract visitors, we must ensure spectacular service along with our country's mesmerizing landscapes. This day is pivotal in that it assures us that, very soon, Georgia will showcase first-rate hospitality professionals," the Prime Minister concluded. As part of the Vatel Georgia International University, an Agreement of Cooperation was signed by the Georgian National University, Block Invest, and Vatel Group.

Beeline Welcomes New International Hospitality Management University to Open in Tbilisi New CEO BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI


ommunications and technology company Beeline is now to be led by Andrzej Malinowski. Malinowski is to replace Giorgi Tkeshelashvili, who started working for Beeline in 2006 and went on to hold a number of leading positions there. “Over the years, Tkeshelashvili contributed immensely to the progress and development of the company. The whole Beeline team thanks him for this contribution and wishes him success in his future work,” the company announced. Andrzej Malinowski is of Polish descent and boasts more than 17 years’ experience within leading FMCG, online trader

and e-commerce businesses. “Malinowski has a sound track record in start-up, development and management of e-commerce businesses in the CIS and globally, including mobile apps design and implementation,” Beeline announced. Beeline is in the process of transforming from a traditional telecommunications company to a digital service provider. This transformation includes technological, structural and other important changes within the company which will allow Beeline to become the number one digital service provider on the Georgian market and offer innovative, individually tailored services to its subscribers. “We are confident that Andrzej’s experience will considerably contribute to successfully achieving this goal,” Beeline representatives said.


atel, an acclaimed French business school, is set to open an International Hospitality Management University in Tbilisi. Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, together with other invitees, attended a presentation put on by the university. The Head of Government was keen to acknowledge the importance of the new school and hopes that Georgia will soon have blue-ribbon hospitality managers. "This is what Georgia needs today, because tourism in Georgia is developing much faster than hospitality professionals are produced. It is of the utmost importance that an internationally acclaimed brand like Vatel is entering into the Georgian market, and soon we will have top-notch international-quality specialists. I am thankful to Block Invest and the Georgian National University

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A colorful space and caring teachers will always be there for the smallest residents of Tbilisi Gardens.




MAY 30 - JUNE 1, 2017


The ISET Policy Institute (ISET-PI, is an independent think-tank associated with the International School of Economics at TSU (ISET). Our blog carries economic analysis of current events and policies in Georgia and the South Caucasus region ranging from agriculture, to economic growth, energy, labor markets and the nexus of economics, culture and religion. Thought-provoking and fun to read, our blog posts are written by international faculty teaching at ISET and recent graduates representing the new generation of Georgian, Azerbaijani and Armenian economists.

Higher Equality for Higher Growth

to improved productivity growth in agriculture and sustainable development. According to the literature on this issue, women and men have different rate of technology adoption in agriculture, because of the different roles, power and rights in the household. (A. Eerdewijk 2015)

THE SITUATION IN GEORGIA Georgian agriculture remains the largest employer in the country, with around 45% of the workforce employed in this sector. In spite of this, the Georgian agricultural sector is underperforming (share of agriculture in total GDP is around 9%) and productivity is very low. According to Geostat data, 2,635 women and 9,204 men was employed in agricultural enterprises in 2015. Men’s average monthly wages in agri enterprises (613 GEL) were 35% higher than a woman’s wage (455 GEL). Table: Distribution of Land Area Operated by Holdings(by Sex of Farmer or Head of Farm)



Total land area (including leased land)

2011 Women



When we speak about low agricultural productiv-





ack in 12th century, one of the greatest Georgians, Shota Rustaveli, was writing about equal rights for men and women in his poems. Do we share his ideas today? The Georgian constitution has a guarantee of gender equality in the country. Accordingly, men and woman have equal rights to land ownership, and the right to inherit land is same for both sexes. However, in Georgia, as in many developing countries, land ownership issues are very much influenced by cultural values. Georgian traditions make it less likely that land will be inherited by the daughter. Land is a valuable asset, and traditions drive land to be left to a male relative in order to somehow to ensure the well-being of the family. On the other side, people believe that women’s ownership rights to land should be restricted in order to assure that it will stay within the family. Also, people often assume that a man has more ability to do farm work than women.

ity, we always point at lack of technological innovations and education, shortage of skilled professionals in agriculture, and other reasons, but we do not necessarily consider gender and social disparities as one of the reasons for low productivity. In a study done by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), it is stated that if women and men had equal access to land and other resources, total agricultural output could be raised in developing countries, which, in turn, could decrease hunger in the world by 12–17%. ( FAO, 2011) Different research also confirms the untapped potential of women’s contributions. Gender inequality in different sectors in most developing countries may create real costs to society in terms of unused potential in achieving higher agricultural output, food security, and economic growth. A change in the distribution of inputs and/or control over resources between female and male farmers could not only significantly increase productivity and food and nutrition security, but could also positively affect education outcomes. (Tina D. Beuchelt, 2016) Furthermore, according to research done by Klasen and Lamanna (2009), increased female participation in the labor force has a positive impact on economic growth. Adoption of innovations and technologies leads










Even though women’s employment in agricultural enterprises is low, women’s participation in farm activities is much higher. Women are largely not working at paid jobs within the household farm. Beyond complex household work, women are mostly involved in producing agricultural crops, harvesting, processing agricultural products, selling agricultural products, taking care of animals, processing and preparing food, caring for family members, and maintaining their homes. Men are generally more involved in planning and supervising all the activities related to farm management and finance allocation. The roots why we have such unequal distribution

of activities among men and women might be found in the resource allocation between them. Unequal ownership of different resources is reflected in a lower share of woman farmers in Georgia. The Georgian Farmers Association has 1,971 farmer members, out of which 24% are woman. As shown on the table, only 20% of Georgian land was operated by women in 2012. Since property rights traditionally favor men, women might not have strong incentives or the ability to adopt sustainable farming practices. For instance, adoption of new technologies may be positively linked to the level of farmers’ wealth, as wealthier farmers have a better ability to bear risks, and it is therefore more likely that they might try new technologies. Since women own less land and are therefore less wealthy overall, they may be less likely to assume this risk. In addition, women who do not own land cannot use it as collateral, and it is hard for them to obtain credit from banks. Restricted access to finance does not allow them to develop their farm activities and adopt new technologies, compared to men who have easier access to credit and technology.

HOW TO IMPROVE Gender inequalities in access to land or other resources may be hindering sustainable and inclusive agricultural development. International organizations that work in the agriculture field in Georgia try to improve women’s involvement in farm management and employment in general. They have introduced several different programs in this regard. However, this issue is not fully addressed by the government and might require policy interventions to achieve higher economic growth and to improve the efficiency of rural labor markets. Policies should be introduced in order to influence the economic incentives and social norms that determine whether women own land, whether they can work and be decision- makers, and the type of work they can perform. People should understand that inheritance of land should not be based on gender, but rather on those family members who are most interested in agriculture and farming.



NBG Presents 2016 Annual Report to Parliament BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI


he NBG (National Bank of Georgia) presented its 2016 annual report to the Parliament of Georgia. The report is published in accordance with Articles 68 and 69 of the Fundamental Law of Georgia in relation to the National Bank of Georgia and concentrates on the "Report on Conducting Monetary and Foreign Exchange Policies", the "Report on the Condition of the Economy", the "Report on the Operational State of the Affairs for the Reporting Year" and "Financial Reporting," as approved by the auditors. Discussed are the frequent trends the NBG experienced during the reporting period, and the processes both within the country and abroad, affecting and influencing the economic situation in Georgia and the fulfilment of the goals set by the NBG, are assessed. Georgia saw a 2.7 percent economic growth in 2016 according to the report, with the service sector having a major input (1.5 percent) in recent economic growth, although industrial sectors are also considered major contributors to

the country’s economy, the construction sector being a key one, showing 8.1 percent growth in 2016, with both government financed infrastructural projects and private sector initiatives equally contributing to the increased economic figures. The trade sector is claimed to have increased by 1.8 percent compared to the previous year. The report states that investments were the driving force for economic growth in 2016, with infrastructure projects implemented by the Georgian government said to be playing the main role, while the private sector is reported to be the most active in the construction sector. As the report states, investments made by British Petroleum (BP) for the new pipeline construction were crucial in this regard. The export shares in 2016 are reported as having made a loss of 0.1 percent. However, the growing number of visitors throughout the year was stable, as were tourism revenues, having a positive impact on service export growth. In 2016, the report says NBG’s international reserves increased by $236 million, amounting to $2.8 billion by December 31. As the NBG report states, a high level of dollarization remained the major challenge for the Georgian economy in 2016. A low level of dollarization is regarded as important to maintain macroeconomic stability and fiscal sustainability. In 2016, the level of dollarization of loans was 65.2 percent, while dollarization depos-

its were down – 71.4 percent. Together with the Georgian government, the NBG implemented a 10 point ‘Larization’ plan to encourage the use of Georgian Lari on the market. “We need an institutionally independent, strong and effective National Bank and this should be guaranteed by the Parliament of Georgia,” said Chairman of the Budget and Finance Committee of the Georgian parliament, Irakli Kovzanadze. “The 2016 report of the National Bank was presented in a very interesting way and there are lots of issues which have been analyzed deeply and thoroughly. These reports were not discussed in previous years in The Parliament of Georgia- this is somewhat a renewal of tradition, and the report of the National Bank should be heard and evaluated by Parliament,” he added. “Last year showed us that we have issues in two directions: monetary stability and steadiness of the financial-banking system. If the banking system situation is stable in relation to inflation, then we may face some challenges. Accordingly, it is important to know that attempts to hold back inflation should not be an obstacle for economic growth”. “It is natural that Members of the Parliament had some questions; crucial ones, too. I think that it was a very interesting discussion. The Budget and Finance Committee will have some recommendations, and we support the presented report for approval,” Kovzanadze concluded.


BUSINESS GEORGIA Organizes Kvemo Kartli Business Forum


n May 25, in Rustavi, the Kvemo Kartli Business Forum was organized by BUSINESS GEORGIA. The main supporters of the forum were Kvemo Kartli Regional Development Agency and Administration of the State Representative-Governor in the Kvemo Kartli region. General Director of BUSINESS GEORGIA, Governor of Kvemo Kartli Grigol Nemsadze and Rustavi Mayor Davit Jikia officially opened the event. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Business Georgia and the Governor of Kvemo Kartli. Particular attention was paid to the dynamics of regional development and tendencies of the high potential fields such as: agriculture, tourism, industry, trade and infrastructure. The available resources for commercial sector activities were discussed and the role of the region for transit was rewieved: the Marabda-Akhalkalaki Railway, BakuTbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline, and TbilisiYerevan Railway. Successful businessmen, foreign investors, representatives of embassies and government, international and nongovernmental organizations, and repre-

sentatives of the municipalities, agriculture and national investment agencies attended the forum. Participants discussed business opportunities and the importance of regional development, as well as about state’s role in creating a favorable investment climate in the country. Attendees particularly focused on access to financial resources, governmental support and decentralization of business activities, as well as international support, regional development programs and investment opportunities. Business Georgia's strategic mission is to promote and support business development in Georgia, which means attracting more investment and implementing new projects for the development of the Kvemo Kartli region. “Our goal is to highlight existing potential and interest the business sector in Georgian trade or investment opportunities," said Ana Gogishvili, General Director of BUSINESS GEORGIA. With such regional forums, BUSINESS GEORGIA intends to increase the quality of development throughout Georgia, raising interest in investment resources, for which each region of Georgia can greatly benefit.



PM Kvirikashvili: Georgia Is No Longer a Post-Soviet Country BY THEA MORRISON


eorgia is no longer a ‘post’ country. We need to get rid of these ‘post’ clichés. We are a country which can be easily called an eastern European Country- said Georgian Prime Minister, Giorgi Kvirikashvili while at the annual GLOBSEC Global Security Forum in Bratislava, capital of Slovakia. Kvirikashvili made the statement in response to the Russian delegate, Russian Duma Education and Science Committee Head, Vyacheslav Nikonov, who stated that Russia is not against Georgia and Ukraine’s integration into the European Union but is against of their membership with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). “Russia supports Georgia’s EU integration,” Nikonov said. “What is Georgia to Russia? This is the main question. What is the map of Georgia? What is the country they are talking about? That is the biggest question. I’m sorry, but mentioning the lower pace of economic growth while its stability is undermined by Russian intervention sounds very sarcastic,” he added while delivering speech at a panel debate ‘Eastern Neighborhood 2017: Times of Turmoil Ahead?’ Kvirikashvili said that Georgia has the lowest corruption rate, lower than in many European countries. “We are sixteenth according to the World Bank Doing Business rating, boasting one of the best business climates. According to the Heritage Foundation, we are thirteenth freest economy in the world and our indicators are improving year on year,’’ he said. Kvirikashvili also spoke about Georgia’s

territorial integrity issues, current democratic reforms, the geopolitical role of the country and other topics concerning Georgia. He said that visa liberalization is a big achievement for Georgia, bringing tangible results for the European aspiration of the country. “It means not only free travel for Georgians but also has a deep political meaning as Europe has opened the door for us. This is a political step from Europe again, showing appreciation for Georgia’s efforts and these efforts were not easy, it all comes against a background of a challenging security environment including occupation of Georgia’s territories,” he said, adding that the success of Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova in terms of visa liberalization are absolutely interrelated. The Georgian PM also said that Georgia is not only the consumer of security today but also provides it. “We are part of the Afghanistan operation in the ‘Resolute Support’ mission, we are in crisis management operation in the Central African Republic, in Mali, and we are committed to being present everywhere the civilized world deems it important to engage in peacekeeping and making regions and countries stable,” he noted. GLOBSEC is an independent, nonpartisan, non-governmental organization that builds on the successful work done by the Slovak Atlantic Commission. Its main goal is to shape the global debate through conducting research activities and connecting key experts on foreign and security policy. This year GLOBSEC took place on May 26-28 in Bratislava and gathered around 1000 participants from 70 countries including presidents and prime ministers, EU officials and experts in security issues.


MAY 30 - JUNE 1, 2017

Power Attorney of the Founding Partners for Turkish Schools in Georgia Arrested- EXCLUSIVE Comments from His Wife BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI


ustafa Emre Cabuk, Power Attorney of the Founding Partners for Turkish Schools in Georgia, former manager of Demirel College, was arrested in Tbilisi on May 24, following an accusation from the Turkish authorities that he is connected to the FETÖ terrorist organization. The Demirel Private College is associated with the name of Fetullah Gulen, who was accused of organizing a military coup in Turkey, in July 2016. Cabuk allegedly assisted one of the school founders to sell school shares to a US organization which, in turn, is reportedly linked with Fetullah Gulen. Tbilisi Civil Court sentenced Mustafa Cabuk to three month’s extradition imprisonment, despite the requested GEL 10,000 bail by his lawyers. Cabuk’s family, his wife Tuba Cabuk, denies the accusations and asks the Georgian authorities not to proceed with the extradition of her husband. In an interview with Rustavi 2, she claimed there is absolutely no proof of Cabuk’s links with Gulen’s terrorist organization. “He must not be exiled to Turkey, people are tortured in Turkish

prisons, and everyone knows that,” she said. “I’ve never been sentenced either in Turkey or in Georgia. I had never even carried a small knife in my life. I ask the Georgian side not to make my extradition to Turkey,” Mustafa Cabuk said at the hearing. In an exclusive interview with GEORGIA TODAY, Tuba Cabuk told us how her husband was arrested in the morning, shortly after sending their children to the Georgian school where they study. The police clarified that Mustafa Cabuk is accused of committing a crime under Turkish, not Georgian, legislation. The accusations, Tuba Cabuk says, are so absurd, that even repeating them is shocking for her. “They say my husband was a member of a terrorist organization behind the school, as he was a power attorney of the ‘Founding Partners of Turkish Schools in Georgia’. If there were any preconditions to the arrest of her husband, Tuba Cabuk tells us, then it’s related to the dictatorship in Turkey which has emerged in the country in the last years. “We’ve lived in Georgia for 15 years; we are teachers, serving this country. In general, it’s all related to the Batumi school closing earlier, and then to the arrest of my husband, which as announced was a request from the Turkish authorities to the Georgian government. I’m heartbroken that

no one recalls the efforts my husband has made for Georgia, numerous social activities…. In August 2008 we were on a vacation in Turkey and our family came back to Georgia to be with the Georgian people. During the Tbilisi flood, we were helping Tbilisi municipality as much as we could. The school my husband founded in Marneuli is a cradle of Georgian language for the Azerbaijani population there. There are so many projects and activities that could be noted as his initiatives to raise educated children in our schools,” she said. Mustafa Cabuk’s wife says she has received no official comments from the Georgian authorities, yet says she remains hopeful that the Georgian government will review the case and be convinced that her husband is not guilty, and that no extradition to Turkey will take place, “where no one knows what will happen to him,” she states. “We’re hoping for a fair decision from the Georgian court”.




MAY 30 - JUNE 1, 2017

Georgian Railway Participates in Plant a Tree Campaign



eorgian Railway joined the Plant a Tree Yourself campaign taking place near the Guivi Zaldastanishvili American School at Lisi Lake on May 27 in Tbilisi. Launching a new campaign together with Biblus Books and Makuliteratura, the Georgian Railway company representatives and their family members planted trees on the land in order to raise awareness of environmental issues. The campaign challenges companies to recycle rather than throw away their paper waste. In exchange for paper waste sent by the companies to be recycled by Makuliteratura, a tree will then be planted. “Georgian Railway is the first partner organization to join our initiative and we decided to plant a certain amount of trees every year in the name of those organizations who work to actively protect the environment by not wasting paper,” said Mariam Machavariani, the manager of the project. The Plant a Tree Yourself campaign launch was dedicated to the fifth anniversary of Makuliteratura, a company that encourages individuals to exchange used paper and old books for new ones, thus giving them a chance to enrich their libraries. “I would like to thank Palitra, which always surprises us with amazing projects,” said Dachi Tsaguria, Deputy Director of the Passenger Transfer

Branch at Georgian Railway. “It’s the fifth anniversary of their Makuliteratura project, and it was the Makuliteratura initiative not to throw used paper in the trash but to collect it instead and receive wonderful books in exchange. Georgian Railway joined the campaign with great pleasure. We collect used paper in our company, and take it to Makuliteratura for them to publish new books with. Today, we brought tree saplings from our own nursery to make this beautiful place, Lisi Lake, even greener with our joint efforts. We’re asking other companies to join us and make our city beautiful”. “We started this project five years ago, when we made a call out for everyone to bring us any old books, paper or cardboard which we would then exchange for literature,” said Marika Darchia, Creative Director at Palitra. “There has been consistent high interest throughout and we managed to save a lot of trees. We’ve also planted trees many times, and will keep doing so. Our thanks go to Georgian Railway for joining our campaign”. Georgian Railway continues to be actively involved in CSR activities and plans to plant 50 cypress trees near Lisi Lake. “This is a very important action for railway workers, for our country and for Tbilisi. With it, Georgian Railway supports beauty and life, as the tree symbolizes life. All railway workers participated in the activity with pleasure. It will continue, and will always be supported by Georgian Railway, as the railway itself is an ecologically clean transport,” said Tengiz Tabidze, Head of Signalization Department at Georgian Railway.

Spain Praises Economic Cooperation with Russia BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE


ussia was and will remain a strategic market for Spain- said Jose Luis Boneta, President of the Chamber of Commerce of the Kingdom of Spain, during his welcoming speech at the opening of the Russian-Spanish business forum. “In light of this,” he stressed, “the work of the joint Russian-Spanish business Council should be an important tool for the development of not only large but also small and medium-sized businesses. Thus, we will be better able to use opportunities for open dialogue, cooperation in economy and trade,“ he added, going on to announce plans to continue strengthening mutual cooperation between the two countries in order to "better exploit the potential of [their] economic activities." In turn, Vice-President of the Confederation of entrepreneurial organizations of Spain, Joaquin Guay de Montella noted that for Spanish compa-

nies it is important to understand what measures the authorities of the Russian Federation will take for the development of trade and other bilateral relations between the two countries. "We, in turn, have undertaken measures aimed at simplifying customs procedures, reducing existing barriers to trade. For example, simplifying the procedure of verification and monitoring by Spanish customs... these are all important incentives to increase the presence of Spanish business in the Russian market," said Montella. He also added that Russia is an attractive market for Spain not only because of its geographical features, but also due to the fact that their economies "complement each other". For his part, the Minister of Energy, Tourism and Digital Technologies of Spain, Alvaro Nadal, stated that Madrid is not completely satisfied with the level of bilateral trade relations, in which there is a lot of unrealized potential. "For more than 25 years, business contacts between Russia and Spain have functioned as a very important tool for our economic and trade relations. Because of this, they can develop successfully," he said.



BSEC Summit – B Is for Blame Games Continued from page 1 Right, sure. As you well know, it is virtually impossible to separate politics and economics these days, and such an approach results in increasingly limited room to maneuver into and even more of a limited scope for cooperation. Remember Krylov’s “The Swan, The Pike and The Crab”? – Well, this is exactly what took place place at the 25 Anniversary summit, with the notable distinction that there were sides that seemed to be unwilling to move at all. They say a summit is only as good as its declaration – actually, no, I just made it up; but thing is it was the concluding declaration of the summit that proved to be the Gordian knot for the participants. On one hand, it was Georgia and the Ukraine who were vocal against Russia; on another- Armenia and Azerbaijan, traditionally unwilling to bury the proverbial hatchet. The Georgia Ukraine alliance wanted to put in a paragraph denouncing Russia’s aggressive actions in the region, while the Azerbaijan v.s. Armenia standoff ascended to the heights of Monty Pythonian absurdity, with Azerbaijani deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mahmud Mamedgulyev dutifully informing us (direct quote): “it’s them Armenians again, as always, they are keen to undermine everything we want to work together on in the region.” Which, as his Armenian counterpart, Ashot Ovakimian thought, (direct quote) was “ nonsense, as usual from Azerbaijanis”. One thing they seemed both

in agreement though was the importance of retaining cooperation with the European Union. While discussing ongoing talks over visa facilitation procedures, both underlined that this was something the people of both nations wanted and were looking forward to. As for the Ukraine, which will already enjoy visa free travel as of June 11, it was an occasion to remind the leaders of the region that War in Eastern Ukraine is far from over and indeed to point a finger over to the main culprit – Russia. Indeed, Kiev’s top diplomat, FM Pavlo Klimkin, was one of the more forthcoming and outspoken to journalist at an otherwise very much media restricted, behind closed doors kind of event. His rather blunt borderline sarcastic commentary is perhaps best analyzed for understating and highlighting the challenges that the BSEC organization is currently facing: “When you ask me whether I expect significant decisions to be made at this summit, I’ll have to say that no, regrettably I don’t have such expectations. Why? Because we have a catastrophic situation when it comes to security in the Black Sea region. All thanks to Russia, which is behind most conflicts and instability in the region. We need to sort out these security issues somehow. I told my colleagues today that the BSEC organization is in deep crisis and we need to try and find a way to move forward. Our principal position regarding the declaration is that international values and international rights should be safeguarded and adhered to. That’s

something we will not and cannot compromise on. Quite understandably, we do not view Russia as a feasible partner in economics, or in any sense a trustworthy partner, truth be told. And without trust, you cannot build cooperation, economic or otherwise. “ In the end, it fell to into the responsibility of the hosts – the Turkish side -to mediate a declaration, which they successfully did – Despite the statements that the returning Georgian delegation gave to the media, notions akin of “Aggression by Russia” and “breach of international law” did not make it into the final draft (look out for that and many more during the upcoming Ukrainian chairmanship), which underlined the importance of BSEC itself as the highest level discussion and consensus finding body over economic cooperation issues. It calls on all sides to respect international law, maintain safety of navigation in the Black Sea region (Russia signed this? The gall!), commends the contribution of all involved sides, mentions the importance of the cooperation with the EU, issues like shipping, innovation, young entrepreneurs’ – pretty much every subject that all concerned couldn’t start a fight over. Some might call it a generic document, yet there will be others who will hail it as a compromise found amid adversity and a future reference point. 25 years of consensus, maintaining the ever shifting scale of balance – a feat not to be dismissed. A feat BSEC seemed able to pull off thus far, but the question is – for how long?


NATO PA Assembly President: We Fully Support Georgia BY THEA MORRISON


t the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (NATO PA) spring session in Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi, NATO PA President Paolo Alli stated that the Alliance fully supports Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration and territorial integrity, “and the fact that the NATO PA was held in Georgia confirms that,” he said. “We believe that Georgia will become a NATO member [and] MAP is a way for the process to be launched. We see that [Georgia is] on the right path but there is still room for improvement,” he said, going on to underline that Georgia is occupying a more and more significant position in the present geopolitical environment. “Regional instability represents a threat, and it threatens the West in general. We feel responsibility and obligation and put emphasis on our support once more. The Russian Federation must be very careful when increasing tensions. This is not good for the international environment,” he noted. At the joint press-conference with Georgia’s Parliamentary Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze, Alli said that stability and security in Georgia are very important for the regional stability held so dear

by all western countries. “We have a common interest in terms of fighting terrorism, and hopefully Russia realizes why it must not act so aggressively. MAP is an instrument, a significant political standpoint, and the means for launching the integration process,” he added. Continued on page 10




MAY 30 - JUNE 1, 2017

NATO PA Assembly Expert Analyzes Prior to President: We Fully Putin & Macron Meeting Support Georgia BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE

Continued from page 9 Alli also met Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili. The main topics of the talks were the Parliamentary Assembly session, NATO-Georgia cooperation and ongoing reforms in the country. According to Ali, Georgia is an island of stability in the region and NATO recognizes that protecting Georgia means protecting Europe. The NATO PA spring session agenda, NATO-Georgia cooperation, ways for improving Georgia’s security system and the current developments in the country were the top issues discussed by Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili and Paolo Alli. “The stability of Georgia is essential for the stability of the entire region. And this is not only important for Georgia and Europe but also for the entire world, because we must guarantee territorial integrity, we must guarantee respect for international law,” Alli said. In an exclusive interview with Georgian news agency IPN, the NATO PA president said that Georgia is experiencing positive reforms but that other factors still need to be taken into consideration.

“Georgia is [doing] better than other countries, maybe even some NATO members… We must take into consideration not only the Russian influence on Georgia in this complex political environment. I think the membership process will take time but Georgia will become a member of NATO,” he stressed. Paolo Alli also said that the Alliance recognizes the incredible effort Georgia has made in recent years to move towards democracy through impressive results and reforms. “Our message is that we support Georgia and its territorial integrity. We think the Russian Federation should go back to the official borders. We are strongly committed to defend and support Georgia in its democratic evolution and Euro-Atlantic aspirations,” he stated. Tbilisi hosted the NATO Parliamentary Assembly for the first time on 26-29 May. The session gathered up to 600 guests, including over 300 parliamentarians from NATO member and partner states. Georgia is the fifth non-member state of the Alliance to host the NATO Parliamentary Assembly Session.


ay 29 saw the first meeting between the presidents of Russia and France, with negotiations held in the Grand Trianon Palace in Versailles. The President of France, Emmanuel Macron, spoke in an interview with Le Journal du Dimanche about how France relates to Russia and President Vladimir Putin and his American counterpart Donald Trump. "I treat Russia with respect, and I’m inviting Vladimir Putin to France in the framework of the tercentenary of diplomatic relations," said Macron, who is "demanding a dialogue" with his Russian counterpart which will address all relevant topics. The French President also spoke about the hard handshake that was exchanged with US President Donald Trump at the summit "the Big Seven" in Italy. According to Macron, "this was no accident; it was a moment of truth." He stressed that a firm handshake shows that both leaders "do not intend to give even on symbolic, small concessions". "In the course of bilateral negotiations, I do not concede positions,” Macron affirmed.

Expert of the International Institute of Humanitarian-Political Studies, political analyst Vladimir Bruter, speaking on radio Sputnik, drew attention to the words of the French leader when "demanding a dialogue." "I think that their tone is, primarily, about what he wants, not about what will happen in reality. Macron maintains a firm position without having a position. This is an attempt to show himself as a strong leader. Overall, I think the parties will pay most attention to the range of Russian-Western relations," he said. The fact that the leaders met in the Grand Trianon Palace in Versailles is largely symbolic, the analyst said. "Next year is the centenary of the First World War, which was concluded in

Versailles. The whole system of agreements defined the situation in Europe for the next twenty years. It seems to me that this may be symptomatic. I think that in Europe it is time to change a lot. Primarily, Western Europe should understand that without Russia, without sustained and serious relations with Russia, there can be no security in Europe. In addition, you will have to understand that the Ukrainian problem should be solved somehow, because the problem will always be there spoiling these relations. And finally, we need to understand that any attempt to contain Russia on the part of Western Europeans is counterproductive; it leads to the fact that Russia is removed from Europe. And it makes Europe weaker," the analyst concluded.

Foreign Minister: Georgia is Ready for NATO to its goal of European and Euro-Atlantic integration. The minister said that Georgia has been actively contributing to world security through its sustained engagement in Afghanistan. Georgia has also been actively involved in a number of EU-led crises management missions. Moreover, Janelidze underlined that, as an aspirant country and a reliable partner, Georgia supports NATO’s enhanced tailored presence in the Black Sea region and is ready to contribute to the efforts of the Alliance in this regard. “I would like to emphasize the critical importance of continuation of NATO’s open door policy. Georgia’s NATO membership process would be the right step in this direction, sending a strong signal that the reemergence of certain spheres of influence and attempts to limit the foreign policy choice of sovereign states are unacceptable and indeed impossible in the 21st century,” he stressed. Georgia is the fifth non-member state of the Alliance to host the NATO Parliamentary Assembly Session. The spring NATO Parliamentary Assembly started on May 26 and concluded on Monday. The session has gathered around 600 guests, including by over 300 MPs from NATO member and partner states.



eorgian Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze said that Georgia has all the practical tools necessary for NATO membership. The minister made the statement on Sunday when speaking during the Political Committee at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Tbilisi. “We are determined to continue our path towards NATO membership… We will continue moving on this road with the same vigor in order to accomplish the quest of the Georgian people and become a fully-fledged member of the Alliance,” he said. Janelidze noted that since the day of regaining independence 26 years ago, Georgia has been aspiring to join the European family. He said that in recent years, the government has carried out a number of impressive reforms towards improving the rule of law, open governance, media pluralism, and has been growing the economy and ensuring a favorable investment environment, by which Georgia has improved its scores in all international rankings and has come even closer

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Georgia Hosts International Music Project ‘Made in Georgia’ BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI


he Netherlands Wind Ensemble (NBE), an orchestra formed with Dutch musicians offering a rich repertoire of various genres and original interpretations, presented their international project ‘Made in…’ in Georgia, with concerts performed in the Tbilisi State Conservatoire and Vake Park Tbilisi, at Lopota Lake resort and in Telavi theateron May 25 - 28. NBE collaborates with performers worldwide, constantly introducing new programs to music-lovers. With their international project Made in Georgia, they united Georgian musicians Niaz Diasamidze, Levan Tskhadadze, the Gori Women’s Choir, Anchiskhati Choir and folklore ensemble Adilei, to perform a unique concert program in Georgia. “Georgia is celebrating the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Georgia and many countries and one of the occasions to celebrate this jubilee is in fact this visit,” Jos Douma, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Georgia, told the audience. “The State did not organize this, nor the embassy;

it was the NBE and their Georgian friends. We believe in synergy; working together in order to have better projects, we do so in business, in culture, in political relations, we do so in social cooperation, and in cooperation between the peoples of the Netherlands and Georgia”. TBC is one of the supporters of the project. “There are many reasons as to why this project is important for us at TBC Bank,” said Tamar Kirvalidze, Media and External Relations Director, TBC Bank. “First of all, the project is called Made in Georgia, and exports Georgian culture abroad which is crucial for our country. NBE is a top ensemble and we’re always eager to support such wonderful projects”. NBE will be producing a documentary feature special about their tour in Georgia, to premiere in the Netherlands this autumn. A concert tour from October 5 to October 19 is planned in Amsterdam, Utrecht, Hague and other cities, with Georgian musicians and performers participating together with NBE. Levan Tskhadadze, one of the organizers of the project, said the idea of bringing musicians from Georgia and Netherlands was born a year and a half ago, presenting a mixture of classic, folk and popular music genres. “The concerts are already sold out,” he told us.



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“We are together because we like to play together- this is a group of friends, of great players,” Bart Schneemann, oboist and NBE Artistic Director said. “We are always interested in combining classical music with other world styles. We try to make programs that combine great classical music with great music that, for example, comes from Georgia. We thought it would be wonderful to come to Georgia and find musicians in the country to play the music with. We’ve listened to polyphonic singing, the music from east and west Georgia, and the music from Tbilisi, and that was something that interested us very much.” The Netherlands Wind Ensemble was founded in 1961. Schneemann becoming its artistic director in 1988 played a key role in transforming the orchestra, bringing diversity and a multicultural dimension to their programs. Apart from concerts, NBE runs educational programs assisting young and emerging talents towards success. The Embassy of Kingdom of Netherlands to Georgia, Ministry of Culture of Georgia, Grove Design Hotel, Georgia to See Magazine and Lopota Lake resort are also the partners of the Netherlands Wind Ensemble’s ‘Made in Georgia’ project.

Journalists: Tony Hanmer, Zaza Jgarkava, Maka Bibilashvili, Dimitri Dolaberidze, Maka Lomadze, Tim Ogden, Joseph Larsen, Vazha Tavberidze, Nugzar B. Ruhadze, Nino Gugunishvili, Thea Morrison Photographer: Irakli Dolidze

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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #950 Business  

May 30 - June 1, 2017

Issue #950 Business  

May 30 - June 1, 2017