Issue no: 1079
• AUG. 31 - SEP. 3, 2018
• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY
In this week’s issue...
FOCUS ON PAST & FUTURE Exclusive interview with Matthew Bryza on McCain, NATO, and the fallout of the August War
PRICE: GEL 2.50
Sergey Shamba Criticizes De Facto Leadership of Abkhazia
NEWS PAGE 3
Sarrazin: “Chancellor Merkel was Honest about Georgia’s NATO Future” NEWS PAGE 4
Drawing to an Uninspiring Close POLITICS PAGE 8
Lawsuits against Russia POLITICS PAGE 8
The Unlikely American Civil War POLITICS PAGE 9
IMF Experts See Positive Trends on Regular Visit to Georgia
Georgian Hikers Detained by of Russia: Demographic Occupying Forces in Truso Gorge Future Changes (Part I) BUSINESS PAGE 10
SOCIETY PAGE 11
BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE
CineDoc Holds Summer School for Filmmakers in Gori
ive young citizens of Georgia have been detained by military forces in the Truso Gorge. The Georgians were accused of illegally crossing the socalled border into the occupied territory of the Tskhinvali Region. The Georgian State Security Service has confirmed the detentions and says the EUMM has been informed about the incident and that the hotline has been activated. The State Security Service has yet to specify in which circumstances the Georgian citizens were detained, nor has it disclosed what the occupation regime demands for their release. According to the current information, the young Georgians were hiking in Truso Gorge, a popular recreational area. There have not been previous reports of people detained in that region – approximately 10 km from the administrative boundary line. Many Georgian tour groups and individual operators offer hiking tours to the Truso Gorge.
CULTURE PAGE 13
Photo: Caucasus Trekking
The “Security Committee” of so-called “South Ossetia” published information on the detained citizens: “Five citizens of Georgia: Beka Maghradze (DoB 1988), Ketevan Maghradze (DoB 1989), Mzia Gomouri (DoB 1992), Vakhtang Gubeladze (DoB 1997) and Gia Baghdoshvili (DoB 1996)
have been detained in the vicinity of the Keli Lake. All of them live in Tbilisi.” The “Security Committee” also mentioned another Georgian citizen, Giorgi Kharazishvili (DoB 1951), who lives in the village of Chvrnisi, was detained in the village of Balta, Tighvi district, for so called illegal border crossing.
Politicians against Homophobia - Solidarity to Footballer Guram Kashia SPORTS PAGE 15
AUGUST 31 - SEPTEMBER 3, 2018
Ukraine, Georgia to Agree on PassportFree Entrance BY THEA MORRISON
krainian news agencies report that Georgia and Ukriane will sign an agreement which envisages simplification of mutual trips for the citizens of both states, using only ID cards. Ukrinform reports that Ambassador of Ukraine to Georgia Ihor Dolhov stated this during a press club meeting within the framework of the 13th meeting of ambassadors at the Foreign Ministry. "We received confirmation that the text of the agreement on the trips of citizens was agreed by the relevant agencies of the Ukrainian side," the ambassador said. As the media reports, the ambassador stated the documents will be sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia. Following this, the Ukrainian government will have to authorize a certain
person to sign it. Dolhov added that after the agreement is signed, Ukrainians and Georgians will be able to travel between the two countries using ID cards. Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze also confirmed the released information, saying it is very important for Georgia that citizens of Georgia and Ukraine will be allowed to enter both countries using electronic ID cards. "It is important for us to find new potential in tourism and to make more complete realization of Georgiaâ€™s geographical advantage. Consequently, we have made a decision and on the basis of bilateral relations with Ukraine, citizens will have the right to travel in both countries using just electronic ID cards. This will promote tourism development, as well as further economic cooperation in general. In addition, we are planning the use of a similar approach with other countries, and we will provide information about it and in the near future,â€? he said.
Littering Fines BY SHAWN WAYNE
ccording to the statistics of the city service for the supervision of Tbilisi City Hall, from January 1 to August 19, 3021 fines were charged for the disposal of domestic or other waste. Due to pollution from
construction waste, 192 fines were given, 131 were given in relation to individuals, and 61 to organizations. Among those who were fined for throwing garbage in the wrong place, 34% are foreigners. With regards to household waste, according to the statistics, for the period under review, 2,838 fines were issued, 66 of which were for organizations, and 2,769 for individuals, of which 1,922
were Georgian citizens and 870 were foreigners. Fines starting from a minimum of 80 GEL (around $30) to a maximum of 500 GEL (around $200) are given to individuals who dispose of waste illegally in the streets. The owners of dogs or other domestic animals are also penalized if they do not clean up after the animals in the streets, with a fine of 50 GEL (around $20).
AUGUST 31 - SEPTEMBER 3, 2018
Sergey Shamba Criticizes De Facto Leadership of Abkhazia
Defacing Tbilisi to Be Fined
BY THEA MORRISON
ergey Shamba, de facto ex-PM of breakaway Abkhazia, who is currently a member of the so called People's Assembly of Abkhazia and Chairman of “United Abkhazia,” has harshly criticized the so called president of Russian-occupied Abkhazia, Raul Khajimba and the de facto authorities. Shamba says the current leadership of the occupied region has failed to advance the “country” or develop it during the last four years. “Since we gained independence, we have created a state that we never had before. We have received more freedom than we ever had. And yet we cannot benefit from this because there are incompetent people in power,” Shamba stressed. He also noted that the “country” needs a new leader who will find a way out of the crisis. “We are in deep crisis and if we do not get out of it, we will have to kneel and ask Georgia or Russia to allow us to join them… We need someone to improve the current situation,” he said. Earlier in August, Shamba stated that de facto Abkhazia should start a dialogue with Georgia, adding that “Georgians are not our enemies.” The de facto ex-PM’s statements were echoed in Tbilisi. Georgia’s Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze says that Shamba voiced the problems about which Georgia has been talking for years. He stated that the government of Georgia will do its best to restore trust between the people divided by the occupation line. Kobakhidze also said it is Russia which
BY SHAWN WAYNE
T Image source: newposts.ge
creates artificial barriers for Georgia and breakaway Abkhazia to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Meanwhile, Vice-Speaker Tamar Chugoshvili believes that Shamba’s statements are very important but require a careful approach from the Georgian side. "Our approach is a peaceful policy. We are trying to create an environment where the residents of the Abkhazian region will be able to develop, and I think it is clear that this is linked to the development of Georgia, and the population of Georgia and breakaway Abkhazia should realize this,” she stated. Chugoshvili underlined that Russia will never let Abkhazia develop and succeed, adding only Georgia can give them such an opportunity. State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality Ketevan Tsikhelashvili says that occupied Abkhazians and Tskhinvalians [in “South Ossetia”] can pre-
serve their language and identity only under Georgia. According to her, the current situation in the occupied region is grave in socioeconomic as well as humanitarian and human rights terms. “We will be able to take steps that will help the population, Abkhazians and Ossetians, and improve their social, healthcare and economic situation…It is only possible with Georgia and by striving toward Europe,” the Minister explained. Abkhazia Inform media outlet reports that the opposition parties demand the resignation of the de facto leadership. According to the agency, the war veterans' movement Amtsakhara and other political-public unions are uniting against Khajimba and his regime. The parties also set a plan to overcome the crisis and ensure the occupied region’s socio-economic development.
ighter restrictions have been imposed on damaging public areas with posters, graffiti and unauthorized additions to buildings. Coinciding with the beginning of the election campaign, posting campaign posters in prohibited places will be strictly punished. Those who place posters on or in courtyards, squares, streets, monuments, facades of buildings and so on, will be fined severely, Imedi reports. The Georgian Parliament approved in April this year, and entered into force on August 28, changes to the Code of Administrative Offenses, which provides for an increase in the fine for the disfigurement of the capital. "We have increased not only the amount of the fine, but have also become more capable of writing out fines. We have stated many times that it is important for us to preserve the appearance of the city. There are many cases of damage to facades. There are many similar issues that need to be regulated. The law should be one for everyone," stated Mayor Kakha Kaladze. According to the law, the disfigurement of Tbilisi means the unauthorized printing of inscriptions, drawings and symbols on facades, shop windows, fences, poles,
trees, the roadway and sidewalks, the placement of posters, banners and slogans in an unauthorized place, as well as unpainted buildings and fences. This action will be punished with a minimum fine of 200 GEL (around $80), going up to 1000 GEL (around $400). The same penalty will be given if it is a monument of cultural heritage. Repeated desecration of a monument will entail a fine of 2000 GEL (around $800). A fine of 1000 GEL (around $400) is also levied for drawings or inscriptions on or adjacent to administrative buildings. If committed repeatedly, a fine of 2000 GEL (around $800) or an administrative detention of 15 days will be given. At the same time, in addition to paying a fine, the violator will have to correct the act within 10 days; otherwise another fine of 1000 GEL (around $400) will be given. In addition, a fine will be imposed for the unauthorized installation and/or placement in Tbilisi of ventilation systems, dryers, grills, ATMs, stalls, counters or other light structures. This action is punishable by a fine of 500 GEL (around $200) for individuals and 1000 GEL (around $400) for legal entities. The installation of the above structures on the territory of a cultural heritage monument and/or the unauthorized change to the site is punishable by a fine of 5000 GEL (around $2000). If the violator does not correct the deed within 20 days, a fine of 1500 GEL (around $600) will be given.
AUGUST 31 - SEPTEMBER 3, 2018
New EUMM Bulletin on Communication & Conflict Prevention face discussions at the monthly meetings of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism in Gali and Ergneti.” Since the first call on the hotline in 2009, it has been activated more than 6,000 times. The hotline was, in fact, put into use yesterday when five young hikers and a shepherd, all Georgian citizens, were detained by military forces from “South Ossetia” on charges that they had crossed the administrative boundary line illegally. The hikers are said to have been in Truso Gorge, a popular recreational area. This is the first report of people detained in that region – approximately 10 km from the administrative boundary line. Many Georgian tour groups and individual operators offer hiking tours to the Truso Gorge. The EUMM Monitor aims “to provide the general public – in Georgia, the EU Member States and interImage source: AFP
BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE
he European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) in Georgia has released the latest edition of its regular bulletin ‘Monitor.' The bulletin is released periodically, generally once or twice a year, and outlines some aspects of the Mission’s activities or mandate. The first issue was published in July 2016. The 6th edition, released this week to the public, is the first to be published this year and focuses on the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) Meetings, and how they foster personal communication and face to face dialogue. The meetings “allow participants from both sides of the Administrative Boundary Lines to talk to one another about security issues and other matters that affect people living along the Lines,” explains the bulletin.
It outlines the history of the IPRM, first agreed upon in February 2009, in Gali and Ergneti, and discusses three tools for incident prevention, incident response, and conflict resolution. On a larger scale, the bulletin demonstrates the three levels of conflict prevention, response, and resolution employed by the EUMM. At the first level is the ‘hotline,’ used daily; the second level is the IPRM Meetings in Gali and Ergneti, conducted monthly, and the highest level is the Geneva International Discussions, held four times a year. The bulletin explains in more detail the use of the hotline used to communicate across the Administrative Boundary Lines (ABLs), to avoid a buildup of tensions that could lead to conflict. The hotline is used in many circumstances, including “detentions, access to emergency medical care, access to agricultural land and the effect on local residents of the installation of fences, The hotline “is monitored by two holders who communicate with their counterparts via mobile phone, Skype, in technical meetings or in face-to-
nationally – with wide-ranging and specific information about the work of the EUMM in Georgia.” The latest issue of the Monitor can be accessed on the EUMM website, at https://www.eumm.eu/ data/file/6440/The_EUMM_Monitor_issue_6_ ENG.pdf The EUMM was deployed to Georgia in September 2008 following the EU-brokered Six-Point Agreement that ended the August War between Russia and Georgia. It contributes to stabilization, normalization and confidence building between the conflict parties. The mission provides civilian monitoring of parties' actions, including full compliance with the Six-Point Agreement and subsequent implementing measures throughout Georgia. It also informs European policy in support of a durable political solution for Georgia.
Sarrazin: “Chancellor Merkel was Honest about Georgia’s NATO Future”
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE
o say that German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s South Caucasus trip was picked apart in media and social networks would be a gross understatement – everything, from comparisons between the reception ceremonies of the three countries to the Chancellor’s insights on sensitive Caucasus conflicts was scrutinized and hotly debated. Conspiracy theories abounded to the point that people were asking whether the fact that Merkel did not meet Georgia’s octogenarian Patriarch, but met his Armenian counterpart in Yerevan, carried any hidden message. Yet, Merkel, larger-thanlife figure that she is, wasn’t alone on this diplomatic pilgrimage: she was accompanied by members of the German Bundestag from various parties. Among them was Manuel Sarrazin from the German Greens, who recounted to GEORGIA TODAY his impressions of Georgia in an exclusive interview.
WHAT WERE YOUR PERSONAL IMPRESSIONS ABOUT GEORGIA AND HOW MUCH DID THEY DIFFER FROM THE REST OF THE DELEGATION? [It is] one of the most beautiful countries not only in the region but probably in all of Europe… the whole delegation was impressed, and we met really nice people, had interesting talks, enjoyed a good atmosphere. The evening was delightful and the Chancellor received a special gift [A 17th century painting that was originally preserved in a museum in Dresden} from the Georgian Prime Minister, which was a great sign of trust and this really, really impressed all the Germans present there.
AFTER CHANCELLOR MERKEL VISITED AZERBAIJAN, YOU SAID THAT INTEREST IN COMMODITY DEALS [AZERBAIJANI GAS] SHOULD NOT LEAD TO ANY DISCOUNTS ON HUMAN RIGHTS.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY ABOUT THE PRICE OF RUSSIAN GAS? SHOULD IT LEAD TO A DISCOUNTING OF WHAT RUSSIA HAS DONE AND IS DOING IN GEORGIA AND UKRAINE? No, of course not. This is why my party is strongly opposed to the building of the Nord Stream-2 pipeline and it is why we say we need to diversify our sources of natural gas. It was an important message to show that it’s not only economic interests in Azerbaijan that brought Germany to the region but also an interest in human rights.
AS A SPECIALIST IN EASTERN EUROPE, HOW MUCH DO YOU THINK THE DEPENDENCE ON RUSSIAN GAS INFLUENCES THE GERMAN AND, IN RETROSPECT, EUROPEAN FOREIGN POLICY? The general rule is that Russia is more dependent on selling gas to Europe than Europe is dependent on buying gas from Russia. But, of course, there is a political influence on energy interests and this is also present in the government's position and in the party position. It would be dishonest to say that we are completely free of influence, but in any case everyone in German politics, except the right wing and the left wing extremists, wants to be more independent from Russian gas and this is because we see that Russian politics are starting to influence our societies; so let's say the influence is not zero but it's not as big as some might think.
THERE WAS A SAGA REGARDING THE WORD “OCCUPATION.” SOME JOURNALISTS GOT THE FEELING THAT CHANCELLOR MERKEL WAS AVOIDING SAYING IT It is clear to us Germans that as long as Georgia has occupied territories, with no solution, the country needs support from the European Union and from Germany. This is a critical situation, as Chancellor Merkel told us during the press conference. Continued on page 7
AUGUST 31 - SEPTEMBER 3, 2018
Bryza on Senators McCain & Paul, 2008 & Georgia’s NATO, EU Future EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE
think it's a great idea. I look forward to visiting it under its new name.
NOT ALL SENATORS ARE SO FRIENDLY TOWARDS GEORGIA. RAND PAUL OBJECTED TO THE SALE OF JAVELIN MISSILES TO GEORGIA AND THEN REQUESTED THE US MAKE CONCESSIONS TO RUSSIA AND WITHDRAW US SUPPORT REGARDING GEORGIA AND UKRAINE’S NATO MEMBERSHIP. WHAT DRIVES SENATOR PAUL?
en Years – Remember the 2008 August War! might sound like film title, and it certainly was a season opener at the European Parliament this week. The event, organized by the European Conservatives and Reformist Group, was yet another reminder of the five-day war that took place in Georgia in 2008. Hosted by MEP Anna Fotyga, the speakers included, alongside former GT correspondent Zviad Adzinbaia, the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Matthew Bryza, whose name remains among the most recognizable in Georgia when it comes to foreign diplomats that dealt with our country. Mr. Bryza agreed to share with us his insights on the legacy of the 2008 August War and the US policy towards Georgia.
ONE OF THE MOST MEMORABLE QUOTES FROM 2008 WOULD BE SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN’S WORDS- “TODAY WE ARE ALL GEORGIAN.” WHAT IS YOUR ASSESSMENT OF HIS LEGACY AND THE IMPORTANCE WHEN IT COMES TO GEORGIA? Senator McCain's legacy will be enduring and is one that motivated people like me at the time to realize that I had not lost my mind fighting so hard as we all were for Georgia's right to the self-determination of its own destiny; that we were not wrong about believing that the Georgian people had elected a president who was voted in on the idea of reunifying his country, even if elsewhere in the transatlantic community, people were uncomfortable that Georgia was standing up for its rights. Senator McCain was like the purist tone of a perfect bell ringing and reminding us we know what our values are, we need to stick by them; Georgians share them, and Georgians have every single right to the same democratic and market economic freedoms that we have and that the fight is a good one.
THERE'S AN ONGOING PETITION TO RENAME THE MOSCOW DISTRICT IN TBILISI TO THE SENATOR MCCAIN DISTRICT; CONSIDERING WE ALREADY HAVE PRESIDENT BUSH STREET, IT’S HARDLY UNHEARD OF. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT IT? I think it's a beautiful idea. Senator McCain would probably feel a bit embarrassed but also immensely proud because he always felt he was fighting for what was not only morally correct but for what was in the US national interest. I
Senator Paul has quite a lot of unusual policy stances on many topics, often involving Russia. I don't necessarily see a conspiracy here, I see a senator who is a maverick in the opposite way to John McCain. McCain was known for being willing to move against the convenient truths of his party and confront the leadership when necessary, when he really believed in something. His belief system was internationalist, it was based on an understanding that the US is safer and more prosperous when its friends and allies are also safe and prosperous. Rand Paul's vision is the opposite, one according to which the US needs to look inward, care about itself and worry about maintaining good relations with the big players on the block while the little countries need to get out of the way and keep quiet: the big countries make the rules. It reflects a stance of American foreign policy that's always out there, which is isolationism. When George Washington was giving his farewell address, a very famous address indeed, he recommended that Americans in this new country avoid foreign entanglements and focus instead on building a strong country at home. I don't happen to agree with that trend, as I've always worked in the other direction that is still part of US foreign policy.
IN A RECENT INTERVIEW WITH VOICE OF AMERICA, YOU SAID THERE WAS INSUFFICIENT CONTACT WITH RUSSIA REGARDING THE RED LINE THAT THEY SHOULD NOT HAVE CROSSED REGARDING GEORGIA, THOUGH PRESIDENT BUSH CLAIMS HE WAS PERSONALLY WARNED BY PUTIN ABOUT SAAKASHVILI BEING HOT BLOODED I know it was not enough because President Bush, whom I admire deeply, had not yet come to an understanding of what President Putin's goals were for Georgia. President Bush, alongside virtually all of his NATO counterparts, believed and wanted to believe that Russia was more like the rest of us than it really is; He wanted to believe that Russia shares our Western values and aspires to being a member of our community when in fact neither of those things are true; so maybe if President Bush had a chance to do it
And this was in 2014! Six years after the war in Georgia and already after Russia had invaded Ukraine!
HAS THE WEST LEARNED ANYTHING SINCE THE WAR IN GEORGIA?
over again with the knowledge of what happened in Georgia and what that led to in Ukraine, he might be quite a bit clearer in defining what the consequences would be if President Putin overstepped the line. The problem was that the United States had not formulated a clear set of policy options of what to do if Russia overstepped the line in Georgia.
IN THE SAME INTERVIEW, YOU AGREE WITH THEN STATE SECRETARY CONDOLEEZZA RICE WHO REPEATEDLY CLAIMED THAT THAT US WARNED SAAKASHVILI NOT TO GIVE IN TO PROVOCATIONS. WAS SAAKASHVILI SO VOLATILE THAT HE DID NOT SEE THE REASONING? No, I think we got it right at the very end, when we gathered in the White House and consulted with our NATO allies and then with the Georgian government on a new peace plan. This was in May 2008, when we realized that all of those urgings to President Saakashvili not to pursue the policies that he was elected for (he was elected in part to reunify Georgia), that urging him to be quieter and more patient, had left Georgia and him in an impossible situation where he had to choose between either acquiescing to the loss of sovereign Georgian territory and potentially the loss of Georgian independence and his country’s place as part of a transatlantic community, or go to war with Russia. And so at the end, what we were hoping for was more time to try to work on that diplomatic plan and we ran out of time, largely because Russia provoked President Saakashvili into a military conflict. I will go to my grave believing it was the Russian side that shot first, that it was actually the so-called South-Ossetian forces shooting over Russian peacekeepers which made Georgia finally respond. But what president in the world would not respond to his own sovereign territory being attacked by separatists or by anyone else?
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE NARRATIVE SUPPORTED BY SOME THAT THE WAR WAS ACTUALLY STARTED BY GEORGIA?
I think anybody who has observed how Russia conducts its war in Ukraine should realize that Russia was at war with Georgia, an undeclared war, for years leading up to 2008. It had conducted information warfare, deadly intelligence operations, assassinations, and had taken steps that undermined the authority of the Georgian government and elevated the authority of the separatist leaders. If you look at the Russian doctrine of nonlinear war, hybrid war, you will see that the Russian concept of war is really one of constant international competition and conflict and one in which you use every tool of statecraft, of the economy, humanitarian aid information warfare, and you only use military force as a last step, often in a concealed way and often in the form of peacekeepers. That's what Russia did in Georgia, but it did it over the course of many years; so the fact is that the war did not begin when the first volleys of artillery were fired from the Georgian side, it is simply a fact that war had been going on for years already but it was undeclared and initiated by Russia.
WERE THE WARNINGS GIVEN BY THE WEST TO PRESIDENT SAAKASHVILI AND HIS GOVERNMENT GIVING GREEN LIGHTS TO RUSSIA TO GO AHEAD WITH THEIR PLANS IN THE BELIEF THAT SAAKASHVILI WOULD END UP THE SCAPEGOAT? I think it was a mistake and I made my views known at the time, I had my orders, but you can draw a line from the transatlantic community's failure to stand with Georgia, including at the Bucharest NATO summit, to Russia's invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea. Every sign that was sent was that “you can get away with this, President Putin, so just push a little bit more.” I like to recall that as late as summer 2014, after Russia had already invaded Crimea and the rest of Ukraine, after it had already occupied Crimea, the French government was still planning to sell Mistrals to the Russian side. That was a weapon that the Russian Deputy Chief of the General Staff back in 2008 had said “if we had this during the operations in Georgia, we would have been much more effective.”
The West has learned its lessons at least with regard to Ukraine after what happened in Ukraine and now there are sanctions against Russia. Yes, there are new member states who would like to lift those sanctions, perhaps even President Trump would like to lift those sanctions, so there are plenty of leaders in the transatlantic community who did not learn their lessons, but I give credit to the Trump administration for at least in the case of Ukraine authorizing and facilitating the sale of Javelin anti-tank missiles, that was something our Bush administration did not do for Georgia. Had Georgia had such defensive weaponry back in 2008, Russia never would have moved into Ukraine subsequently.
AND AFTER LEARNING THOSE LESSONS, HAS THE WEST HAS DONE ENOUGH REGARDING GEORGIA? I don't know what “enough” would be. The West of course provided economic support right after the invasion of Georgia, made clear it stands with Georgia and Georgia's right to define its own strategic future, and repeatedly at NATO summits, NATO renews the Bucharest pledge that Ukraine and Georgia will become members of NATO. Now the point is that Georgia's destiny is in its own hands, much more than it was in the past; it's up to the Georgian voters to elect leaders who share their vision of transatlantic integration; Georgia is on this new Association Agreement path, visa-free travel to the European Union is a reality; so I think the West has done a lot; now it's going to be largely up to the Georgian people.
GEORGIA MIGHT BE MOVING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION, BUT IS IT CLOSER TO NATO AND EU MEMBERSHIP NOW THAN IT WAS TEN YEARS AGO? It is closer in terms of cooperation, but not in terms of membership. The defining moment was indeed Bucharest 2008, and that was a red flag for President Putin; the decision meant that he’d better act quickly because eventually Ukraine and Georgia are going to get NATO membership. Even if NATO reaffirms that statement year after year, NATO's heart is not in it anymore. It’s best to worry less about NATO membership and worry more about being as close as possible to NATO and to the European Union: de facto integrate as far as possible and don't worry about the political battles being fought across the transatlantic political space.
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AUGUST 31 - SEPTEMBER 3, 2018
Sarrazin: “Chancellor Merkel was Honest about Georgia’s NATO Future” Continued from page 4
She is quite clear and outspoken regarding Russian foreign policy in the European neighborhood, so I don't think she would shy away from using the word “occupation,” specifically. When we talked about it afterwards, it was quite clear that she has no problem calling the regions occupied.
SHE MADE A STATEMENT THAT SHE DOESN’T SEE GEORGIA BECOMING A NATO MEMBER IN THE NEAR FUTURE AND CITED ABKHAZIA AND SOUTH OSSETIA AS REASONS FOR THAT. CONSIDERING GERMANY WAS A COUNTRY THAT WAS DIVIDED WHEN IT BECAME A NATO MEMBER, ARE WE SEEING A BIT OF A POLITICAL HYPOCRISY HERE? My personal opinion is that the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) and the Eastern Partnership should have included the perspective of full membership in the European Union, which is actually not the case. My party has a different stance on the finality of the ENP and Eastern Partnership. Yet we both know that the path is long, and Georgia is not on the way to fast track membership of the European Union. We should make Georgian society aware that we have internal policy problems in the EU at the moment. Clear decisions about the Macedonia negotiations are yet to be made, for example, because of other member states’ political situations.
BUT WHY NOT RISK
GRANTING GEORGIA THE UMBRELLA OF COLLECTIVE SECURITY THAT COMES WITH NATO MEMBERSHIP?
Frankly speaking, I don't know. At the time, a lot of Green politicians, including myself, were thinking the EU could be a better answer than NATO for this region. But we all saw what happened in 2013/2014, so now we know this is no longer true. Yet, Germany was also reluctant in Copenhagen 1993 when the promise was made for the countries of Central Europe to become members of the EU. If we want to be honest to our Russian friends, we should be clear on our own interests in Georgia, in Ukraine and in the common neighborhood, so that they know what our strategic ambition is, and I think Europe does have a strategic ambition there. Regarding the NATO membership of Georgia, in Germany, politically, there is no consensus.
My party is not so “NATO-loving,” which is why I was trying to lead the discussion to the European Union side of the coin. NATO membership for Georgia hasn’t been agreed since the Bucharest Summit 10 years ago, but of course the political situation in NATO and in the regions of Georgia at the moment is not so easy as to allow the promise of a fasttrack membership. I think we should focus on going without MAP as far as possible and on making the situation in Georgia better. NATO for Georgia should not be a taboo, it should be something which is really there. Chancellor Merkel’s statement on Georgia’s NATO future was honest if not that pleasant to hear – but I think it best not to hide these things and not to raise false expectations.
SPEAKING NOT AS A GERMAN POLITICIAN BUT AS AN AVERAGE GERMAN CITIZEN, WHAT WOULD THOSE SKEPTICAL ABOUT GEORGIA'S EURO-ATLANTIC ASPIRATIONS HAVE TO SAY ABOUT GEORGIA JOINING NATO? The arguments would have nothing to do with Georgia; it would be an argument against NATO or the Russian factor. It is clear in the end that there is no consensus in German politics or society on the fast and easy membership of Georgia into NATO. I think a step-bystep approach is the best thing to move forward: do the homework for MAP, implement reforms, deliver results and
success. I'm quite convinced that for the Kremlin administration, economic success for Georgia is the biggest threat. I doubt a military escape from Russia is realistic for the country; making Georgia successful economically is the best next step, together with successful MAP implementation.
BUT WHEN YOU HAVE A COUNTRY WHICH AT ANY GIVEN MOMENT CAN BE OVERRUN BY A MUCH STRONGER NEIGHBOR, WHAT KIND OF SUBSTANTIAL ECONOMIC GROWTH CAN WE TALK ABOUT? Georgia is showing that it can organize growth. I don't think Georgia is in a
situation where aggression from Russia is imminent – crossing the line here wouldn’t be accepted by the proverbial West – NATO, the European Union. The EU showed in Ukraine how far we can limit such situations, even without there being NATO membership. What the German delegation was also showing by visiting the Administrative Boundary Line [in Georgia] was a clear sense of solidarity.
AT THE 2008 BUCHAREST SUMMIT, GERMANY AND FRANCE WERE AGAINST GIVING GEORGIA MAP. HAD THEY HAD A DIFFERENT POSITION, COULD THE TWO SUBSEQUENT WARS HAVE BEEN AVOIDED?
IT'S NOT VERY OFTEN THAT YOU HEAR FROM A GREEN POLITICIAN THOSE TWO WORDS: RUSSIAN FRIENDS, SO COULD YOU DEFINE WHAT KIND OF RUSSIAN FRIENDS GERMANY HAS? There's friendship between Germany and Russia which is deep and important, including the relationship between the two peoples. We should not underestimate the changes which will happen in future in Russian society. The recent Levada Center poll showed clearly that the majority of Russians don't want to have a politically isolated country – But of course, I wouldn't call myself a friend of the current government administration: the Kremlin is an opponent to a stable and strong European democracy and Germany. [Interview edited for clarity]
AUGUST 31 - SEPTEMBER 3, 2018
Lawsuits against Russia
case being concerned with the deportation of citizens of Georgia from Russia, ending in a victory for the Georgian side. The main evidence in the case is an official conclusion drawn up by commissioned forensic expertise from the Empathy Center. The conclusion was prepared in accordance with international standards, including the Istanbul and Minnesota protocols on torture. Two experts of international standing were also involved in the preparation. The document confirms that Archil Tatunashvili was brutally tortured in Tskhinvali and that this was the eventual cause of his death. In order to start considering the case, the European Court for Human Rights
must first accept the claims that Georgia has filed. Even if this happens in a short time, no one can say for sure what time frame is required for a substantial review of the case. Considering prior claims, the process will more than likely take years. The second suit against Russia was launched independently by Giorgi and Rusudan Tatunashvili, the parents of Archil Tatunashvili. The Ossetian side claimed that the 35-year-old ‘fell down the stairs of the detention center on the night of 23 February and died from heart failure in a Tskhinvali hospital. Doubts about this version of the story were further fueled by Tskhinvali’s refusal to transfer Tatunashvili’s body to Georgia proper for almost a month, after which an autopsy found that several internal organs were missing. The claim submitted to the court on behalf of the Tatunashvili family was prepared by the Empathy Center. The NGO explained that according to the lawsuit, 300 thousand Euros were claimed in compensation, but “the money means nothing to the family.” Georgia has also been waiting eight to nine years for numerous individual suits related to the August War to be considered, including a lawsuit filed on behalf of the children of Giorgi Antsukhelidze, a National Hero of Georgia. The European Union continues to express full support of Georgia’s territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, referring to the Russian policy of "borderization" as a "creeping form of territorial annexation." But other lawsuits against Russia at the ECHR seeking compensation for displaced ethnic Georgians who lost all their property in South Ossetia as a result of the 2008 war, remain unresolved.
president that not only Ivanishvili, but any informal ruler might only dream of. During the five years of presidency, he has never created any “real” problems for his “boss,” aside from some presidential vetoes or residing in the Presidential Residence, which don’t really matter. Margvelashvili put on the mantle of the “hand-shaker at the formal meetings” and never opposed the party in any of the critical instants. Once, there was a moment when even the slightest action from President Margvelashvili could have been enough to lose the Georgian Dream its parliamentary dominance, and turn Ivanishvili’s majority into that of Margvelashvili’s, a moment when the country could have ended up with a coalitional government – but no, Margvelashvili did not take the step, nor did he agree to pardon Ivane Merabishvili or Bacho Akhalaia, which would also have resulted in a twist of the political agenda of the country. ‘Actions speak louder than Words’ goes the saying, as well as the motto of the UNM, but five years have revealed that Margvelashvili was good only at the latter. He spoke a lot about the new Chairman of the Supreme Court, about the overall improvement of the justice system, but alas, nothing happened. It all ends with an unsurprising finale – Marg-
velashvili refused to nominate the Chief Justice of the country. The duality of his attitudes isn’t new: Margvelashvili begins political battles, but never sees them to an end, leaving the battlefield midway or announcing capitulation. The ability to “talk” is no mediocre skill for a politician, especially in Georgia, but obviously it isn’t enough for the President, as other skills are vital. As expert Gia Khukhashvili concluded: “His authority will expire soon, and it seems he has no clear idea what to do next: to remain in politics or leave it forever. Either decision, especially when made by the President, needs a gracious wrapping. Margvelashvili is failing at that too. In short, he is lost.” While Margvelashvili remains silent and refrains from explaining his decision to society, representatives of both the ruling party and the opposition describe him as an irresponsible and weak public figure. But the most important is yet to come – according to the new edition of the Constitution, if the current president does not nominate a candidate for the position of Chairman of the Supreme Court, an edited document will come into force right after the presidential elections which states that the Council of Justice will choose and nominate the candidate for approval to Parliament instead.
BY SHAWN WAYNE
n August 21, the Ministry of justice of Georgia filed a lawsuit with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) against the Russian Federation in connection with the breakaway region of Tskhinvali (South Ossetia). According to the Ministry of Justice, the purpose of the interstate lawsuit is to address the administrative practice of mass infringement of rights. “The lawsuit concerns the administrative practice of mass repression, arrests, attacks and killings of the population of Georgia living in the occupied territories and on the so-called occupation line, which increased especially after the 2008 war and reached a critical point in February of this year with the torture and murder of Archil Tatunashvili,” stated the Ministry. Georgia is demanding that the European Convention on Human Rights establish Russia’s accountability for violating several articles of the ECHR. Georgia claims that by occupying the territories, installing barbed wire and targeting the citizens of Georgia, Russia violates such articles of the European Convention as the right to life, the prohibition of torture, the right to freedom and security, as well as the right to property and freedom of movement. The Ministry of Justice further stated that these violations are aggravated by the fact that Russia has a discriminatory motive aiming to intimidate and infringe on the rights of ethnic Georgians. Supporting evidence was submitted to the court along with the claim.
The lawsuit strongly revolves around the cases of Archil Tatunashvili, Gigla Otkhozoria and David Basharuli. Tatunashvili was detained in late February by de facto South Ossetian forces, tortured using various methods and as a result died. The murder of Otkhozoria in the Gali district on May 19 2016, flared tensions in the Georgian and Abkhaz communities. Basharuli, a Georgian citizen who went missing in the town of Akhalgori in Georgia’s Russian-occupied Tskhinvali region, was found dead six months later on 5 January 2015. As part of the suit, the Ministry emphasizes that some of the individuals responsible have already been identified, but Georgia has no way to bring these perpetrators to justice.
“So far, the scene of the incident has not been inspected. Representatives of the occupation regime refuse to hand over the internal organs, mobile phone and clothes of Archil Tatunashvili worn at the time of torture and death. It is impossible to interrogate the witnesses who live in the territory of the occupied Tskhinvali region and have important information on the matter. It is also impossible to arrest the perpetrators, since they are on the occupied territory,” stated the Ministry The Ministry of Justice says that a full investigation is impeded both by the Russian Federation and the de facto territories it controls. This is the third interstate lawsuit between Georgia and Russia in the Strasbourg Court, the first
Drawing to an Uninspiring Close OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA
he Georgian President will no longer nominate the Chairman of the Supreme Court and will most likely pass his last official responsibility on to the Minister of Justice, Tea Tsulukiani. His presidency ends with this, a sort of uninspired finale, looking just as the forecasts of the political experts
said it would, those experts who used to say that Margvelashvili’s input would be limited to his ability to “talk well on TV.” Five years ago, when Prime Minister Ivanishvili nominated then-Minister of Education Giorgi Margvelashvili as the presidential candidate of the ruling party, he stressed that the latter possessed important skills other than talking nicely. His background was connected to the NGO sector, like that of Saakashvili, and, most importantly, he was from the same
social circle, the one that came to the fore after the Rose Revolution. These factors were decisive for Ivanishvili, who wanted his presidential candidate’s style to resonate with that of the notorious Saakashvili and the rest of the Georgian beau monde. Ivanishvili was always sensitive about the issue of “provincialism,” which is now hurtful for the Georgian Dream too. Although Margvelashvili did not live up to Ivanishvili’s expectations in some ways, he did turn out to be the sort of
AUGUST 31 - SEPTEMBER 3, 2018
The Unlikely American Civil War OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE, FROM WASHINGTON
rump won’t be removed from office. Not even close! Let’s assume he were impeached by the House (and that’s a very remote ‘if’), the Senate would have to try him. But Republicans could have a super majority – 60 or more votes – in the Senate after the November elections. No way will Trump be voted out of office. Right now, the Republicans have a substantial majority in the House – 234 to 193. They may lose some seats in November, but not the majority. That guarantees no impeachment. I’m predicting they will win even more House seats. Keep in mind the economy has always been what decides elections, and the Trump economy has produced record prosperity. Advantage: Republicans! The US now has the lowest black and Hispanic unemployment in history. At the moment, Trump has an
The Democrats’ problem is that they have no message other than ‘Get rid of Trump’
Image source: peteriehm.com
astounding 29% approval among blacks. There’s the election right there in that one statistic. If black approval stays at that level, Trump will win in 2020 by a landslide. Trump’s overall approval is in the high 40s. In some polls it is 50% and moving upward. That’s better than Reagan and Obama at this point in their presidencies. But the key stat is ‘direction of the country’. In that category, Trump’s numbers are through the roof. The Democrats’ problem is that they have no message other than ‘Get rid of Trump.’ Elections are about the future, and the Democrats are stuck in 2016 and obsessed with the fabricated claim – now obvious nonsense – that Trump ‘colluded’ with the Russians. If anyone colluded with the Russians, it was the Clinton campaign working through Fusion GPS;
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at the same time Obama corrupted the FBI, CIA and the Justice Department to help. Meanwhile, in their hate-filled antiTrump frenzy, Democrats have exposed themselves for the deranged socialists they are. And Americans do not like socialists, which is why even Democrats who are socialists, run from the label. Voters see what’s really happening. Do you think the American voting public wants these lunatics running the country? Hard even to imagine. Obama showed what you get. The media, which has become the Democrat Party, has been forecasting a takeover of the House. But remember this is the same media that said Hillary would win the presidency. The New York Times on election night at 7:00 PM gave her a 96% chance of defeating Trump. By 9:30 PM it was over.
There is absolutely nothing to worry about for those who call themselves conservatives and who are rooting for President Trump and GOP – the staunchest supporters of democracy and the good life cast into one whole. We often hear the word ‘impeachment,’ in Georgia too, for that matter. Some of us don’t even know the exact meaning of the word. It is used when the integrity or validity of something is questioned conducive to a charge of misconduct against civil officers or indictment for treason against the State. In America, the process of impeachment is conducted in Congress: the House impeaches and the Senate tries. In other words, representatives indict and senators convict. It seems that years are passing, and the Democrats find too little willpower in themselves to get over
Hillary’s defeat and Trump’s victory in the last presidential elections. They don’t want to put up with this irrefutable historical fact. The Democrat delirium will probably continue forever. Meanwhile, the country is in reliable Republican hands, and their grip on the helm is firmer than ever before, no matter how much their opponents want to undo what has been done by the American people. Democrats are raving about Trump’s impeachment, but when the variables are put together and calculated, their dream is destined to fail. Maybe this is better than the impeachment of the current American President because some of the predictions purport that riots would be triggered which might grow into uprisings, and civil war could follow too. Just imagine – civil war in America!
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AUGUST 31 - SEPTEMBER 3, 2018
IMF Experts See Positive Trends on Regular Visit to Georgia BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE
n Monday, a team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) concluded a seven-day visit to Georgia. The team, led by Deputy Division Chief Mercedes Vera-Martin, evaluated Georgia’s economic conditions in regards to the IMF-supported programs and to update its periodic forecast. The team discussed recent economic and financial developments and Georgia’s progress toward structural reforms. The team came away with an optimistic projection, praising the National Bank’s monetary policy and the continued implementation of structural reforms. Subsequently, they revised the GDP growth projection .7 percentage points upwards to 5.5% for the year. Vera-Martin published an end-of-mission statement summarizing the visit’s findings on Georgia’s economy in the first half of the year. She wrote: “Growth reached 5.7%, supported by robust external demand, remittances, and credit. Preliminary estimates suggest a better-than-expected budget performance through June. Inflation, which stood at 2.8% in July, has been below the end-year target (3%). With inflation expected to remain subdued, the National Bank of Georgia (NBG) started to normalize monetary policy by decreasing its policy rate by 25 basis points. Mean-
while, deposit and loan dollarization continue to decline. Considering the stronger economic activity, the GDP growth projection for 2018 was revised upwards from 4.8% to 5.5%. The strong economic activity and weaker terms of trade are expected to widen the current account deficit. Increased downside risks to the outlook, driven by regional developments and global trade tensions, call for building up reserves and continued exchange rate flexibility, which has served the country well; and prudent macroeconomic policies to bolster resilience to external shocks. The team welcomed the progress made by the authorities in implementing structural reforms and ongoing initiatives, and stressed the need for continued efforts to support higher and more inclusive growth. The authorities have established an independent pension agency and adopted regulations to implement the new public private partnership law. They are also making progress toward modernizing the insolvency law and regulations to promote responsible lending. The current economic environment offers an opportunity to advance structural reforms to increase economic resilience, boost private-sector led growth, diversify the economy, and improve the living standards of Georgian citizens.” The last IMF visit took place in February, 2018. The subsequent report said that “Economic developments in 2017 were positive. Growth reached 4.8%,
driven by consumption and external demand. Rapid growth in exports, tourism, and remittances supported economic activity and narrowed the current account deficit to 7% of GDP through 2017Q3... Preliminary estimates show a betterthan-expected fiscal performance in 2017...Going forward, containing current spending and improving revenue collection remain critical for increasing public investment to address infrastructure bottlenecks...The IMF mission discussed with the Georgian authorities progress towards implementing structural reforms to support higher, sustainable, and more inclusive growth.” IMF staff will visit Georgia next in October 2018. After the visit, Georgian Finance Minister Ivane Machavariani declared the evaluation a success. He called the revised GDP growth projection “a big achievement amid the foreign economic situation in our neighboring countries,” and noted that “The IMF estimates very highly the ongoing and planned reforms that we have presented to them.” Machavariani continued, “the fact that we have a floating exchange rate makes the Georgian economy quite sustainable, and we have overcome challenges. The periodic currency fluctuations on the market should not give us any reason for panic. This is a demonstration that we have a solid and healthy economy. Inflation is quite low, less than it was forecast...there is no reason to raise the alarm.”
AUGUST 31 - SEPTEMBER 3, 2018
Future of Russia: Demographic Changes (Part I) BY EMIL AVDALIANI
iewed from a historical perspective, Russia nowadays is undergoing changes which affect every aspect of the country’s development. Naturally, changes occur within a society in every given epoch. However, what Russia has been experiencing in the period following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 are fundamental developments which will have an influence on the way the country positions itself geopolitically around the globe. Major changes are happening in the demographics of Russia. On the surface, the country, despite its astounding size, has a sizable population – around 144 million people – in comparison with other states. However, major demographic trajectories indicate that the Russian population, which has been decreasing, is set to decline even further in the coming decades. In 2012, the Kremlin estimates projected that Russia’s population
In 2016-17, Russia’s AIDS epidemic reached a dangerous level
would diminish to 107 million people by 2045-2050. Russia’s demographic difficulties are not new. Even in the Soviet period there were signs of potential population decline. By the 1970s, fertility across the USSR had declined to fewer than two children per female in the European parts of the Union. Following the breakup of the Soviet state, Russia’s total fertility rate (TFR) further decreased. In the early 2000s, the TFR stood at 1.3, whereas a figure of 2.1 births per female is necessary to keep population numbers stable. Under Putin’s rule, specifically in 2006-2012, Russia experienced a partial reversal when the TFR reached 1.7 (still far below the required numbers). Along with the decreasing fertility rates, Russian life expectancy too experienced deep shocks after the end of the Soviet Union. Currently, Russia is 126th in the world, with an average life expectancy of below 70 years of age. Moreover, Russia is among the countries which have the highest abortion rates. In 2015, that figure was 930,000. However, many believe the real numbers could be much higher. Another negative trajectory of the Russian demographics is the AIDS problem. In 2016-17, Russia’s AIDS epidemic reached a dangerous level, with the threshold of registered HIV-positive people reaching the 1 million mark. The real numbers could be even higher, as many people tend not to divulge this problem. Some unofficial reports claim the true figure could be some 1.5 million, or almost 1% of the Russian population. Beyond alarming trends within the Russian population, even Russia’s ethnic
Along with the decreasing fertility rates, Russian life expectancy experienced deep shocks after the end of the Soviet Union
composition is set to change. The country is now almost mono-ethnic, with ethnic Russians constituting 82% of the entire population. The non-Russian ethnic majority lives only in the Republics of Tyva and Yakutia in Siberia. Similar can be seen in the North Caucasus regions (exceptions being the Russian-majority Adygea, Krasnodar and Stavropol oblasts). Over the next decades, Russia’s Slavic population will decrease because of the
abovementioned trends, while the Muslim population is set to increase. In 2002, 14.5 million Muslims lived in the country, whereas nowadays Muslims constitute around 20 million. Fertility among the Muslims in Russia is at 2.3, higher than that of the Slavic population. A decreasing Russian population is also an issue as Russia is surrounded by countries with bulging populations. Among them is China, and it is widely perceived that Russia will face the Chi-
nese problem in its Far Eastern regions. That said, although there is no current threat to Russia, China’s rise should still be regarded with apprehension. The trend is alarming not simply because of the generally large Chinese population living near Russia’s Far Eastern regions, but because of declining Russian population numbers. In the decades following the Soviet collapse, the number of Russians in Eastern Siberia as well as the Far East has declined. Whereas in 2002, 28 million lived in these two regions (19% of the entire population). In 2010, the total number of Russians in Eastern Siberia and the Far East was 25.4 million. These are just some of those major trends negatively affecting the Russian demography which we will discuss further in coming articles.
AUGUST 31 - SEPTEMBER 3, 2018
We Need to Talk about Ushba
BLOG BY TONY HANMER
ave you heard of anyone who has a photographic obsession with Mt. Fuji in Japan, that marvelously symmetrical slightly curved cone? That’s me with Mt. Ushba in Svaneti, I must
admit. Partly, I suppose, because it’s visible from so many different locations in the province. It also presents such a number of different profiles as you circle, approach, ascend towards or descend away from it. In this way it’s very unlike its Japanese counterpart, although that mountain will certainly also offer infinite moods and surroundings as its position in relation to you and its environment changes, and as the weather and lighting do too. You can’t even see Ushba from my house or yard; just part of Mt. Mazeri, which is to the right of it from our position, and lower in altitude as well. You have to climb a bit in Etseri (though not far) to start seeing the south peak, but even the incomplete view dominates the landscape. Such is Ushba. Becho has the best part: coming into the village either from Etseri or from Mestia, you see the south peak, as you do from the entire length of the main village road from bottom to top. Finally, as the road (if you’re driving) swings towards Becho’s waterfall, Mt. Mazeri does obscure Ushba, but by then you’re almost full of the sight, and can let it go for a while, assuming that it’s been cooperating and not playing peek-a-boo with clouds, or even simply disappearing altogether. My very first visit to Svaneti, in the summer of 1999, took me to Mestia, but I didn’t know enough to realize that my photos of the town were missing the fabled mountain’s two peaks side by side, as clouds entirely obscured them. Ignorance was bliss!
Now, knowing that it’s THERE or at least supposed to be there, I will give up on photos from any angle if it’s hiding, because I KNOW. The two teeth that stick up, Babua and Bebia (Grandpa and Grandma) as they’re called, also move in relation to the main mass, as they’re actually a bit away from it, and so as you move, so do they. There’s a nice symmetry to this pair copying the twin peaks of the mountain itself, though they are much thinner, more like the people they are named after. You get a ¾ view from near Latali… the south peak view from above Etseri, even reflected in Lake Mazeri…a tiny glimpse of just the peaks themselves on the last curve of Lenjeri before Mestia… the domination as you take the Hatsvali ski-lift above Mestia…long views gradually showing more and more as you zigzag up from Mulakhi towards Ipari, and the best of these from the top of the Tetnuldi ski resort…a short appearance from part of K’ala near Ushguli… and another huge look if you’ve got the time and energy to walk above Ushguli and past King Tamar’s summer tower. A new possibility is a paraglide as close as you dare, which must be one of the ultimate tours, cheaper and quieter though less able to hover than a helicopter. Above Nakra will give you both Ushba and the highest peak in the whole Caucasus, Elbrus in Russia, in the same panorama. More places, I’m sure, than only these, including from the Russian side of the Caucasus. I can only say I’m captivated and will likely photograph this mountain as long as I live and remain so close to it. It deserves the attention. 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 over 1900 members, at www.facebook. com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri: w.facebook.com/hanmer.house.svaneti
AUGUST 31 - SEPTEMBER 3, 2018
CineDoc Holds Summer School for Filmmakers in Gori
BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES
ithin the frames of the annual CineDoc International Film Festival, on August 18 a summer school was opened in Gori, a project supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. The eight-day training program was designed for 12 Georgian, Armenian and Azerbaijani young filmmakers, led by three foreign trainers: Justin Mielnikiewicz, Sergei Fink, and Ineke Smith. Justin Mielnikiewicz is a Polish photographer who works mainly on Soviet issues and one of whose projects reflected the August 2008 War. He collaborates regularly with such famous newspapers and magazines as the New York Times, National Geographic, and Geo France. Sergei Fink is a Serbian producer with 20 years experience who has worked with such well-known directors as Van den Berg, Vuk Janick, Sergei Kruce, and Mark Schmitt. Ineke Smith is a director who works in The Netherlands and Georgia simultaneously, having made films which were shown at numerous international film
festivals. In Georgia, he has made the following popular films: Putin's Mother, Flying Bird of Kazbegi, Stand beside the President (Sandra Roelofs), and he is now working on an Abkhazian film During the training in Gori, participants were trained in both theoretical and practical form and had the chance to shoot a short film in the inspiring location. The
training program was packed with a variety of activities aimed at introducing Georgian culture to the guests. The program fell on the 10th anniversary of the 2008 August War and in recognition of the fact, on August 23, the group went to the Museum of War, after which it explored burnt-out building and spoke with the survivors.
rom September 2 to the 12, the sixth International Music Festival of Batumi, BATUMI MusicFest will be taking place with the support of Elisa Bolkvadze's charity fund "Lira" and with the support of the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia. The festival is being held under UNESCO high patronage. Pianist Barry Douglas, Liz de la Sally, conductor Miron Mikhailidis and well-known Georgian musicians working abroad will visit Batumi at the invitation of the Georgian pianist, UNESCO Peace Artist, Eliso Bolkvadze. The Batumi Festival will last for 10 days. It is the only cultural event to have won UNESCO high patronage this year. The aim of the festival is to promote classical music in Georgia and to present young Georgian talent on the international stage. On September 2, in the big hall of the Batumi Musical Center, the winner of the first prize of the Wieniaw-
ski International Competition Veriko Tchumburidze will be presenting Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, which will be conducted by Davit Mukeria. In addition to this, an important part of the project is the Art-Camp program, which involves innovative musical training, specially developed to raise awareness of 12-20-year-old students. On September 7, at 18:00, the Chalakaturi Art Palace will host a concert of "Virtuosity". The masterpiece of piano literature will be performed by eight young pianists from Georgia and Lithuania. The concert will be dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Independent Democratic Republic of Georgia. On September 12, the festival will be closed by Eliso Bolkvadze's solo concert with the participation of Revaz Lagidze's girls choir. Festival sponsors: Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport of Adjara Autonomous Republic, Batumi City Hall and TBC Bank.
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AUGUST 31 - SEPTEMBER 3, 2018
WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI THEATER
GABRIADZE THEATER Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 September 4, 5 An animated documentary film REZO Directed by Leo Gabriadze Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL September 6 STALINGRAD Revaz Gabriadze Directed by Revaz Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30 GEL CINEMA
AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 2 99 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge Every Wednesday ticket: 5 GEL August 31 – September 6 MILE 22 Directed by Peter Berg Cast: Lauren Cohan, Mark Wahlberg, Ronda Rousey Genre: Action Language: Russian Start time: 17:15 Ticket: 14-15 GEL MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN Directed by Ol Parker Cast: Lily James, Amanda Seyfried, Meryl Streep, Dominic Cooper, Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgard Genre: Comedy, Musical Language: English Start time: 22:15 Ticket: 15 GEL SLENDER MAN Directed by Sylvain Whiteurber Cast: Joey King, Javier Botet, Julia Goldani Telles Genre: Horror Language: Russian Start time: 14:30 Ticket: 12 GEL CHRISTOPHER ROBIN Directed by Marc Forster Cast: Hayley Atwell, Ewan McGregor, Toby Jones Genre: : Animation, Adventure, Comedy Language: Russian Start time: 14:45 Ticket: 12 GEL
DESTINATION WEDDING Directed by Victor Levin Cast: Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder, Dj Dallenbach Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance Language: English Start time: 21:45 Ticket: 16-19 GEL
WEAPONRY OF THE 18TH-20TH CENTURIES
A.X.L. Directed by Oliver Daly Genre: Adventure, Family, Sci-Fi Language: Russian Start time: 11:50, 14:30, 16:30 Ticket: 11-19 GEL
ARCHEOLOGICAL TREASURE NEW LIFE TO THE ORIENTAL COLLECTIONS
ALPHA Directed by Albert Hughes Cast: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Natassia Malthe, Leonor Varela Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama Language: English Start time: 13:45 Language: Russian Start time: 19:30 Ticket: 11-19 GEL MILE 22 (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 22:30 Ticket: 16-19 GEL MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN (Info Above) Language: English Start time: 19:30 Language: Russian Start time: 14:00, 16:45, 19:30 Ticket: 11-19 GEL SLENDER MAN (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 22:30 Ticket: 16-19 GEL THE MEG Directed by Jon Turteltaub Cast: Ruby Rose, Jason Statham, Rainn Wilson Genre: Action, Horror, Sci-Fi Language: Russian Start time: 22:15 Ticket: 16-19 GEL MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - FALLOUT Directed by Christopher McQuarrie Cast: Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Henry Cavill Genre: Action, Adventure, Thriller Language: English Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 16-19 GEL MUSEUM
CAVEA GALLERY Address: 2/4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 200 70 07
GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge
Every Wednesday ticket: 8 GEL August 31 – September 6
Exhibitions: GEORGIAN COSTUME AND
NUMISMATIC TREASURY Exhibition showcasing a long history of money circulation on the territory of modern Georgia from the 6th century BC. to 1834.
UNKNOWN COLLECTIONS OF THE GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM– INDIA, CHINA, JAPAN The exhibition showcases up to 500 artworks - paintings, sculptures and samples of applied art, the chronological range of which is wide. May 26 – September 30 THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF GEORGIA - 100 YEARS The Georgian National Museum and Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University, National Parliamentary Library of Georgia, Korneli Kekelidze Georgian National Center of Manuscripts and National Archives of Georgia, presents the exhibition IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA Address: 8 Sioni St. Telephone: 2 98 22 81 June 27 – September 10 Georgian National Museum and The Goethe Institute, in connection with 200 years of relations between Germany and Georgia, presents a project THE DYNASTIES - PARALLEL PERSPECTIVE The exhibition features the historic-cultural and architectural legacy that was created and developed in parallel in Germany and Georgia, representing two different architectural family dynasties- the Böhms and the Kurdianis in Germany and Georgia, respectively. MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 4 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge PERMANENT EXHIBITION Discover the State's personal files of "subversive" Georgian public figures, orders to shoot or exile, and other artifacts representing Sovietera cultural and political repression in Georgia. ETHNOGRAPHIC OPEN AIR MUSEUM Address: 1 Turtle Lake Telephone: 223 09 60, 222 63 02 www.museum.ge
The museum hosts houses and household buildings brought from around Georgia and represents 14 ethnographic zones: Kartli, Samegrelo, Adjara, Abkhazia, Svaneti, Khevsureti, Kakheti, Meskheti, Javakheti, Guria, Imereti, Racha, Lechkhumi and Ossetia. SIGHNAGHI MUSEUM Address: 8 Sh. Rustaveli Blind-alley Exhibition PORTRAITS OF KAKHETIAN NOBLES – FROM THE BEGINNING OF GEORGIAN EASEL PAINTING UP TO 20TH CENTURY The exposition comprises portraits of Kakhetian historical figures, such as: King Erekle II, Queen Darejan, Prince Vakhtang Dimitris-dze Janbakur-Orbeliani, Princess Tekla and David Guramishvili, as well as Qajar paintings of representatives of the Andronikashvili family. SAMTSKHE-JAVAKHETI MUSEUM Address: Rabati Fortress, 1 P. Kharistchirashvili Str.1, Akhaltsikhe The Georgian National Museum presents the renovated exhibition spaces at the Samtskhe-Javakheti Museum, which see the addition of recently discovered exhibits, and technical updates according to modern museum standards. GALLERY
LADO GUDIASHVILI ART GALLERY Address: Gudiashvili Atr. Telephone: 293 23 05 Tickets: General - 5 GEL, Ages 6-18 - 3 Gel, Students and Pensioners - 3 GEL, Free admission for orphan groups and children under 6 EXHIBITION OF PREVIOUSLY UNKNOWN ART PIECES CREATED BY LEGENDARY ARTIST LADO GUDIASHVILI: 1 + 70 UNKNOWN MUSIC
RUSTAVI INTERNATIONAL MOTOPARK Venue: Rustavi Motopark September 1 THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS Line Up: MACHAIDZE OPEN MIRROR a.k.a. BERIKA JAMES HOLROYD (Special Guest) THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS JORJICK Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 90-200 GEL THE 10th ANNIVERSARY INTERNATIONAL MUSIC FESTIVAL NIGHT SERENADES September 2 OPERA-FANTASY GIA IASHVILI Artistic Directors- Liana Isakadze, Giorgi Isakadze Participants: Chamber Orchestra ‘Georgian Virtuosi’ Conductor– Vakhtang Machavariani (Germany/Georgia) Soloist– Gia Iashvili– Violin (Austria/Georgia) Program: I Part W. A. Mozart– Little Night Serenade in G Major, K. 525 Bardanashvili– Serenade for Violin and Strings Performance dedicated to the 70th Anniversary of the Composer II Part ‘Opera-Fantasy’ (popular arias arranged for violin and strings) Author and soloist– Gia Iashvili Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 7-30 GEL Venue: Tbilisi State Conservatoire
September 4 ALEXANDER KORSANTIA Artistic Directors of the festival are Liana Isakadze and Giorgi Isakadze. Participants: Chamber Orchestra ‘Georgian Virtuosi’ Conductor– Vakhtang Machavariani (Germany/Georgia) Soloists: Alexander Korsantia– Piano (USA) Natela Markozashvili– Timpani (Georgia) Program: I Part A.Machavariani– Symphony for Chamber Orchestra (Chamber orchestra version by V. Machavariani) II Part D. Shostakovich– Chamber Symphony in C minor, Op. 110 G. Ustvolskaya– Concerto for Piano, Timpani and String Orchestra Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-40 GEL Venue: Tbilisi State Conservatoire ADJARA MUSIC BATUMI MUSIC FEST Address: Batumi State Musical Center, 1 O. Dimitriadi Str. TEL 0422 22 15 06 September 2-12 September 2 VERIKO TSCHUMBURIDZE & DAVID MUKERIA Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10-20 GEL September 4 BARRY DOUGLAS & MYRON MICHAILIDIS Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10-20 GEL September 5 A Conversation with Guram Odisharia MY SOKHUMI Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10-20 GEL September 6 DAVID MUKERIA & LISE DE LASAL Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10-20 GEL SOHO BATUMI Address: Old Boulevard, Batumi Telephone: 595 53 57 57 September 1 FRANI Concert Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 25 GEL September 3 STEFAN BINIAK & COMPACT GRAY Concert Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 25 GEL SECTOR 26 Address: Batumi Beach August 31 BAND E ROLL Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 25 GEL September 1 BABILONI Start time: 22:00 Ticket: 25 GEL GALLERY
VISITOR CENTER OF KOBULETI-KINTRISHI PROTECTED AREAS Address: 271 D. Aghmashenebeli Str., Kobuleti Until July 5 2019 The Georgian National Museum presents an exposition of the unique ecosystems of Adjara, in particular the Kobuleti wetland areas, the Kintrishi forests and their biodiversity. The most interesting parts of the exhibition are the Ispani sphagnum peatlands and the Kintrishi forest illuminated light-boxes.
AUGUST 31 - SEPTEMBER 3, 2018
Georgian Artists Put Country on Display at Edgy Frankfurt Exhibit BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE
he exhibition 'Lara protects me. A Georgian story' is a combination of videos, photographs, drawings, design and fashion objects that tell the stories of various convergences and relationships throughout the country of Georgia. The exhibition will open at the Museum of Applied Arts (Museum Angewandte Kunst) in Frankfurt on September 20, and run through January 20, 2019. A group of Georgian artists and artistic collectives will create the exhibit by presenting work
that represents their country’s culture to museum goers in the four-month show which opens two weeks before this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair (October 10-14), where Georgia is the Guest of Honor. Contributors to 'Lara protects me. A Georgia story' include Ana Chaduneli and Tamar Chaduneli, Danarti, Giorgi Geladze, Salome Jokhadze, Tamuna Karumidze, Irakli Kiziria and Zuka Babunashvili, David Meskhi, Dina Oganova, Patara Gallery and Situationist. The website for Georgia – Made by Characters introduces the project, saying “Tbilisi, they say, is the New Berlin. Late night partying and scope to do one’s own thing are luring ever more people to
Politicians against Homophobia Solidarity to Footballer Guram Kashia
Photo: Georgia – Made by Characters
Georgia’s capital. Located at the intersection of key trade routes for centuries, Tbilisi has always brought different peoples together – whether involuntarily, through occupation or conquest, or willingly and generously by offering refuge to those driven from elsewhere. The populations seldom merged; instead, the separate groups learned to create permeable boundaries, leading to an eclectic mix of cultures
existing side by side. What can be felt from this today? In the exhibition 'Lara protects me,' video works, photographs, drawings and design- and fashion objects tell the stories of various convergences.” Georgia – Made by Characters is the government project for the book fair, organized by the Georgian National Book Center and Creative Georgia.
Photo source: Netgazeti
BY THEA MORRISON
eorgian politicians from the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) and opposition say homophobia is unacceptable and have expressed solidarity to the captain of the Georgian national football team Guram Kashia, who has been criticized recently by nationalist groups and their supporters for expressing his support to the LGBT community. Kashia deleted his Facebook account and closed his Instagram page after insulting comments were made following the information that he will receive an #EqualGame Award from UEFA, which aims to recognize players who have acted as a role model in promoting diversity, inclusion and accessibility in European football. It was presented at the UEFA Champion League group stage draw and gala in Monaco on 30 August. Kashia was first slammed in October 2017 for wearing a rainbow flag armband in support of the LGBT community during a match in The Netherlands. Some Georgian and ultra-nationalist groups accused him of LGBT propaganda and held several rallies against him. Kashia’s fans and supporters have now launched a campaign in solidarity to him. They call on others to post his photo with the slogan #გურამშენთანვართ and tag the captain’s Instagram account @37gk. Sophio Kiladze, the Chairman of the Human Rights Parliamentary Committee and GD member,
responded to the campaign in support of the footballer on Facebook. "Such psychological pressure, violence and aggression towards Guram Kashia is unacceptable. We should respect each other more. I understand that people in our society have different visions and opinions, and each of us has the freedom to express their opinion, but we should use a proper form for this. Threats and oppression are unacceptable, as is homophobia itself," Kiladze’s post reads. Parliamentary minority European Georgia’s presidential candidate, David Bakradze also condemned violence and homophobia. “It is unacceptable and inadmissible when openly pro-Russian and fascist forces are threatening the football player because he condemned violence and supported equality between people," Bakradze said. The presidential candidate from the United National Movement (UNM) party, Grigol Vashadze, also commented on the issue, saying he supports Kashia. “I am against all discrimination and hatred! Love football and football players,” he stated. The captain responded to his supporters and fans, saying he reads every single message and is very proud. A protest rally against homophobia and in support of Guram Kashia will be held on September 9 at Dinamo Arena in Tbilisi. "We want to express our solidarity to Guram Kashia at the Georgia-Latvia football match. We call on every fan who supports Kashia to print out #გურამშენთანვართ on paper and hold it up during the game,” the organizers of the rally stated.
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August 31 - September 3, 2018