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May 29 - June 4, 2015



Price: GEL 2.50

Georgia Today 24 p., Travel Today 4 p.

ISSUE No.768


GOMI R ebr anded: Ne w Re branded: New Look, Best Quality

Specula tion of UNM Disunity Speculation P.14

Mak e the Futur e Gr een Make Future Green Successful Pr oject Project P.14 with “GIZ” FLIGHT SCHEDULE


as F our Opposition MPs R esign Four Resign P.6

Nob le P ar tner Noble Par artner U.S .-Geor gia .S.-Geor .-Georgia Str ate gic Stra tegic Par tner ship P.2 artner tnership

Riga Summit Lea ves Geor gia Leav Georgia without EU VisaFree R egime Re P.8

Se ven FIF A Sev FIFA Of Offficials Ar Arrrested By Swiss P olice Police





MAY 29 - JUNE 4

The EY OF Ol ympic Khidasheli Visits Geor EYOF Olympic gian Georgian Flame 2015 Troops in Afghanistan Ar ri ves in Geor gia Arri riv Georgia

By Nino Melikishvili The Olympic flame for the 2015 European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) was lit in the ancient Greek city of Athens and on 26th of May, (Georgian Independence Day) landed in Georgia’s seaside city Batumi ahead of the Tbilisi 2015 torch relay. The design of the torch unites elements of the festival, as well as Georgian traditional components. The flame was lit at a special ceremony at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens and handed to Lasha Shavdatuashvili, a Georgian sportsman who is the official first torch bearer of the EYOF 2015. Many other torch bearers and Georgian athletes were the first to welcome the Olympic flame to Georgia at a special ceremony which was held in Batumi International Airport. Later, Shavdatuashvili handed the

Olympic torch to Georgian tennis player Mariam Bolkvadze. “The flame arrived in Georgia! It’s unprecedented! It’s great that flame will be transported across other municipalities of Georgia. The infrastructure built for the EYOF 2015 will, of course, stay in Georgia, which means young people will be able to further enhance their sporting success,” said Nona Gaprindashvili, the sixth women’s world chess champion. On May 28, the Olympic flame left Batumi on its journey across 67 municipalities of Georgia before its intended arrival in Tbilisi on July 14 ahead of the international competition which will be held from July 25 to August 2, 2015. For EYOF 2015 (Tbilisi 2015), more than 4000 youth athletes from 49 European countries will come to Georgia’s capital to participate in nine sports: Judo, tennis, artistic gymnastics, track cycling, track and field athletics, swimming, volley ball and basketball.


Defence Minister of Georgia, Tina Khidasheli is visiting Georgian soldiers participating in NATO-led “Resolute Support” mission in Afghanistan. Minister celebrated Georgia’s Independence Day on May 26 with Georgian peacekeepers and held a ceremony on Bagram Air Base in the province of Parvan. The event was customarily opened with the Georgian national anthem and a minute of silence in commemoration of the Georgian troops that have died in ISAF mission. The ceremony was followed with the awarding ceremony, during which Khidasheli endowed medals of “General Mazniashvili” and General Kvinitadze” to Chief of GLT, Major James Geiger and Sergeant Major Scott Perry for their support in enhancing the military cooperation between Georgia and United States. Thirty Georgian peacekeepers were also awarded with certificates for their contribution in the mission. Khidasheli was also aired during the oath taking ceremony of up to 200 hundred soldiers in Tbilisi, and congratulated Georgian soldiers on their decision from Afghanistan. “I am honored to congratulate Georgian soldiers from Afghanistan today, from the place where we prove that

Georgia is fighting for global security among other members of the civilized world,” said Minister in a video aired at the leading ceremonies held on Freedom Square in Tbilisi. 885 of Georgian servicemen are deployed in Afghanistan in Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, which

makes Georgia the second largest troop contributor to the peacekeeping operations in the region. Georgian soldiers are deployed in Kabul, Bagram Airfield as well as Mazar-i- Sharif and are mainly concentrated on the duties of security and rapid reaction force.

Nob le P ar tner - U .S .-Geor gia Noble Par artner U.S .S.-Geor .-Georgia Str ate gic P ar tner ship Stra tegic Par artner tnership By Zviad Adzinbaia On May 11, the joint U.S.-Georgia exercise Noble Partner - a demonstration of the two countries’ strategic relations - was launched at the Vaziani training area. Georgia is hosting the Noble Partner exercise for its first time, which aims to increase the interoperability of the Georgian military with the U.S. units for participation in the NATO Response Force (NRF). According to official information, the military exercise provides an excellent opportunity to enhance Georgian Armed Forces’ capability to contribute to NRF and to deepen military cooperation between the countries. Nearly 600 Georgian and U.S. military personnel participated in the trainings including Georgian Alpha of 12th Battalion of I Infantry Brigade, I Mechanized Company of 42nd Battalion of IV Mechanized Brigade and Military Police Platoon. The U.S. infantry combat vehicles “Bradley” and several wheeled support vehicles were engaged in the training.

“This is a confirmation of the relationship between the U.S. and Georgian Armed Forces and the strategic relationship between our countries. EuroAtlantic cooperation between Georgia and the United States today is stronger than it has even been,” said Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, U.S. Commanding General, Army Europe. He also congratulated Georgia on its Independence Day of May 26 which involved a visit from U.S. soldiers to the oathtaking event conducted by Georgian soldiers. “We and our partners’ close and worthy cooperation reinforces the conviction that the implemented reforms and contribution to international operations will be followed by logical continuation and Georgia will advance in terms of NATO integration,” Tina Khidasheli, Georgian Defense Minister commented at the closing ceremony of Noble Partner. “Joint exercises between the two countries are an important step toward strengthening multi-year military cooperation. These exercises were another example of the fact that the Georgian

army was, is and will be a worthy and loyal partner of global security, international peace and strategic friendship,” Khidasheli added. Giorgi Margvelashvili, Georgian President and the High Commander of the Georgian Armed Forces at the closing ceremony of the training addressed Georgian soldiers: “Remember that your professionalism and enthusiasm are a guarantee for peaceful existence of our citizens”. “These exercises will advance the Georgian armed forces and the Georgian people’s purpose – to integrate with NATO. I would like to thank all the people who were involved at the highest political and diplomatic levels to ensure that this historic exercises were held on the Georgian ground, but the biggest contributors are the people who wear uniforms today and serve Georgia as well as global peace,” Margvelashvili concluded. Noble Partner ended successfully May 25 and will be continued in the future, as the United States has been Georgia’s strategic partner through much of its history.



MAY 29 - JUNE 4

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.

Georgia’s Under ground Economy By Lasha Lanchava Economic activities which are not registered (and therefore not taxed) are commonly called Shadow Economy or Underground Economy. Are there shadowy corners in Georgia’s economy? Not just corners! According to Schneider, Buehn, and Montenegro (“Shadow Economies All over the World – New Estimates for 162 Countries from 1999 to 2007”, Policy Research Working Paper 5356, The World Bank 2010), based on estimates for 2007, Georgia has by far the largest shadow economy (as a share of GDP) among all surveyed 21 transition countries. 62.1% of all economic activity in Georgia was taking place in the underground! Places 20, 19, and 18 are taken by Ukraine, Moldova, and Russia, with 46.8%, 44.3%, and 40.6%, respectively. But even in the global ranking of 151 countries, Georgia is only beaten by Zimbabwe (62.7% shadow) and Bolivia (63.5% shadow). At the top of the list, we find Switzerland and the United States with 8.1% and 8.4% shadow, respectively, and among the OECD countries, a group of 25 high-income economies, the average is 16.6%. According to Schneider et al., these numbers do not primarily reflect genuinely criminal activities like drug dealing and prostitution but mostly plain tax evasion. The huge amount of shadow in Georgia is puzzling, given that in in this country one gets a receipt even for minor purchases (which is not the case, for example, in Greece). Moreover, Georgia received a lot of praise for its efforts to fight corruption, and in particular for its reforms of the tax administration starting in 2005 (cf. “Fighting Corruption in Public Services: Chronicling Georgia’s Reforms”, The World Bank 2012). Since 2003 and 2007, Georgia’s shadow economy has indeed shrunk, but not by as much as one would have expected. The shadow rates were 65,9% (2003), 65,5% (2004), 65,1% (2005), 63.1% (2006), and 62.1% (2007). In 1999, at the pinnacle of Shevardnadze’s rule, the number

stood at 68.3%, just 6 percentage points away from the 2007 level. Unfortunately, data are not available for the years after 2007, yet up to that point, the size of the underground economy remained surprisingly unaffected by the long period of government’s massive crackdown on corruption, which was starting in 2003. Apparently, classical corruption was effectively reduced, but the shadow economy was not included in this process. THE SLIPPERY SLOPE OF TAX EVASION Kirchler, Hoelzl, and Wahl (“Enforced versus Voluntary Tax Compliance: The ‘Slippery Slope’ Framework”, Journal of Economic Psychology 29, 2008) identify two sources of tax compliance: enforced and voluntary. Enforced tax compliance results from the fact that tax evaders fear the risk of being detected and punished. Voluntary tax compliance is promoted by the comprehension of citizens that the government fulfills important functions which need to be funded by tax payments. As argued by Muehlbacher and Kirchler (“Tax Compliance by Trust and Power of Authorities”, International Economic Journal 24, 2010), neither power nor trust alone can lead to the best outcome. What is called for is a balanced mix of trust and power: if tax authorities are absolutely powerful but the government lacks trustworthiness, the economy will slide down the slippery slope into shadow. Yet the same happens if the government is transparent, fair, enjoys a high degree of legitimacy etc. but has a dysfunctional revenue service. The diagram illustrates this idea. The argument that voluntary compliance is essential at first sight seems to be somewhat “uneconomic”, as it is not based on extrinsic incentives but intrinsic motivation. It is part, however, of mainstream thinking in the economics of crime and can be applied to almost all kinds of transgressions. The most effective police cannot prevent situations where the probability to be sanctioned for a crime is low, e.g. if a

The “Slippery Slope” framework according to Kirchler, Hoelzl and Wahl (2008). Source: Erich Kirchler

perpetrator encounters a defenseless victim at a lonesome place. Everybody relies to a considerable extent on the decency of the people one interacts with, and if economic agents would cheat and deceive each other in all situations where this is possible, inspection costs would skyrocket and economic activity would be heavily impaired. VOLUNTARY COMPLIANCE IS KEY According to the Caucasus Barometer of the CRRC, the percentage of Georgians who express full trust in the “executive government (prime minister and ministers)”, oscillates between 30% and 40% in the last years. For comparison: in Austria, Czech Republic, and Great Britain, the trust towards tax authorities stood at 89%, 90% and 91%, respectively, while the size of the shadow economies averaged at 16% in these three countries (Muehlbacher, Kirchler and Schwarzenberger: “Voluntary versus enforced tax compliance: empirical evidence for the ‘slippery slope’ framework”, European Journal of Law and Economics 32, 2011). Hence, despite fundamental reforms, the level of trust, destroyed in the postSoviet turmoil and the Shevardnadze

10 Galaktion Street

era, was not yet restored. The difficulty for Georgia is that according to conventional economic wisdom, many issues are already handled in an almost ideal way. Thus, there is no obvious way to approach the problem. The Georgian 20% flat tax is extremely simple and transparent. Public spending, as a percentage of GDP, amounts to 31.8% — a very moderate number, compared to 41.6% in the United States, 48.5% in the United Kingdom, 56.1% in France, and 57.6% in Denmark (data from the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom of the Heritage Foundation). In most countries, special interest groups have their hands in the honey pots of the government, financing all kinds of activities with questionable benefits for the general public. For example, 3.3 percentage points of the government expenditures of the USA, 560 billion dollars, are paid on military expenditures, largely pocketed by the US weapons industry. Compared with other governments, the Georgian public sector can be considered to be parsimonious and slim. This is not to say that things cannot be improved. Widespread nepotism is a huge problem. People find it outrageous if their tax money, for which they

have worked hard, is used to provide jobs to relatives of government officials. And the snobbish cars of many government representatives, sometimes even escorted by police, evoke the impression that politicians consider their offices at least partly as opportunities to appropriate benefits to themselves. To gain legitimacy (and improve tax morals), Georgian politicians should follow the examples of European politicians: in Amsterdam, the prime minister of a country with 17 million citizens and a GDP of almost 800 billion was coming to his office by bicycle, and in Berlin one could see ministers go around by metro. The threat of Islamic terrorism and the need for bodyguards has made this more difficult for prominent politicians, but ordinary members of parliament are still moving around like all other citizens, often using public transport. In Georgia, on the other hand, even mediocre officeholders feel entitled to special privileges in the streets of Tbilisi. Such attitudes undermine beliefs among citizens that their tax payments are used reasonably. Transparency is achieved to a considerable degree in Georgia. Transparency International, which considers Georgia’s E-procurement platform to be “one of the most transparent in the world”, maintains a database of government tenders since 2010, allowing for comprehensive analyses of where the money of the taxpayers went ( Yet all of this works slowly. It is a well-known finding in the debate about so-called “bridging social capital” that trust in institutions, once it is destroyed, takes long time to be rebuilt. Shevardnadze’s kleptocracy has spoiled the attitudes of Georgians towards their government, and they cannot be restored within a few years. There are things to be done, however, to improve the tax morals within a population, relating to recent insights from behavioral economics and the ingenious ideas about nudging by Thaler and Sunstein. This, however, we will discuss in the next issue of Georgia Today.

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MAY 29 - JUNE 4

Speculation of UNM Disunity as Four Opposition MPs Resign Four opposition MPs have left their official positions according to InterPressNews which reported that Zurab Japaridze, the Executive Chairman of the UNM along with Goga Khachidze, Giorgi Meladze and Pavle Kublashvili had all vacated their positions. “The manner and timing of leaving the party has made many people upset, but we chose neither. Rumors were spread about us allegedly being against leaving. We are very sorry for not having a chance to inform those dear to us in advance,” said Japaridze. “Apparently, the former members of the National Movement see a real threat of openly pro-Russian forces coming to power because of the forthcoming parliamentary elections. The National Movement has passed two significant tests by peacefully handing over the government to the political force that won the elections and managed to survive as a political force,” the statement reads. “It is important for a political force to survive, but a political movement needs to be absolutely renewed for victory and gaining people’s confidence

again. The practice of taking responsibility for failure and renewal of political movements has been established in democratic countries. UNM has failed in the third test, disappointing many of the country’s citizens,” the statement continued. Apparently, the MPs’ motivation to depart was not related to expectations of receiving a parliamentary mandate in the 2016 elections. “Moreover, none of my colleagues, who have departed from the UNM plan to fight for the mandate, as they believe our society wants novelties,” added Japaridze. “We plan to fight for the European, democratic future of united Georgia, to get rid of the oligarch, who grinds the economic system to a halt, facilitates poverty and collapsed state institutions. We understand the people’s worry about economic problems and plan to create a new political center, attracting professionals to engage in the political process,” continues the statement. “The UNM is dissolving,” said PM Gharibashvili, in response to the opposition developments. “It is surprising that the party has not fallen apart

completely yet. They are trying to masquerade as if they were a team again, but the party is dissolving as three more teams emerge from within it,” Gharibashvili stated. The departed members of UNM have been said to be moving to Iveria,

a social movement which is mainly composed of experienced technocrats from the previous government. Gregory Vashadze, one of the founders of Iveria commented that no political or other sort of official communication has been held between Iveria and the

four MP’s. “I do not rule out cooperation with all the western forces in the country,” said Vashadze, the ex-Foreign Minister of Georgia. More information about the intentions of the MPs is expected to be known in the near future.


Choosing Sides: More Changes in the Georgian Par liament By Zaza Jgharkava Despite the ‘dead season’ in Parliament, the factions have declared the transfer season open. Following on from the shifts in the governmental coalition, the rotation process now appears to have started in the opposition as well with four MPs leaving the United National Movement (UNM) this week. After Zurab Japaridze, Pavle

stands behind the four recent leavers and plans on starting his own independent political game. Editor of newspaper “Kronika+” Eliso Kiladze claims that Vano Merabishvili’s team needs MPs in Parliament who will serve their interests: “MP Kakha Okriashvili and ex-governor Tsezar Chocheli plan to establish a new political party. These people are associated with UNM member and Secre-

“ this regard, it is clear that the UNM cannot become a member of the pro-western coalition despite their distinct pro-western position, as neither Alasania nor the Republicans will want to make a coalition with them- they (UNM) are surrounded by a stigma that would ruin any party.” - Khatuna Lagazidze, Political Scientist. Kublashvili, Giorgi Meladze and Goga Khachidze withdrew from the UNM, a summer transfer was announced on two MP votes in Parliament. This is the number of votes that the four MPs need in order to form a new faction in Parliament and, as they say, attack the Georgian Dream majority with new vigor. Unlike sports, hunting for ‘stars’ is slightly different in the Georgian Parliament. There, moving from one team to another does not happen at once and mostly depends on who has what influence on this or that political process. As the Georgian media was fast to spread: former Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili, currently imprisoned,

tary General of the party, Vano Merabishvili. I do not exclude that the four MPs who left the UNM party are cooperating with the new party that is associated with Merabishvili,” Kiladze said. The four ex-UNM MPs have not hidden the fact that they plan to form a new party and do not intend to cooperate with other parties. However, the first thing they need to do is to convince two more MPs to join them in order to form a new faction. Former UNM MP Goga Khachidze says that the four have already selected candidates and will soon make those names public. “We will form a faction. We will see who joins us; we cannot reveal it

now. Of course, we are in consultation with the relevant groups of MPs. There are thick dividing lines related to the country’s foreign policy orientation. This is a natural political process. When you have a faction, there are more opportunities in parliamentary work as well, generally, in terms of the tribune. It is essential that when you are a politician, you have to make sure to expand and create certain opportunities,” Khachidze said. The chairman of the United National Movement, as of Georgia Today going to print, had not yet responded to the latest events; though other ‘faces’ of the UNM had commented on the decision of the four leavers. If we judge from the photos of the former president taken in Warsaw at the UEFA finals posted on social networks, there is an impression that Saakashvili where these wandering free agents will end up, unlike other ‘stars’ of UNM who call the withdrawal of the four from the party irresponsible and infantile. Due to the situation, the unusual silence of Saakashvili can be even justified and, as MP Nadirashvili said, the final result of this ado might be instead the smiling faces of Prime Minister Garibashvili’s government. This way or that, following the withdrawal of the four from the UNM party, another reality is created in the oppositional wing of the parliament. And this will create a precondition for establishing a large pro-western coalition within Parliament. Political scientist Khatuna Lagazidze discussed the possible reasons of the withdrawal of the four former UNM members from the party in an interview with the newspaper “Rezonansi” during which she stated that the MPs had expressed the desire to join a pro-west-

ern coalition to run in the next parliamentary elections. “I think preparations for creating a pro-western center for the upcoming parliamentary elections are underway. In this regard, it is clear that the United National Movement cannot become a member of the pro-western coalition despite their distinct pro-western position, as neither Alasania nor the Republicans will want to make a coalition with them- they (UNM) are surrounded by a stigma that would ruin any party,” Lagazidze said. It is truly hard to imagine leaving one pro-western party and joining another and fighting for pro-western values, especially when you hold the position of the Executive Secretary within

that party. The hot topic is Zurab Japaridze, who was considered one of the most promising UNM politicians, based on all public opinion polls. The demarche of the four, one and a half years before the elections, has weakened the UNM but has not strengthened either Burjanadze or Ivanishvili as it will confirm the idea to the majority of Georgian voters that the government can do nothing to the UNM – at the Georgian Dream “there is a disorder and they can do nothing”. This is why Misha [Saakashvili] and the United National Movement at least proved to everyone, starting from the ‘unforgettable revolution,’ that they know what they want!



MAY 29 - JUNE 4

Riga Summit Leaves Georgia without EU Visa-Free Regime By Zviad Adzinbaia The Eastern Partnership Summit held on May 21-22 in Riga published its final declaration without granting Georgia a visa-free regime with the European Union. The document does not contain any specific future dates for the removal of visa requirements for Georgian citizens with the EU area, simply saying that a decision will be made after the European Commission prepares a report on implementation of the visa liberalisation action plan by the end of the year. “The summit participants warmly welcome the progress made by Georgia and Ukraine respectively towards implementation of their Visa Liberalisation Action Plans as described in the latest Progress Reports by the European Commission. They look forward to the completion of the implementation of the 2nd phase of Georgia and Ukraine’s Action Plans once all benchmarks are fulfilled through the implementation of all required reforms,” the declaration reads. The document also highlights that the fulfillment of all standards would allow the VLAP process to be concluded and the Commission to propose to the European Parliament and to the Council to exempt Ukrainian and Georgian citizens respectively from the visa requirements. The document, recalling the Cease-

fire Agreement signed on 12 August 2008 and the breached principles by Russia, omits the so-called agreement signed by Russia with Georgia’s occupied regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. In an abstract way, the declaration reads: “the acts against Ukraine and the events in Georgia since 2014 have shown that the fundamental principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity within internationally recognized borders cannot be taken for granted in the 21st century on the European continent.” “In our case, both in private and public conversations, it was reaffirmed that Georgia made very significant progress,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the French President Francois Hollande noted at bilateral meetings with Irakli Garibashvili, Georgian PM. Garibashvili himself assesses the developments as a positive political message from the EU leadership. Georgia Today’s Zviad Adzinbaia: The Eastern Partnership Summit 2015 was widely expected to show Russia’s Putin that Europe is no longer enlarging its borders eastward as it did in 2004 when it took 10 European states from Russia’s sphere of influence, including the Baltics. Georgian experts assume that the Georgian government did not do enough to make a significant move in this process. Moreover, the gov-

ernment’s internationally passive stance is named by local analysts as one of the explanations why support for the Georgian Dream (GD) is diminishing. GD, in terms of Georgia’s security, has removed the country from almost

all international radars. Indeed, when talking about diverse reforms where Ukraine languishes behind Georgia, the European structures have many times mentioned the two countries together. In summation, the only way the Geor-

gian government can progress here is by successfully implementing the requirements of the Association Agreement, by advancing economically and seeking guarantees for the country’s security.


World Vision Runs Youth Empowerment Programs in Georgia bal interests,” stated Adulashvili. World Vision Georgia’s Kakheti Area Development Program also established a school-based radio system in Shashan community. The idea, which will enable

the needs of our youth,” stated Shakulashvili. The Mayor’s Office of Tbilisi Public Relations Manager Dodo Tchumburidze said that government understands the

“With such a project our country will raise a much more socialised new generation. The participation of young people in social events gives them skills which they will later use for the development of our country.” - Lasha Shakulashvili, United Nations Youth Ambassador.

By Tatia Megeneishvili World Vision works with young people in communities to increase their confidence and civic engagement. According to World Vision Georgia Director Eka Zhvania, by empowering young people we are making communities stronger and more likely to thrive in the future. “I am very proud when I see how our project changes children. I am proud when I see their attitude to the working process. Beside our efforts for youth empowerment, the government’s involvement in our activities is also high. We are sure that informal education is very important. We believe that the only real resource that we have is a human

resource and we must try hard to have high quality resources,” stated Zhvania. Today, there are 122 youth clubs in schools throughout Kakheti, Imereti and Samtskhe Javakheti regions, with over 1600 participants, most of who are between 13 and 17 years old. The main activities of World Vision’s youth clubs are: promoting non-formal education for youth, supporting youth involvement in civic engagement through developing school-based youth work, and teaching youth to advocate at local and national level for better changes. The latest World Vision project was launched in the Kakheti area, with the development of a public school library in Vanta community. The idea of open-

ing the library was initiated by Vanta’s school-based club members and was funded by World Vision Georgia as a part of the small grants competition. Publishing house Radarami generously donated books to the library. Representative of Radarami, Mariam Aduashvili, said that they mainly publish cognitive books. “Reading is very important. Children should read literature books, but we think that it is important for young people to read some cognitive books, too. They need basic knowledge about the world. That’s why all the books we gifted to the World Vision for Youth Empowerment Program are maximally informative, and were chosen due to glo-

youth to inform fellow students about important news, success stories and upcoming events, was presented by the Shashiani school-based youth club and was funded by World Vision Georgia as a part of the small grants competition. United Nations Youth Ambassador Lasha Shakulashvili said that Youth Empowerment Program is very important for Georgian children. “With such a project our country will raise a much more socialised new generation. The participation of young people in social events gives them skills which they will later use for the development of our country. I myself am trying my best and informing the EU about

importance of informal education and they plan to co-work with World Vision regarding this issue. Ani Esadze from public school 160 said that she learned a lot after including in program. “At first I thought that it would ordinary program. However, I can say that it is one of the best projects I have ever take part in. They changed my attitude toward many things. Now I believe that if I try hard I can achieve anything,” stated Esadze. World Vision first began forming youth clubs in Georgia in 2010 and for this period they have worked with more than 3000 young people.


1600 sq.m. capital farm and 50 hectare arable land Address: Tetri Tskaro region, Iraga Village (65 km from Tbilisi) Tel: (+995) 577 250905; (995) 599 947722



MAY 29 - JUNE 4

On Our Independence Day A letter of congratulations from Redjeb Jordania, the son of Noe Jordania, Head of State of the Georgian Democratic Republic, 1918-1933. Fellow Georgians: Ninety-seven years ago on May 26, 1918 my father Noe Jordania proclaimed Georgian independence from the Hall of Mirrors, of what was then the Vorontsov Palace in Tbilisi . I am now 93 years old, and although I am unable to be physically in Georgia, I would like to share with all of you the pride and joy of our national Independence Day. When I was growing up in Paris in the 1920s, the 26 of May was the most important day of the year for me and my little Georgian friends. That was the day when all exiled Georgians, regardless of party, religion, sex or opinion would get together in celebration, sorrow, and remembrance. And even though I was very small, I remember it as a solemn occasion, with our revered flag – the three-colored one – in a prominent position together with our elegant coat of arms, unencumbered by gratuitous elements. And of course we all sang our national anthem with fervor, Dideba, with its Georgian sounding harmonies. That tradition went on during the long years of Soviet occupation. And then, in 1990, the first year I could come to Georgia, I had the joy of seeing our flag, symbol, and national hymn revived after these 70 years, with our flag soon to be hoisted on all public buildings, displacing the hated Soviet one. Today we are once again celebrating the anniversary of our declaration of independence. It is without doubt the most important date of the 20th century, and I would venture to say the most important date in 700 years, yes, ever since the Mongols invaded Georgia in 1238. Consider: For the very first time in centuries, in 1918 Georgia became truly united in a single modern state with an enlightened government led by President Noe Jordania. The road to unity was long and difficult. Georgians have a strong culture, but

never had a true sense of nationality – a concept nonexistent in medieval times, where feudal allegiance was the norm. In fact, up until the 1805 takeover by Russia, Georgia was divided in principalities and kingdoms, such as Guria, Samegrelo, Imereti. It took the French and the American revolutions to bring to the fore the powerful feeling of belonging to one nation, that irresistible force which swept 19th century Europe and would eventually create our modern world. But Georgia did not participate in that powerful current. As we know, Georgia was occupied and incorporated in the autocratic tsarist empire just about when nationalism started spreading in Western Europe, and thus that idea was prevented from taking hold in our country. As a result, up to the end of the 19th century the Georgian sense of belonging extended only to his family, his village, at most his province. It took decades of education and hard work by the great Georgian patriots, an overwhelming number of whom were social-democrats operating clandestinely, to bring about the change of attitude towards tsarism and the idea of nationality that resulted in a truly unified republic in 1918. Despite the enormous difficulties of the period, the Georgian Democratic Republic (or First Republic, as commonly called today) proved very successful, so much so that it took the Soviet and Turkish invasion of 1921 to bring it to an end. (The GDR lived on de jure until 1933 and de facto to 1953 and in memorium in Leuville, France). Yet its relatively short existence was of the utmost importance since all the major institutions that make our modern Georgia were established in that period. I would also like to remind everybody that the GDR government was supported by practically all Georgians from all social classes. The result was that, contrary to what happened after

Photo taken in 2009 in Leuville - Babu Redjeb and Nicholas toasting Georgia's Independence

1991, in 1918 there was no destructive civil war of fratricide and pillage of national assets. Led by idealistic patriots, Georgia remained whole, including Abkhazia and the so-called South Ossetia, and of course Adjara. All Western historians recognize the great accomplishments of the first republic and its selfless leaders, yet with the exception of the town of Lanshkhuti, birth place of Noe Jordania, and a small section of the Mtqvari embank-

ment in Tbilisi, there is no public recognition in Georgia. It remains difficult to understand why, 24 years after Georgia again became independent, as Professor Stephen Jones earlier remarked, that the successive Georgian governments have done practically nothing to recognize publicly the enormous debt that our country owes to all those, from all political parties, who worked so long and sacrificed their lives to awaken the Georgian national spirit, conquer freedom, and

in 1918 proclaim a sovereign, unified Georgia for the first time in centuries. But things are changing. For the first time in centuries there is now a whole generation of young Georgians who have never known the soviets, or, for that matter, any foreign occupation! Many are getting to know and appreciate the first republic, as evidenced by the private initiave to assemble this May 26 at 5.20 p.m. in the garden of the former Vorontsov palace, at the exact time and place where independence was declared. It certainly looks like the negative Bolshevik propaganda that left a profound imprint on three generations is finally on the wane. Today I’d simply like to remember a few names: Noe Jordania, Noé Khomeriki, Evgeni Gueguetchkori, Grigol Uratadze, Noé Ramishvili, Akaki Chkhengueli. And we should not forget our valiant national guard under the leadership of Valiki Jugeli, as well as the soldiers and officers who rallied to our first republic and valiantly struggled for the preservation of its freedom against insuperable odds. Let us also remember that when the Red Army had almost conquered Georgia, the Turks took advantage of the situation to invade Adjara and occupy Batumi. That’s when, under direct orders from the government, and in a quixotic gesture, the remains of the Georgian army led by General Mamradze attacked and chased them back to Turkey before going themselves into exile. Without them, it is most probable that Adjara would today be Turkish. As all reputable historians recognize, today’s Georgia is very much a continuation of the 1918 republic. We are confident that free Georgia will be around forever! Gaomarjos Sakhartvelo! Redjeb Jordania May 26, 2015 New York

Independence Day a Symbol of Georgia’s Statehood By Zviad Adzinbaia “Compatriots, I congratulate you on our Independence Day,” said Giorgi Margvelashvili, the Georgian President, addressing a large audience gathered on Freedom Square in Tbilisi to celebrate Independence Day on May 26. “We pay our respect to those who made our freedom and independence a reality through their efforts and with their lives. At the same time, we are cel-

ebrating our future victories. Happy Independence Day. God bless Georgia,” the President stated. The day’s official celebrations did not include a military parade, which had been removed from the schedule by the Georgian Dream government to avoid potentially irritating Russia. However, the events on Rustaveli Avenue did include presentations of military hardware including exotic air maneuvers and a ceremony of Georgian soldiers taking an oath. Moreover, new military achieve-

ments and improvements were exhibited for citizens to see. Barack Obama, President of the US, congratulated PM Irakli Gharibashvili on the Independence Day of Georgia. “Dear Prime Minister, I would like to congratulate you and all Georgian people on May 26 - Independence Day of Georgia,” the letter reads. “There is firm, active and strategic partnership between our countries. The United States was proud to support Georgia last year, when local elections

were held, the Association Agreement was signed and NATO’s substantial package was given to Georgia. Today, we support Georgia’s democratic and economic development, which is very significant in terms of providing EuroAtlantic integration and new trade and investment possibilities,” the President wrote. President Obama also emphasized Georgia’s commitment and contribution

will develop, including that of our European path.” On a highly symbolic day for Georgia’s statehood, the national flags of Lithuania and Georgia were displayed on Cathedral Square in Vilnius. Georgian citizens perceived the message by the Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite as a mark of the unity and friendship between the two countries.

“We pay our respect to those who made our freedom and independence a reality through their efforts and with their lives. At the same time, we are celebrating our future victories.” President Margvelashvili. to safeguarding global security and reaffirmed US support toward Georgia’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and its European and Euro-Atlantic aspirations. Along with other international leaders, Petro Poroshenko, the Ukrainian President, also congratulated his Georgian counterpart Margvelashvili on Georgia’s Independence Day: “I congratulate you on this national holiday on behalf of the Ukrainian people. Implementation of democratic and structural reforms became the main contributing factor for achieving authority at the international level. I am confident that our relationship, based on bilateral respect and trust

Summary by Georgia Today’s Zviad Adzinbaia: Since Georgia’s first republic of 1918, the country has cherished its freedom and sovereignty, either side of the 70year Soviet occupation, which seriously stunted Georgia’s free movement toward its natural family, Europe. More than two decades have passed after Georgia won its independence from the Soviet remnants of 1990s, as it has opted for the West instead. On the Independence Day, Georgia celebrates its free will to join the EU and NATO, the organizations offering the security and economic prosperity of Europe and beyond.

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What Does Your Fave Food Say About Your Fashion Style? P.12


Georgian Government Signs Deal with World Bank

Incorrect Information is circulating Georgia on the employment opportunities in Swiss Agriculture Sector Recently, on some Georgian media portals and social networks it was mentioned that Switzerland is actively recruiting personnel for the Swiss agricultural sector. This information is in-

the framework of the deal. “The Agreement between the World Bank and Georgia will encourage further acceleration of the reforms in private and public sectors in our country. Specifically, the agreement concentrate on the priority issues of public finance governance, health protection, bond market development and improvement of buying system to name few,” noted Khaduri following the signing ceremony. The Minister also emphasized the significance of the World Bank’s support in upholding the reforms in Georgia, and expressed his readiness to continue further collaboration. The agreement is a part of a socio-economic development strategy of Georgia and coincides with the 2014-2017 cooperation strategy established between Georgia and the World Bank.

TBC Bank iPad Bank Awarded at the Worldwide Marketing Competition TBC Bank iPad Bank has won the Award of Distinction in mobile apps at international marketing competition “Communicator”. TBC Bank is the first bank in Georgia to win a prestigious award of “Communicator” for creating a technological product. ‘Communicator” is a leading international award, founded two decades ago, which gives awards to companies, functioning in many countries of the world, for the best achievements in marketing and communications. More than 6000 companies participate in the competition annually and try to win in various categories, including: audio, video, print, integrated companies, marketing efficiency, online video, web sites, online advertising, and mobile applications. The criteria for selecting the winning companies is the scale of impact the marketing company or product has on people and customers. According to the organizers of ‘Communicator,” the Award

of Distinction is given to those companies whose projects exceed industry standards in quality and achievement. All winners of The Communicator Awards are hand-selected by AIVA (Academy of Interaction & Visual Arts), which involves professionals employed in communications and marketing industries. The jury is comprised of the representatives of such companies as Disney, The Ellen Degeneres Show, Estee Lauder, MTV Networks, Sotheby’s Institute of Art, Time, Victoria’s Secret, Wired, and Yahoo! “We are proud to be the winners of such a prestigious award. Especially as this prize is given for such a modern technological product as the TBC Bank iPad Bank. This makes us sure that we are following the new trends in technological development, and creating products which are tailored to the customer of the 21st century,” said Vakhtang Butskhrikidze, TBC Bank CEO.


Incorrect Information Circulating on Employment Opportunities in Switzerland From the Swiss Embassy:

On May 22, the Ministry of Finance of Georgia, Nodar Khaduri and World Bank Regional Director for the South Caucasus, Henry Kerali signed an agreement on mutual cooperation between the parties. According to the document, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development will provide the Georgian government with a loan amounting to $120 million, to encourage the Programmatic Private Sector Competitiveness Development Policy and Software Development Policy of Georgia’s Inclusive Growth. The Ministry of Finance of Georgia notes that the recent agreement with the World Bank will also involve establishment of the Investors Council to promote better coordination between the business sector and government. Negotiations on developing laws with regards to capital market and deposit insurance are also planned to be discussed within

Do You Really Need a Smartwatch?

correct. The actual situation is as follows: the Swiss Farmers Union and the State Secretariat for Migration are carrying out a limited pilot project in order to study whether persons with an already existing refugee status can be employed in the Swiss agricultural sector. For Georgian citizens, nothing changes with regard to entry and working regulations in Switzerland.


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What Does Your Fave Food Say About Your Fashion Style?

Loads of articles draw links between your favourite food and your personality. But have you ever considered how the food you eat relates to your fashion style? The food delivery service foodpanda take a stab at defining what you wear by what you eat. 1. Fast Food Admit it - fast food is comfort food. And just like this quick and convenient category of grub, you like things simple and snappy. Your key consideration when you reluctantly open your wardrobe each morning is how to keep things as comfy as possible. You embrace your many loose, oversize shirts and relish throwing them over your softest be paired with sneakers or flats, of course.

Your style: Conveniently casual 2. Chicken Rice Few meals are as starkly simple yet as tasty as chicken rice, that Singaporean (sorry, Malaysian) dish of freshly blanched chook served with fragrant rice. Similarly, your ensembles are sleek yet stylish. Your solution to spicing each one up? Adding a punchy statement accessory or two in place of chilli and dark soy sauce. Your style: Minimalist chic(k) 3. All-day Breakfast You love checking out new cafes and get ideas on where to go from foodies on Instagram. Which is much like how you dress yourself - by flipping through magazines and scrolling through fashion influencers’

posts for style inspiration. Your fave pieces right now are culottes, cropped tops, cutesy bold prints and denim, and you fit right in with the cool young crowd. Your style: Trend follower 4. Khinkali Hip new restaurants rarely get a dime from you. You much prefer taking a table at your nearest homey restaurant and chowing down on straightforward faves from the Georgian national cuisine. “Can’t go wrong with that” is your mantra - and it funnels down to your wardrobe that’s filled with reliable go-tos that you’ve had for yonks. Some call you boring, but you’re always quick to respond with - say it now - ”can’t go wrong with that”. Your style: Classic

foodpanda together with its affiliated brands hellofood and Delivery Club, is the leading global online food delivery marketplace, active in 38 countries on five continents. The company enables restaurants to become visible in the online and mobile world and provides them with a constantly evolving online technology. For consumers, foodpanda/hellofood offer the convenience to order food online and the widest gastronomic range, from which they can choose their favorite meal on the web or via the app. foodpanda operates in India, Thailand, Indonesia, Pakistan, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, Taiwan, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Hong Kong, Philippines, Russia, Poland, Ukraine, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Georgia and Serbia. hellofood operates in Brazil, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, Qatar, Egypt, Nigeria, Morocco, Kenya, Ghana, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Algeria. Delivery Club operates in Russia. foodpanda is a consumeroriented company. Using contemporary technological means like mobile applications, it makes food ordering much more simple and fun, ensuring user comfort. Over 50 restaurants in Tbilisi, Mtskheta and Rustavi are ready to deliver food to your doorstep when you order froom foodpanda’s website ( or its mobile application available for free on iOS, Android and Windows Mobile.

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Nissan pathfinder – 2004, 4X4, AT

per day Tours to all directions of Georgia (with driver and Guide) for 4 person from 40 euro.

Forest for Life On 28 May 2015, the Government of Georgia, Government of Finland and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will present the results of a post-war assistance in Borjomi Gorge. Gigla Agulashvili, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Protection of Georgia; Christer Gustaf Michelsson, Ambassador of Finland to Georgia; and Shombi Sharp, Deputy Head of UNDP in Georgia, will visit the village Daba where the works are ongoing to restore the forest burnt down in the armed conflict of 2008. Up to 80 hectares of forest have been restored and over 120 thousand seedlings of oak, pine and fir-trees have been planted since 2012. 60 hectares of those have been restored with assistance from the Government of Finland and UNDP, and 20 hectares – with assistance from the Government of Austria. More than 1 million Euro programme also supported agriculture, tourism and environmental education in the region to promote economy and assist local residents. The agriculture extension centre, vet centre and

lab were opened in Tsaghveri to introduce eco-villages and new farming technologies. More than 700 school children from Borjomi, Tsaghveri and Daba engaged in an informal environmental education through summer camps and youth eco-clubs. The improved touristic infrastruc-

ture – rehabilitated Tsaghveri Park, new hiking trails and active information campaign, attracted new tourists to the region. Wildfire in August 2008 totally or partially destroyed 950 hectares of forest. This damage heavily affected the unique ecosystem of the Borjomi Gorge

as well as the livelihoods of local villages. The joint initiative of the Government of Georgia, Government of Finland and UNDP has kicked off the process of restoring the forest and promoting Borjomi as a region of green economy, agriculture and tourism.

Mercedes-Benz Viano – 2004

Toyota RAV 4 – 2000, 4X4, AT


Unemployment Down!

The number of people employed in Georgia is increasing. Geostat, Georgia’s national statistics office, has released the results of a study of Georgia’s unemployment rate, revealing that at the end of 2014 the unemployment rate in Georgia stood at 12.4 percent – the lowest figure in 11 years. The 2014 unemployment rate showed a drop of 2.2 percent on the figures for 2013, when the country experienced a 14.6 percent unemployment rate. Since 2006 unemployment in Georgia has risen from 13.6 percent, reaching a peak in 2009 at 16.9 percent, and continuously declined every year since. “These results show that employment has increased in Georgia. I under-

stand the problems of those [who fit into the] 12.4 percent [unemployment category] but we have to solve all the problems step-by-step,” said Georgia’s Finance Minister Nodar Khaduri. When divided by gender, the results show that in 2014, 10.4 percent of women were unemployed (a 1.9 percent drop) and 14 percent men (a 2.5 percent drop). In terms of age, Geostat noted that the unemployment rate had remained the same for the 55-59s, while a decline was experienced by all other groups. A sharp reduction (11.3 percent) in unemployment was seen in the 15-19 age group, however this category also showed the highest unemployment rate amongst all

other age categories. Of the working-age population (aged 15-65), 66.5 percent were ‘economically active’ (employed). The employment rate of this group of people increased by 1.7 percent in the last year. Most people in Georgia were selfemployed (60.2 percent of total employment figures), however trends since 2006 showed more people being hired as employees. Unemployment remained highest in Georgia’s capital, yet Geostat claimed that this had reduced by 6.6 percent in the last year. The data further showed that employment had increased in rural areas (0.8 percent), while decreasing in urban areas (0.5 percent).

Do You Really Need a Smar twatch? By Beqa Kirtava They say the early bird catches the worm and despite the fact that the smartwatch craze hasn’t hit Georgia yet, just like all the other innovational technology trends, it is bound to roll towards this country quite soon. So, I have decided to make sure you’re prepared and help you answer the question a lot of people have been asking themselves lately – “do I really need a smartwatch?” Since the introduction of the term “smartphone” in 1995, people have shown an ever-growing interest in purchasing ‘smart’ gadgets, resulting in the birth of smart TVs, smart glasses, smartbands, and more. Now the Android vs. iOS war has moved to a new battleground – the Smartwatch Empire. Although Google has successfully defeated Apple in the smartphone wars (according to STATISTICA, 75% of purchased smartphones run Android), Tim Cook’s company (or should I say, Steve Jobs’) has gained an astounding victory in the smartwatch faceoff, as Apple received more 1 million pre-orders during the first weekend of the watch’s availability, while it took Google almost a year to sell 720,000 Android Wear devices. Why did Android Wear sink while Apple Watch succeeded? Although the official sales figures haven’t been released yet, it is clear that Apple Watch has already raced past Android Wear. The reason for that? Correct marketing. Apple Inc. has clearly shattered the common belief that high prices put customers off. Whereas moderately expensive items are often overlooked, extremely costly products are adored, as an unbelievably high price automatically moves the item into the ‘luxurious’ category, making it desirable. While most of the manufacturers decided to focus on customer-friendly prices,

Apple has been playing the luxury game all along, by releasing a $10,000 Apple Watch Edition (alongside its Apple Watch Sport and Apple Watch, which both cost twice as much as an average Android Wear gadget) and using indirect advertising (Apple gave music royalty Beyonce and the head of Chanel fashion house, Karl Lagerfeld custom made gold

smartwatches), further strengthening the opulent status of the device. Now that we have put the Apple Watch vs. Android Wear business out of our way; it’s time to assess the pros and cons of owning any smartwatch at all. Should you or should you not? · The number one thing you need to know about smartwatches is that they require a smartphone running the same operating system. Though technically

they are considered as a fully functional devices on their own, they are not. So don’t bother buying one if you don’t own a smartphone. · A smartwatch can be a very useful accessory if you are all about fitness, as it can monitor your heart rate, running speed, etc. However, if health tracking is your only concern, you’d be better off purchasing a smartband, which will do the same job for you and save you a lot of money. · Both Android Wear and Apple Watch have an array of applications and features, which may seem quite impressive at first, but frankly, the only thing those features do is tell you to look at your smartwatch. And although you can decline a phone call, answering requires you to dig out your phone; you’ll be notified when you have an email, but if you want to reply, you’ll have to use the smartphone for typing, and so on. · Battery life is also a huge con for a smartwatch. As if you weren’t tired enough of charging your smartphone, now you’ll have to charge your watch as well. · Another thing you should take into consideration is your eyes, as watching tiny notifications on a tiny screen is the last thing they need. · Don’t forget about the size as well. Smartwatches are quite bulky and not for those who favor small wristbands. Taking all of the above-mentioned into consideration, I believe one thing is for sure – smartwatches have no particular features which are worth paying hundreds of dollars for. The failure of Google Glass clearly showed that humanity is perfectly okay with some of our accessories being as ‘dumb’ as they always were. And while there seems to be no particular way any smartwatch would make your life much easier (at least for now), I advise you to save your money and not buy one.

MAY 29 - JUNE 4


Royal Ba varian Beer Bav Kaltenber g Hits the altenberg Geor gian Mar ket Georgian Mark

Prince Luitpold of Bavaria, Minister of Economy Giorgi Kvirikashvili and Castel Georgia’s GM Levan Zautashvili

By Beqa Kirtava On May 23, 2015 an agreement of collaboration was signed between Castel Georgia and the representatives of the royal Bavarian beer company – “Kaltenberg,” officially launching the new brand at the local market. The ceremony was attended by the Minister of Economy, Giorgi Kvirikashvili and Prince Luitpold of Bavaria, whose family is the rightful owner of Kaltenberg. The Royal family produces beer in several countries across the world in accordance with all the standards of the “German Beer Purity Law” (aka Bavarian Purity Law), which is a regulation concerning the production of beer in Germany, meaning that only the highest quality ingredients should be used in production. The law was created on 30 November 1487, when Albert IV, Duke of Ba-

varia implemented it, specifying three ingredients – water, malt and hops – for the brewing the beer. Later, in the city of Ingolstadt in the duchy of Bavaria on 23 April 1516, two other dukes, endorsed the law to be followed in their duchies, adding standards for the sale of beer. “We’ve gone through a very long and difficult process to reach an agreement with the representatives of Kaltenberg. Apart from the substantial investment by the German side in the culture of proper consumption of beer in Georgia, we are very pleased that they recognized the ongoing processes in our factory in accordance to the most important beer production charter in the word – the Bavarian Purity Law,” stated the Head of Castel Georgia, Temur Chkonia. Kaltenberg is now available throughout the entire country for those who want to taste royal Bavarian beer.


Iashvili pla ys a plays att Diaspor a da y concer Diaspora day concertt

By George Abashvili On May 27th a concert was held in the Tbilisi Conservatory, dedicated to Diaspora Day. Violinist Gia Iashvili came to Georgia from Austria for the festival “From Easter to Ascension” which was held in Batumi on May 21 and remained to perform alongside well-known violoncellist Giorgi Kharadze and pianist Tamar Lichelli, both conservatory musicians. On the main stage of the Tbilisi Conservatory Iashvili premiered a new

project in which well-known arias were played for the audience. The concert was attended by Sozar Subari the Minister of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories and Refugees. “What does a rocket ship need to fly? Fuel? No! Effort! Effort from the people inside the rocket. Today on this stage I saw something beautiful and I couldn’t have seen this without their effort. I’m very delighted to be here and I can see that you are as well,” enthused Gela Dumbadze, the Minister of Diaspora Issues, addressing the audience at the close of the concert.


MAY 29 - JUNE 4


GOMI Rebranded: New Look, Best Quality By Meri Taliashvili

include wild species), 14 are Georgian, including: dika, copy, tavtukhi (Triticum durum), ipkli, and dolispuri. Georgian wheat is characterized by its diversity and unique taste, which distinguishes our vodka from its competitors. Q: What is the theme you have chosen for the new packaging? A: We have created Gomi Lux, Gomi original and Gomi Prestige new packaging, and we are gradually supplying shops with the new production. On the packaging we focused on unique Georgian wheat and the fact that the spirit made from it gives Gomi vodka a special flavor and distinguishes it from its competitors. Q: Do you think it will compete with imported vodka? A: As a result of rebranding, Gomi vodka will become more competitive on the Georgian vodka market. Special emphasis is on production quality as well as visually and technologically. The improved Gomi, in terms of quality, will freely compete with imported vodka, among them Russian and Ukrainian. What’s more, in terms of price it will be more acceptable for customers. We have conducted customer research in order to assess Gomi Prestige taste quality with respect to competitors. Results have shown that Gomi vodka is the first in terms of being a positively evaluated spirit (total of first and second named vodkas). Gomi Prestige was largely estimated as a pleasantly drinkable spirit with good qualities. According to research, Gomi vodka is also most appreciated amongst Russian and Ukrainian vodkas for its taste qualities.

GOMI, the Georgian alcoholic product manufacturing company, is the largest in the country to deliver high quality spirits, which it has done so for more than a century. A study has shown that vodka produced by Gomi, compared to Russian and Ukrainian vodka, is smoother to drink and thus more in demand by the population. At this moment, the company is undergoing a rebranding process that will allow its loyal customers to get even better quality at a lower price. Georgia Today met with Gomi General Director, David Dugladze, to find out more about Gomi Company. Q: What is the purpose of the rebranding? A: Gomi offers a wide variety of products in different consumer segments according to taste. Now, we are going through a rebranding process and as a result we will offer our faithful customers an even higher quality product at a favorable price. Gomi, with an upgraded package, will offer its clients an improved quality of vodka. Q: What are the advantages of the Georgian wheat you use for making vodka? A: Gomi vodka is made from the finest quality Georgian wheat spirit and we source our water from the icy ridges of the Caucasus at the company’s factory. It should be noted that Gomi is the only company which uses wheat to make vodka. Georgian wheat, as well as wine, has a century-long history. Out of the existing 23 kinds of wheat in the world (I don’t

Make the Future Green Successful Project with “GIZ”

By Meri Elen The Company “Saqartvelos Nergebi” (Georgian Seedlings) was founded in 2011. It is one of the largest sapling economies in Georgia and works on an issue which is vitally important for our country by taking an active part in projects pertaining to the spheres of greening and biodiversity. A successful young leader, Giorgi Abramishvili, specialist of business management by profession, runs the Saqartvelos Nergebi. He stands out for his experience and professionalism, is principled and demanding in business, and friendly and attentive in attitude. Giorgi Abramishvili: today Saqartvelos Nergebi is a serious producer and importer company; we offer the population evergreen decorative plants as well as diverse saplings of fruit trees; forest sorts – cypress, Pinuseldarica, lime-tree, ash-tree, maple, oak and all at the best available prices. The company has large sapling economies in Kvareli and in Supsa, where the selection of Georgian and foreign sorts and restoration of unique sorts takes place. During each season we carry out sowing, budding and engrafting, so that we have constantly available produce. We collaborate with the sapling industries of European countries; we remain stable

and reliable partners with Tbilisi City Hall and take an active part in the actions of greening of the capital city. Our slogan – “Make the future green” reflects precisely the activities of Saqartvelos Nergebi. This spring, we have already planted up to 10,000 trees within the area of Tbilisi. As soon as I came to the company, we elaborated a new strategy and we have adopted many rational and fruitful decisions together with our co-workers. Let me present the members of our group: Victoria Begeladze (PR office), Paata Togonidze (dendrologist), Vazha Baidoshvili (forester, sapling economy of Kvareli), and Oneri Dzadzua (specialist of the sapling economy of Supsa). We process individual and batch orders both on imported and local products. Regarding our current project, we are aiming to protect Dedoplistskaro from desertification and are implementing our actions upon the order of the society of international collaboration, GIZ. This project foresees the restoration of windbreaks in Dedoplistskaro and we actively got involved in this initiative, which seems very promising for the country. In three rows, each of 2000 m length, there 2070 saplings were planted of eight species. So far, the rate of survival of the plants is 100%. Our employees periodically visit the spot and take care of the plants. Such an action of care was last implemented on 5 May 2015. Our plans foresee strengthening and developing the seedling industries of Supsa and Kvareli and the future opening of gardening centers in Kutaisi and Batumi.


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Geor gia in the Hear s MOMA Georgia Heartt of Afghanistan: Exhibition a att Tbilisi’ Tbilisi’s By MJ Riquelme del Valle “A tribute to the lives of the 29 Georgian soldiers killed in Afghanistan.” This is how Spanish artist Augusto FerrerDalmau describes his collection of works on display at Tbilisi’s Museum of Modern Art. In 2014, Dalmau, a self-taught hyperrealist artist specialized in military art, spent a week with the Georgian troops deployed in Afghanistan, just as he had done two years before with the Spanish army. The resulting works of both trips share a common message: “I want to transmit respect for those who are risking their lives for a more civilized society. Georgians should be very proud of their soldiers,” Dalmau told Georgia Today. Currently, Georgia has 885 servicemen deployed in Afghanistan, and is the second largest troop contributor to the NATO-led mission1. Apart from the casualties, over 435 Georgian soldiers have been wounded, 35 of whom are amputees. Georgia started contributing to the Afghan mission in 2004, a year after NATO assumed leadership of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) established by the United Nations Security Council. Every casualty has sparked public debate in Georgia regarding the size of the country’s de-

ployment in Afghanistan, especially among those not favoring integration with the West. “The psychological and physical efforts of the Georgian troops in Afghanistan are huge. Just think of how it feels walking in a sunblaze, 50 degrees Celsius, with very heavy equipment on your shoulders, surrounded by landmines, thinking that every minute could be your last,” Nodar Kharshiladze, Senior Fellow at the Georgian Foundation of Strategic and International Studies, told Georgia Today. In Ferrer-Dalmau’s paintings these hardships are embodied by a “generic soldier” that looks alike in most paintings, his identity being given by the uniform and the flag. This contrasts with the deeply individualized expression of the local combatants: in their gaze Ferrer-Dalmau’s brush stroke expresses dignity and pride. Local and international warriors are deeply differentiated by their outfits and how they are individualized. The common factor in every image is the weaponry, a presence that in the case of the Georgians aims at giving a broader message: “In my paintings I wanted to show that the Georgian army is well equipped and organized, up to Western standards and very far from any Soviet legacy”. Ferrer-Dalmau expresses this pride not only through his paintings but also in

Augusto Ferrer-Dalmau and Nino Ioseliani, Editor-in-Chief of OK! Magazine

the excitement of his voice every time he speaks about Georgia and its potential. Amidst the dusty aridity of the backgrounds in the paintings, two figures stand out: one is the smiley expression of camouflage-dressed Nino Ioseliani, Editor-in-Chief of OK! Magazine, the only woman portrayed in the exhibition. “She traveled with us to Afghanistan and with her portrait I wanted to symbolize the presence of women fighting there”. The other figure standing out is the Patriarch. “I included his portrait just as I included a painting of the King of Spain when I exposed my visions of Spanish troops in Afghanistan. Ilya II is not just a religious figure, but an emblem of the country and a symbol of unity”. The presence of the Patriarch in the exhibition symbolizes how present, in the opinion of the artist, religion was among the Georgian troops in Afghanistan, and how they had army priests and chapels, just as the Spaniards did. “This was one of the so many things that made me feel at home, just as much as the Georgian’s characters”. “We are so similar, and have so much in common in our attitude in Afghanistan, fighting in a mission that aims at bringing peace to the Afghan people”. Ferrer-Dalmau’s works can be seen in Tbilisi until the 28th of June.

Geor gian Or ganiza tions Committed to Wor ld P eace Georgian Org anizations orld Peace

By Baia Dzagnidze The Second Annual Commemoration of the Declaration of World Peace initiated in Seoul, Republic of Korea, reached Tbilisi together with 50 cities in 30 countries worldwide on May 25

uniting 200,000 people. The event aims to bring people together to work toward peace, calling all youths, women, political, religious, and secular leaders to come together to leave a legacy of a peaceful world to future generations. Organized by Georgian members of

the International Peace Youth Group, five organizations (Young Progressive Leader of Georgia, League of Young Diplomats and Georgian Youth Development Association, DRONI and Caucasus Youth Nexus) discussed the importance of peace and presented their

peace-themed projects. “One of the missions of our organization in Georgia and the Caucasus is to develop peace in the region,” Giorgia Azariashvili, the Founder and Chairman of Caucasus Youth Nexus told Georgia Today. “However, before taking on global projects, we need to establish peace in our own country which is the main idea of today’s event. Considering the fact that we started operating only two years ago, we could not do global projects, thus we have implemented various events in Georgia including “New Generation for Peaceful Changes”, “Round Table for Peaceful cohabitation”, intercultural dialogues and evenings and “Draw for Peace”, explained Azariashvili adding that recently the organization became a member of world famous peace organization MasterPeace which will enable them to become involved in more global events and trainings. The celebration of May 25 was initiated in 2013 by Man Hee Lee, the Chair-

man of the Heavenly Culture World Peace Restoration of Light (HWPL), a non-governmental organization that works to bring an end to all wars in the world and to achieve true world peace. The organization also includes the International Women’s Peace Group (IWPG) and International Peace Youth Group (IPYG). At the ceremony held in Seoul on the same day, a letter from Chairman Lee was presented before all members of IPYG and IWPG, stated that “the youth’s work will be the force that will put an end to all wars on this earth and create peace that will be left as a legacy for the future generations. Let us not forget this day and hold commemorative ceremonies. Let us announce this to the world so that everyone may become a peace messenger and work with us in creating the light of glory.” By the end of the event, the Declaration of World Peace was read out in Georgian and attendees had the opportunity to sign the enactment of cessation of war.


Mana gement Plan Pr esented ffor or UNESCO Manag Presented ld Herita ge Site Gela ti Monaster y Wor orld Heritag Gelati Monastery By David Lolidze A presentation was held to discuss the management plan of Gelati Monastery which is a cultural heritage recognized by UNESCO in 1994. The presentation was lead by head of the planning committee, Davit Khoshtaria and was attended by Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia, Levan Kharatishvili, along with many other interested and honorary guests. Davit Khoshtaria, head of the planning committee: “The management plan is based on a value-led approach that includes cultural and natural values”. To emphasise the necessity of his management plan, Khoshtaria went on to list the most important aspects and values that Gelati monastery and the buffer zone

holds, such as cultural heritage, landscape, spiritual importance, and social and economic aspects. The main challenges, as he said, remain the management as well as threats such as natural hazards, air pollution, visitor pressure, accommodation for the increasing numbers of monks and risks of impact by military conflict. Regarding other issues to be taken into consideration, such as the value of stakeholders, he said: “Consultation through public hearings is essential to allow stakeholders to initiate output.” “The authenticity of the Monastery is fully preserved, Khoshtaria said. “The Gelati Monastery Rehabilitation Project – commonly known as the Conservation Master Plan, has guided the most important rehabilitation works since 2008. The Gelati Monastery Complex Rehabilitation Project has been the basis for

the preservation of the authenticity of the monument, restoration and rehabilitation of all its components and the same time its presentation to visitors and its utilization by the clergy.” Overall, what drew everyone’s full attention was the matter of private ownerships near and within the Monastery location, meaning some construction sites may soon appear within the walls of Gelati causing the view, which has been there since the 12th century, to be blocked and reducing the beauty of sites such as the watch tower, the church of St. Elijah, the Motsameta Monastery and some bridges from the medieval period. It is hoped that UNESCO will be satisfied with the progress that has been and will be made in order to eradicate all existing issues concerning the Monastery.


MAY 29 - JUNE 4


Little Georgia in Los Angeles

By M. Tsereteli An art exhibition in Los Angeles titled “Inner Pieces” is stimulating considerable media attention in one of the main art hubs of the world. The show, which opened this month at the M.D. Art Gallery on the famous West 3rd Street represents a physical manifesta-

tion of the spiritual that transcends the temporal. For Georgian readers this art exhibition is considerable because, on its interior, the show curators have put up paintings by Georgian artist Mirza Davitaia. Davitaia, who was the State Minister of Diaspora Issues of Georgia until 2012, moved to Los Angeles to make art and

movies full time. Art critics think that the painter, who has exhibited his works internationally, is as successful in contemporary arts as in his former political career. Recently, Ningbo Museum of Art in China began exhibiting Davitaia’s “Spirit Rain” as part of its permanent collection. His works are further exhibited in ParisFrance, Nuremberg-Germany, TbilisiGeorgia and Vladimir-Russia. Mirza Davitaia has been painting for as long as he can remember. Back when he was a boy, Davitaia Sr., also a painter, ensconced his son in the Elementary School of Art, in Tbilisi, Georgia. Davitaia junior came of age when the country was controlled by the Soviet Union. The artist took the best of his Georgian origin to Western Europe where he studied painting at the Academy of Nuremberg, West Germany, an experience which opened the young painter to the extravagance of creative possibilities in those with a Western mentality. He returned home and took his place in the Georgian fight for independence from Russia. “It was a fight for both political and artistic freedom,” says the artist. “The sweetness of line, color and texture and the plastically of his painting mirrors Davitaia’s inner exploration for non-linear independence,” says German art professor Christian Hamsea as he evaluates Davitaia’s art. “He has a sophisticated and at the same time innovative style, his contribution is vital to Fine art in any country,” says Chevalier Tony Clarck, cura-

tor of the exhibition ‘Inner Pieces.’ “His compositions are dynamic and emotional. Davitaia is an artist who has grasped the technique of telling the story behind his art. He isn’t just selling painting- he’s selling an experience, that’s why I almost always buy paintings from each new series,”says private collector Khatia de Adams. ‘Inner pieces’ is a Fine Art exhibition of art from around the world. Besides Davitaia’s works, it shows the paintings of worldly renowned artists Anita Rosenberg, Hal Yaskulka, Ivan

Butoract and David Gardner. Curators believe that what makes this exhibition unique is that all artists within the show share an interest in the wildly imaginative nature of storytelling, and the visual fusion of fantasy and reality in a narrative context. Mirza Davitaia feels he is experiencing a very important period in his art: “South California has different energy, different light, I am absorbing these experiences and transferring them into my colors and shapes; this is the purpose of being an artist,” he says.

Eur ovision 2015 Finale: We R ank the P erf or mances Euro Rank Perf erfor ormances It’s hard to imagine that the current Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) is the very same competition which was once dominated by such magnificent artists as ABBA and Celine Dion. Over the years, as the musical quality of the show declined, the limelight drifted away from the singers and the songs to the countries, therefore creating a completely political song contest where all the attention is directed towards the waving flags of the European nations, while the musical grandeur slowly fades in contrast. Despite our disappointment over ESC’s fall, we decided to “build a bridge”, get over it and objectively rank every single performance of the finale (Grades A - F, the best being A+). · Maraaya - Here for You (Slovenia) – Lots of things about this performance seemed out of place: the headphones, the lighting, the bizarre dancer and the piano guy. The song itself was very monotonic. D · Lisa Angell - N’oubliez Pas (France) – A very run-of-the-mill ballad, standing still the whole time. Sadly, her high notes were not impressive enough to save this humdrum performance. D · Nadav Guedj - Golden Boy (Israel) – Folk vibes couldn’t save this awfully generic pop song and the choreography was as unoriginal as it gets. D · Elina Born & Stig Rästa Goodbye to Yesterday (Estonia) – Couldn’t even determine what the singers were trying to accomplish with this performance. Was it supposed to be sad? Sexy? Mysterious? It surely was awkward. F · Electro Velvet - Still in Love with You (UK) – Electro Velvet tried to bring in a few Jazz vibes, but very unsuccessfully. The choreography was laughable and this seemingly old school performance was simply disappointing. A plus for trying something different, though. C· Genealogy - Face the Shadow (Armenia) – Their voices were nice, but each very different, therefore they didn’t quite fit together. Some parts were surprisingly enjoyable, some were severely low. C

· Monika Linkytë and Vaidas Baumila - This Time (Lithuania) – The song was forgettable and the performance lacked a sense of verisimilitude in general. Unfortunately, didn’t feel the love. D · Bojana Stamenov - Beauty Never Lies (Serbia) – Bojana obviously has the voice and her confidence shined through the whole act. She definitely delivered one of the most energetic performances of the night. They should have got rid of those awful background dancers, though. B+ · Mørland & Debrah Scarlett - A Monster Like Me (Norway) – Both the performers had very nice tones and smoothly moved between registers. However, the song and, generally, the entire performance were unmemorable due to the lack of variety. C · Måns Zelmerlöw - Heroes (Sweden) – The number was effortless and lively, with an interestingly different visual concept. Måns’ vocal consistency is something to be applauded and he delivered the whole performance with an admirable ease. A · John Karayiannis - One Thing I Should Have Done (Cyprus) – The song was melodic and therefore quite soothing. John’s tone was warm and pleasing as well. However, zero stage presence and monotony pushed this potential remarkably low. C · Guy Sebastian - Tonight Again (Australia) – Guy probably had the best vocal technique this year. However, the song sounded like every other R&B song on the planet. A little originality would have helped. B+ · Loïc Nottet - Rhythm Inside (Belgium) – Both the song and the performance were pushed too hard to be edgy, therefore ending up a bit cringe-worthy instead. Strong vocal cords though. C · The Makemakes - I Am Yours (Austria) – The beginning sounded good, but it continued in the very same spirit till the end, getting a bit boring. Two of the band members looked painfully unneeded and there was hardly any connection with the crowd. C· Maria Elena Kyriakou - One Last Breath (Greece) – Another great voice wasted on an ordinary, dull ballad. D

· Knez - Adio (Montenegro) – The intro was great. Unfortunately, that was the highlight of the number, which looked like a strange Deja Vu of a number of the night’s other performances. D · Ann Sophie - Black Smoke (Germany) – Although this song didn’t deserve the 0 points it got during the final vote, it wasn’t much of an accomplishment either. The performance was overly calculated, therefore the connection and the emotion was lost. D · Monika Kuszyñska - In the Name of Love (Poland) – The song was quite bland and the back singers were louder than Monika in some parts. Quite disappointing. D · Aminata Love - Injected (Latvia) – The whole performance was definitely different and stood out amongst the crowd. Aminata’s vocal delivery was also good. However, in some parts the song sounded a bit unpleasant, after all it was just a long beat sequence with a couple of high notes here and there. B· Voltaj - De La Capat / All Over Again (Romania) – Decent song, decent performance, decent grade. C · Edurne - Amanecer (Spain) – The singer looked absolutely stunning. The song, however, was very disap-

pointing. D · Boggie - Wars for Nothing (Hungary) – Boggie was also a very beautiful lady. Unfortunately, with the stage presence of a table and the most tiresome song, Wars for Nothing was the nadir of the night. F · Nina Sublatti - Warrior (Georgia) – What a great stage presence! The performance was bold, energetic and fiery. Nina’s vocals were on point. Yet the show makers covered her with too much smoke and the director of photography had no idea what he/she was shooting, but Nina is not the one to blame for that. A · Elnur Huseynov - Hour Of The Wolf (Azerbaijan) – Great song and nice, rich vocals. Elnur was too static though. And the super active background dancers emphasized that even more. A· Polina Gagarina - A Million Voices (Russia) – Fantastic voice and an enjoyable song. However, the visual concept was a rip-off of Jennifer Lopez’s American Idol performance and Polina

cannot act; her forced facial expressions gave the whole number an artificial overlay. B· Elhaida Dani - I’m Alive (Albania) – Flawed vocal performance. Her falsetto was very weak and some of the high notes transitioned into screams. She did have a nice stage presence, however. D · Il Volo - Grande Amore (Italy) – Many may say Il Volo were boring, but we think they were actually splendid! A great example that classic singing never goes out of style. Their vocals were simply phenomenal and they put on a performance which didn’t need a load of pyrotechnics to be staggering. A Note from the Author: As I keep a close eye on nearly all of the above-mentioned countries’ local competition shows, which are jam-packed with talent, it still remains a mystery why 90% of Europe fails to send their level-best performances to Eurovision. I guess few desire to waste art on politics, which is understandable.

Photos of Geor gian IDPs Displa yed Georgian Display ter s at Ne w Yor k UN Headquar New ork Headquarter ters By Nino Melikishvili A photo exhibition showing the lives of Georgian internally displaced persons (IDPs) was opened at the United Nations headquarters in New York on May 26th. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the exhibition, entitled ‘A Story

of Internal Displacement Captured on Camera,’ combines a photo exhibition which reflects a wave of refugees from Abkhazia and South Ossetia and their current situations. For the exhibition the Georgian Mission found photo documents dating back to the early 1990s, when hundreds of thousands of Georgian citizens of various ethnicities were forced to become displaced as a painful consequence of the conflict. Focus was put on the works of three foreign photographers: John Jones, a British photographer from London’s Sunday Times; British war photographer Malcolm Linton; and American photographer and documentary filmmaker Anthony Suau from New York. The exhibition was organized by the Georgian Permanent Mission to the UN who noted that the event aimed to contribute to an increased awareness of the very important matter of displacement.


MAY 29 - JUNE 4


“Half an Hour of Musical Madness” Christian McBride Trio Closes J azz Series 2015 Jazz By Maka Lomadze Jazz Series 2015, an event enjoyed by all generations, concluded with the impressive Christian McBride Trio. As well as local artists, the Tbilisi event had showcased some foreign talents including the Kenny Garrett Quintet, Wallace Roney Group with the first performance for Tbilisi and Jeff Lorber Fusion. For jazz enthusiasts, organizers Eastern Promotion will continue a year of top class jazz events with the Black Sea Jazz Festival in Batumi on July 23-26 This year’s event will see George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, Liv Warfield & NPG HORNZ, Snoop Dogg and Giorgi Mikadze & NYC Groove Aliens Feat. Dj Raydar Ellis top the bill. Meanwhile, presenter of Jazz Series, TV anchor Kakha Tolordava revealed the winners of a poster competition for the summer’s festival.. Two victors were chosen from 117 entries with second place going to Luka Jiqia, who gained the most likes on social media. Eastern Promotion rewarded him with 1000 Lari and two season tickets for the Black Sea Jazz Festival. First place went to Teona Valieva who won 2000 Lari and two season tickets awarded by a representative of TBC Bank whose product TBC Status is the official presenter of the jazz series. Christian McBride, who enchanted Tbilisi crowds, says that acoustic bass is like a mother and an electro bass is like a restless child, who is more straightforward but lacks the wisdom of the

former. He has fulfilled a number of very ambitious projects as a band leader, composer, instrumentalist, enlightener and curator. Lately, he has been performing in a trio. Georgia Today spoke with Giorgi Kereselidze, Director of Eastern Promotion just before the show: “This is the classical trio. Christian McBride is a very required musician. It’s been two years already that this trio represents headliners of different international jazz festivals. They have jazz standards with their own improvisation, but their own music as well, as all big musicians. What they perform varies and largely depends on the audience.” In his third visit to Tbilisi, McBride greeted the city and expressed his warmth to it at the beginning of the concert. He also mentioned that he has been touring all around the world for five years now. He introduced his two young colleagues – 29-year-old drummer Ulysses Owens Jr. and 21-year-old Christian Sands, who he called “a stylish pianist”. At the dawn of his career, McBride was mentored by his father Lee Smith and Uncle Howard Cooper, who were famous bassists from Philadelphia. As a minor member of bands in his past, McBride managed to sell the largest quantity of records in his generation. He is justly known as a virtuoso. During the concert, when the performance was in full swing, we spoke to Zurab Karumidze, Georgian writer and jazz lover, author of the novel “Jazz

Blossoming” and documentary “Jazz Life”: “I have always liked Christian McBride. Earlier, in 2006, I listened to him in Saint Louis. He is a marvelous contrabassist with a significant technique and sound. Moreover, he has a nice pianist, a young man whom I have never listened to before tonight and a splendid drummer too. I am delighted. Within the last month, Tbilisi has hosted two great contrabassists – Ron Carter and Christian. We are witnessing an equal participation of three of them tonight – this is the trinity rather than a trio.” They touched the very strings of the soul all evening and performed the most

lyrical song of the whole soiree “The most Beautiful Girl in the World”, recorded on their current CD called “I have dreamed”. It was met with a stream of applause. This synergy between the audience and the performers is astonishing – with both expressing their gratitude. “I am particularly fond of classical jazz, namely, Louis Armstrong. It is impossible to talk about jazz without emotions. I am overwhelmed tonight. Christian McBride is at the peak of his career at present. He is simultaneously reserved and perfect in expressive manner. As for his band members, they are rather young, but in spite of this fact, they give spe-

cial features to the trio and make it more expressive and emotional, turning it into the musical madness that we have just witnessed. The trio is intellectual and conceptual, but it gives all members a possibility to express themselves to the full extent. Christian McBride is still a young musician for jazz, though he is 42 already. Therefore, I would say that I like him very much, but he is still like a young wine. Therefore, I prefer Ron carter at this stage. As you know, wine is the older the better. So, I think everything is ahead for McBride,” Alona Sinova from Batumi stated after enjoying the concert.

Cast: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi Language: Russian Start time: 22:10 Ticket price: 11.50 – 12.50 Lari



WHAT'S ON IN TBILISI THEATRE GABRIADZE THEATRE Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93

Directed by Guram Bregadze Language: Russian Start time: 12:00 Ticket price: from 5 Lari

May 29 THE AUTUMN OF MY SPRING Directed by Revaz Gabriadze With English subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10, 15 Lari

AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 299 99 55

May 30, 31, June 4 MARSHAL DE FANTIE’S DIAMOND Directed by Revaz Gabriadze With English subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10, 15 Lari STATE SHADOW THEATRE “BUDRUGANA-GAGRA” – APKHAZETI Address: Rustaveli Ave. 17 (Rustaveli Theatre) Telephone: 2 72 68 68 June 3 ISN’T THIS A LOVELY DAY... Gela Kandelaki Directed by Gela Kandelaki Performance in one act Small Stage Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: 6, 8 Lari


May 29 – June 4 SAN ANDREAS 3D Directed by Brad Peyton Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller Language: English Start time: 19:30 Language: Russian Start time: 12:00, 14:30, 17:00, 19:45, 22:20 Ticket price: 8.50 – 12.50 Lari TOMORROWLAND Directed by Brad Bird Cast: George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Hugh Laurie Genre: Action, Adventure, Mystery Language: Russian Start time: 14:05, 16:55, 19:45 Ticket price: 8.50 – 12.50 Lari

TBILISI NODAR DUMBADZE STATE CENTRAL CHILDREN'S THEATRE Address: 99/1 Agmashenebeli Ave. Telephone: 295 39 27

SHAUN THE SHEEP Directed by Mark Burton, Richard Starzak Cast: Justin Fletcher, John Sparkes, Omid Djalili Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy Language: Russian Start time: 12:00 Ticket price: 8.50 – 9.50 Lari

May 30 THE PRINCESS, FROG, HANSEL AND GRETEL Brothers Grimm Directed by Dimitri Khvtisiashvili Language: Russian Start time: 12:00 Ticket price: from 6 Lari

THE AGE OF ADALINE Directed by Lee Toland Krieger Cast: Blake Lively, Michiel Huisman, Harrison Ford Genre: Drama, Romance Language: Russian Start time: 14:05, 16:50, 22:35 Ticket price: 8.50 – 12.50 Lari


MAD MAX: FURY ROAD Directed by George Miller

RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 255 50 00 LOST IN KARASTAN Directed by Ben Hopkins Cast: Matthew Macfadyen, MyAnna Buring, Noah Taylor Genre: Comedy Language: Russian Start time: 18:00 Ticket price: 11.50 – 11.50 Lari TOMORROWLAND (Info above) Language: Russian Start time: 16:50, 19:40, 22:30 Ticket price: 8.50 – 12.50 Lari SHAUN THE SHEEP (Info above) Language: Russian Start time: 12:00, 14:30 Ticket price: 8.50 – 9.50 Lari THE AGE OF ADALINE (Info above) Language: Russian Start time: 16:35, 19:30, 22:15 Ticket price: 8.50 – 12.50 Lari MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (Info above) Language: Russian Start time: 11:50, 14:30, 17:10, 19:50, 22:30 Ticket price: 7.50 – 12.50 Lari MUSEUM IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA Address: 8 Sioni St. Telephone: 2 98 22 81 May 18 - June 16 ON THE OCCASION OF THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF

May 25 - June 4 EXHIBITION “ONLY INTUITION” BY ZAZA TSITSKISHVILI At the exposition will be presented the artist’s distinguished paintings with large format drawings and powerful expression. Tsitskishvili belongs to a generation of artists for whom the desire to connect to the international art scene and to understand the novelty of raising innovations. SHALVAAMIRANASHVILI MUSEUM OF ART Address: 1 Lado Gudiashvili St. Telephone: 2 99 99 09 May 17 - June 7 ON THE OCCASION OF THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF MUSEUMS THE SHALVA AMIRANASHVILI MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS INVITES YOU TO VITALI KAPANADZE’S 70 YEARS ANNIVERSARY EXHIBITION. MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION Address: 1 Rustaveli ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22 Here, visitors can encounter the state’s personal files of “subversive” Georgian public figures, orders to shoot or exile, and other artifacts representing Soviet-era cultural and political repression in Georgia. SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM OF GEORGIA Address: 3 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22 “ARCHAEOLOGICAL TREASURE” ART PALACE Address: 6 Kargareteli st. Telephone: 295 19 00

MUSIC TBILISI CONCERT HALL Address:1 Melikishvili St. Telephone: 2 99 00 99 MAY 30 CHARITY CONCERT Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 30, 40, 60, 100 Lari June 2 ENSEMBLE RUSTAVI Iavnana Charity Concert Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10, 15, 20, 25, 35, 45, 55, 75 Lari CLUB 33 A Address: Vake Park Telephone: 577443313 May 30 NIKAKOI Nika Machaidze Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10 Lari SPORT PALACE Address: 75 Kostava St. Telephone: 571 99 99 77 June 4 TIMATI AND L’ONE Live Concert Start time: 21:00 Ticket price: From 25- 55 Lari GRIBOEDOVI THEATRE Address: 2 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 93 43 36 June 1 CHARITY CONCERT Children for Children Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: from 10 Lari


MAY 29 - JUNE 4


Free at Last: Etseri, Svaneti By Tony Hanmer I’m sure they can hardly believe it. After twelve long years, the sentence has run its course, and the Seven are at liberty to stroll out the doors, never to return by the same status. They will start new lives, scattering in different directions: some to further study in various institutions and locations, some straight into paid professions if opportunities arise, others helping their families at home or on the farm; a few quickly into marriage and family life, perhaps (alone if they’re unusually lucky; more likely with in-laws, usually his parents, this with its own set of relational challenges particularly for the incumbent young spouse). School, for the grade 12s, is out. They still have final exams in all their subjects, though, determining who is even eligible for higher education and who not. They are sitting these now, by internet, under the watchful eye of an independent visiting supervisor. Results come up as soon as each person leaves the test, and are shared with the village like wildfire. Some are a shock, in a good or a bad way; others fall closely within expectations. The party was last week. It followed hallowed traditions, involving grade one as well as those outgoing. The little ones asked their elders some pointed questions about school life and beyond—what will

you become, what are your fondest or strongest memories, what will you be sorry to leave. What was the most incomprehensible phrase uttered to you, here? Actually, a sentence of mine won in this category, though whether its alien English form or its translation was the main thing, I still cannot say. I had told them in a recent class, “When you are older you will understand,” which in Georgian must have both verbs in future tense, not just one. I added that these were my parting words to them as my pupils. The grade ones and twelves also pro-

vided some entertainment, and we made some speeches and watched an emotional, musically accompanied slide show of the latters’ first day as the formers. The grade sixes showed off their growing collection of traditional dance moves. Then, together, the oldest and youngest rang the Last Bell, both in its electrical and mechanical forms, signifying the real end of the era. My wife had accompanied them as mentor for our three years to date in the school, so this was a special day for her too, as well as for the school director, for whom simi-

larly a long period of influence was drawing to a close. Another thing was ending too. A brother and sister in the graduating class are the children of two of the teachers and grandchildren of a third, so the generational chain here loses a link. To make it even more interesting, their father is also the gamgebeli, or mayor, of the village. We all signed the special white shirts which the twelves had put on, with best wishes or amusing drawings. The elevens were tasked with preparing the final supra, or feast, at which they, the twelves and we teachers sat in a festively decorated room. The event took on the atmosphere of a game-show under the direction of the grade elevens’ mentor, who also happened to be the aforementioned grandmother. Fun and games, toasts and good food. My wife and I left with regrets after the official part was over, but it

continued, as only a Georgian such occasion can, until falling darkness forced a general retreat from the unlit room. Out of pity to spoil such a positive day, I left unsaid what I had been brooding over for days. It runs something like this: Our village, not at all uniquely, suffers from a malaise, which it’s up to you to name. There are only three options open to you as far as your response to this sickness. You can run, and save yourselves. You can allow it to infect you and become its carriers. Or you can learn how to fight it and rid the place of it, then remain standing guard to see that it doesn’t return. Perhaps these words, already becoming permanent thanks to the internet, will be unearthed from some pixellated archive one day by one of the Seven twelves, when their English is far enough advanced to grasp them, as I’ve also lost my chance to say them in Georgian. Then we’ll see what happens.

Tony Hanmer runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 1000 members, at . He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri:

Book and Music – Thr ee-da y hree-da ee-day Lif e in P erf ect Har mon y Life Perf erfect Harmon mony Unpr ecedented F esti val ffor or Geor gia Unprecedented Festi estiv Georgia By Maka Lomadze On May 22-24, an absolutely unprecedented for Georgia event took place in Tbilisi, at the Tbilisi Event Hall. Organised by the Bakur Sulakauri and Karchkhadze Publishing Houses, in one and the same premise, the festival of Book and Music was held at which many book and music lovers gathered to have fun, listen to different bands, buy books in different languages with discounts, taste dishes prepared according to the recipes mentioned in different fictions and relax with friends. Nino Nadibaidze, Head of Public Relations of the Bakur Sulakauri Publishing House, told Georgia Today: “International Tbilisi Book Festivals are already a set-up tradition and have an annual character, whilst the Festival of Book and Music is being held for the first time. It also contains some culinary elements. The program is planned so that the live music performed by different music bands is alternated by literary workers, lectures, presentations, conversations about literature, etc. One hour is dedicated to literature, and another – to music, and so on and so forth. We selected those musicians that do not dramatically differ from one another in genre and are in melodic harmony with literary texts.” Gia Karchkhadze, son of famous deceased writer Jemal Karchkhadze, is the co-author of the idea of organizing the festival. He is also the founder and the owner of Karchkhadze Publishing House and one of the former soloists of Soft Eject, a Georgian folk-rock band that was founded in 1989. Soft Eject debuted at a Georgian rock festival in Batumi in 1990, and then relocated to Germany. In 1995, Soft Eject shot their first video for the single “Please Just Carry On” which remains one of their most popular songs to this day. The following year, the band opened its own recording studio, S.E. Studio. In the 2000s, they took part in all

important rock festivals in Georgia, organized nation-wide tours and performed several times in the United Kingdom, Ukraine and the United States. They exist today as well, but with a different staff. Gia Karchkhadze is one of those who says that he was playing guitar even before the famous band was formed and continues onwards, even out of it. “Literature and music are in perfect harmony with each other. They might be representing even one and the same language mentally, with different forms of expressions – one is narrative and another one – musical style,” he told Georgia Today. “I am fond of reading books and listening to music. Therefore, it was an attractive event for me to come and attend. I purchased a lot of books, placed them in my car and now I’m sitting comfortably on this pouf, listening to music. I came here with my friends and we’re going to stick around for some literary presentations, as well,” said Nata Jghenti, one of the enthusiastic guests of the festival. On May 23, Irakli Chelishvili, nicknamed Petsho, who in the past sang in Soft Eject, was the most popular soloist and emerged lately on one of the famous TV music shows, performed the band’s hits “Please Just carry On” and “I’m on my Way”, which were met with ovation. He also sang a number of Beatles hits in a duo with Lasha Topuria. On the last day of the festival, a culinary show was held that represented the favorite dishes of different fiction personages, prepared by the chefs of Culinary Academy, functioning under the Free University. All in all, the festival proved to be a success, representing a mix of different realms of art and cooking discoveries, plus the considerable discounts on books. Let us hope that the event will become a traditional one and, further, one of the many occasions that liven up the cultural life of Tbilisi city. If you missed it this year- save the date for 2016!


MAY 29 - JUNE 4


Dinamo Salvage Silverware with Cup Final Thrashing of Samtredia By Alastair Watt The headlines from the domestic season in Georgia have been dominated by historic league winners Dila Gori, and rightly so, but the country’s establishment club Dinamo Tbilisi ended a disappointing season on an emphatically high note with a stunning 5-0 demolition of Samtredia in the Georgian Cup final on May 26 at Mikheil Meskhi Stadium. Dinamo, who recently underwent a change in management with Kakha Gogichaishvili being replaced by the experienced Gia Geguchadze, eased to the biggest winning margin in Georgian Cup final history and their third successive victory in the tournament named after one of the club’s greatest sons – Davit Kipiani. While this Dinamo vintage is a pale shadow of Kipiani’s era in the late 1970s and early 1980s when Dinamo reigned supreme not only in the Soviet Union but the whole of Europe, this was one of the club’s more memorable perfor-

mances in recent years. With the match scheduled on Independence Day and an afternoon storm hitting the capital city it was not surprising that a crowd of little more than 2,000 braved the roofless Mikheil Meskhi Stadium for the final. Within 14 minutes Dinamo broke the deadlock with a deft header from Giorgi Papunashvili to silence the erstwhile noisy Samtredia contingent in the stands. Despite having a clutch of experienced Georgian internationals in their lineup including Zurab Khizanishvili and Davit Kvirkvelia, Samtredia mustered little in response to a clinical Dinamo side who were particularly ruthless in the second-half. Spanish striker Manuel slotted past Samtredia keeper Revi Tevdoradze five minutes after the restart and when Papunashvili struck a long-range shot past the Imeretians’ stopper three minutes later, the engraving of the trophy could already begin.

Manuel, a free transfer in the winter window and yet another of the Spanish wanderers to end up at Tbilisi in recent years, produced his best display in a Dinamo shirt yet and notched a second of the game from a Papunashvili cross in the 68th minute shortly before being substituted to a rousing ovation from Dinamo’s Gladiators fan group.

There was still time for substitute Davit Volkovi to add a fifth in the closing stages to add some gloss to a convincing cup final triumph. To add further misery to Samtredia’s evening, the resounding loss means that they will not compete in next season’s Europa League, with the cup place going to fourth-placed Tskhinvali.

One interested spectator was Energy Minister Kakha Kaladze who would have had mixed loyalties having played for Dinamo as a youngster and having been born in Samtredia. The following day he would also have watched on as Jaba Kankava became the first Georgian player to participate in a major European final since Kaladze himself in Milan’s 2-1 victory over Liverpool on 2007, as Jaba Kankava started for Dnipro in their 3-2 defeat to Sevilla in the Europa League final in Warsaw. Hopefully it is not another eight years before the next Georgian adds to hat distinguished list but Dinamo’s aim will be more modest next season as they enter the Europa League at the first qualifying round which begins in five weeks. Reaching the group stages, which would require winning four ties, would equate to a sensation for Georgian football and under Geguchadze the chances of doing so ought to improve.

Se ven FIF A Of olice Sev FIFA Offficials Ar Arrrested By Swiss P Police awarded the right to host the 2010 World Cup. If convicted on racketeering charges, he and other defendants could face up to 20 years in prison.

By Joseph Larsen Seven high-profile FIFA officials filed into police cars on Wednesday following an operation conducted by Zurich police. Police raided the Baur au Lac hotel, a five-star establishment overlooking Lake Zurich and serving host to a meeting of the organization’s top leadership. The following officials – several of whom have already pleaded guilty to criminal charges – were arrested for allegedly violating US law: FIFA vice-president Jeffrey Webb, Eduardo Li, Eugenio Figueredo, Rafael Esquivel, Jose Maria Marin, Julio Rocha, and Costas Takkas. The seven will be extradited to the US to face trial on charges relating to corruption, racketeering, and conspiracy. US Attorney General Loretta Lynch commented that “the indictment alleges corruption that is rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted both abroad and here in the United States. It spans at least two generations of soccer officials, who, as alleged, have abused their positions of trust to acquire millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks.” Why Extradite to the US? FIFA is headquartered in Switzerland, the same country where all of the arrests were made. The officials are to be extradited to the United States, however, because the alleged financial crimes were conducted using US bank

Sepp Blatter Not Charged While the charges come as no surprise to followers of a sport which has seemingly been mired in corruption for decades, what is surprising is that FIFA president Sepp Blatter is not among the accused. The head of FIFA since 1999 –

and widely favored to be elected to a fifth term at the helm on 29 May – Blatter has long been suspected of bribetaking but never charged. Many find it difficult to believe that Blatter, as president of an organization accused of rampant corruption, has never committed criminal wrongdoing himself. Swiss parliamentarian Roland Buechel quipped that “nothing ever sticks to him; there is always someone between him and the bribes.”

Spor ts R esults and Tables Sports Results accounts. Switzerland and the US have an expansive extradition agreement in which the former hands over criminal cases to the latter, sometimes even when it is involved only indirectly. Also on Wednesday the FBI conducted a raid on Concacaf’s Miami offices (Concacaf is the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football, one of FIFA’s six regional confederations). In addition to being FIFA vice-president, Jeffrey Webb is the head of Concacaf. The Russian foreign ministry called the US investigation an “illegal extraterritorial application” of US law. Swiss Government Charges 14 In a separate but parallel action, Swiss authorities opened criminal pro-

Fill in the grid so that every row, every column, and every 3x3 box contains the digits 1 through 9. See answers in the next issue

Answers to previous puzzles

ceedings against 14 FIFA officials in connection with the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, which are to be held in Qatar and Russia, respectively. A statement from the Swiss attorney general affirmed that the suspects are being charged on “suspicion of criminal mismanagement and of money laundering in connection with the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 football World Cups.” Despite the severity of the allegations, FIFA spokespeople have remained steadfast that the bidding for the 2018 and 2022 games are not to be reopened. Former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago stands accused of accepting a $10 million bribe from the South African government in connection with that country being

RUGBY UNION Umaglesi Liga Table 1. Bolnisi Kochebi 2. Lelo Saracens 3. Batumi 4. Lokomotivi 5. Kharebi Rustavi 6. AIA Kutaisi 7. Armazi 8. Jiki Gori 9. Armia 10. Tibies

58 56 50 48 46 46 38 36 22 11

FOOTBALL Umaglesi Liga Fixtures May 22 Dila Gori 3-0 WIT Georgia; Sioni 3-2 Guria; Zestafoni 0-3 Zugdidi; Shukura 1-3 Dinamo Batumi; Rustavi 1-1 Torpedo Kutaisi; Dinamo Tbilisi 3-0 Chikhura; Samtredia 4-2 Merani

Martvili; Kolkheti Poti 1-1 Tskhinvali. Umaglesi Liga Table (Final) 1. Dila Gori 64 2. Dinamo Batumi 58 3. Dinamo Tbilisi 55 4. Tskhinvali 53 5. Chikhura 46 6. Samtredia 45 7. Shukura 41 8. Torpedo Kutaisi 41 9. Guria 39 10. Kolkheti Poti 37 11. Merani Martvili 36 12. Zugdidi 33 13. Sioni 32 14. Rustavi 26 15. WIT Georgia 26 16. Zestafoni 26 Georgian Cup Final Tuesday 26th May Dinamo Tbilisi 5-0 Samtredia (7pm)

GENERAL MANAGER - George Sharashidze BUSINESS MANAGER - Iva Merabishvili

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF - Katie Ruth Davies COPY EDITOR - Alastair Watt JOURNALISTS: Beqa Kirtava, Baia Dzaginadze, Eka Karsaulidze, Alastair Watt, Joseph Alexander Smith, Joseph Larsen, Zviad Adzinbaia, Tony Hanmer, Meri Taliashvili, Zaza Jgharkava, Maka Bibilashvili, Nino Melikishvili, Ana Lomtadze, Teona Surmava, Tatia Megeneishvili PHOTOGRAPHER: Zviad Nikolaishvili TECHNICAL SUPPORT: Misha Mchedlishvili CIRCULATION MANAGERS: David Kerdikashvili, David Djandjgava

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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #768  

May 29 - June 4, 2015

Issue #768  

May 29 - June 4, 2015