June 5 - 11, 2015
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Georgia Today 24 p.
Railways on the Agenda as Prague
Talks Expand Expanding the Mar ket to Mark the F ar mer – RED Far armer Launc hes Ne w Acti vities Launches New Activities P.11 in Geor gia Georgia
IFC Suppor ts Bank of Supports Geor gia with $90 Million Georgia Loan to Boost Gr owth P.13 Gro Air Astana Opens New Route to Tbilisi P.13 FLIGHT SCHEDULE
For mer UNM MPs ormer Plan to Cr ea te Crea eate Ne w P olitical New Political Centr e Centre Last week’s leavers to offer the Georgian public a bold new program for economic development. P.2
Heidelber gCement HeidelbergCement Geor gia: Str ong Georgia: Strong ong,, Sustaina ble Quality Sustainab
IN THIS WEEK’S ISSUE
Commercial or political? Georgia Today analyses as the discussions push forward regarding the fate of Georgia’s Railway. P.6
Saakashvili Named New Go ver nor of Gov ernor Odessa Ukraine places hope on the Georgian revolutionary to create a success story in Odessa, an area which some believe is a target for Russia’s Putin after last year’s annexation of Crimea. P.2
Outsmar ting Outsmarting Laziness: The Most Evil Giant Of All Giants P.4
Meet Mar kR einMark ReinHa gen, Tbilisi’ s Hag Tbilisi’s Resident Game Master Politics and Zombies, Hollywood to Georgia: Georgia Today meets the man behind the screen.
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Saakashvili Named New Gover nor of Odessa The newly appointed Governor of Odessa, Mikheil Saakashvili declared “zero tolerance for corruption” in Ukraine, as the country appears to seek reforms similar to those of Georgia under Saakashvili’s presidency. Ukraine’s Odessa, one of the largest seaports in the Black Sea region and an economic artery for Ukraine, has been trusted to Saakashvili, currently also occupying the parallel position of a reforms adviser to President Poroshenko. There are hopes that the Georgian revolutionary will create a success story in Odessa, an area which some believe is a target for Russia’s Putin after having annexed Crimea last year. Saakashvili’s activities have been met with mixed reactions from within the political world in his homeland. The Georgian Dream government, which has condemned the country’s ex-President for his “bloody politics” during his 9year tenure, have long opposed Saakashvili, describing his period in power as a failure. Interestingly, Saakashvili’s new occupation grants him Ukrainian citizenship, which protects him from potential prosecution from the Georgian authorities. All parties opposed to the former president, including the current President Margvelashvili criticized the decision. Saakashvili says Ukrainian law allows him to have a two-year transitory period, when one can keep another country’s citizenship concurrently with the newly acquired Ukrainian citizenship. “Therefore, Ukrainian legislation does not represent a problem, and I think that two years are more than enough,”
said the former Georgian president. “Depriving someone of his Georgian citizenship is within the President’s power, but if the current President makes
this step, I’m sure it will not be a decisive factor, because by the time I come back to Georgia (which will happen much sooner than many think), people
will make him rescind this decision along with all criminal charges leveled against me,” Saakashvili assumed. “Eduard Shevardnadze was not a
Georgian citizen when he arrived in Georgia, but he became the country’s leader. Nor did Ivanishvili have Georgian citizenship during his election campaign. So why this issue should become an obstacle only for me?” the ex-president maintains. Saakashvili currently equates his Georgian citizenship to being thrown into a cell together with his friends. “Of course, I wanted to prevent things from going this way, but in the current circumstances – when I cannot visit Georgia due to a threat of arrest – my citizenship does not change anything,” he noted. In fact, Georgian Foreign Minister Tamar Beruchashvili has not confirmed whether former President Saakashvili could arrive in Georgia with a diplomatic passport as Governor of Odessa. Georgian Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani has told media that no legal measures are available for Saakashvili’s extradition after his acceptance of Ukrainian citizenship. Analysis by Georgia Today’s Zviad Adzinbaia: The rivalry between Ivanishvili and Saakashvili continues, as there are principal differences between the personalities and the teams of UNM and GD in their value systems. At the same time, Georgia has fallen into an abyss of economic and political crisis. The West, which has invested much in the country’s progress, expects relevant results from the EU-associated state. What should Georgians expect in the 2016 elections? Does the country still have the potential to traverse the murky ground on which it stands?
For mer UNM MPs Plan to ormer olitical Centr e Cr ea te Ne wP New Political Centre Crea eate
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Former United National Movement (UNM) leaders, Zurab Japaridze, Goga Khachidze, Giorgi Meladze and Pavle Kublashvili, who have recently left their official positions within the party, plan to offer the Georgian public a bold new program for economic development instead of fighting for parliamentary mandates in the 2016 elections. “Our motivation has never amounted to expectations of receiving a parliamentary mandate in the 2016 elections. Moreover, none of my colleagues, who have departed from the National Movement plan to fight for the mandate, as they believe our society wants something new,” Japaridze said. “We still remain in a struggle, we maintain the same position, we have the same enemy - the oligarch, who came into power through lies and plunged the country into crisis. We think the political spectrum needs to be re-arranged as soon as possible in order to defeat the oligarch,” says the statement released jointly by the MPs last week. “We plan to fight for the European, democratic future of united Georgia, to get rid of the oligarch, who ground the economic system to a halt, facilitated poverty and collapsed state institutions. We understand people’s worries about economic problems and plan to create a new political center, attracting professionals to engage in the political process,” the now independent MPs confirmed. “The UNM is dissolving” was how Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili assessed the departure of four UNM lead-
ers last week. “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,” Garibashvili stated. Iveria, a Social Movement, which is mainly composed of the high-caliber technocrats including Gregory Vashadze, the ex-Foreign Minister of Georgia, is expected to welcome these exUNM MPs in the near future. Author analysis: There were allegations that the UNM has entered its ‘final phase of dissolution’, though the reality is different. Vashadze assumes that UNM, which has
endured three tough years since the 2012 elections, will be able to continue its efforts to ‘please’ the GD even more. Saakashvili, UNM founder and leader, who has recently become Odessa’s governor, says “people come and go” and that MPs resigning did not amount to a tragedy. As for establishing a new political center, Georgia’s disappointed society is seeking some new force(s) to lead the country with competence, professionalism and the right ideas. Experts say Georgia, in the face of its current hardships, is bracing itself for its most pivotal period in terms of democracy, economic prosperity and overall development, including mental transformation.
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The ISET Policy Institute (ISET-PI, www.iset-pi.ge) 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.
Outsmar ting Laziness: The Most Evil Giant Of All Giants
By Levan Bzhalava and Eric Livny
“Creativity is a birthright, available to all, but used by few.” Catherine Courage – senior vice president at Citrix. Creativity is the ability to produce new ideas and to find innovative solutions to problems. It is crucial for economic growth because creative ideas translate into new products and more efficient technological processes, which, in turn generate new (more productive) jobs and better (more competitive) products. Besides, the “creative class” (e.g. scientists, engineers, writers, artists, designers, painters, actors, firm producers, musicians, choreographers and just anybody able to think out-of-the-box) affects economic performance in a myriad of indirect ways, through knowledge spillovers that boost labor productivity and innovation activities throughout the economy (it is well-documented that innovative ideas are often born over beer). While we all love creativity and innovation, the million dollar question is how to raise a new generation that will think creatively. Which is related to another question: can creativity be learned or, else, it is an innate talent. CHILDREN ARE CURIOUS AND CREATIVE! Children are naturally curious, observing and questioning everything they see and hear. Moreover, the vast majority of children have very well developed imagination capability which is one of the main sources for creativity. To measure just how creative children are, George Land used a test similar to the one he devised to help NASA select innovative engineers and scientists. His results are truly mind boggling! Around 98% of 4-5 year old children have very strong creative imagination and fall into the “genius” category according to the NASA test. When the same children were re-tested at the age of 10 and 15, however, only 30% and 12% of them had creative capability, respectively. Still worse, when re-tested at the age of 31, the share of creative individuals shrank to only 2%!
SCHOOLS KILLING CREATIVITY? Sir Ken Robinson, an education specialist, argues that creativity and talent are effectively killed by … schools. Modern schools have be created in the 19th century to deliver basic education to the illiterate masses. What is increasingly needed in the 21 century, however, is an individual approach. Robinson’s favorite example is Gillian Lynne, a renowned ballerina who was diagnosed with a learning disorder at the age of eight. Lynne’s teachers were annoyed by her constant fidgeting and a lack of concentration. A psychologist who was asked to examine her case was clever enough to turn on music and leave Gillian alone in the room to observe her behavior. His verdict surprised Gillian’s parents: “your daughter is not sick – she is a dancer”. Gillian went on to a ballet school and became one of the greatest choreographers in history, authoring such musical productions as “Cats” and “Phantom of the Opera”. What Lynne’s story illustrates is the obvious advantage of an individual approach to education, an approach that encourages curiosity and develops innate talents. Incidentally, this very idea has not been lost one of Georgia’s greatest educators, Ilia Chavchavadze. The main purpose of a school, he would often say, is not to educate children but to enhance their curiosity. And what was true already at Ilya’s time is especially true today, at a time when ‘knowledge’ as such is easily accessible through the internet. What is demanded is the ability to synthesize, to connect seemingly unrelated pieces of knowledge, concepts and theories, and come up with new solutions. With ‘literacy’ and ‘knowledge’ no longer being the key challenges facing humans, we have to make sure that tomorrow’s schools are fit for tomorrow’s challenges. Which is all about creativity and innovation.
AND GEORGIAN SCHOOLS? It is worth considering that Georgian schools still follow the basic 19th century school model with its emphasis on
AN EXPERIMENT IN NURTURING GENIUSES: THE CASE OF JUDIT POLGAR Laszlo Polgar, a Hungarian cognitive psychologist, believed that “any healthy born child has the innate capacity to become a genius”. Driven by this idea, he examined the biographies of 400 great intellectuals and concluded that “geniuses are made, not born”. To test this theory, he chose to marry a Ukrainian foreign languages teacher who agreed to run an experiment. As crazy as it sounds, the purpose of the experiment was to check whether they could turn their children into geniuses using a very simple prescription: “early and intensive specialization in a particular subject”. Being homeschooled, the couple’s three daughters (Susan, Sofia and Judit) specialized in chess at the age of 6. By their early teens, the Polgar sisters started dominating the female chess world. In particular, Judit is considered to be the best woman chess player in history. She has also fascinating memory and is among the top 10 most intelligent people of the world according to an IQ brain test. Susan and Sofia came to be ranked 2nd and 6th in the world. Polgar and his wife said later that “they could do the same thing with any subject, if a child starts early, spend lots of time and give great love to that one subject”. In other words, they believed that innate talent is less important for success. Instead, greatness is all about curiosity and hard work. memorizing standard texts and formulas rather than independent thinking. Student are rewarded for giving good (standard) answers rather than asking good (original) questions. Achievement is measured based on standardized test and grades. In other words, learning is supposed be driven by extrinsic incentives (e.g. tests and grades), whereas curiosity and creativity are always a function of intrinsic motives such as passion for a subject.
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This may be a key reason for poor attendance and, generally, a lack of interest in education that we often observe among Georgian schoolchildren (particularly in rural areas). An additional problem with this outdated model is that creativity requires a mindset that considers failure as a legitimate part of the process, which is clearly not how Georgian schools operate. As Sir Ken Robinson suggests, “children are creative because they are not afraid to make mistakes, but they are educated out of it with systems that make them afraid of making mistakes”. This is certainly true for most Georgian schools. BUT AREN’T WE, GEORGIANS A CREATIVE PEOPLE?! Georgians are a very artistic people. When a Georgian man suddenly discovers he has only one day to live he decides to throw a huge party (as the Georgian classic ‘Ar-daidardo’ knows to tell). Indeed, Georgians have an international reputation for being very good in arts and design, as well as in dancing, singing and winemaking (and wine-drinking). Importantly for the purpose of this essay, most Georgians are themselves convinced they are a talented nation, believing, in addition, that talent is passed on genetically from generation to generation. For a typical Georgian, success is
rarely achieved through hard work. Moreover, as some popular jokes and stories go, those people who work hard demonstrate a lack of talent. The role model for many a Georgian boys is the “talented but lazy” Nacarqeqia, the main character of popular fairy tale, who spends all his time sitting in front of a fireplace (hence his name, which literally translates as “Cinder-man) and doing nothing. Nacarqeqia finally gets his act together when thrown out of his house. Using his smarts he defeats evil giants and becomes very rich. In contrast to Georgia, talent is not assumed in the Korean culture. Instead, Koreans believe in hard work and discipline, sometimes at the expense of creativity. By copy-pasting and efficiently applying existing technological solutions, Korea has been for many years considered a miracle of economic growth. Its development, however, has slowed down once true innovation was required in order to remain competitive. Lacking in organizational skills and discipline, Georgia would not have any comparative advantages in trying to copy-paste existing technologies. We can only rely on our fabled talents. Maybe, just last Nacarqeqia, we are waiting to be kicked out of our house before outsmarting the most evil giant of all giants, our own laziness.
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Railways on the Agenda as Prague Talks Expand
By Zaza Jgharkava The Russian-Georgian negotiations that started three years ago as a duet will soon become a sextet. At the end of June, in Prague, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Grigori Karasin and Georgian Prime Minister’s Special Representative Zurab Abashidze will each be joined by two more representatives from their respective foreign and economic ministries at the negotiating table. The main reason for this multiplication in numbers involved is simple as both sides seek genuine economic progress. Both Karasin and Abashidze concur that the Prague negotiations had reached a point where experts should become involved in the process. After the Russian state company Rosneft bought 49% of the Poti Port Terminal several months ago, the purchase of other strategic sites of Georgia are on the agenda. The Prime Minister’s special representative in relations with Russia Abashidze told Commersant that there is talk of a railway, which would cross Georgia via Azerbaijan. According to him, there are proposals from the Russian side to use Georgia as a transit country for the export of its products, including oil products. Transportation of cargoes will take place in the ports of Poti and Batumi. Cargo traffic on the Georgian railways has decreased significantly – according to the Ministry of Economy, last year the cargo traffic on the Georgian railways decreased by 8 percent. At the same time, the number of passengers decreased by 10 percent so the need for investment becomes clearer. A declining business, as a rule, has a lower price. Despite this, the Georgian Dream government claims that the
Georgian railway is one of the most promising and profitable spheres in the Georgian economy and cites the example of transiting Turkmenistan’s oil through it. According to the Prime Minister ’s special representative Abashidze, this was the first time in the last 10 years where Central Asian oil was transited through the Georgian railway corridor. In addition, consider the recent TV advertisements that promote the transportation of Chinese cargoes on the Georgian railway. Against this background, the Georgian government’s decision to sell a profitable business owned entirely by the Georgian state looks strange. Generally, Russia’s interest in the Georgian railway is nothing new. Back in the period of President Mikheil Saakashvili’s rule, Moscow showed interest in purchasing the railway. However, following the wise words of the then Minister of Economy Kakha Bendukidze, “Everything can be sold except for conscience”– the railway was removed from a list of assets to be privatized. Talks over the railway were renewed after the October 2012 elections. However, this time Moscow it was more concerned about restoring the Abkhazia stretch of the railway. Bascially, Moscow wanted to somehow cut the railway corridor to Armenia in order to bring out the Gyumri military base and its strategic partner Armenia from transport isolation. Despite these attempts, Moscow could not succeed. Apart from several statements of the Russian Foreign Minister, there has been no advance. Curiously, the main barrier to this plan has been the de-facto government of the occupied Abkhazia, which stubbornly demanded
recognition from Tbilisi before the opening of the railway. The second and main barrier was Azerbiajan who have no intention to support anything that might in any way benefit Armenia. Therefore, the Kremlin easily shifted the vector of its goal and turned the main opponent of the Abkhazian railway into its main ally. Cargoes will be transported to Georgian ports from Azerbaijan. The selling of the Georgian railway surely has a political aroma, something which the Georgian Dream supporting analysts cannot hide. For Gia Khukhashvili, former counsellor of the exPrime Minister, it is absolutely unclear as to why the issue of selling or not selling the railway should be discussed in Prague when the doors were never closed in Georgia to Russian business. “Transportation of cargoes can only be welcomed. But I do not understand why it is necessary to involve the state in it. Russian companies are using this corridor anyway. If someone wants to transport more cargoes – let them do it. Why this has become a political issue I do not understand. Russian companies never had a ban on them and they were always operating here. There are no regulations or differences among representatives of other companies. Railways cannot give preference or oppress any party – this is a purely commercial business. As for passenger transportation, there can be no talk about it as the passenger trains can only go through Abkhazia. Thus, this is a problem that remains unsolved. It is politics already. There simply is no other route. Restoring the Abkhazian railway includes a set of problems in itself, including political ones,” Khukhashvili told a Rezonansi reporter.
Geor gians Taste Britain in Vak eP ar k Georgians ake Par ark For some passersby, the Taste Britain food fair that took place on Thursday morning in Vake Park was a great chance for some to try Welsh specialities such as laverbread (seaweed for breakfast) and berry liquour, as well as the typical fish and chips. But there is much more to it: the event in Tbilisi is just one leg of the circuit that representatives of the Food Technology Center (FTC) in Wales are taking across Georgia. Indeed, both Wales and Georgia share the fact that a large proportion of their population works in the agro sector (30% the former, 50% the latter). The FTC is an initiative funded by the EU and the Welsh government, among others, in order to enable food businesses to access technical support, practical solutions, advice and guidance on areas which are key to business growth. One of the aims of this visit is to set up links between Welsh and Georgian farmers in order to promote trade between them.
According to Anna Butchart, Political Officer at the British Embassy in Tbilisi, the signing of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the EU will open huge possibilities for Georgian farmers and the Georgian Government is working hard to implement the legislative changes and processes required to bring Georgian food production into line with EU food safety standards which will facilitate increased future trade. But the team of the FTC also aims at helping Georgian farmers make their products more sellable. Successful stories of how the FTC helped Welsh farmers abound. Take the case of Hazel, a farmer with tones of berries growing in her lands. They were not sweet enough to sell and at the FTC they suggested several choices, like for example, making a liquor with them, or make chocolate bars with berries. The idea worked out and her once-useless berries are now the main ingredient of a flourishing business.
“The idea is to develop produce into a product with added value; to create original and successful businesses from basic products”, Butchart said. The possibilities of Georgian farmers developing special and original products are endless, as endless are the possibilities for collaboration: for example, what if a farmer producing blueberries could establish a partnership with a muffin manufacturer in the UK? Despite the challenges ahead, mainly the lack of expertise and financing, there is room for optimism. Martin Jardine, FTC Manager, told Georgia Today that this visit was a first contact in which they were impressed by the quality of the Georgian products and the enthusiasm of the farmers. The aim is to develop a long term relationship, like the FTC did with Egypt, India or Tunisia. The relationship between the FTC and Georgia has just begun. On Friday another step will be taken when the Center’s representatives visit Kakheti.
We Ar ea Are att a Historical Cr ossr oads – Estonian Crossr ossroads Pr esident President On June 2, Giorgi Margvelashvili, President of Georgia, met with his Estonian counterpart Thomas Hendrik Ilves, and the two attended an expansive meeting between Georgian and Estonian delegations in Tbilisi. Bilateral relationships between the countries were discussed during the meetings as well as future prospects of cooperation between Georgia and Estonia. One of the main topics of discussion was the security environment in Europe including the situation in Georgia’s occupied regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali. “Today, we are at a crossroads of very important historical events. The European security environment has completely changed, and what happened in 2008 in Georgia can be regarded as the starting point of this
the visiting president said. “Estonia will spare no effort and will show strong support to Georgia on the path of European integration,” was the Estonian president’s promise to Margvelashvili. Throughout the all-inclusive meeting, the parties also discussed Georgia’s EU aspirations, as Estonia’s experience appears valuable for Georgia. “EU membership is a good thing, but Georgia must first do its homework if it wants to join,” said the visiting leader. “Do you take everything that comes from Russia seriously?” Ilves asked in response to a journalist’s question about an official Russian statement regarding the recent Riga summit being “a new meeting dancing to the same old tune” (IPN). The President noted successful
“Estonia will spare no effort and will show strong support to Georgia on the path of European integration.”- Thomas Hendrik Ilves, President of Estonia. change,” Toomas Hendrik Ilves said, adding that Russia’s invasion of Georgia triggered developments in other countries as well. “This process affected us too - Latvians, Lithuanians, Estonians. In fact, as a result of this, a new security environment has been created,” Ilves maintained. “It is excellent that I am still in Georgia. I visited Georgia in 2011, 1997 and 1988, but of course, the biggest event was my visit to the country in 2008. Flying over Russia was unsafe back then, and I had to come to Georgia from Azerbaijan, through a bypass. We arrived here by car, in the middle of a war,”
completion of technical issues is needed a political decision to be made on visa liberalization by the end of the year, adding that “further implementation will take several months”. “Of course, it cannot instantly make everyone who wants to travel happy, as its implementation needs time. As for the European perspective, it is here, but the question is when and how will it happen. We are supporters of European democracy, but, on the other hand, countries should take into account that they need to harmonize their legal framework with the European one,” the Estonian President assumed.
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Palliative Care Improvements in Children’s New Clinic
Georgia to Celebrate International Day of Yoga By Tatia Megeneishvili
The 29th of May marked the first steps towards a promising future for Georgia regarding palliative health care and the Children’s New Clinic, named after I.Tsitsishvili, is the provider of this wonderful news. Thanks to the innovation of NGO organization Samaritan Association of Georgia, the Palliative Care Unit inside the Clinic is now under reconstruction, and volunteer nurses have been able to receive additional training in order to improve their skills. Many families in Georgia are overwhelmed with children with disabilities of all kinds. A strong stigma can still be seen against children with disabilities in Georgia and often they are kept at home or behind the walls of orphanages. There are no proper support services for disabled children and their families. Therefore, children with disabilities are often left by their parents and become (de facto) orphans. Most of these children grow up in orphanages, usually with no or inadequate medical and social support. If the orphanages are no longer able to take care of the children, they are transferred to a hospital. In most cases the children are in a very bad condition. In winter 2013 by order of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Affairs, the Children’s New Clinic, Tbilisi established a central department for long-term hospitalised children. Currently, 25 children from four months to twelve years are taken care of in the Children’s New
Clinic Palliative Care Unit. They are all severely disabled and need complete 24hour care. Their mobility is severely limited and communication is in most cases non-verbal. Among those 25 children only six are regularly visited by their parents. Most of the other children have been abandoned. The parents who do visit their children are left on their own, hardly aware of the condition of their children, and receive neither psychological nor professional support. In the five rooms, in each of which five children are housed, the space is tight, resulting in a lack of privacy for parents visiting children. Although there is an availability of unused space, it has to date been inappropriate and either un-used or, in most cases, used as a storeroom. The Samaritan’s project includes introducing European standards to the Children’s New Clinic Palliative Care Unit and maintaining the system for two years and, although financial issues exist, the Clinic hopes to keep up with improvements. Training sessions have been and will be organized for nurses, doctors and hospital management in the handling and holistic care and treatment of the children, organized by the Network of International Samaritan. To encourage the children targeted, and allow them an alternative to being constantly bed-ridden, appropriate child-friendly spaces are to be set up (with a full medically-adapted bath, therapy room,
lounge and family room) which will be suited to their needs and will allow better nursing and therapy by psychologists, physiotherapists and occupational therapists. Finally, the project aims to improve communication between doctors and nurses and to establish a consulting service for parents. 12 nurses took part in the recent tenday training given by German nurse Delia Jakubik and the 29th of May was the celebration day of the successful completion of the first training course, with all of the nurses becoming officially certified. Two of the nurses were more than happy to share their emotions with us: “We have over 40 years working experience but this specific training has made our working specialty a lot more meaningful, interesting and satisfying. We can’t begin to thank the ones who have made this whole project a reality!” The Samaritans plan to further train the staff of the Unit and to purchase therapeutic medical equipment with the financial assistance of the International Women’s Association (IWA) of Georgia and ASB Germany. USD1 million will be spent by the holding Evex, owners of the Clinic, while the Samaritans will contribute about USD55.000. “Despite the many possible issues we may face, the working team plans to keep working on this wonderful project. We’re willing to see it to the end,” said Head of the Clinic, David Rekviashvili.
For first time Georgia will be joining the rest of the world this year in celebrating The International Day of Yoga. June 21st has been declared officially as such by the United Nations General Assembly. A special press conference was held in the National Youth and Children’s Palace in Tbilisi by the organizers of the International Day of Yoga in Georgia: the Embassy of India in Armenia and Georgia, United Nations (UN) in Georgia, Tbilisi City Hall and Yoga Centre Ananda. The event was attended by Ambassador of India to Armenia and Georgia, Suresh Babu; Head of the United Nations in Georgia, Niels Scott; Deputy Mayor of Tbilisi, Irakli Lekvinadze; and Edita Dilanyan, the Head of Yoga Centre Ananda. According to organizers, outdoor events, yoga master classes and workshops will be happening not only throughout 50 countries around the globe but also in Rikhe Park, Georgia. Lekvinadze stated that the Mayor’s Office will support any activity which aims to promote healthy living. “Many people are doing Yoga in Georgia. A healthy lifestyle is very important for them and we will support such events with great pleasure,” he said. Ambassador of India to Armenia and Georgia, Suresh Babu: “After declaring independence, India for the first time got
the opportunity to introduce information about Yoga to the world. Yoga is the most precious gift of Indian culture to humanity.” Head of the United Nations in Georgia, Niels Scott: “Everyone knows that one of the main mandates of the UN is to bring peace to the world. Yoga is mainly associated with peace, because peace must be not only around us, but inside us too. That is why we are celebrating it worldwide.” June 21 was declared as the International Day of Yoga by the United Nations General Assembly on December 11, 2014. Yoga, a 6,000+ year-old physical, mental and spiritual practice originating from India (Bharat), aims to transform body and mind. The declaration came after the call for the adoption of 21 June as International Day of Yoga by Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modiduring in his address to the UN General Assembly on September 27, 2014. “Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. It embodies unity of mind and body, thought and action, restraint and fulfillment, harmony between man and nature, a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day,” stated Modiduring at the UN General Assembly.
GRDI: Georgia Number One in Region The 2015 Global Retail Development Index (GRDI) recognised Georgia as number one in the region and sixth out of 30 developing countries for retail investment. GRDI said Georgia’s “unsaturated retail environment” was an extremely attractive opportunity for international investors. Additionally, the report noted that Georgia had a “stable GDP, solid per capita spending growth over the past five years, and an underpenetrated retail market”. “Carrefour and the local Goodwill (which sold a 60 percent stake to Italy’s Milan Investment) remain the only hypermarket players, while the minimarket playing field is a bit more competitive.” “SPAR entered the Georgian market in the summer of 2014 by acquiring Populi, the third largest retail chain, with plans to rebrand and expand its network from 51 to 80 stores by 2018. Local food retailer Nikora reinforced its leading position by acquiring a small regional chain of 12 supermarkets in December 2014,”
read the report. GRDI noted that a growing tourism sector had boosted the fast food market in Georgia. McDonald’s, Subway, and Wendy’s are now among the international brands that have expanded in the capital Tbilisi, where 80 percent of the country’s modern retail space is located. Georgia’s burgeoning apparel sector was represented by more than 40
international brands, including Marks & Spencer, Gap, Banana Republic, ALDO, and the Inditex Group’s brands, said GRDI. But despite many positive developments in recent years, the availability of modern retail space still poses a challenge, with many spaces outdated and inappropriate for more premium retail, they concluded.
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Tourism – Standing Strong By Giorgi Iremashvili Tourism has been one of the most important and fastest growing sectors of the Georgian economy, posting an impressive 21% compound annual growth rate in the number of visitors over 2000-2014. New York Times, Lonely Planet, the Guardian – just a few media outlets that have praised Georgia as not only an exotic destination, but also an increasingly cheap one, due to the currency devaluation of the recent months. Alongside exports, foreign remittances, and foreign direct investment, tourism has been the most significant source of hard currency inflow into the country. Amid the regional economic turbulence and currency depreciation, international arrivals to Georgia have held up quite well, in comparison to other sources of foreign currency inflow. Georgia had seen weaker arrival numbers since the end of 2014, with FY14 annual growth coming in at to 2.3% to reach 5.5mn total visitors. With neighbors accounting for roughly 90% of total visitors, a substantial drop (9.7% y/y) in
visitors from Turkey, the largest contributor in 2013, was the key reason for the weaker growth in 2014. In 1Q15, while exports and foreign remittances took significant hits, arrivals only decreased by 2.2% y/y. Starting with April 2015, tourist numbers have been on the rise, first with a slight increase in April, followed by a significant jump in May arrivals of 14.7% y/y. Russia (+42.5% y/y) and Armenia (+33.1% y/y) were the key contributors. The recovery in May has brought the 5M15 result to a 2.0% increase in 5M15 compared to the same period last year. Total travel inflows to Georgia increased by 3.9% y/y in 2014 to US$ 1.8bn, which translates into per visitor spending of US$ 324. Georgia is currently visited by more lower-yielding visitors than higher-yielding ones. According to the World Bank, average visitor spending stood at only US$ 355 in 2013, significantly below that of Georgia’s peers such as Croatia (US$ 887), Montenegro (US$ 702), Bulgaria (US$ 671) and Estonia (US$ 624). The average visitor to potential peers spends US$ 750, double that of average visitor spend-
FIGURE 2: INTERNATIONAL TOURISM RECEIPTS, 2013 (US$/VISITOR)
ing in Georgia, leaving significant room for growth. The low per visitor spending, in comparison to that in peer countries, is partially explained by a low share of tourists in total visitors. In 2014, only 40% of total visitors stayed in the country for longer than 24 hours, though the number is up from 38% in 2013. The country’s tourism policy to attract high spending visitors, which would entail growth in the share of such tourists, should help increase tourism spending in the medium term. Georgia’s National Tourism Administration plans to spend around GEL 7.7mn in 2015 on marketing campaigns in Eastern and Western Europe, as well as China. Such marketing campaigns are expected to result in arrival growth from those regions, attracting more highspending visitors. Furthermore, there are major business and sports events lined up for 2015, which we estimate will bring in an additional 40-50,000 visitors and provide a welcome boost to foreign inflows. The EBRD Annual Meeting has already taken place in Tbilisi in May 2015, attracting around 2,000 delegates
FIGURE 1: EXTERNAL ACCOUNTS, 2014
Source: NBG, GeoStat
from over 60 countries. The meeting was organized for the first time in the South Caucasus region and included panel discussions and country investment outlook sessions. The Black Sea Trade and Development Bank will be holding its annual meeting in Tbilisi in June. The UEFA Football Super Cup and the Olympic Youth Festival will be taking place in the capital this summer. Such events are of paramount importance in building the country’s image so the world can discover Georgia as a real tourist destination. Given recent tendencies, we expect arrivals to stay roughly flat in 2015. Despite the depreciation of regional currencies, Georgia remains a cheap destination. As a result, we do not expect a substantial drop in visitors from neighboring countries and anticipate a rebound starting next year from the lower base. On the spending side, we do not expect growth in total travel inflows to Georgia in 2015, but the country’s tourism policy to attract high spending visitors should help increase tourism spending in the medium term.
BGCC Introduces Adapt2Digital By Beqa Kirtava The British-Georgian Chamber of Commerce organized a special presentation on June 3, 2015 at Tbilisi Rooms Hotel, delivered by Mel Ross. Ross once led Disney Channel’s Marketing for Emerging Markets and is now the Director of Experience of her own enterprise – Adapt2Digital (A2D). Ross spoke about the company’s history, the importance of digital marketing, the evolution of businesses and more.
For those of you who may not have heard about the aforementioned company, Adapt2Digital is a digital business agency which was founded approximately 2.5 years ago and offers their clients full advocacy on creating and implementing digital strategies. As, according to Mel Ross, over the years the world has changed and people have changed with it, this has resulted in a drastic shift in expectations which today’s companies must meet in order to survive, and it takes a lot more than
setting up a Facebook page to achieve the desirable digital level. A2D’s Director placed special emphasis on the importance of changes and clarified that organizations should embrace them, instead of observing with awe. If experts are to believed, there will be only two types of company by 2050 – the shape shifters and the aggregators, with the first overpowering the latter. Thus, the importance of change should not be underestimated, however, one must strive to find the
middle ground, as the necessity of channel choice was another important issue of the meeting. “You shouldn’t be digital by default, but adaptive by default. Just moving from one thing to another will not work. So, we say: it isn’t about channel shift, it’s actually about channel choice, because you have customers who will prefer to connect to you by mobile, while others will probably still like to come in to the store/office,” said Ross, during her speech. Adapt2Digital is ready to offer its
distinguished service not only to huge corporations, but to small organizations as well. In order to find out more about the company and make your business look great from a digital perspective visit - http://www.adapt2digital.com/
JUNE 5 - 11
IFC Supports Bank of Georgia with $90 Million Loan to Boost Growth P.13
Air Astana Opens New Route to Tbilisi P.13
Expanding the Market to the Farmer – RED Launches New Activities in Georgia The Rural Economic Development program (RED) is a joint development project of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark (DANIDA) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. The objective of the program is to increase income and employment through the development of potato and dairy/livestock value chains in Kvemo Kartli and Samtske-Javakheti. Sorting, grading and packaging of potatoes and cutting costs for Georgian farmers by providing them with an urban market in the country, is one of the objectives of the RED program based in Georgia. “Linking the city to the country reduces marketing costs and risks for the farmer and the urban buyers, improving the efficiency of moving higher quality potatoes to the consumer,” said a RED representative to Georgia Today. As part of the program, 23 farmers and entrepreneurs from Samtske Javakheti and Kvemo Kartli regions were shown the benefits of a modern, locally based sorting and packaging machine in a grading center in Bolnisi, Kvemo Kartli. The demonstration was conducted by consultants from the German company Euro-Jabelmann, and coordinated by local firm DV + who also offered technical advice. The participants were able to see for themselves how this process will benefit them, by providing year-round, fixed local markets, firm production contracts and identifiable, traceable packaging, which will lead to increased sales and revenue. “There are plans for more such demonstrations
planned by DV+ to attract more farmers to the practical benefits of this modern value chain system, in which everyone wins,” RED says. “ RED hopes for more types of facilities to be established in other municipalities,” they add. The RED program is one part of the value chain development assistance and support. Seven commercial model farms show potato growers how to increase their production and quality while lowering farm production costs per metric ton. Moreover, the hands-on and vocational training provided by these commercial farms is expected to benefit an estimated 1,700 potato growers in Samtske Javakheti and Kvemo Kartli regions of Georgia. “Better production alone however does not lead to economic improvement for the farmer; it requires reliable, efficient links to the market,” assumes RED. They think the first such links are the locally based grading and packaging facilities to purchase and move an estimated 20,000 tons of potatoes, nearly 10% of total production in these two regions, to the institutional buyers in the urban markets. DV+LLC, founded in 2003, provides services to over 2,000 local farmers in the region. The company is a main provider of potato seeds, fertilisers, pesticides and irrigation material. With assistance from the RED program, the aim is to make DV+ a significant part of the potato business in Kvemo Kartli region, leading to improved market access and revenues for local farmers and better quality produce for the consumer.
Order More and Receive an iPhone 6 from Foodpanda More and more people are using the online ordering service foodpanda (www.foodpanda.ge). People of all ages and professions are enjoying this digitally advanced method of ordering food when going out or spending time in the kitchen just isn’t an option. Foodpanda offers a secure and convenient variety of choice to the customer, making delivery as comfortable as possible. And now the company is offering a fun raffle for its loyal users, who will have a chance to become proud owners of an Apple iPhone 6. In order to participate, you will have to: Download the foodpanda application from the App Store, Google Play, or the Windows Store for your smartphone device. Place an order through the app and use the voucher code: IPHONEPANDA – more orders using the code gives you more chances to win! The promotion will only be available through foodpanda’s mobile apps and run until July 30th, 2015. The winner will be determined based on the number of orders and the sum of their expenses. 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 consumer-oriented 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 (www.foodpanda.ge) or its mobile application available for free on iOS, Android and Windows Mobile. www.foodpanda.ge
JUNE 5 - 11
HeidelbergCement Hotel Georgia: Strong, Sustainable Quality Sympatia 4, V. Daraselia Str. Tbilisi, Georgia
Hotel’s network “Sympatia”
HeidelbergBeton 3rd International Quality Conference was held on May 31 in Kvareli Region. The main topic of this year’s Quality Conference was Residential & Construction Development. The conference was attended by 160 representatives of the leading local and international construction companies, real estate developers, architects, specialists from building materials and technology sectors, engineers, various international experts and quality professionals, members of the Georgian Government and Tbilisi City Hall. One of the most important presenters there was Hadi Teherani who is very experienced in planning and building global award winning iconic projects, such as the Kölner Kranhäuser in Cologne, Zayed University in Abu Dabi, Dancing Towers in Hamburg, and the Long-distance Station at Frankfurt Airport. Among the many design awards, Hadi Teherani has been also hon-
ored with the Designpreis der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, iF Design Award and the Red Dot Design Award for Best of the Best. He is also a Neocon Gold Winner. HeidelbergCement is the global market leader in aggregates and a prominent player in the fields of cement, concrete and other downstream activities, making it one of the world’s largest manufacturers of building materials. The company employs some 52,500 people at 2,500 locations in 40 countries. At a local level, HeidelbergCement Georgia is a leading Brand in the Georgian cement and concrete market. The company has been carrying out its activities in Georgia since 2006 and to date has made more than 200 million Euro investments that were mainly oriented on the modernization and expansion of existing cement plants in the concrete business line.The company supplies cement and con-
crete to almost every major construction project in Georgia. Today the company operates 4 cement plants with a total capacity of 2 million tons of cement and 10 concrete plants with overall capacity of 500m³/h, and employs more than 1200 people in Georgia. As a global market player HeidelbergCement has been focusing on reducing dust emissions and climate protection. Over Euro 12 million was invested for dust reduction filters in Georgia. Moreover, the company invested money in technical education, sponsored the Technical University in Rustavi and paid study fees for more than 100 students. HeidelbergCement is committed to managing biodiversity during and after extraction and in more than 1000 quarries worldwide the company strives to promote the exceptional local flora and fauna. HeidelbergCement Georgia meets European standards in all
its fields of management and production activities. The company is working according to 3 pillars of sustainable development: Economy, Ecology and Social Responsibility. The installation of the new filters, scientific project “Quarry Life Award”, charitable event “TbilisiMarathon”, projects related to waste management – all are in response to HeidelbergCement’s mission and sustainable development policy. HeidelbergCement continues its further expansion in the region and due to the growth of the cement market in Georgia the company is planning to construct an additional kiln line in Kaspi which will be an investment of around 100mln Euros. “We are convinced that Georgia will make its way forward as a hub in the Caucasus region and that the best days of Georgia are still to come” says Michael Hampel, General Director of HeidelbergCement Caucasus.
Special Guest at the 3rd HeidelbergBeton International Quality Conference on Residential Construction and Development, Hadi Teherani.
Tel: (995 32) 2 99 55 88, 2 37 05 90 Tel./Fax: (995 32) 2 37 62 63 www.sympatia.ge E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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JUNE 5 - 11
IFC Suppor ts Bank of Geor gia with Supports Georgia Air Astana Opens $90 Million Loan to Boost Gr owth Ne Gro wR oute to Tbilisi New Route Aiming to help expand access to finance in order to further diversify Georgia’s economy and boost growth, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, has provided Bank of Georgia with a 10year subordinated loan totalling $90 million, of which $20 million was provided by the European Fund for Southeast Europe (EFSE), in order to help expand financial services in Georgia and increase the flow of credit to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). “I am pleased to announce the completion of one of the largest debt transactions for Bank of Georgia,” said Irakli Gilauri, CEO of Bank of Georgia at the conference held on June 3. “This subor-
dinated loan facility, which qualifies as Tier II Capital under the Basel 2 framework, will improve the overall capitalization of the bank and support our growth without compromising capital ratios. I would like to thank our longtime partner IFC for continuous collaboration,” he continued. The financing will help the bank to expand its already large MSME customer base and encourage growth in its retail banking business. It will also contribute to the bank’s strategic goal of support-
ing entrepreneurship in Georgia. “The loan package will help Bank of Georgia to finance more small businesses, which are a driving force for development but often lack the capital to grow,” said Jan van Bilsen, IFC Regional Manager for the South Caucasus. “This project is yet another step forward in implementing our strategy in Georgia – one pillar of which focuses on mobilizing our partners’ resources to help expand the financial sector, boost access to finance, and reduce poverty,” he added.
22nd Caspian Oil & Gas Inter na tional Interna national Conference Held in Baku
The traditional Caspian Oil and Gas conference, a key event in the oil and gas industry in the region, was held in Baku on June 3-4. Caspian Oil and Gas has become a recognized international platform. Over more than 20 years, it has brought together the highest-level leaders to discuss the key oil and gas projects and energy security in the Caspian region. The annual conference this year was attended by over 500 delegates from more than 30 countries, more than 50 repre-
sentatives of government agencies, leading experts in the oil and gas industry, and the heads of major oil and gas companies from around the world. The plenary session’s theme was “The role of Azerbaijan in energy security in Eurasia.” Natig Aliyev - the Minister of Energy of Azerbaijan, Rovnag Abdullayev – the President of SOCAR and many other guests spoke at the conference. President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev also attended the opening ceremony.
Caspian Oil and Gas 2015’s main topics were the expansion of international cooperation in oil and gas projects, financing and sustainable development of major oil and gas projects, the diversification of oil and gas transportation from the Caspian region, the expansion of the energy resource base and opening up new opportunities, environmental security in the Caspian region, the review of petrochemical and oil refining in Azerbaijan and development prospects.
By Eka Karsaulidze Exactly four years after the first Almaty-Tbilisi flight, Air Astana Airlines launched a new route that will link the capitals of Kazakhstan and Georgia. Zurab Pataradze, Georgian Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Kazakhstan and Yerbol Ospanov, Senior Vice President Government, Regulatory Affairs and Security of Air Astana flew by the first direct flight from Astana to Tbilisi on June 2. Since 2011, Air Astana has been operating regular flights between Almaty and Tbilisi five times a week and transferring more than 120,000 passengers. Following a long analysis of passenger flow and tourist needs, which showed that the interest in Georgia from Astana has increased dramatically in the last few years, the company decided to launch the new route. The service from Astana to Tbilisi is operated by an Embraer E190 (9 Business Class/ 88 Economy class seating configuration) every Tuesday and Saturday. “We decided to start with flights twice a week, but we have all opportunities to increase that number. Today we have the first flight and the plane was filled by 98% - it is a great indicator. For comparison, a month ago we opened an Astana – Paris route, where we still have just 48% of passengers. Also, last night we launched an Astana - Seoul flight, where we have fewer passengers again, so Tbilisi is a definitely leader,” said Ospanov One of the most important reasons for opening an Astana-Tbilisi route was
Reviving Damaged Forest in Borjomi Region By Nino Melikishvili
CIS Heads Sign J oint Documents Joint
The Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) discussed a wide range of issues of integration cooperation and signed a number of important intergovernmental documents in Astana on May 29. The Council of CIS Heads of State meet biannually in order to coordinate the cooperation of executive bodies in economic, social, and other common ar-
eas of interest. The heads of all member countries, except for Ukraine, attended the latest meeting. The participants considered and approved the joint actions plan of CIS countries in the financial and economic sphere, approved the strategy of transport security in CIS territories, and discussed the concept of inter-regional and cross-border cooperation of CIS mem-
ber states for the period to 2020, as well as the plan for its implementation. The prime ministers of CIS countries adopted a number of documents relating to enhanced cooperation in the field of intellectual property, professional training and skills development. In the humanitarian sphere issues of expansion of cooperation were discussed in the education field and the main cultural activities were approved for 2016-2020. Following the Council meeting, the prime ministers met Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of Kazakhstan. “I have always said and I believe that the CIS has great potential. The very meeting of Heads of State, their bilateral and multilateral negotiations is of great value, especially in times of global crisis, when more than ever we need to work together and cooperate,” stated Nazarbaev. Participants of the meeting signed about 20 documents in total. The next meeting of the Council of CIS Heads of State will be held in Dushanbe on October 30.
the desire to meet the needs of loyal customers who had to fly frequently with transfers. The new direct flight will save time as well as money. According to Berik Abdrakhmanov, Country Manager of Air Astana in Georgia, the company has very flexible pricing and if you purchase tickets in advance, the two way ticket price will be around 350 USD. Ambassador Pataradze noted that a direct flight between Astana – Tbilisi would be a link to establishing closer relations between the two countries. “Our countries have very close business, economic, cultural and humanitarian relations. Direct flights facilitate rapprochement between the peoples and travel opportunities for tourists and businessmen,” he said. Pataradze particularly emphasized the importance of cultural relations. “Due to this route, soon we will have several cultural events. A few days ago Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theatre visited Astana. Soon we are going to hold Georgian days, a Wine Festival, and arrange exhibitions, film screenings and other cultural events in the capital of Kazakhstan, so this direct flight to Astana will greatly support us,” stated the Ambassador. “We are very pleased that Air Astana, the leading airline in Central Asia, will carry out flights on the route Astana-Tbilisi-Astana from today,” said Mete Erkal, General Manager of TAV Georgia. “We welcome any new directions to Tbilisi and Batumi International Airports, because new routes always contribute to tourism development in the country and significantly increase the number of visitors.”
During the five-day war in August 2008, an area of natural forest in central Georgia’s Borjomi region suffered major burn damage. Now, Borjomi region is being brought back to life. More than 168,000 new trees have so far been planted on 80 hectares of area in Borjomi region following the visit by an investigative commision conducted in order to study the situation. Georgia’s Ministry of Enviromental and Natural Resources is also working to give new strength to the
forest that was destroyed during the Russian-Georgian war through its Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) which involves collaboration with a number of nongovernmental and governmental organizations, research and academic institutes, international organizations and foreign and Georgian experts. Borjomi is a resort town in Southcentral Georgia. It’s warm climate, mineral water springs and forests have made Borjomi a favorite summer resort and gave it its popular name of “the Pearl of the Caucasus”.
JUNE 5 - 11
The 15th Anni ver sar y of Cor por ation Geor gian Wine Anniv ersar sary Corpor pora Georgian By Eka Karsaulidze Corporation Georgian Wine LTD (CGW), one of the leading wine companies in the country, gathered its foreign partners to celebrate its 15th anniversary in Tsinandali village, Telavi region, on May 30. The company’s representatives and guests were able to make churchkhela, Georgian bread, and discuss the CGW’s achievements and future plans. Corporation Georgian Wine was established in 1999 by Dimitri Nozadze, a person who felt great love and respect for Georgian wine and national traditions. He set a goal to take wine abroad and give the whole world the opportunity to fall just as in love with it. During its history, the company has been engaged in exports, promoting the products not only in post-Soviet countries, but also in America, China and Europe. “Our wines appeared in a few boutique shops in Georgia, but they did not last long. Our main clients are foreigners and we believe that it is particularly important for promoting our wines abroad and getting [foreigners] familiar with our traditions,” said Maia Metreveli, Head of Marketing and Sales Department of the Corporation Georgian Wine. CGW’s factory is located in Tsinandali village – the cradle of Georgian winemaking. From the first day, the company use the European technology of wine production, and the factory itself is equipped with the latest machines. Since 2012 CGW has also updated the
entire range of technology in its factory. According to Metreveli, modern technologies are a guarantee of quality. “Although we cannot ignore the needs of the market. In recent years, wines from Qvevri (Georgian clay vessel) have become very popular, so in a few years I think we will be able to expand and will have this kind of wine as well,” she explained. “Besides high quality equipment, we also need excellent grapes for a good wine. The company cares about its organic state and carefully monitors it at all stages through the year. As a result, CGW produces 16- sorts of wine that are bottled in different series. In 2014 around 3 million bottles were released for export.” A variety of types of wine and series allows CGW to meet the needs of any customer. Metreveli said that despite the fact that the cost of grapes themselves increased in 2014 and also affected wine prices, the company continues to operate and expand its market. “For sure, the current economic crisis has lead to big problems. Exports of wine in general declined, but our company did not stop working; we have reliable partners with whom we have long term cooperation, so I think we will be able to overcome this crisis,” Metreveli stated. One way out of the crisis is to find alternative markets. It is quite difficult to introduce and Georgian wine in Europe, due the fact they have their own wines, but progress can still be seen. The
main indicator is CGW’s victories at various exhibitions. Recently, the 2012 Mukuzani, series “Mikitani” by CGW, won the gold medal at the prestigious competition Mundus Vini International Wine Award 2015 in Germany. And Saperavi 2013 series “Mikitani” won the bronze prize at the IWSC 2015 (International Wine&Spirit Competition) in London.
“These victories are important for the European market as they are a guarantee of quality. We also regularly participate in exhibitions around the world. For example, every year take part in the largest Wine Exhibition in Dusseldorf. And we are very pleased to notice that interest in Georgian wines clearly increased during the last 2-3 years,” said Metreveli.
WinExpo Georgia 2015 is also an important platform for attracting new customers and markets, because many distributors from different countries come to Tbilisi on June 5. CGW will traditionally take part in it, and the company hopes that this year everything will be successful and that it will contribute to the development and popularisation of Georgian wine in the world.
Ar menia Welcomes Fir st Inter na tional Boar ding Sc hool Armenia First Interna national Boarding School at UWC Dilijan and one at each of four different colleges: UWC Adriatic in Italy, UWC Maastricht in the Netherlands, UWC Pearson College in Canada and UWC Robert Bosch College in Germany,” she continued. The reason for the small number of places being offered to Georgian citizens, is the lack of donations from Georgian donors. Puddefoot states that the college has 25 lecturers from 10 different countries, of which 11 have previously taught in other UWC colleges. However, as 96 other students are coming in August
By Baia Dzagnidze Uniting people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future has been the mission for United World Colleges (UWC) since its foundation in 1962, which has spread across 15 schools worldwide with more than 50,000 alumni, including UWC Dilijan College in Armenia. Opened last year, UWC Dilijan College in Armenia, is the first academic institution in Eastern Europe and the CIS to join the UWC network and in its first year welcomed 96 students from 48 countries, of which 2 were Georgian, 8 Russian and 10 Armenian. It provides instruction to students aged 16-19 in English under the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program recognized by the world’s best universities. Founded by Ruben Vardanyan and Veronika Zonabend, with the support of
other founding donors, the biggest advantage of the college is being a largescale philanthropic initiative making study available to anyone, regardless of their socio-economic background. John Puddefoot, the Founding Head of the college, explains that the reason for bringing such a school to Armenia is to set a world class benchmark in this part of the world, as well as becoming a ‘window’ for the rest of the world to look into the region. He also noted that expenditure on the school’s construction came entirely from charitable donations, totalling $115 million. Meanwhile, the school’s operating budget over the next five years will average $8 million annually. Covering 88 hectares of land, UWC Dilijan College is partially located within Dilijan National Park, creating a perfect environment for educational purposes together with outstanding design and all the necessary equipment and in-
frastructure including a medical center, outdoor and indoor sports facilities and performing arts center. Tuition fees for UWC Dilijan cost $35,000 per year. However, as the school is founded on donations, it can offer full scholarships for certain students. For instance, 58 students of the current 96 were on 100% grants this academic year. Daria Brodnikovskaya, representative of UWC National Committees in Russia, Armenia and Georgia, states that there were four places opened for Georgian students last year who were assigned to three different colleges: two to UWC Dilijan, and one to UWC Robert Bosch College in Germany and one to UWC Atlantic College in the UK. “In 2015 seven more Georgian students will join the UWC community to study a 2-year IB Diploma Program. Three students will begin their studies
2015, there will be a need to add to the faculty. While talking about the campus, he notes that gradually the capacity of the college will increase, accommodating up to 252 students. It should be mentioned that the school grounds were designed by a leading, London-based architectural firm and built from environmentally-friendly materials, and is fitted with the latest technology. Due to this, the college has been recognized by BREEAM – one of the world’s finest standards for sustainable construction, making it the first certified “green” building in Armenia.
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Meet Mar k Rein-Hagen, Tbilisi’s Resident Game Master By Joseph Larsen We live in troubled times. Technological changes are drastically altering the global economic landscape, and not in ways that obviously benefit working people. Gone are the post-war fixtures of large industries, generous benefits, and healthy annual wage hikes. As innovations in telecoms and robotics make more professions obsolete, the phrase “job security” sounds more like sentimentality than reality. Young people around the world are struggling to find their place in an economy that seemingly doesn’t want them. But there is a silver lining amidst all the gloom and doom. The new, post-industrial economy creates as much as it destroys, and the internet has opened limitless doors for creative, enterprising, tech-savvy individuals. Fortunately for Tbilisi-based role playing game creator Mark Rein-Hagen, he came to understand the creative economy long before it became a cliche. “Any job worth doing requires creativity. If you’re creative, you’ll be able to do anything,” Mark tells me as we chat in the office that doubles as his apartment. Two employees type away on computers. Role playing games, cards, children’s toys and books in several languages – both fantasy and non – give the room an air of comfortable clutter. Mark learned early in life that he wanted to spend his life creating role playing games and fantasy content. The beginning of this story, in fact, is a cliché itself. One weekend, the thenadolescent’s father (a small-town Minnesota Lutheran minister and theologian) invited a colleague over for Sun-
his undergraduate studies at Saint Olaf College in Minnesota. It took him nine months to create. In 1991, four years after his debut release, he dropped a bomb on the gaming industry. His second game, Vampire: The Masquerade, became an instant fixture in the RPG canon and left a lasting mark on the entertainment industry. When asked about this seminal work in the vampire lit genre, Mark gushed. “This was a huge breakthrough,” he said. “It had a major effect on what came after. Twilight takes a lot from it. Stephanie Meyer was a player.” Still in his early 20s, Mark had made a name for himself while getting closer to his dream of working in Hollywood. Then finally his big break came. He landed a job writing for Kindred: The Embraced, a FOX TV series that ran for eight episodes in 1996. The show was loosely based on Vampire: The Masquerade, but Mark wasn’t happy with the finished product. FOX’s producers had their own vision for the series. A vision that Mark didn’t agree with: “The show wasn’t as good as it could have been, if they only had listened to me more.” He worked in Hollywood for four years total, but eventually became disillusioned. Fed up with the production process and tough slog of making it as a writer, he decided to leave it behind. “It was the goal of my life, but finally I just left,” he says. Mark shows me some of the things he and his various companies (now the CEO of Make-Believe Games, he was previously co-owner of White Wolf Gaming Studio) have created over the years. There are graphic books, endless piles of
sultant for Sakaashvili’s United National Movement. The experience gave him an inside look at the political process. It also had a major impact on his creative career, inspiring him to create Democracy: Majority Rules, a board game released in 2014. Touted by reviewers as a game of “debate, diplomacy and deal-making,” Democracy is the manifestation of Mark’s views on politics. “I was working for Misha [Sakaashvili]. Almost everyone I knew was in the opposition. Everyone seemed to think that democ-
political consultant makes him uniquely qualified to comment on Georgia’s current situation. When I pressed him on the issue, his perspective as a foreigner and international businessman came through bright and clear: “The economy is stagnating. Developing countries need continuous growth. It’s not entirely the current government’s fault, but the new visa regime is a huge problem.” I asked if the visa issue, which has made life difficult for thousands of would-be investors and students over the past year, had created problems for his business. His answer was surprising not for its content, but for its urgency: “Now we’re totally thinking about [leaving].” Make Believe Games has been based in Georgia for eight years, but the new regulations are creating unprecedented problems. “One employee had to return to Denmark.” Mark Rein-Hagen always has politics on his mind, but the next creation by
Make-Believe Games is more personal than political. I AM ZOMBIE, scheduled for release later this year, presents the origin story of a race of zombies called the Amirani. According to the game’s accompanying literature, the Amirani hail from right here in Georgia. Mark created characters modeled after his creative team members and friends in Georgia. When the game is released, don’t be surprised to see some zombified versions of familiar faces. But I Am Zombie is much more than a celebration of Mark’s adventures in Georgia. It has an agenda: “I want to bring tourists to Georgia.” In the nearly three decades since his debut release, Mark Rein-Hagen’s career has taken him to Hollywood, Tbilisi, and everywhere in between. On a final note, I asked this experienced creative guru to assess his current abilities. He didn’t hold back: “I’ve never been more creative and dedicated. I’m at the top of my game!”
What is Gif foni? By David Lolishvili
Giffoni Film Festival is truly a dream come true to all the teenagers who plan to dedicate their lives to cinema. The Giffoni experience not only involves cinematographic development but many other necessary skills, like giving speeches in front of huge audiences, which could be quite challenging (imagine standing in front of 3000 participants and you can see a Hollywood actor on the stage; everyone’s expecting you to say something important and you have to ask the question, even if your mind is spinning, because over 1000 jury memday dinner. After the meal the guest asked if father and son would like to play Dungeons and Dragons. Father approved, and son never looked back: “I knew at that exact moment what I wanted to do with my life. I immediately started designing my own adventures. I started what is now my career.” Mark Rein-Hagen had a dream, and that was to go to Hollywood, work as a writer, and see his boundless imagination come to life on screen. Most people struggle well into their 30s before finding professional success, if ever. Success came fairly early for Mark ReinHagen. His first release, a role-playing game called Ars Magica, came during
game cards, even videos. Curious as to how someone goes from rural Minnesota to Hollywood, then to Tbilisi, I probe him about his personal life. Mark and his wife, who is Georgian, met in New York. After marrying, the couple planned to settle in San Francisco, but ultimately ended up in Tbilisi. “I thought we would move here for a year. That was eight years ago.” As someone with an innate understanding of creativity and dynamism, Mark was a perfect fit for his new home. The new, post-Rose Revolution Georgia was in the middle of a rapid social transformation, and Mikheil Sakaashvili’s government was bringing in foreigners to spur along the process. Mark found himself working as a con-
racy means that one party gets into office and then does whatever it wants. Then another party gets into office and does whatever it wants. I wrote the game to articulate my vision of democracy.” What is that vision? “An ongoing, never-ending series of deals.” Mark and Make-Believe Games intended for the game to be equal parts education and entertainment, seeing it as a potential teaching tool for school civics courses. While Democracy is his only game with an overtly political theme, he remarked that “all my games, in the end, are about politics.” Speaking of politics, Mark’s background as a business owner and former
bers are fighting over the microphone you’re holding!). Giffoni also provides opportunities to make lifelong friendships with people from across the globe. Jury members watch a film at the beginning of each day, followed by a discussion about the film. Participants can express their opinions openly and address questions directly to a director. Films themselves are age appropriate and based on the psychology of the audience. After a hard day of work, jury members can then attend wonderful concerts, creative art fests and much more. Giffoni is 10 days in film paradise!
JUNE 5 - 11
Georgia Celebrates International Children’s Day
In celebration of International Children’s Day various speeches, parties and programs revolving around children were held in Tbilisi, Georgia. On June 1, populations around the globe celebrate International Children’s Day and honour their youngest members. In Georgia, Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili and his family invited dozens of children living with cancer and their families to a special celebration at a Tbilisi park. Children who had received cancer treatment financed by the state-initiated Solidarity Fund were able to enjoy the celebratory mood that was fur-
ther enhanced by numerous fairytale characters, singing and dancing. Ten months after its establishment in July 2014, the Solidarity Fund has gathered more than 2.6 million GEL and financed 97 young cancer-patients. The costs of treatments for 57 patients in Georgia and 40 patients in international clinics in Germany, Israel, France and Turkey have been fully funded by the organization. Garibashvili congratulated the children and wished them happiness, well being and health. “Today is an extraordinary day. I’m seeing children and their parents happy, which makes me believe that life is only going forward. We managed to give them the support they needed and that makes me especially happy. Kindness is contagious,” said the PM during the events. Simultaneously, Georgia’s President Giorgi Margvelashvili, along his wife Maka Chachua, marked International Children’s Day at the Mziuri Park in Tbilisi, and visited an Infant House.
Sun Festival Shines in Georgia
By Nini Gegidze
Sun Festival “We See the Sun,” enjoyed its 10 year anniversary on June 1st, marking the International Day for the Protection of Children. On the day, as per tradition, the “Mzis Festival” (Sun Festival) opened its doors to host juniors as well as adults at the Children’s City in Mziuri Park, Vake, created by well-known writer Nodar Dumbadze in 1982. Guests were welcomed by a Sun-doll accompanied with characters from different fairy-tales. The festival was founded by photographer Ana Goguadze 10 years ago with the aim of turning Mziuri into Nodar Dumbadze’s original dream-city with babbling kids running around and the air full of overwhelming happiness. Like the sun, which gives its warm to everyone equally, the project also aims to involve disabled children in an active social life and to develop public social awareness. The Sun Festival has many supporters among public authorities as well as the private sector. Since
2011, mobile company Geocell has been a co-organizer and devoted friend to the Festival, hence the purple colour of the Geocell brand amongst the sunny yellow of sun city “Mziuri.” This year President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili attended the festival with his wife and interacted playfully with the children.
JUNE 5 - 11
The 6th annual Kavkaz Jazz Festival in Tbilisi By Nino Melikishvili Exciting news for those who love Jazz: the 6th annual Kavkaz Jazz Festival is ready to go! Running from 4 to 7 June, the Kavkaz Jazz Festival, taking place in Georgia’s capital city, is set to host a plethora of young musicians from around the Caucasus region and Europe.
Young and well-known folk jazz musicians from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia Germany, Poland and Turkey will this year take part in the festival and perform in Tbilisi during the four days of the festival. One of the rising jazz stars from the South Caucasus, Narine Povlatyan, will be performing with Armenian band “Imagine”. Afgan Rasul, a Baku pianist,
will also perform at the festival, as well as famous Polish folk singer Joanna Slowinska, considered the modern face of Polish traditional music. From Georgia there will be Vake Park and Georgian ethno Jazz Band Stumrebi. What’s more, three young Georgian musicians, Papuna Sharikadze, Irakli Choladze and Giorgi Kiknadze will take to the stage as the Papiragio Trio and
perform modern Jazz on behalf of Germany, where they are based. Encouraging exchanges of experience between jazz musicians from the Caucasus and Europe, and giving jazz audiences the opportunity to listen to new jazz talent of the region, is the main mission of the festival, which has been successfully implemented for the past six years.
June 5 SOUTH CAUCASUS CONTEMPORARY CHOREOGRAPHERS Start time: 18:00 Ticket price: 7-15 Lari Venue: Rustaveli Theatre
Directed by George Miller Cast: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi Language: Russian Start time: 14:05 Ticket price: 8.50 – 9.50 Lari
Start time: 12:00, 14:40, 16:35, 19:40, 22:30 Ticket price: 7:30 – 12:30 Lari
June 6 THEATRE BALLET MOSCOW AND BELORUSSIAN DANCE COMPANY SKVO AND GEORGIAN CHOREOGRAPHERS Start time: 18:00 Ticket price: 7-15 Lari Venue: Rustaveli Theatre
TOMORROWLAND Directed by Brad Bird Cast: George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Hugh Laurie Genre: Action, Adventure, Mystery Language: Russian Start time: 12:00, 14:50 Ticket price: 7.50 – 9.50 Lari
June 07 “ACTS” PERFORMANCE BY AURORA LUBOS, POLAND. Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: 7-15 Lari Venue: Europe House, 1, Freedom sq.
INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3 Directed by Leigh Whannell Cast: Dermot Mulroney, Stefanie Scott, Angus Sampson Genre: Horror Language: Russian Start time: 17:35, 19:45, 22:30 Ticket price: 9.50 – 12.50 Lari
Niqozi 2015Promoting Folk Traditions The Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia and The Folklore State Center of Georgia combined forces to hold the very first Georgian folk songs and traditional chant festival for children and adults, in celebration of International Children’s Day. The number of participants was surprisingly high, with over 500 young folk singers showing interest and dedication towards Georgian folk music. Among the audience we could easily recognize some professional folk music performers who willingly shared their experiences with the young debutants. The festival has multiple objectives, such as extending interest towards traditional Georgian music in the younger generation as well as reviving local territories like those in the conflict zone. Mr. Giorgi Gabunia, Deputy Administrator of the Folklore State Center of Georgia has announced that the conservation of traditional values such as music is exceptionally important to Georgians in the process of globalization. Music was not the only priority of the festival, as an exhibition and sale of local art pieces was held near the festival area. Niqozi is also host of an annual animation festival and now the number of local and exciting events has been raised as the folk and traditional song festival gained annual form and will draw attention for many years to come.
WHAT'S ON IN TBILISI THEATRE GABRIADZE THEATRE Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 June 5 THE AUTUMN OF MY SPRING Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10, 15 Lari June 6, 7, 11 RAMONA Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10, 15 Lari MOVEMENT THEATRE Address: 182, Aghmashenebeli Ave., Mushthaid park Telephone: 599 555 260 June 5, 7 SILENCE PLEASE, IT’S A REHEARSAL Directed by Kakha Bakuradze Start time: 20:30 Ticket price: From 7 lari GEORGIAN STATE PANTOMIME THEATRE Address: 37 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 63 14 June 5 TERENTI GRANELI Revaz Mishveladze Directed by Amiran Shalikashvili Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: 5 Lari June 9 ST. GEORGE Revaz Mishveladze Directed by Amiran Shalikashvili Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: 5 Lari SOUTH CAUCASUS CONTEMPORARY DANCE FESTIVAL IN TBILISI Address: Europe House, 1, Freedom sq.
CINEMA AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 299 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge June 5-11 SPY Directed by Paul Feig Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Rose Byrne, Jude Law Genre: Action, Comedy Language: English Start time: 19:30 Language: Russian Start time: 12:00, 14:35, 17:10, 19:50, 22:30 Ticket price: 7.30 – 12:30 Lari SAN ANDREAS 3D Directed by Brad Peyton Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller Language: Russian Start time: 16:45, 22:25 Ticket price: 9.50 – 10.50 Lari MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 255 50 00 www.kinoafisha.ge June 5-11 THE AGE OF ADALINE Directed by Lee Toland Krieger Cast: Blake Lively, Michiel Huisman, Harrison Ford Genre: Drama, Romance Language: Russian Start time: 17;15 Ticket price: 9.50 – 10.50 Lari LOST IN KARASTAN Directed by Ben Hopkins Cast: Matthew Macfadyen, MyAnna Buring, Noah Taylor Genre: Comedy Language: Russian Start time: 16:00 Ticket price: 9.50 – 10.50 Lari SPY (Info Above) Language: Russian
SAN ANDREAS 3D (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 14:45, 20:00, 22:20 Ticket price: 9.50 – 10.50 Lari MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 16:55, 19:45 Ticket price: 9.50 – 10.50 Lari TOMORROWLAND (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 14:05, 14:50 Ticket price: 7.50 – 9.50 Lari INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3 (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 12:00, 14:15, 17:20, 19:45, 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 MUSEUMS, THE GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM PRESENTS EXHIBITION “SERGO PARAJANOVI - 21ST CENTURY DREAM”. THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. www.museum.ge June 3-17 EXHIBITION “MAELSTROM: FRANZ MARK, GERMAN EXPRESSIONISM AND MODERNISM IN GEORGIA” On June 5 at 5 pm. - Ketevan
Kintsurashvili report on the exhibition. On June 13 at 3 pm. - Workshop “Franz Marc - animal” (for children 8-13 yrs.). Author and curator: Ketevan Kintsurashvili. 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 May 18 – July 18 ART PALACE PRESENTS THE EXHIBITION UNIQUE TREASURE FROM DADIANI PALACE MUSIC 6TH KAVKAZ JAZZ FESTIVAL 2015 June 5 JOANNA SLOWINSKA/Archipelago Poland NARINE & IMAGINE BAND Armenia Venue: Movement Theatre, Mushtaid Garden Start time: 20:00 June 6 PAPIRAGIO BAND Georgia-Germany Papuna Sharikadze, Giorgi Kiknadze, Irakli Choladze NEVCIVAN ÖZEL PROJECT Turkey Venue: Movement Theatre, Mushtaid Garden Start time: 20:00 June 7 IRIAO Georgia AFGAN RASUL TRIO Azerbaijan GRAND JAM SESSION Venue: CLUB 33A, Vake Park Start time: 19:30
JUNE 5 - 11
Hang it All: Etseri, Svaneti By Tony Hanmer The renovation guys have come and gone again, after dire phone warnings from us that they were late and the tourist season was starting. Literally a couple of hours before, eleven men from Lithuania arrived for a night, the upstairs was completed enough for them to occupy several rooms in their wallpapered, parqueted splendour. The next morning they breakfasted, then hit the road on foot towards Mazeri, the top of the village of Becho. I hoped that the forecast patchy rain wouldn’t either dampen their spirits or veil their view of Ushba’s southern peak, which can be spectacular from the pass. That interlude aside, the renovation continued, as many hours a day as was necessary, with little time for sympathy as May was nearly over, never mind April. At one point, admiring the work (which is really very good quality), I said that I had literally hundreds of photographs waiting to be printed, framed and hung. There would be a separate world location for each room as a theme, drawing on my 37 years as a photographer. Zimbabwe, Venice, the UK, Canada, Russia, all likely room choices. It would all be tied together by the house’s actual location, Svaneti, running through the corridors and connecting them all.
SO... don’t neglect the gallery rails, guys, that’s what they’re for! What I was trying to say was that this has been my dream for as long as I’ve thought about owning my own house: that it would also be my own gallery. No nail holes in the walls, just these rails from which, by hooks and wire or string, I can hang anything I want, and even change exhibitions as often as necessary too. They got the message without further persuasion that the whole thing is just a backdrop for the hanging apparatus, no offence, and obligingly put up my rails as almost the last item.
I’ll likely include some other people’s work. I have a great long Caucasus panorama by the great Vittorio Sella; and some other 19th century work from an ancestor of mine, portraits by the equally great Julia Margaret Cameron, who might just end up on the new UK 20-pound note. There will be room for the display of art or craft work from local people too, so this could be somewhere for schoolchildren’s best art to go, for example. It could even be for sale, why not? They seem to be good at needlework and relief woodcarving. I started collecting antique wooden window frames from abandoned houses in the area some years ago, hoping to turn these into born-again frames for my Svaneti photos. Some sanding and varnishing and they’ll be as good as old. Alongside these, the odd local horseshoe which I also collect from the ground, very rough but with a charm all of their own. Anything I’d like to hang, in short, as long as I can persuade my wife that I’m not crazy. It was quite a job to choose wallpaper, ceiling paper, floor boards, skirting boards and doors to put these rooms together... while visiting various shops in Tbilisi (not just one) selling these items. Imagining how it would all fit together, trying to visualize the whole thing. Going for some colour, mostly muted
browns and greens, hues which would work well together in a calming atmosphere and not draw too much attention to themselves and away from the art everywhere. It seems to have worked; I think I pulled it off. My wife couldn’t be with me, but she trusted me, she said, and seems to be very happy with the finished look. She even retracted a statement, on seeing blues and yellows together in tiles for one bathroom, that she could no longer trust my colour sense. I decided
not to say anything at the time, and let the results speak for themselves. They have done so, and she has lapsed once more into accepting my judgements. It will take some time (because of the expense) to get everything printed, framed, delivered and hung; there might be well over a hundred items, large and small. But the dream is one huge step closer to reality: the Tony Hanmer Gallery, Etseri, Upper Svaneti. Be assured, I’ll let you know when it’s open. Wine and cheese on me.
Tony Hanmer runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 1000 members, at www.facebook.com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/ . He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri: www.facebook.com/hanmer.house.svaneti
Unf or getta ble P erf or mance of Unfor org ettab Perf erfor ormance Sukhishvile bi a amids in Eg ypt Sukhishvilebi att the Pyr Pyramids Egypt
By Nini Gegidze The Sukhishvilebi National Ballet Ensemble have demonstrated Georgia’s ancient folk and culture near one of the most magnificent places in the world. The breathtaking view of the great pyramids of Giza and the fascinating two hour dance program of the Georgian National Ballet together combined to make a spectacular show and embodied the ongoing story of the Georgian spirit. The special concert was proposed by the Embassy of Georgia in Egypt to be held on May 26 to mark Georgia’s Day of Independence. The concert was attended by more than 3000 people including high officials, public figures and Egyptian media representatives. The concert was opened by Archil Dzuliashvili, the Ambassador of Georgia to Egypt, who described the Georgian folk concert as a vital event that celebrated the friendly relations between Egypt and Georgia, while promoting tourism between the two nations at the same time.
The Georgian National Ballet, the first professional state dance company in Georgia, was founded by Iliko Sukhishvili and Nino Ramishvili in 1945 and was initially named The Georgian State Dance Company. The Georgian National Ballet has been represented by many well-known global impresarios and companies and has appeared at the Albert Hall, The Coliseum, The Metropolitan Opera, Madison Square, and dozens of other famous venues. During their Broadway tour, the performance of the National Ballet of Georgia was named the performance of the year and the ensemble itself – the best show of the year. In Australia, the company was hailed as the “8th wonder of the world”! During its existence the ensemble has been on more than 500 tours across 5 continents, with around 90 countries and over 10000 performances. Meanwhile, last July, Georgia’s Ministry of Culture announced 2015 as the year of Sukhishvilebi for its contribution to promoting Georgian culture.
Geor gia Cele br ates Galaktionoba Georgia Celebr bra By Tatia Megeneishvili Georgia celebrated the annual festival Galaktionoba, dedicated to Georgian poet Galaktion Tabidze, for the seventh time on May 30 in Tchkvishi village in Vani municipality. Organized by Mtatsminda Moon (an organization named after one of Tabidze’s poems) and the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia, the event was held on Tabidze’s 123 year anniversary in the format of a competition and included students of all accredited universities and schools as well as professional artists, all of whom created works on the topic of Tabidze’s poetry. Other competitions were held separately among students and participants (under 30s) in different nominations, such as
verse readings, creating pictures inspired by Tabidze’s poems, literature sketches dedicated to Tabize and so on. The winners received tomes of Tabidze’s poems, diplomas and a variety of other prizes. The festival also included horse racing, Polo games and a concert by Gio Dzamukashvili and band Nikolshow. Tabidze is a leading Georgian poet of the twentieth century whose writings profoundly influenced all subsequent generations of Georgian poets. He survived Joseph Stalin’s Great Purge of the 1930s, which claimed the lives of many of his fellow writers, friends and relatives, but came under heavy pressure from the Soviet authorities. Those years plunged him into depression and alcoholism. He was placed in a psychiatric hospital in Tbilisi where he later committed suicide.
JUNE 5 - 11
Tskhadadze Looks for Fur ther Improvement against Ukraine and Poland By Alastair Watt Following Georgia’s respectable 20 defeat to world champions Germany at the end of March, the first competitive match of Kakha Tskhadadze’s reign as head coach, there were whispers of encouragement and a sense that the country may be able to halt its alarming slide into international backwater status. Tskhadadze, who is now exclusively the national head coach after a brief period of combining this with the Inter Baku job, now faces a double header of difficult matches, a friendly against Ukraine in Linz, Austria on June 9 followed by a Euro 2016 qualifier against Poland in Warsaw on June 13. Nevertheless, the matches offer an opportunity to build upon the positivity generated by a perfectly acceptable performance in the defeat to the Germans. Tskhadadze welcomes back Spartak Moscow playmaker Jano Ananidze to his 23-man squad which also includes some surprising old names. Midfielder Gogita Gogua, notorious for questionable behaviour and attitude to a point that he was banished from the national setup under Temur Ketsbaia, returns to the national squad looking to win his first cap for over four years. Perhaps a factor in Gogua’s selection, his last appearance for Georgia came in the historic 1-0 victory over Croatia in March 2011. Another player returning to the squad is right-back Lasha Salukvadze who played under Tskhadadze at Inter Baku. He too is seeking a first competitive international appearance since 2011.
Georgia’s first-choice goalkeeper Giorgi Loria joins up with the squad following an impressive first season in Greece for OFI Crete. His displays for the island club drew the attention of several European sides but the Georgian stopper opted to stay in Greece with champions Olympiacos where he has signed a two-year deal. Unfortunately, Tskhadadze may have to do without the services of captain Jaba Kankava, who competed for Dnipro in the recent Europa League final defeat to Sevilla, for the match with Ukraine although he could return to face the Poles if suitably fit. The form of at least two others in the Georgian squad add to further cause for optimism. On the last weekend of the Italian season, Empoli’s Levan Mchedlidze scored twice against Inter Milan in the San Siro and will surely retain his place as Georgia’s lone striker. Competition is mounting though as Mate Vatsadze enjoying an impressive goal-scoring season for Danish side Aarhus. Elsewhere, Vitesse Arnhem midfielder Valeri Qazaishvili has been in sparkling form which helped the Dutch side to a place in next season’s Europa League via the play-offs. Peculiarly, Qazaishvili (known as Vako) has featured in only one of Georgia’s six qualifiers so far – the 1-0 defeat to Scotland in Glasgow in October last year. The 22-year old is due more international recognition than he has been given so far, and possesses all of the qualities (skill, shooting, passing, stamina) to suc-
ceed as a box-to-box midfield player, as he has been demonstrating consistently for over a year with Vitesse. Analysis of Georgia Today’s Alastair Watt: “While Georgia may be out of the running for a place in Euro 2016, there is plenty at stake for the national team and their new head coach. The likes of Loria, Kankava, Kashia and Qazaishvili have enjoyed excellent seasons in strong leagues and/or top-level European competition so there is some encouragement for Georgian individuals. What Tskhadadze must do now is build a team around these dependable members of his squad.
“Finding a goal-scorer has been a seemingly endless assignment for Georgia’s head coaches since Shota Arveladze retired in the late 2000s, and Tskhadadze’s options in the striking department remain lean. Mchedlidze is currently the front runner with four Serie A goals to his name this year, but he hasn’t managed a competitive goal for Georgia since scoring against Scotland in 2007. “In Ananidze, Chanturia, Kenia and Okriashvili, Georgia are blessed with an assortment of talented dribblers and/or playmakers but against superior opposition they can scarcely afford more than
two of them in the lineup. Ananidze and Okriashvili have the lead in terms of caps, but Kenia shone in Tskhadadze’s first two matches with Malta and Germany. Chanturia remains an enigma with undoubted ability but a reluctance to pass that renders him difficult to insert into a functioning team unit. “Tskhadadze’s aim may not be qualification any more, but rather to have a say in who does qualify and an unlikely point or three in Warsaw would elicit a combination of appreciation and concern from Georgia’s other two most plausible victims – Scotland and Ireland.”
Blatter Resigns as FIFA President By Joseph Larsen Sepp Blatter served as FIFA president for almost two decades, but his fifth term in the organization’s top spot lasted only three days. Re-elected on 29 May with more than 70 percent of the vote, the 79-year old Blatter announced his resignation on Tuesday. “FIFA needs profound restructuring,” he said during the snap press conference. THE LATEST DOMINO TO FALL Blatter’s resignation comes while a corruption scandal rocks the governing body of the world’s most popular sport. He has been president since 1998, presiding over a period many associate with rampant bribe-taking. Blatter has never been charged with any wrongdoing but, hours after the resignation, it
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
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became known that he is under investigation by the US Department of Justice. On 27 May Swiss police arrested seven high-ranking FIFA officials in the city of Zurich – among them FIFA vicepresident Jeffrey Webb. The arrested are to be extradited to the United States to face charges relating to corruption, racketeering, and conspiracy. In a parallel action, the Swiss authorities filed criminal charges against 18 FIFA officials on “suspicion of criminal mismanagement and of money laundering” during the bidding processes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. It has also been alleged that former vice-president Jack Warner, now a politician in his home country of Trinidad and Tobago, accepted $10 million from the South African government during
the bidding for the 2010 World Cup. WHAT PUSHED BLATTER OVER THE EDGE? Blatter was neither among the seven arrested in Zurich nor among the 18 charged by the Swiss authorities. So what was behind his decision to step down? The organization has allegedly been corrupt for decades. Blatter was able to maintain leadership, believing himself to be the best person to clean it up. The recent scandal shows he was unable to do so. The long-standing president’s reputation had become irreparable: “I do not feel that I have a mandate for the entire world of football – the fans, the plays, the clubs, the people who live, breathe and love football as much as we all do at FIFA.”
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