June 12 - 18, 2015
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The La w on Occupied Law Ter ritories under Thr ea ain erritories hrea eatt Ag Again And enjoy Georgia Today’s new facebook feature: Daily ‘Latest News’ updates. IN THIS WEEK’S ISSUE
Stir ring Troub le in Stirring ouble The Geor gian Georgian Banking Sector P.4
Summer Of Offfer in Gr een Buda pest Green Budapest Pay Simpl y! Simply!
Mam uka Khazar adz e Mamuka Khazaradz adze at “EY W or ld Wor orld Entr epr eneur of the Entre preneur Year 2015”
Wha t’ s the Link hat’ t’s betw een Business and between Picasso’ s P aintings? Picasso’s Paintings? The IE Business Sc hool School P.12 in Tbilisi FLIGHT SCHEDULE
Georgian Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani is considering further changes to LOT which will prohibit commercial and other ties with South Ossetia and Abkhazia. P.2
Elector al Code R ef or m Lik el y Electoral Ref efor orm Likel ely to be Dela yed until 2020 Delay Georgia Today analyses the majoritarian system and its future. P.6
A Bet ffor or the Potential of Na tur e: Fi ve Year s Natur ture: Fiv ears of the Caucasus Na tur e Fund in Natur ture Geor gia Georgia CNF ups support to Georgia’s Protected Areas P.15
Human Rights Pr otest to Protest Coincide with Az erbaijan Azerbaijan erbaijan’’s Eur opean Games European Opening y Cer emon emony Ceremon P.17
JUNE 12 - 18
NATO Secretary General Plans First Visit to Georgia
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg
By Nino Melikishvili The top NATO official is deciding on a date to come to Georgia in the near future. NATO’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, James Appathurai, said the Alliance’s Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, was planning his first official visit to Georgia. “The Secretary General is looking, I can tell you that. The visit to Georgia will take place as soon as possible and that’s not just a diplomatic phrase; he is looking at the calendar and narrowing down some dates, so I think sooner rather than later that should happen” said Appathurai. He went on to give an account of the recent visit of Georgia’s Defence Minister Tina Khidasheli to NATO headquarters and mentioned that she did an
excellent job during her visit to NATO and that they were looking forward to meeting her within the NATO Defence Ministrial. Later, Public Defender of Georgia Ucha Nanuashvili met with NATO’s Appathurai in the framework of his official visit to Brussels. At the meeting at NATO headquarters they discussed the situation regarding human rights. Appathurai gave a positive assessment of Georgia’s progress with respect to the improvement of the human rights situation, though he highlighted a number of challenges that should be expected on the way. “The Public Defender of Georgia presented a reform plan, the realization of which will be valuable for Georgia as it will bring the country closer to European Standards,” Appathurai said after his meeting with Ucha Nanuashvili.
Khidasheli MAP for Georgia – Reuters Reuters has reported that Tina Khidasheli, Georgian Defense Minister, is seeking a NATO Membership Action Plan, known commonly as a MAP, for Georgia, as the newly appointed Minister visited Brussels at the beginning of June. “On the job for just three weeks, Georgia’s new defense minister was in Brussels this week to kick off a tough mission - persuading the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to give her embattled country a path to membership at its summit next year,” wrote the global information agency “Specifically, Georgia wants a Membership Action Plan, considered the final stepping stone to joining, at NATO’s July 2016 summit in Warsaw. However, some NATO members question whether Georgia has democratized enough, and they worry about extending their mutual-defense guarantee to a country that neighbors Russia and whose territory is partly controlled by it” - the analysis says. Khidasheli has stated during official meetings at NATO HQ that the NATO summit will come in the midst of a Georgian election campaign and that rejection by the Alliance could hurt pro-Western parties. “If the answer is negative from Warsaw - you can take my word for it, and I hate to say it - but it will have an immediate implication for the election results,” she warned. Reuters notes that some countries are
caught between Russia and the West which obstructs their decision-making regarding Georgia which is among NATO’s top partners and last year signed a sweeping political-and-trade deal with the European Union. The article adds that Khidasheli had been made aware of Putin’s latest activities on Georgian territory during the meeting. “During an interview at the Metropole Hotel in downtown Brussels, Mrs. Khidasheli was interrupted by a chime on her phone, alerting her that Mr. Putin was meeting with the ‘president’ of South Ossetia, Leonid Tibi-
lov,” stated the article. Georgia’s new defense minister suggested that western leaders are uncertain about Georgia. “You do not really see an agenda,” she said. “What do these states want to do? How do they see the world in 10 years?” she asked before claiming that if Montenegro is invited to join NATO this year then Georgia should follow. “My plan is to work as hard as possible, to push as hard as possible,” Khidasheli said. “Everyone who knows me will know that it’s not going to be easy to talk to me and to deal with me. If I am desperate, then that’s it,” she added.
The La w on Occupied Law ea ain Ter ritories under Thr erritories hrea eatt Ag Again
By Steven Jones
HA VE YOUR HAIR CUT AT OUR SAL ON HAVE SALON AND GET HAIR DIA GNOSTIC AS A GIFT! DIAGNOSTIC
Georgian Defense Minister Tina Khidasheli
Georgian Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani is considering further changes to the Georgian Law on Occupied Territories (LOT). “These areas have had and will continue to have the status of occupied territories, as long as their de-occupation is not achieved. This document prohibits commercial and other types of ties with South Ossetia and Abkhazia,” the Minister stated to Ukrainian publication “Den”. “This is very important, because there are spilt families,” she continued. Recently, Paata Zakareishvili, Georgian State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality (formerly called the Ministry of Reintegration) officially stated that some amendments to the LOT would be made. The law approved by the Parliament of Georgia after the Russo-Georgian war of 2008 was the primary target for Zakareishvili and, in general, for Geor-
gian Dream (GD) believing in the constructivism theory for stabilizing relations with Russia and that directly talking with the separatist government of Abkhazia would work. Along with Zakareishvili, other GD leaders have several times noted that the separatist regimes of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region were independent players in the conflicts that have displaced over 500,000 Georgians. Since the 2008 war, Russia’s intentions have become clear. It is notable that the LOT has been used as a serious mechanism against Russia by the Georgian side to ensure that the international community recognizes Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The LOT’s approval by the Georgian side was followed by increasing efforts to work on the unrecognition policy with Georgia’s international allies. Contrarily, the Georgian Dream reversed the course of anti-Russian rheto-
ric taken by Saakashvili’s government, in favor of stabilization. These actions may have reduced the chances of further hostility from Russia but have perhaps left Georgia’s legal framework somewhat vulnerable. The first step of GD to abate the LOT was made in 2013, when the coalition re-named the Ministry of Reintegration to the Ministry of Reconciliation and Civic Equality, which some Georgian citizens found uncomfortable. Zakareishvili, who was acting as an independent expert in the sphere, always believed that talks with Sokhumi and Tskhinvali marionette regimes would be beneficial for conflict resolution. From today’s perspective, there seems to be no real solution in the conflicts that are sometimes referred to as frozen, as Russia’s inclusion in the process reveals both territorially tiny regions are being utilized to achieve Russia’s imperial ambitions in the region.
JUNE 12 - 18
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.
Stir ring Trouble in The Georgian Banking Sector By Yaroslava Babych Who should be supervising the activities of commercial banks in Georgia? Currently this responsibility lies with the country’s National Bank. However, the Georgian parliament will soon be deciding on a new legislation, which, if passed, could take away the supervisory role from NBG and transfer it to an independent agency reporting directly to the prime minister. At the same time, the President of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili vowed to veto the bill, if it is passed by the Parliament, citing economic concerns. So, why does this particular piece of legislation ignite political battles? And why does the Parliament want to shake up the country’s financial architecture now, when consumer and business confidence are at such low levels, and when there is so much uncertainty about the real economy? THE POLITICAL CONTEXT The proposed reforms must be seen in the context of the political “war of words” between the ruling Georgian Dream coalition and the National Bank’s leadership, which has been ongoing ever since the Georgian Lari started to slide against the US dollar in December 2014. Since Georgia is still largely a dollarized economy, with more than half of all loans denominated in USD, the government came under huge popular pressure to “stop” the slide of the Lari against the dollar. At the same time, taking full advantage of its independent status, the National Bank did not want to give in under pressure. NBG argued that a certain degree of currency devaluation was inevitable. On the one hand, the country is receiving less foreign cash from exports, caused by lower demand for Georgian goods in several partner countries – Azerbaijan, Armenia, Ukraine, and Russia. On the other hand, foreigners are investing less, and Georgians working abroad are sending less money back home. All of this naturally leads to a strengthening of all major currencies
advised attempt by the government to appease the public by gaining some control over foreign exchange transactions (and the value of the Lari). Indeed, the actions of the National Bank may not be in line with the ruling coalition’s short-term political interests. But that is precisely the point - they should not be! The very reason the National Bank’s leadership has long term tenure, is to ensure its independence from the government. This is a longstanding international practice to safeguard against bad monetary policy decisions driven by purely political considerations. The main goal of the monetary policy should be to serve the country’s long terms interests, not to meet the short-term goals. against the Lari. There are several ways the Lari value could bounce back. The ideal scenario, requiring no sacrifices, would involve an increase in Georgia’s exports or a surge in investment and remittances from abroad. But the likelihood of this happening any time soon is quite low, given the broader picture of a regionwide economic slowdown. The other possibility is that Georgians (households, firms and the government) start buying less foreign goods, and thus reduce the demand for foreign currency on the market. This scenario is more painful, and can lead to lower growth or a recession. The National Bank warned that an attempt to fight devaluation by any other means, namely by trying to supplement the lack of USD on the market with the country’s foreign exchange reserves, would have disastrous consequences, such as a Latin American-style currency crisis. The NBG argued, in addition, that inflation is not picking up despite devaluation, remaining well below the rate that would require monetary policy intervention. In such a context any attempt to fix the exchange rate would only encourage speculators. Indeed, Georgia’s foreign reserve
levels are nearing the critical threshold of 3 months’ worth of imports, certainly not enough to allow frequent (or massive) interventions. If the National Bank tries to fix the exchange rate, the speculators will bet on depreciation by borrowing Lari and buying up the country’s stock of foreign currency reserves (at the low fixed rate). The National Bank will have to abandon the fixed rate once its foreign currency reserves run out, allowing the speculators to sell foreign currency at a price (in Lari terms) much higher than the fixed rate at which they have bought it initially, and thus make a nice profit. While these arguments are well known to banking experts and macroeconomists worldwide, they failed to impress the majority of Georgian legislators. The allegations that commercial banks were manipulating the exchange rate for their own profit, while the NBG was turning a blind eye, started gaining momentum. Some parliamentarians (e.g. Tamaz Mechiauri, chairman of the budget and finance committee) even criticized the National Bank for not representing the interests of the ruling coalition. The current proposal to take away the bank supervisory functions from NBG may therefore be interpreted as an ill
10 Galaktion Street
THE ECONOMIC FALLOUT If the proposed legislation is passed, what are the likely economic consequences? It is a difficult question to answer, especially given the political context I outlined above. On the one hand, the financial sector governing model, where the macro (monetary policy) and micro (bank supervision) functions are separated between institutions is not new. Introducing such a model need not have any “revolutionary” consequences at all. On the other hand, in the current Georgian context these policy measures may have unintended and very unpleasant consequences. Surely, in many OECD countries, such as Australia, Canada, Mexico, the supervision of a banking system, along with the securities market, is handled by a separate independent agency. Note, however, that all of these countries have a flexible exchange rate regime, and their choice of supervision model is not tied to an attempt to control the national currency value. At the same time, many other OECD countries favor a “combined” or “mixed” system in bank supervision and monetary policy. Under these systems, bank supervision is the responsibility of a central bank either entirely, or shared between the central bank and other agen-
cies. The United States is an example of such a “mixed” system, where supervisory functions are divided between as many as three separate agencies: the Federal Reserve (US central bank), FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation), and the OCC, an office within the US Treasury Department. The pros and cons of different supervisory systems have been the subject of debate within academic circles. Yet, the context of this debate is prevention of systemic bank failures, not currency stabilization measures. For example, some economists argue that a combined system (central bank supervises commercial banks) may lead to a conflict of interest– e.g. the central bank may be pressured to maintain low interest rates in order to save the country’s ailing banks. Others, however, argue that the combined system is better for ensuring financial stability, especially when the central bank plays the role of the “lender of last resort”, i.e. takes on the responsibility to rescue the banks that experience temporary difficulties. In the Georgian case, even if the impact of the proposed legislation is likely to be minimal, the greatest concern about the proposal is that it may be a back door attempt to tighten control over commercial banks’ transactions, and to take some important monetary policy functions away from the National Bank. If the primary objective of those behind the new legislation is to help stabilize the currency, then they have to understand that it will not help achieve this goal. Moreover, their actions might backfire and destabilize the financial system. Private banks may fear that the established “independent agency” may not in fact be independent, and that they will face more scrutiny and politically motivated restrictions. Given the above considerations, the Parliament would be well advised to act in a responsible manner. Rather than trying to achieve any (uncertain) short-term political gains, it should give more weight to the country’s long-term economic policy objectives for the good of the Georgian people.
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JUNE 12 - 18
Elector al Code R ef or m Lik el y to be Dela yed until 2020 Electoral Ref efor orm Likel ely Delay By Zaza Jgharkava Even though the next parliamentary elections in Georgia are more than a year away, the election themes are already apparent. For these elections, as was the case previously, the political opposition demands the removal of majoritarian MPs from the electoral code, something which the current government is unwilling to entertain. Indeed, the Parliament Speaker has confirmed that the election code will not be changed until 2020. According to the Constitution, the country’s supreme legislative body is composed of 77 MPs elected through proportional party lists and 73 majoritarian MPs. The opposition, including the United National Movement, is asking to change this norm and ensure full composition of parliament with proportional lists. The opposition has already started to collect signatures for a petition so that MPs start discussing constitutional changes. According to Mamuka Katsitadze, leader of the political organization New Rights, the nonparliamentary opposition needs signatures of only a few more MPs in order to initiate the procedure of changing the electoral code. “In total, we need 76 signatures and we need 17 more signatures in order to register this change. Out of the 59 signatures that we have, none of them are from the Georgian Dream Coalition representatives. Therefore, it will
be a big challenge to collect all necessary signatures,” Katsitadze told reporters after the closed inter-party group meeting at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel. Prior to that, the first collegium of the Georgian Constitutional Court decided on the case “Georgian citizens Ucha Nanuashvili and Mikheil Sharashidze against the Georgian Parliament”. The Constitutional Court satisfied the appeal and found the norms of the Georgian electoral code that set 73 one-mandate majoritarian electoral district norms unconstitutional. In par-
ticular, according to the controversial norms, each municipality, apart from Tbilisi, was a single-mandate majoritarian district for parliamentary elections and in Tbilisi 10 majoritarian election districts were formed. The Constitutional Court indicated that while setting the borders of majoritarian electoral districts, the number of registered voters in municipalities should be taken into consideration and the state’s efforts should be directed at ensuring the formation of equal electoral districts. To put it simpler, the Constitutional Court told the Parliament that it would not consider
what it deemed the demands of a small proportion of the electorate. Despite the peculiarity of this electoral mathematics, the main characteristic of the majoritarian system is that majoritarians are not usually subjected to party discipline and start their own political games in the supreme legislative body, avoiding the “mother” party. The problems this can cause were made clear in the 2012 parliamentary elections. After losing the election, 9 majoritarian MPs left the United National Movement and joined the winning ruling party in the parliament.
Elsewhere, the 2012 elections showed us that majoritarians in essence act against the development of democratic institutions. For example, the ‘majoritarian corps’ of the Georgian Dream are composed of Bidzina Ivanishvili’s friends, well-known sportsmen, singers and actors. As time has shown, these people actually slowed the political process. The entire competition and ‘race’ of sportsmen, theatre people, composers and singers brought no good to the ongoing political process and generally, Georgian democracy. On the contrary, it brought them to the verge of political oblivion. Professionals should be in charge of politics. If we look at parliaments of democratic countries (the US Congress, House of Commons of UK, National Assembly of France, Bundestag of Germany, etc.), you will seldom find such characters. One notable exception was the election of the porn star Cicciolina in the Italian Parliament. The US Republicans or French Gaullists would find it ridiculous to name Tom Cruise, Steven Spielberg, Gerard Depardieu, Anthony Hopkins or Oliver Kahn as MP candidates. Only in developing African or post-Soviet countries is this accepted. Thus, no matter how many supporters or opponents the majoritarian system finds, it is important that political processes do not divert further into the realms of celebrity.
For mer J ustice Minister Adeishvili: United Na tional Mo vement will R egain P ower ormer Justice National Mov Re Po Former Georgian Justice Minister, Zurab Adeishvili broke his silence nearly three years after the 2012 elections to claim that the United National Movement, in his opinion, will return to power. The ex-minister took part in almost all high-scale judicial and political processes in Georgia during a decade of UNM rule in the country, which ended with the peaceful transition of power three years ago. The former head of the structure spoke out summarizing various pressing issues for Georgia including Zurab Zhvania’s death, Bidzina Ivanishvili and UNM’s future prospects. He says National Movement was aware of Ivanishvili’s aspirations to become engaged in politics even in 2004. “He has always been engaged in politics. He was active in this field in 2004, 2005, 2006... According to widespread information, he did so with the intention to influence certain events. Politics implies affecting ongoing processes, and he did precisely that. However, we were
aware of it,” the ex-minister stated. Adeishvili was asked whether there was any kind of agreement between UNM and Ivanishvili before the changing of power in 2012. “Gaining power is a democratic process and Georgia’s population really deserves to have such things achieved openly rather than through secret agreements between two political forces or two individuals. For us, it was unacceptable to simply grant someone power over the country. After our refusal to hand power over to Bidzina, he chose the method of elections and gained power this way,” he responded (IPN). He recalled the case of invalidating Ivanishvili’s Georgian citizenship prior to the election of 2012, calling the decision legitimate. “All decisions regarding the case were right, but politics require only political discussions. It is wrong and ineffective to have legal mechanisms interfere with politics. It was not political, but a legal decision,” he emphasized.
In addition, the former chief of the executive body analyzed the controversial death of Zurab Zhvania, the former PM of Georgia who was found dead at his apartment back in 2005. “As for
Explosion a pot in Ukr aine att a Fuel De Depot Ukraine A tank in a fuel depot next to an army base near the town of Vasylkiv, 30 km south west of Kiev, burst into flame on Monday evening resulting in explosions on Tuesday morning and a huge plume of smoke which covered the area. The blaze took 17 tanks, eight of which were said to have a capacity of 900 cubic metres (32,000 cu ft) each. Four people were killed and more than 10 others injured. The exact cause of the fire has yet to be determined. People in a 2km (1.24 miles) zone around the burning depot have been evacuated and a nearby munitions store is being cleared by military personnel. The intensity of the fire has resulted in challenges in extinguishing the blaze and 200 firefighters have been working throughout the week to limit the spread. The last explosion occurred on Wednesday evening but, according to the press service of the State Service for Emergency Situations of Ukraine (SSES), it
Ukrainian firefighters extinguishing Vasylkiv fuel depot blaze
was an expected incident and all equipment and personnel were moved aside in time to prevent further casualties. “We are working around the clock,” said Nikolai Chechetkin, Head of the State Service for Emergency Situations of Ukraine. “Apart from the main tanks
within the fuel depot, there are many places where 40-60-ton tanks are still ablaze. That is why there is such heavy smoke. But the situation is under control. We have control over a third of the depot. There is no danger of further explosions,” he said, before adding: “We are carrying out regular air and soil monitoring and all figures are in the normal range.” In a conflicting message the BBC reported that Kiev Mayor Vitaly Klitschko had warned that harmful substances in the air over Vasylkiv exceeded maximum allowed levels and that he was urging residents with respiratory problems to limit their “exposure to the open air.” In the absence of new incidents at the fuel depot, the SSES is expected to put out the fire by Thursday evening. Only after extinguishing the fire can an expert group enter the site to investigate the reason for the blaze.
Zurab Zhvania’s case, I declare with full responsibility that the case is exactly what it is described and we should expect the appropriate verdict,” he underscored.
He asserted that all sensitive pieces of information were included in the investigation materials adding that Zhvania’s family members knew about the apartment in which the deceased PM’s body was found. On a finishing note, Adeishvili summarized the current situation, forecasting UNM’s potential victory in the coming elections: “The National Movement, led by Mikheil Saakashvili, will inevitably regain power. There may not be many old faces in the team, including me. The existing level of political discourse in the country needs to be changed. A different political existence needs to be established, such as coalitional government and consensusbased decision-making. The possibility of the National Movement returning along with other political forces is increasing,” Adeishvili currently serves as a consultant to Ukrainian government and other nations in need of successful reforms, such as Albania.
JUNE 12 - 18
Greece Buys Saakashvili Uses Iron Hand in Ukraine Time But Still Mikheil Saakashvili, the former Georgian president and new Governor of Odessa has started a wave of radical measures including the detainment of several officials. The region, which is of vital economic importance to the Ukrainian government, is embroiled by rampant corruption and Saakashvili has already openly punished the Odessa Military Commissioner for allegedly taking bribes. “The Military Commissioner of the Odessa district and his subordinates have been detained. They are accused of taking bribes from recruits,” stated Saakashvili’s Facebook page. The Georgian revolutionary claims the methods used in Ukraine resembles the anti-corruption activities his team widely utilized in Georgia a decade ago. He adds that criminals and corrupt officials must be punished or the problem will only multiply. Contrarily, Russian politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who is known to have been openly sounding out Vladimir Putin’s ideas, has declared abruptly that Saakashvili, along with Ukrainian military pilot Nadezhda Savchenko, who is currently in Russian custody on charges of killing Russian journalists in Luhansk, should be shot. “Are you going to shell Donbas? We will do the same in Kiev. You killed Mozgavoy (head of separatists in Luhansk district, killed in May 2015) and
Needs Bailout By Joseph Larsen
Former Georgian president and new Governor of Odessa Mikheil Saakashvili
we will shoot all your governors, starting with Saakashvili,” the provocative Russian politician said. At the same time, Saakashvili, despite apparently losing his Georgian citizenship and facing apparent Russian threats, has not ruled out a return to Georgia for next year’s elections. Indeed, he has compared Georgian Dream founder Bidzina Ivanishvili to a student with an inferiority complex. Saakashvili believes what he is doing in Ukraine will benefit not only Ukraine but also Georgia in the long run. “There are several reasons for the poor state of Georgia’s economy, but the main reason is Ivanishvili. He wanted to stop our big projects and his team actually destroyed many of them. So, we are dealing with both Ivanishvili’s
personal grudge and his inferiority complex,” Saakashvili said. The ex-president spoke about his new post in Ukraine and claimed it could not be considered a long-term arrangement. The Georgian Prosecutor’s Office, which has been engaged in Saakashvili’s prosecution for the last two years, has declared that the ex-president’s extradition from Ukraine is no longer possible as he has received Ukrainian citizenship. “Such a guarantee exists in almost every country, including Georgia. Legally, once Mikheil Saakashvili became a Ukrainian citizen, the country was no longer legally able to force his extradition from another country,” Irakli Shotadze, First Deputy Chief Prosecutor, said.
plement unless its terms of repayment are renegotiated.
Greece’s ruling Syriza party has walked a tightrope since entering office in February. The avowedly left-wing party is caught between anti-austerity voters on the one hand, and austeritydemanding creditors on the other. Unwilling to default outright on its debt but finding it politically impossible to implement another harsh austerity package, Syriza has attempted to placate all sides. This four-month long balancing act is finally coming to a head. Last week the government declared itself unable to pay a EUR 300 million payment due the IMF, the first of four payments totaling EUR 1.5 billion due by 30 June. Syriza made a last-minute agreement with the IMF allowing it to pay the entire amount in a lump sum at the end of the month. If the sum is not paid by that time, Greece will officially be in default on its government debt obligations. BAILOUT FUNDS STILL NEEDED Syriza has bought time to make its most pressing debt payments, but state coffers are still empty. Not only does
TONE BITTER BETWEEN GREECE AND EC Greece needs EC approval to receive funds necessary for meeting its debt obligations. However, the relationship between government and EC officials looks sourer than ever. Tsipras called the 4 June proposal, with its demands for immediate austerity measures, “absurd.” Fiery Finance Minister Ioannis Varoufakis went even further, penning a weekend blog post that declared that “greater austerity is being demanded from an economy that is on its knees, owing to the heftiest dose of austerity any country has ever had to endure in peacetime.” A particular point of contention is that of Greece’s required primary budget surplus (the amount by which tax revenue exceeds government spending, not including the interest on outstanding debt). The EC had originally demanded that Greece run a primary surplus of 2 percent of GDP in 2015 and 4 percent the year after. It has now relaxed those figures to 1.5 percent and 2 percent.
Turkish Elections: AKP, Erdogan Take Hit By Joseph Larsen
or more of the country’s other parties.
The Turkish people have spoken. Last Sunday’s parliamentary elections saw 86 percent of eligible voters come to the polls in what many have called a turning point for the country. While the significance for Turkey is obvious, the message sent by voters is less clear. The Justice and Development Party (AKP), which had held a majority for 13 years, led all contestants by taking 258 seats in the country’s 550-seat parliament. However, it no longer holds the strong grip it has had on the government for more than a decade. Since 2002 supporters of AKP and its muscular leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan have felt empowered by the party’s advocacy of Islamist values and appeal to Turkish nationalism. The AKP’s opponents on the other hand – who tend to be urban, educated, and liberal – view the party and Erdogan as authoritarian, ambivalent to European values, and hostile to the country’s Kemalist secular traditions. Sunday’s parliamentary elections showed that AKP’s position is still strong but significantly diminished. The party’s 258 seats are significantly smaller than the 327 it won in the last general election in 2011. It now faces two choices: attempt to rule through a minority government, or form a coalition with one
PRO-KURDISH PARTY MAKES INROADS One group vowing not to enter any coalition with AKP is the People’s Democratic Party (HDP). Often characterized as liberal and pro-Kurdish, the HDP won 79 seats by representing the country’s Kurdish minority as well as liberal, urban, ethnic Turks. The party took 13 percent of votes and 79 seats, becoming the first pro-Kurdish party ever to enter the legislature. Whereas AKP and other parties such as the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) hew to a conservative, nationalistic line, the HDP appealed to voters through a message of inclusion. “The reason the HDP has won this many votes is because it has not excluded any members of this country, unlike our current rulers,” said one young party supporter. “It has embraced all languages, all ethnicities and members of all faiths and promised them freedom.” CHANCES FOR SNAP ELECTION The AKP could reach out to the MHP or the Kemalist Republican People’s Party (CHP), the main opposition party with 132 seats, to form a coalition. But if it finds itself unable to do so, the ensuing instability could play into its favor. Failure to form a government
Supporters of the Kemalist Republican People’s Party at a rally in Istanbul.
within 45 days gives President Erdogan the right to call for a snap election, one in which AKP could regain an outright majority. Both the HDP and MHP won roughly 80 seats but came in slightly above the 10 percent threshold for holding seats in parliament. If one or both are shut out in a snap election, their seats would be distributed among the other parties. Such an outcome would most likely propel the AKP back into a majority. “We expect a minority government and an early election,” one AKP official told Reuters. While that sounds tantalizing for AKP, it is unlikely, according to Sinan Ulgen of the Istanbul-based Center for Economic and Foreign Policy Studies. He expects a coalition: “Fundamentally, I don’t think this will be a protracted period of instability, essentially because the opposition parties are hungry for power.” RESULT SHINES DARKLY ON ERDOGAN President Erdogan did not stand for office in this election. It has been widely framed as a referendum on his personal rule, however, with his critics hailing it as a triumph for democracy and a rejection of his cult of personality. Erdogan chose his words carefully: “Our nation’s opinion is above everything else. I believe the results, which do not give the opportunity to any party to form a single-party government, will be assessed healthily and realistically by every other party.” He remains powerful, with a presidential term lasting until 2019 and an office buttressed by a largely loyal civil service. But AKP’s failure to form a majority means it won’t be able to further amend the Turkish constitution, stymying efforts to transfer more power to the presidency. Erdogan remains the country’s top dog, but commented Istanbul academic Soli Ozel, “whether he will be able to determine events, I doubt it.”
A woman walks past graffiti in Athens in January, 2015
the government lack cash on hand to make the 30 June payment, the end of the month is also the deadline for paying EUR 2.2 billion in private-sector salaries, pensions, and benefit payments. Government officials have been adamant that domestic obligations trump international ones, with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras pledging that “there is no possibility or chance that the Greek government will back down on pension and labour issues.” To avoid falling short on both domestic and international obligations, the government must secure the disbursement of EUR 7.2 billion in bailout funds from the “Troika” – the IMF, European Commission (EC), and European Central Bank. The funds have been frozen for the past three months because Syriza and the EC have been unable to agree on an economic reform package palatable to both parties. On 4 June the EC presented compromise terms demanding tax hikes, privatisations, and pension cuts; demands that Syriza has refused to im-
However, those numbers are still substantially higher than the .8 percent and 1.5 percent proposed by the Greek government. Syriza leaders have expressed concern that creating a larger surplus, which would require still further spending cuts and tax hikes, will tip the country’s economy back into recession. With 30 June getting nearer and no bailout deal in sight, BBC economics editor Robert Peston commented that “the risk of Greece defaulting on its debts – and leaving the euro – has substantially increased.” NO STOMACH FOR GREXIT Greece is running out of time to avoid default. But even if that occurs, Syriza has no intention of taking the country out of the Eurozone or European Union. A recent poll found that more than three-quarters of Greeks support staying in the eurozone, and Minister of Economy George Stathakis recently told reporters that “Our government has a mandate to remain in the euro and get a better deal. Greece has to remain within the euro.”
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JUNE 12 - 18
Mamuka Khazaradze at “EY World Entrepreneur of the Year 2015”
What’s the Link between Business and Picasso’s Paintings? The IE Business School in P.12 Tbilisi
Five New International Destinations from Atlasglobal Airlines After presenting its new corporate identity with the slogan ‘A World Beyond Dreams’, and in line with its international growth objectives, Atlasglobal Airlines has launched ticket sales for no less than five new international routes: Paris, Amsterdam, Düsseldorf, Cologne, and Bishkek. Atlasglobal caused a stir in the aviation world with a recent overhaul of its corporate identity, and now the airline has launched ticket sales for no less than four new international flight destinations. Atlasglobal’s new destinations are the European cities of Paris, Amsterdam, Düsseldorf and Cologne, as well as the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek. Atlasglobal’s new routes will run from Istanbul Atatürk Airport, and details of the flights can be found below: Paris: Opening on 10 July, flights on this route will run every day of the week, leaving Istanbul at 13:25 and leaving Paris at 17:10. All-inclusive ticket prices on the Istanbul-Paris route start from •120 one-way. Amsterdam: Opening on 18 June, flights on this route will run every day of the week, leaving Istanbul at 10.00, and leaving Amsterdam at 13.30. All-inclusive ticket prices on the Tbilisi- Amsterdam route start from •134 one-way. Düsseldorf: Opening on 11 June, flights on this route will run every day of the week, leaving Istanbul at 09.30, and leaving Düsseldorf at 12.50. All-inclusive ticket prices on the Tbilisi- Düsseldorf route start from •134 one-way. Cologne: Opening on 11 June,
flights on this route will run leaving Istanbul at 13.25, and leaving Cologne at 17.20. All-inclusive ticket prices on the Tbilisi-Cologne route start from •122 one-way. Bishkek: Opening on 11 June, flights on this route will run five days a week (Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday), leaving Istanbul at 18.55, and leaving Bishkek at 04.10 to arrive in Istanbul at 06.55. Allinclusive ticket prices on the TbilisiBishkek route start at $184 one-way. From other domestic and international locations, the passengers can easily travel on to Atlasglobal’s new destinations with reasonable transfer times in Istanbul. Speaking of the launch of ticket sales on Atlasglobal’s new routes, the airline’s chairman Murat Ersoy said, “We previously announced that we would soon be establishing new international projects as part of our global project. We are continuing to expand our flight network from East to West. You cannot expect to achieve strategic success in the growth process simply by opening new routes; what is important is to ensure the continuity of the same high quality standards at all the points you serve. What is important for us is to provide our passengers with a comfortable flight experience from beginning to end. As the Flying Chef service that we launched last year on our London and Kuwait flights received such high levels of interest, we decided to offer this service on our Paris, Amsterdam, Düsseldorf, Cologne and Bishkek flights too.”
‘FLYING CHEF’ SERVICE Atlasglobal offers ‘Flying Chef’ service to routes of three hours or more in duration from Istanbul, including the Paris, Amsterdam, Düsseldorf, Cologne and Bishkek destinations. The chef prepares special daily dishes, adding a personal touch to both Turkish and international cuisine. The Chef personally prepares some signature dishes on board for both EkonomiPlus and Business Class passengers, such as the Chef’s dessert. NOT A ‘LOW COST’ AIRLINE AtlasGlobal offers its passengers high quality and comfort on board. With its high standards of service, which are superior to major European national carriers, AtlasGlobal provides its passengers many privileges within the framework of the EkonomiPlus concept. AtlasGlobal offers passengers travelling in EkonomiPlus a comfortable journey in leather seats with 77 cm legroom. They also benefit from a 25-kilogram baggage allowance, a wide range of complimentary food, beverages and snacks and free seat allocation. EVEN MORE PRIVILEGES WITH BUSINESS CLASS AtlasGlobal passengers can also choose a real Business Class experience in order to enjoy additional benefits during their trip. Passengers in Business Class travel in wide seats which are designed purely for Business Class with
100 cm of legroom and benefit from a large range of hot meal and beverage offers, as well as special services including a 35-kilogram baggage allowance, priority baggage, priority check-in, use of the Lounge and VIP plane transfer at
Istanbul Atatürk Airport. Tickets are available from the Atlasglobal Georgia office on 26 Abashidze str. Tbilisi/Georgia, via authorized travel agencies and on the airline’s web site www.atlasglb.com
JUNE 12 - 18
London: Time to Invest in Georgian Real Estate “Invest in Georgian Real Estate” event jointly hosted by Cushman & Wakefield | Veritas Brown and the Georgian Investment Agency in London at the Palace of Westminster, Houses of Parliament By Beqa Kirtava More than 100 Georgian and British businessmen gathered in London, at the Palace of Westminster, Houses of Parliament, in order to find out more about the opportunities in Georgia’s expanding real estate and hotel development sector. The aforementioned event, entitled “Invest in Georgian Real Estate”, co-organized by real estate services company Cushman & Wakefield | Veritas Brown and Georgian National Investment Agency, brought together leading Georgian and UK Real Estate developer companies, Private Equity Funds and a high-level group of professionals. The attendees had a chance to learn more about upcoming commercial and non-commercial large-scale projects and discuss possibilities of their future engagement in the country’s real estate market. “Invest in Georgian Real Estate” was supported by the Embassy of Georgia in the UK and
4, V. Daraselia Str. Tbilisi, Georgia Speaker - Tom Day, Regional Director | Hospitality & Investor Services Cushman & Wakefield | Veritas Brown
the British Embassy in Georgia and sponsored by a development company m2 . The organizers hosted Networking Reception, which was attended by BRITnominated Georgian musician Katie Melua. According to IMF, Georgia’s economic activity is set to be weakened as a result of the economic crisis in Russia and reduced oil prices. However, most experts do not predict drastic financial meltdown and maintain a
positive outlook on the country’s economy. Tom Day, Regional Director of Hospitality Services & Investor Services for Cushman & Wakefield | Veritas Brown, believes that now is the time to engage in the country’s real estate and hotel development sector – “Demand for real estate in Georgia is strongest from Turkey, Azerbaijan and China, with stronger demand seen during 2014 and 2015 from the GCC region and Western European countries.”
The recent legislation passed by the Parliament of Georgia also works in favor of investors, as it makes it easier for them to stay in the country, attracting more businessmen. Despite the tension, the future of Georgian businesses seems bright and, thanks to such projects as “Invest in Georgian Real Estate,” Georgia’s real estate and hotel development sector will show no signs of slowing down in the near future either.
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What’s the Link between Business and Picasso’s Paintings? The IE Business School in Tbilisi Representatives of Instituto de Empresa (IE), ranked the best Business School in Europe by the Financial Times, have been in Tbilisi recently. And some lucky Georgian students may soon be able to learn from a system that goes beyond charts, numbers and graphs. It all started as the very personal project of Diego del Alcázar y Silvela. It was in Madrid, the year 1973. Spain was about to start its transition to democracy, a period of fast and drastic changes that would ultimately bring the country to the European space 13 years later. These changes encompassed the transformations of the IE, setting a precedent for the years to come. Indeed, the word change is ever present in the emphatic words of Diego Alcázar, son of the IE’s founder: “We are continuously expanding our horizons. In 1980, we were pioneers in making the subject of Business Creation mandatory. Already in 2000 we started the system of blended education; partly online, partly face to face. Today we are a ref-
erence for this type of education. In 2007 we expanded the School and started a University.” Asked about the coming changes, Alcázar answers that they are planning to remodel their MBA to make it shorter in order to optimize its opportunity cost, and also explore new methodologies and technologies to improve their programs. Alcázar talked exclusively to Georgia Today in the Rooms Hotel cafe in Tbilisi. Over a hot caffe latte, he announced that the IE has just negotiated three partial scholarships for students of the Free University of Georgia. He argues that the ability of transforming oneself is something that the IE and Georgia have in common: “Georgian students can bring a lot to our school. Georgia is a country that has had to reinvent itself since the fall of the Soviet Union. The capacity of recreating itself is in its DNA: after a traumatic period in the 1990s, now it is a country open to Europe and to foreign tourists, a country with an entrepreneurial mentality that looks to
the future”. Alcázar passionately argues that the IE is unique in its approach to teaching: “Rather than having a professor giving a lesson, we try to stimulate debate and challenge the students’ preconceptions”. He explains how at the IE the aim is to train leaders from a humanistic perspective: “Humanities are a very important part of our approach to teaching because for us it is of utmost importance to stimulate creativity”. This way of understanding business education is just one of many brush strokes of Alcázar senior’s contribution to his brainchild. In his own words: “I have lots of interests, I read about many different things, go to exhibitions and speak to lots of different people.” This curiosity and passion to discover new things are inextricably linked to the way the IE designs its programs and teaching methodology. Indeed, this approach is directly linked to another of the IE’s pillars: Diversity. The IE prides itself on having students
of almost 90 countries, something that, according to Alcázar junior, is a great asset “because it opens up endless possibilities to network and open your eyes to new perspectives”. This, again, is part of the view of the IE’s founder. On the University’s website, he compares the school’s work to a Picasso painting from the Cubist period: “Above all, for the diversity of shapes”. The combination of these factors has proved successful: according to Forbes, 92% of those seeking jobs found employment within three months of graduation. Beyond their MBA, the IE offers tailor-made programs for companies, having a team from the IE moving to the hiring company on order to do personalised training for executives. Also, the IE is expanding by partnering with other prestigious schools such as Brown University, Yale and Westings, among many others. The Free University is just another edge on the cubist image that Diego Alcazar envisioned in 1973.
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JUNE 12 - 18
oCity MetroCity Mam uka Khazar adz ea or ld A Tour of Metr Mamuka Khazaradz adze att “EY W Wor orld Entr epr eneur of the Year 2015” Entre preneur By Elene Margalitashvili Mamuka Khazaradze, Head of TBC Group, represented Georgia at the final event of “EY World Entrepreneur of the Year 2015” at the annual awards ceremony which took place on June 2 in Monte Carlo. “EY Entrepreneur of the Year” is the world’s most prestigious business awards program for entrepreneurs. The program encourages entrepreneurial activity among those with potential and recognizes the contribution of people who inspire others with their vision, leadership and achievement. “When business works better, the world works better” – says the citation on the website of the EY. That’s why the best business leaders from all over the world are engaged in this competition. Each of them has their own stories and their own ways of success. Mohed Altrad of Altrad Group from France became the winner of this year’s competition. As Mamuka Khazaradze says, it was the right choice because Mohed Altrad is one of the best examples of how you can start from the zero point and end up with the status of Best Entrepreneur of 2015: “He deserved to win this competition! He was born in Syria and he grew up with Bedouins in the desert. Today, he really is the best entrepreneur of the year because he turned a bankrupted group into one of the most successful companies. He is the proof that it doesn’t matter where you’re born or how you grow up – you can achieve anything you want if you try your best!” Mamuka Khazaradze was the first Georgian to represent his country on “EY World Entrepreneur of the Year,” ceremony having won the best entrepreneur’s prize in Georgia last year. As the head of TBC Group says, it was an incredible experience and he was honored to meet the founders of Starbucks, Twitter and other influential businesspersons. “From $500 to $3 billion” – that’s how the media described the history of the Georgian representative. CNBC, BBC, Reuters and other influential channels took interviews with Mamuka Khazaradze in which he talked about business trends in Georgia and showed off the country’s best sides. Mamuka Khazaradze: “53 countries were represented. Our country had never been there before which was a shame as few people had information about Georgia and even fewer knew about our recent business growth. They were quite surprised when they heard
my story. The main accent I made was about the big steps we’re taking in Georgian business. Believe me, when you step out of Georgia and meet the people who don’t have a lot of information about your country, you immediately become the ambassador of your country and you try your best to represent the best side of your homeland. That’s what I tried to do. Q: What did they want to know about Georgia and its entrepreneurs? A: Numbers and facts are still the most important information you can give to someone interested in the business situation. But everyone has already agreed with the idea that social responsibility is even more important. That’s why it’s essential to think about our consumers as the main components of our companies. Your business can’t be successful if your people aren’t satisfied. You can’t be happy if the ones around you are unhappy! Sharing value – that’s what reduces the material distance between people. Q: Who did you meet and what was the main thing you learned from them? A: We met the previous winners (USA, Argentina, Japan, etc.) who shared their experiences and their innovative and interesting ideas. It was very impressive and I could hardly believe how fast the world is developing and how big revolutionary changes are happening out there! We need to be a part of these changes and we need to represent Georgia each year. I also met the famous and influential entrepreneurs who have been changing the business structure with their innovations, successes and behavior. Everyone is looking for a good place to invest their products. They need a place with potential and without corruption. That’s why we have to promote Georgia and we have to let them know about our reforms and international successes.
Q: Which other events did you attend apart from the awards ceremony? A: We met the Prime Minister of Monaco and the Minister of Finance. We also met the founder of Starbucks who totally changed the idea about retail trading. This company is one of the best examples for the meaning of the social responsibility I mentioned above. Each Starbucks shop is opened by one of the employees of the company. The workers are the main part of the business and they truly feel their importance. That’s why all the employees are taking their parts in the success of the Starbucks industry. We also met the directors of different foundations and the winner entrepreneurs from different countries. Q: Did you get any recommendations? A: You don’t really get recommendations. Instead, they listen to you and learn from your experience. All the participants are learning from each other and you can never feel the difference between the smaller and bigger companies. Even the more influential businessmen listen to the beginners because the experienced people know that the key to growth is hidden in smaller businesses that are taking their first steps towards success. There is no competition between sizes. There is competition between innovations, growth and ideas. Each of them was unique. I wasn’t expecting to be part of such a great and important event and I’m very lucky that I had the chance to have this experience. Q: Did you make any future plans with any of them? A: I met the founder of the Abraaj Fund – one of the most influential and famous funds in the world. After our conversation he expressed his interest about Georgia and planned to visit our country this autumn. So, if he comes, some positive and important changes will definitely take place.
Sc hulz e Global In vestments Launc hes Schulz hulze Inv Launches $100 million In vestment Fund in Geor gia Inv Georgia On June 12 Schulze Global Investments Limited hosted a Signing Ceremony to inaugurate a new private equity fund under the name Caucasus Clean Energy Fund I (CCEF) along with the Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund (GEEREF) and Oesterreichische Entwicklungsbank AG, the Development Bank of Austria (OeEB). GEEREF and OeEB are to become the two major institutional investors of the Fund, providing anchor commitments of $13m and $7m, respectively. CCEF will be focused on making equity investments into small and medium-sized hydropower plants exclusively in Georgia. Schulze Global believes that the development of many small and medium-sized hydropower plants has been slower than expected due to the fact that developers have insufficient equity available to proceed with attractive projects. Schulze Glo-
bal seeks to solve this problem through CCEF, making equity available to developers and thereby helping to unlock the potential of Georgia’s small and medium-sized hydropower plants. CCEF will target projects in the range of 10-20 MW, focusing on introducing international best practices in respect of the construction and operation of plants, as well as their environmental and social management. It will also carefully consider the interests of local residents and all interested parties during the planning and implementation phases of its projects. Schulze Global is an American private investment firm focused on the world’s most dynamic frontier. Schulze Global manages several hundred million dollars of investments across various markets in Asia, Latin America, and Africa and works in partnership with some of the world’s most prestigious institutional investors. Mr. Gabriel Schulze, the Founder and
CEO of Schulze Global, stated: “Georgia has tremendous hydropower potential and, with the right strategy, could become a clean energy hub for the entire Caucasus region. Schulze Global looks forward to participating in Georgia’s growth through the Caucasus Clean Energy Fund I.” Mr. Schulze went on to explain that “Schulze Global’s approach seeks to achieve high financial returns while at the same time making sure that our investments are having a tangible positive impact. When measuring that impact, we look at various factors: improving the governance of the companies in which we are investing; creating local employment opportunities; having a positive social and environmental impact; and serving as a strategic bridge between the United States and the frontier markets in which we operate. Here in Georgia we see an opportunity to achieve impact in virtually all of these areas.”
Chairman of the Board at Metro Avrasya Georgia, Mr. Mehmed Ayag described the fabulous MetroCity project for us: “It will integrate two five star hotels and residences with private swimming pools, panoramic terrace restaurants, casinos, spa, a shopping center including 100 brand stores, sports club, a la carte restaurants, cinema, a bowling center, a playground for children, golden sandy beach and the biggest conference hall in Transcaucasia for 1500 guests.” It is being constructed by JSC Metro Atlas Georgia, an investment company which was founded in 2012. Metro Atlas Georgia is under the ownership of the brand Metro Holding, which has a share on the Istanbul Stock Exchange and employs over 35,000 employees in more than 70 companies worldwide. MetroCity can be found just 2 km from Batumi International Airport and 500m from the city center. The complex, construction of which was begun in February 2015 and will be successfully completed in April 2017, harmoniously mixes mountain and sea views. The two residential complexes of MetroCity include 464 apartments with parking, green area, outdoor swimming pool and playground for children. The project is unique in its special maintenance services such as telephone and wake-up calls, visitor monitoring, common area and visitor control, 24/7 safety and security, concierge, 24/7 technical service assistance, and housekeeping service. Mr. Ayag told us that the project construction model is currently on display at Tbilisi Mall and it has already received a lot of positive feedback. “We are hap-
Chairman of the Board at Metro Avrasya Georgia
py to receive so much feedback from the very first day of placing the construction model in Tbilisi Mall,” he said. Of the company itself, Metro Atlas Georgia claims it takes pride in serving each and every one of its communities, whether it’s by opening a door with a friendly smile or tackling a problem; being genuinely helpful is what defines them, enabling them to set the standard for service and professionalism in the industry. “Our clients trust us to do what’s best for their community. We are guided by our ethics and clients’ interests in everything we do,” states the company message.
Sc huc hmann Wines Launc hes Schuc huchmann Launches Ne w Tourism Initia ti ve tiv New Initiati Alongside with wine-making, viticulture, gastronomic and tourist business, “Schuchmann Wines” has started a new tourist initiative which will be presented on the market as “Schuchmann Travel”. The new touristic direction will be generally aimed at the inflow of tourists. “Schuchmann Wines” has become a leading touristic destination in Kakheti region and a top boutique winery internationally. Schuchmann Wines CEO Nutsa Abramishvili: “We have become partners and regional representative of a world leading tour operator. Our aim is to bring in tourists to the country and export Georgian tourist potential to such markets where
Georgia is exotic and interesting as a tourist destination. During the past months we’ve been actively working on the creation of corresponding products. Our goal is to promote the development of a priority sector for Georgia – tourism, and the popularization of Georgian tourist destinations on foreign markets. We have created wine and gastronomic tour packages which generally include our main direction, such as wine and gastronomic tourism. We have started working on a niche product such as “wine and gastronomy” as well as other interesting tourist directions. The interest is high, and Georgia has huge potential in this sector.”
JUNE 12 - 18
Tbilisi Welcomes Eco-Friendly Hotel By Baia Dzagnidze It is common knowledge that air pollution negatively affects your health, as well as ecosystems and living organisms, however thanks to technological advances, some companies and/or enterprises can contribute to improving the environment by using ecologically friendly machinery. Hotels & Preference Hualing Tbilisi, a 5 star hotel located at Tbilisi Sea, has implemented HVAC, so called absorption chillers, instead of old fashioned electronic ones, which uses heat to drive the refrigeration cycle and produces chilled water while consuming just a small amount of electricity to run the pumps on the unit. According to Petter Lillvik, the General Manager of the hotel, the primary advantages of absorption chillers are lower electricity costs, higher efficiency, elimination of environmentally harmful CFCs, quiet operation and being vibration free. As stated by the 2011 report of GEO-Cities Tbilisi: status and trends, integrated environmental assessment, direct linkages were identified between air pollution and human health effects which called for long-term observations on air quality and specific epidemiological studies, which has not been conducted in Georgia for a long time. According to the Ministery of Labour and Social Affairs of Georgia statistical data of the National Centre of Disease Control and Public Health  suggests that the number of registered diseases which, among other factors, can be associated with poor air quality, such as lung and larynx cancer, respiratory, blood and vascular diseases have been increasing in Georgia and its capital, in particular. “Eco-friendly hotels have grown in demand in the 21st century all over the world and being such a hotel has given us the chance to protect nature, save costs, prolong the life cycle of the hotel equipment and recover the ozone layer. All these factors are vitally important for contributing to our healthy future,” explains Lillvik adding that being located on the ecologically clean shorelines of Tbilisi Sea,
the hotel offers a perfect gateway to fresh air and a calm, relaxing atmosphere. Built in a modern European contemporary style, the hotel offers 247 guestrooms and suites providing a natural, comfortable and elegant stay. In addition, the hotel comprises a Western restaurant with International cuisine, serving organic food lounge, authentic Chinese restaurant, recreation center with indoor swimming pool, sauna, gym, yoga and 3D golf simulator. With its high standards and environmentally oriented management, housekeepers use non-toxic cleaning agents and laundry detergents for 100% organic sheets, towels and mattresses. Furthermore, the hotel offers a special selection of pillows for a healthy sleep. All pillows are ecologically clean and healthy and the guest can choose from a variety of buckwheat, rose, bamboo, charcoal, memory foam, antibacterial and neck protection pillows. The Hotel will be open to guests from July.
Summer Offer in Green Budapest - Pay Simply! The international holding Maqro Construction is one of the largest investors in Georgia. It amalgamates its subsidiary companies, the enterprises and projects functioning in different fields. The most wide-scale and successful project of Maqro Construction is the “Green Budapest” residential complex – over 45 million US Dollars have been invested in this project and as a result, one more residential complex of European standards will adorn Tbilisi. Green Budapest is offering a summer campaign that consists of new terms of payment. During the summer the company is offering customers a 48month internal installment and 12% discount in case of fully covered payment. There is a multi-storey construction consisting of 4 blocks: A block –17 floors, B block –22, C block –23, and D block - 15 floors. The project ends in September 2016. Buyers will have fully renovated apartments with full suite of bath, kitchen furniture and built-in appliances. The company offers apartments with individual gas boiler, windows with double glazing, metal door and inner doors, built-in kitchen with gas stoves, hoods and ovens. Green Budapest grants freedom of choice to its clients and offers several samples to select the desired color walls, laminate, tiles, and inner doors. Each block has two elevators, each for 13 persons. Additionally, the company takes care of the security of its residents. Therefore, during one year, Maqro Construction will serve the en-
tire complex of Green Budapest for free. Security service specialists will take care of the residents’ security and will be equipped with a modern European system. The Green Budapest complex will further be equipped with a generator that will provide electricity to the elevators in case of powercuts and will light the underground parking area and entrance space. The water supply issue will also be taken into consideration and in each blocks there will be 80-ton tanks, half of which would suffice the two-day requirements of all the residents. The second half is available for other force majeure circumstances. The only concern of the buyers of apartments will be to furniture their homes. During one year, the company will take the responsibility for cleaning the outside area, entrance and elevators. Most importantly, the company focuses on green landscape and a healthy environment. Specially designed landscaping creates a natural and cozy environment that is the main prerequisite for people to feel comfortable. Fresh air, the green lawns, and stadiums are only a short list of what the company offers. The company also took the resident parents into account and has equipped the children’s playgrounds and child care centre with all infrastructural or service standards that are necessary for proper child care. In Green Budapest there is a playing field where you will have the opportunity to spend an unforgettable time with your children in a comfortable environment. Also, you will have a high-quality basketball field and treadmill. There is also a skate park for skate boards, roller skating and cycling. D block contains a European standard fitness centre where specialists will
be employed. In Green Budapest, each block is provided with underground parking on the first and second floors. In addition, the company offers custom-
ers the chance to purchase a parking place in case of additional payment that, besides comfort, represents future investment.
Maqro Construction gives a unique opportunity to live a happy life in a comfortable and cozy environment. So, don’t wait: jump at the opportunity!
JUNE 12 - 18
A Bet ffor or the P otential of Na tur e: Fi ve Year s Potential Natur ture: Fiv ears of the Caucasus Na tur e Fund in Geor gia Natur ture Georgia By Maria Jose Riquelme del Valle We need nature more than nature needs us. And this is especially true in regions with a biodiversity as rich as the Caucasus’. Aware of the region’s biologic uniqueness, the Caucasus Nature Fund supports Georgia’s protected areas, emphasizing long-term commitment, transparency and accountability. This week it celebrated its 5th anniversary of work in the country with a reception attended by the President of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili, and the Minister of Environment, Teimuraz Murgulia, among other personalities. The event came as a celebration of what has already been achieved: 2.7 million Euros in support of the protected areas of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, a funding that has provided a living wage for over 500 park rangers and staff, small infrastructure and trail maintenance projects, and essential equipment such as binoculars, saddles for horses, as well as fire trucks and patrol jeeps. And it also came as a promise of what is coming: CNF aims to support 20 parks by 2020, safeguarding over 1 million hectares. In order to smooth the process, some changes may be necessary: “The problem with Georgia is that it is too centralized,” David Morrison, Executive Director of the CNF, told Georgia Today in an exclusive interview. “This has been good in many ways, like, for example, in helping combat corruption. But it is now stopping optimal development. We need
the protected areas to have more financial independence, we need more flexibility in the process of funding projects, like if a park needs 500 lari for a particular project they should be able to get the money immediately and not have to wait until it is approved in Tbilisi.” Natia Kobakhidze, Chairperson of the Agency of Protected Areas, agreed with Morrison that Georgia’s centralized system is indeed a problem. She put this into context adding that “to change the current situation new legislative acts should be developed, new jobs would need to be created and some positions destroyed. This can be done but it is a difficult and long process”. Kobakhidze added that Georgia’s protected areas also face a problem of brain drain: “The jobs at the Protected Areas are difficult and the salary is still low. Once trained, many leave for better-paid positions at the WWF or the CNF”. She also pointed out that Protected Areas should operate as a network and not be isolated, because this limits their potential. “We also should take care of the corridors between these areas”. Another important challenge is, according to Kobakhidze, the economic interests that could potentially come before protecting biodiversity, such as hydroelectric power plants. She recognized the important role of the funding provided by the CNF to Georgia. CNF works through public-private partnerships with the three governments of the South Caucasus, each side committing
President of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili attends the five-year anniversary of the CNF in Georgia.
to long-term support for the Protected Areas. Following a 50% principle, CNF matches but does not exceed State budgets – potentially doubling a specific park’s operating funds. “From the late 90’s, the World Bank established infrastructure in the country, but we did not have funds for the maintenance costs that are now being covered by the CNF”. Despite the challenges ahead, Georgia is considered an example to follow because of the speed at which the Protected Areas are being effectively developed. The CNF also carries out its activities in Armenia and Azerbaijan, and according to Morrison, “each country brings its own challenges: Azerbaijan,
Pr esident Meets GIP A Students President GIPA By Beqa Kirtava Not many of you may know that before becoming the President of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili served as the Rector of the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs twice (from 2000-2006 and 20102012) and lead the university’s Research Department from 2006 to 2010. On May 8, 2015 Giorgi Margvelashvili returned to GIPA, this time as the President, and delivered a special lecture – “My European Choice”. During his speech, the advantages of joining the European family and our historical connections with the aforementioned continent were emphasized. The President also criticized anti-European forces, debunking rumors of any threats; “Some say that joining Europe will result in us losing our traditions, however, the traditions which these people have in mind are never specified,” said Margvelashvili during his lecture. The meeting was attended by the current Rector of the institute, Maka Ioseliani, GIPA’s students, lecturers and
Ma gtiSA T Helps Ushguli MagtiSA gtiSAT Villa ger s to ‘Go Digital’ ers illag By Baia Dzagnidze
President Margvelashvili talks to GIPA students
administrative members. The President answered several questions after his speech and took memorable photos with
the attendees. The meeting was closed with a buffet reception and live musical performances.
Pr oCr edit Bank Gi ves GEL 20,000 to Alg eti Na tional P ar k ProCr oCredit Giv Algeti National Par ark
Asmus Rotne, General Director of ProCredit Bank, and David Morrison, Executive Director of the Caucasus Nature Fund sign a charitable agreement according to which ProCredit Bank will allocate GEL 20,000 to Algeti National Park.
On 9 June 2015 Asmus Rotne, General Director of ProCredit Bank, and David Morrison, Executive Director of the Caucasus Nature Fund, signed a charitable agreement according to which ProCredit Bank will allocate GEL
for example, is very protective of its areas and not open enough to tourists. Armenia has the opposite problem to Georgia: it is too decentralized, and this has a cost in terms of efficiency.” Despite the differences among the three neighbouring countries, there are important common points as to how the CNF operates. Having the expenses audited by an international audit firm and also having local NGOs specialized in nature overseeing the projects is one of these common ways. This ensures that donors know that every penny given to the Caucasus Nature Fund is properly spent. This investment is not only a guarantee of preserving the richest biodiver-
20,000 to Algeti National Park. The money will go towards improving the infrastructure of the park. The amount is not enough to complete the renovation activities, so the Fund will cover the rest. As part of the arrangement, a
visit to Algeti National Park for the bank’s employees is planned. During the visit to the park they will see many beautiful places rich in flora and fauna and will also tour archaeological sites in the area. At the same time employees will take part in the renovation activities organised by the Caucasus Nature Fund. ProCredit Bank and the Caucasus Nature Fund have been successfully cooperating for almost five years. Every year the bank allocates a certain amount of money towards improving the infrastructure of our protected areas. During this period of co-operation, the Bank has allocated money for the Lagodekhi Protected Area and Vashlovani Nature Reserve, and now for Algeti National Park. In order to protect and preserve Georgia’s natural beauty, ProCredit Bank will continue to engage in such charitable activities in the future.
sity of any temperate climate zone in the world, but an investment for future economic development in the region. In his keynote speech at the event, Morrison heavily stressed the importance of ecotourism, involving local communities in the process and benefiting financially from it. He quoted the example of Costa Rica, one of the pioneers in the field. According to Sujata Narayan, expert on the topic from the University of Michigan, “there, ecotourism has created opportunities for income generation and employment, at both the national and local levels.” In an article about the Costa Rica case, Narayan stressed that as a result of this expansion “local communities and schools have received significant amounts of investment and donations from visitors.” But the eco-regional approach used by the CNF could have an impact beyond nature and economy: given that some Protected Areas are located along national boundaries, cooperation for the purpose of preserving their shared natural environment may contribute to reducing the potential for conflict. Indeed, the CNF is partner of the the Transboundary Joint Secretariat (TJS), an organization providing support to the Ministries of Environment of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia to increase regional harmonization. So for economic, preservation and peacebuilding reasons, as David Morrison put it at the CNF event on Wednesday, we need nature more than nature needs us.
Aiming to help Georgian rural areas in the digitalization process, MagtiCom, a Georgian mobile and telecommunication company has made MagtiSat’s digital satellite television signal available to each household of Ushguli – the highest village in Europe, located at an altitude of 2200 meters in Svaneti region. The project has reached 63 households, of which 28 were already subscribed to MagtiSat. The remaining 35 households went digital on June 3-4 and now benefit from a superior quality of satellite signal with 19 Georgian channels free of charge. “We are delighted to be able to provide high quality satellite digital TV to every family of Ushguli,” stated Irakli Lobzhanidze, Marketing Director at MagtiCom. “By launching this socially important project, MagtiCom is accelerating Georgia’s switchover to digital TV broadcasting. We realize that the forthcoming analogue switch-off brings both opportunities and challenges and we wanted to demonstrate that satellite broadcasting is an ideal solution for countries like Georgia.” The first domestic direct-to-home (DTH) platform in Georgia offers more
A MagtiSAT dish on a house in Ushguli village.
than 100 channels in 3 packages to its subscribers: Georgian (19 channels), Medium (76 channels) and Full (105 channels) broadcasted via SES’s Astra 5B satellite, which covers the whole territory of Georgia and the signal is available across the country including remote and mountainous areas. Locals expressed their gratitude towards the company for allowing them to go digital. One such local, Vano Nizaradze, stated that because of frequent weather changes, the satellites they previously had would switch off, while the new ones haven’t experienced any such problem yet; while fellow villager Bezan Qvachliani added that with the old satellites they had only 4 channels to choose from and now they have more sources of information. “Digitalization of the highest village of Europe is a unique experience not only for Georgia but also for the whole region,” Håkan Sjödin, Vice President of Sales Nordic, Baltic and Eastern Europe at SES said, adding that satellite is an ideal complement to other forms of distribution and can quickly and easily provide services to geographical areas where other solutions are neither economically nor practically viable.
2.06: Don’t Ar rest!
By Giorgi Abashvili
On June 2nd a demonstration was held next to Georgia’s Government Chancellery in Tbilisi demanding the decriminalization of marijuana. The protesters demanded authorities to stop detaining people for using marijuana and to stop forced drug testing. “We demand the government to make a change to legislation from which citizens will not bear criminal responsibility as a result of using cannabis or any products derived from it,” stated the organizers. “We don’t want the existence of such a drug legislation which denies fundamental human rights, does not respond to the challenges of modern civilization and is inhuman. Once again we ask the government to stop persecuting people because of marijuana use.” The Prime Minister of Georgia is still against the decriminalization. “We must discuss how to create a better, happier and a stronger future for our youth. We must care about their way of life,” Garibashvili said. . “Now they demand decriminalization, then they will demand legalization and it will bring tragic results. I am categorically against it.” Yet it seemd the PM is in the minority against many politicians, narcologists and foreign specialists. Goga Khachidze an independent MP and the person whose initiative it was to decriminalize maijuana, states that the main goal is to stop prosecuting people for using the soft drug. The initiative for the bill was registered by independent MP Khachidze on 28th of May. Leqso Machavariani the organizer of the demonstration states that the goal is not to legalize smoking marijuana in the street but to stop arresting people
for smoking it. Ex-Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili also commented on the issue, suggesting that the Georgian parliament should consider Europe’s experience. The Netherlands has also been dealing with the problem of soft drugs and one could safely conclude that it is becoming increasingly less tolerant on the issue. So, while many Georgians try hopelessly to progress in their efforts to decriminalize marijuana, while generating a lot of negative reactions, the Netherlands has been reversing the progress. Across several cities, particularly in the south, foreigners and tourists are no longer permitted to buy cannabis in the legendary authorized cafes known as “coffee shops.” Last month, Amsterdam’s Mayor was cleared by the Court of Justice for banning marijuana cafes in the famous
Red Light District which had triggered intense debate nationwide and protests from “coffee shop” owners. Both marijuana and the Red Light District are major issues in Amsterdam and also major tourist attractions. It won’t end well for the initiative in Georgia if a country with an international reputation for tolerance and a freewheeling lifestyle begins closing the infamous “coffee shops”. Technically, marijuana is illegal in the Netherlands but possession of small amounts is not prosecuted. There are some 700 “coffee shops” in the country. Defenders of total legalization make an economic argument. Between taxes, tax on profits and money spent by foreign tourists, economists have calculated that the government could make between EURO 650 million and EURO 1.05 billion. And so the debate goes on.
Audiences R evel in Orw ell-Inspir ed Re Orwell-Inspir ell-Inspired Pr oduction a on Thea tr e Production att the Ir Iron heatr tre Ultr a-moder n Thea tr e in Tbilisi Cele br ates its Fir st Year Ultra-moder a-modern heatr tre Celebr bra First By Maka Lomadze There are many theatres in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, but if you wish to find something new with minimalistic design and a movable ceiling, sit on flat, unique wooden, listen to an eclectic musical soundtrack, directed by an experienced theatre director, open to discovering the world anew, experimenting and focusing on vigorous energy of the youth, then there is hardly a better place than Iron Theatre on Budapest Street. Georgia Today recently attended Farm, based on George Orwell’s classic novel Animal Farm. It coincided with the Iron Theatre celebrating its first year in operation. English subtitles are made available whenever a visitors makes a request in advance by calling 592120815. For this performance we asked two couples (both Georgian wife and English husband in composition) in the audience for their opinion on the performance. Michael Vickers is a professor of archaeology at Oxford who claimed not to be aware of Orwell-based productions being commonly staged in the UK. “I have read Animal Farm of course. I think everyone has had good fun and enjoyed the show tonight. The acting was very good indeed. I think the horse [played by Tornike Chekurishvili] was especially
impressive. It reminds me of a similar place in Oxford, namely, the North Wall Theatre. The politics came through very well. I am writing a book about Aristophanes and it was always a big problem working out how birds would be represented on stage in Aristophanes’ day. I had some insights today. It was very instructive,” said Professor Vickers, and his spouse added that he examines how politics is reflected on theatre and that this was performance was an example of how art can retell a political situation. As most readers will know, Orwell’s Animal Farm is a satire of Stalinism. Now, in a different period and political context, the director Davit Andghuladze uses the book to convey his own attitude and correlation of art and politics today. David Richard, the other Englishman in attendance, gave his view on the evening and reserved special praise for the venue: “What makes it more than anything, is the place [theatre] itself – it is like a farm. The sounds were so good. The director’s work is very clever. I hope that we have much more of this to come.” Maia Sharashidze, David’s Georgian wife living in the UK added: “I have seen the performance three times. Every time, the performance is enriched by new flavors and colors. The actors are really excellent. Less is more – the style of the
design – fits this theatre very well. We feel at home here.” The performance lasts for 70 minutes, giving it ample intensity. A gripping tempo and vigor is maintained for the duration without any slowing down. I would particularly point out Ana Kaulashvili in the part of the lone hen whose each and every movements and sounds are so close to the bird’s it is an entirely believable show. Andguladze, director of the performance and the founder of the Iron Theatre noted: “It is often written in the preface of Animal Farm that it was as important event in world literature. In his day, by writing this book, George Orwell wrote of what concerned him most of all. Our theatre took it as a motif – a form of the animals’ world – but with different messages.” Nodar Simsive plays three parts in the production, one human and two animals (hen and cat) and he added: “We were Davit Andguladze’s students. We have been studying and working together since our first year. We performed in different premises before the theatre was open last year. Since then, we have staged Completely Other Opera, based on Berthold Brecht’s Three-penny Opera, and Farm and we were given complete creative freedom from the director. We learnt a lot. In the Opera I play the part of a woman, which was hard, and now I play animals which is harder still. There is no bigger happiness for young actors like us than to learn and acquire such experience and skill.” The Theatre will stage Completely Other Opera on June 13 after which it bids goodbye until October when they will present the premiere of “Samanishvili’s Stepmother”, a short story by Georgian writer Davit Kldiashvili.
JUNE 12 - 18
Book R evie w: The Br ue ghel Moon by Tamaz Chiladz e Re view: Brue ueghel Chiladze By Joseph Larsen “I could see something was very wrong with me. It looked like the onset of a nervous breakdown, but I couldn’t stop it. And still, most upsetting were the dreams, visions, or images – either caused by my depressed mood or the other way around – intensifying my dejected state with the strange sequence of a serial.” Levan, a reputed psychiatrist, is successful in professional life but seemingly nowhere else. The dreary doctor’s melodrama begins when Ia, his bitter, pampered, and wildly emotional wife announces her decision to leave him. She takes the couple’s young daughter with her and Levan is left almost entirely without family or friends. He withdraws deep into his own mind, drifting into a series of liaisons that bend the boundary between fact and fantasy. The Brueghel Moon is one of three novels published by Tamaz Chiladze, well renowned in his home country of Georgia as a novelist, poet, and playwright. Mr. Chiladze presents a work that blends the genres of post-modernism, magical realism, and science fiction. The novel is short, characterized by crisp bursts of prose, rich monologues, and a narrative that passes between Levan and the two women who enter his life after Ia’s departure – Nunu, Levan’s middleaged former patient with a husband dead from suicide, and Ana-Maria, an ambassador’s wife who first meets Levan at a party. This book is about marriage, madness, and mental frailty. But above all, it’s about isolation. Nunu’s personal story is equal parts tragic and absurd, ending in the Moscow psychiatric ward where she first comes into contact with Levan. Ana-Maria is lonely and depressed, and her acting out spurs her husband to call Levan for help. At the crux of this triangle is the psychiatrist himself, a man of sharp intellect but lacking in emotional intelligence. The story’s greatest tension comes when the author asks whether Levan should be the one giving psychiatric advice, or receiving it. It can be read as a Kafkaesque criticism of the social status quo, with “experts” exalted for their genius but serving little social purpose. While being taken to the psychiatric ward Nunu shouts at her captor: “Why am I being transferred to the psychiatric clinic? Am I mad? … How do you know what is
normal and what is abnormal? … How can you be so sure?” To this the bureaucrat replies icily: “The experts will shed light on that issue.” She is left in the care of Levan, a man unable to sort the mess of his own life, let alone that of someone else. Some readers may find the plot aimless, the narrative difficult to follow, and the ending anticlimactic. Maya Kiasashvili’s translation is competent but, unavoidably, some of the text’s power is lost in translation. But without question Chiladze’s prose contains pockets of poetic grandeur. One passage of particular power comes from Nunu: “Just like a drop of water on the tap rim, a leaf will detach itself from the branch, come spinning, sliding, gliding through the air, dancing to the music unheard of by us, fully succumbing to its rhythm. It’s still alive, or thinks it’s alive, but is now alone, solitary, left on its own, not part of the myriad of its kin any longer … It spins for some time but then, as if suddenly becoming heavier, starts to fall – sliding towards the ground, spreading itself on the earth. That how it finishes its life with a soft touchdown – dancing to the end.” Chiladze’s novel can be interpreted in numerous ways. One vantage point is to view each of the characters, especially Levan, as akin to a leaf. Estrangement from family leads to detachment from reality. Each keeps moving but, like the leaf, are “now alone, solitary” and eventually starts to fall. This is a story about relationships. And the overarching lesson is that man and woman are better off together, than alone.
Human Rights Pr Protest otest to Coincide with Az erbaijan opean Games Opening Cer emon y Azerbaijan erbaijan’’s Eur European Ceremon emony By Alastair Watt As the inaugural European Games open in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku on June 12, a Tbilisi-based human rights organization are staging a protest entitled “Sport for Human Rights” against alleged human rights breaches in the host country. The Human Rights House Tbilisi, established in 2010, has organized an action to coincide with the opening ceremony at 730pm at Heydar Aliyev Park in Tbilisi’s old town where posters will be displayed depicting various alleged victims of human rights abuses in Azerbaijan. Nino Gvedashvili, Coordinator of the Human Rights House Tbilisi, outlined the purpose of the protest: “With human rights advocacy and campaigning now impossible in the current climate in Azerbaijan, the Sport for Rights campaign is coordinating with human rights organizations
across Europe to organize a series of protest actions on June 12 to coincide with the opening ceremony of the European Games.” She added that protestors will call for an end to what they perceive as an ongoing human rights crackdown in Azerbaijan and will demand “the release of the country’s jailed journalists and human rights defenders.” Similar actions will be taking place across Europe in several cities including Barcelona, Berlin, London and Warsaw. When asked if she thought athletes should have boycotted the Games, Gvedashvili stated that she did not demand such action. Instead, Gvedashvili claimed this was “a good platform to remind the Azerbaijani government to respect human rights and release detained human rights defenders.” The Human Rights House is a member of the Human Rights House Network, which consists of more than 70 organizations in 15 countries. The European Games will run until June 28 with over 6,000 athletes competing from 50 nations including Georgia and Armenia. The UK’s Guardian newspaper has been barred from entering the country to cover the games while Human Rights Watch has labelled the situation in Azerbaijan as “the worst crackdown the country has seen in the post-Soviet era.”
ARIA in Tbilisi Concer Concertt Hall
By David Lolishvili
To be honest, Georgian society is known for its complaints about holding quality music concerts; sometimes they get offended because of the environment surrounding concert areas, but mostly they complain about the diversity of genres. Such protests should be held off for a while now as June 6th saw a huge celebration for Georgian “Metal heads” with Russian heavy metal band ARIA visiting Tbilisi and performing in Tbilisi Concert hall. Aria is a Russian heavy metal band that was formed in 1985 in Moscow. Although it was not the first Soviet band to play Heavy music, Aria was the first to break through to mainstream media and commercial success. According to several public polls, Aria ranks among the top 10 most popular Russian rock bands. The band performed to the Tbilisi audience with 30 songs in total, but nobody had to wait until the finishing songs By David Lolishvili The Rustaveli theatre and Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection showed enormous respect towards Georgian composer Otar Taktakishvili by celebrating his 90th anniversary on July 9th. The main attention was attracted to three huge Georgian artists Konstantine Gamsakhurdia, Otar Taktakishvili and Shota Nishnianidze and their connection to Abkhazia. The opening act of the evening was as powerful as the rest of the show.
to dance along to the music. Although the night was pretty involved and included special effects, the main focus was still directed towards the energetic music. Vladimir Hostinin, guitarist and one of the founders of the band, admitted that the Georgian audience is the type that brings back twice the emotion to the performer. Amazing band, good quality sound, lovely atmosphere, dancemotivated crowd; this night excelled in every aspect it could.
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Be yond Ph ysical En vir onmentsBey Physical Envir vironmentsAccessAbility Exhibition in Tbilisi By Nino Melikishvili Georgia’s National Museum in Tbilisi is taking action to raise awareness and acceptance of people with disabilities by hosting several events this month, including a photo exhibition showing intimate details of the lives of people with disabilities. The exhibition presents photos of 14 Swedish and 8 Georgian people with disabilities. These 22 photos tell the story of people who suffer from various mental and physical disabilities. The photos by Swedish photographer Markus Marcetic are based on fourteen personal stories of people in Sweden, filled with everyday life, dreams, hopes, struggles, family, work and leisure. Each photo presented at the exhibition has captions and an introductory text. “It may be problematic sometimes to sit in a wheelchair, but that doesn’t mean I am less happy. Whenever I come
across an obstacle, I think of how to overcome it, not if I can overcome it,” said Lovisa Soderberg in her introduction text. “I was wondering why I was so destroyed. I couldn’t even get inside the elevator, but today I was able to singlehandedly go to work.” To live with dignity regardless of disability is a human right, according to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The AccessAbility exhibition will be held from June 8 to 29 at the Georgian National Museum in central Tbilisi. Within the framework of the exhibition there will be several conferences and seminars focusing on the country’s disability policies. “The exhibition can be summed up in one word: Dignity,” said organizers of the AccessAbility exhibition. “The fight for equality may not be won yet, but giving people a chance to be seen and heard is a step along the way. People will always have to continue on their
“Stealing of the Moon” “Stealing of the Moon” is a trilogy novel written by Konstantine Gamsakhurdia. It reflects the Soviet life at the beginning of the 1930s. Otar Taktakishvili decided to stage the opera out of the novel and it first debuted in 1968, was staged at the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theatre again in 1978, and also met great success in foreign countries. The opening act of the evening, like
the continuation, was mainly focused on the opera itself. The orchestra, especially cellos and violins, worked to establish the right melancholic atmosphere to compliment the singers who, with all force, were motivated to create harmonious sounds. Between the musical acts there were also speeches about and from the novel itself. The first speaker was Mr. Dimitri Jaiani, a Georgian actor who
June 12-18 JURASSIC WORLD 3D Directed by Colin Trevorrow Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi Language: English Start time: 19:35 Language: Russian Start time: 11:45, 14:25, 17:05, 19:45, 22:30 Ticket price: 7.50 – 12:50 Lari
Language: Russian Start time: 15:00, 17:30, 20:00, 22:15 Ticket price: 8.50 – 10.50 Lari
read part three of the novel. Founder and artistic director of the Rustavi ensemble, Mr. Anzor Erkomaishvili, was also among those who shared their opinions: “The fact that Georgian polyphony has earned world recognition is partly thanks to Otar Taktakishvili’s marvelous works; he gave Georgian folk a solid reputation.” He went on to say that: “Otar Taktakishvili was Minister of the
way for improved equal rights.” According to the Swedish Institute which organized the exhibition, in 2014, after three years of protests, the discrimination laws were extended to include inaccessibility. “Voices are already raised that the law allows for too many exceptions.” To enjoy full equality in society we need to see more changes for the better in our environments, laws and attitudes, for people with disabilities. Nowhere can this be understood better than the AccessAbility exhibition. Culture Department for 20 years and that period was a true Renaissance of Georgian classical music, he’s name should be honored eternally”. The night was as close to perfection is it could possibly get; a mixture of classical and Georgian folk sounds gave the audience unusual vibes and the interior of Rustaveli theatre, which is close to Baroque style in décor, was the crowning glory of the atmosphere. It was almost like an opera scene from “The Age of Innocence,” only with Georgian flavour.
WHAT'S ON IN TBILISI THEATRE GABRIADZE THEATRE Address: 13 Shavtelis St. Telephone: 2 98 65 93 June 12 THE AUTUMN OF MY SPRING Directed by Rezo Gabriadze English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket price: 10, 15 Lari June 13, 14, 18 MARSHAL DE FANTIE’S DIAMOND 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 12, 13 INTRO 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 12 CHRIST Revaz Mishveladze Directed by Amiran Shalikashvili Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: 5 Lari June 16 THE WORLD Directed by Davit Shalikashvili Start time: 19:00 Ticket price: 5 Lari CINEMA AMIRANI CINEMA Address: 36 Kostava St. Telephone: 299 99 55 www.kinoafisha.ge
SPY Directed by Paul Feig Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Rose Byrne, Jude Law Genre: Action, Comedy Language: Russian Start time: 12:15, 14:25, 22:20 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: 17:05, 22:10 Ticket price: 9.50 – 10.50 Lari INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3 Directed by Leigh Whannell Cast: Dermot Mulroney, Stefanie Scott, Angus Sampson Genre: Horror Language: Russian Start time: 15:00, 17:30, 19:50 Ticket price: 9.50 – 12.50 Lari RUSTAVELI CINEMA Address: 5 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 255 50 00 www.kinoafisha.ge JURASSIC WORLD 3D (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 11:45, 14:25, 17:05, 19:45, 22:35 Ticket price: 7.50 – 12:50 Lari SAN ANDREAS 3D (Info Above)
SPY (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 12:00, 14:40, 17:20 Ticket price: 7.30 – 12:30 Lari INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3 (Info Above) Language: Russian Start time: 19:40, 22:30 Ticket price: 11.50 – 12.50 Lari MAD MAX: FURY ROAD Directed by George Miller Cast: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi Language: Russian Start time: 17:00 Ticket price: 9.50 – 10.50 Lari TOMORROWLAND Directed by Brad Bird Cast: George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Hugh Laurie Genre: Action, Adventure, Mystery Language: Russian Start time: 12:15, 14:10 Ticket price: 7.50 – 9.50 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 HOT PURSUIT Directed by Anne Fletcher Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Sofía Vergara, Matthew Del Negro Genre: Action, Comedy Language: Russian Start time: 20:10, 22:25 Ticket price: 9.50 – 10.50 Lari
MUSEUM IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA Address: 8 Sioni St. Telephone: 2 98 22 81 May 18 - June 16 THE EXHIBITION SERGO PARAJANOVI - 21ST CENTURY DREAM June 9-19 THE EXHIBITION “PRESENTIMENT” BY TSIRA PAPINASHVILI SHALVAAMIRANASHVILI MUSEUM OF ART Address: 1 Lado Gudiashvili St. Telephone: 2 99 99 09 www.museum.ge June 10-28 THE EXHIBITION OF THE PAINTINGS AND GRAPHIC ARTWORKS OF 50 MODERN GEORGIAN ARTISTS OF DIFFERENT GENERATIONS. SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM OF GEORGIA Address: 3 Rustaveli Ave. Telephone: 2 99 80 22 ARCHAEOLOGICAL TREASURE GALLERY THE NATIONAL GALLERY Address: 11 Rustaveli Ave. www.museum.ge June 3-17 EXHIBITION “MAELSTROM: FRANZ MARK, GERMAN EXPRESSIONISM AND MODERNISM IN GEORGIA” LADO GUDIASHVILI EXHIBITION HALL Address: 11 L. Gudiashvili St. Telephone: 293 23 05 June 11-12 PUBLISHING HOUSES INTELEKTI AND ARTANUJI
PRESENT A BOOK COVERS EXHIBITION DESIGNED BY TEONA CHANISHVILI. 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 MZESUMZIRA’S EZO Address: Lisi Lake LINE UP: June 13 TO KA, GABUNIA & PAPUNADRUMMER (LIVE), TEVZI & KETEVAN, RATI, VASKA, VAXUNA Start time: 14:00 Ticket price: 5-15 Lari June 14 SPINGEL SPONGEL, XVICHA, BE SVENDSEN (LIVE), (COPENHAGEN), TADE, KOTELETT & ZADAK (BERLIN), AUTUMN TREE Start time: 14:00 Ticket price: 5-15 Lari TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE Address: 8 Griboedov St. Telephone: 2 93 46 24 June 15 TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE IS HOSTING IRANIAN TRADITIONAL MUSIC ENSEMBLE “NASTAR“. Start time: 12:00 THE ENSEMBLE’S CONCERT IN THE RECITAL HALL OF THE CONSERVATOIRE. Start time: 20:00 Venue: the Chamber Hall of the Conservatoire, Auditorium ¹ 307 Free entrance
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Tradition Making, Par t 1: Etseri, Svaneti By Tony Hanmer Now, there are some things which one is delighted to meet in one’s adopted country, new tastes and sounds and sights. Others fit into a larger category but are local versions of it. These things one may also fall in love with but perhaps, if one more appreciates one’s original, or “old home country”, versions of them, the feeling may be different, more a wish that this could be closer to that. Not, say, with your average supermarket tomato, infinitely inferior to the short-travelled, organic Georgian one, but with other things which exist in hundreds of varieties scattered throughout the world, as different from each other as chalk is to, well, cheese. For me, cheese indeed is one of these things. There are many kinds of it with which I grew up, and others which I discovered upon my return to the UK as an independent adult. Cheddar (did you know that’s a place in England?), Stilton (ditto), Brie, Camembert, Cambozola: these are some of my old favourites. Georgian cheese, mostly—not so much, sadly, despite many attempts. With a few notable exceptions. First of these is dambal khacho, from Khevsureti. It has enough of that “mouldy” taste from my old favourites that I love it, but it’s rare: have you even heard of it? I tasted it in the region about
thirteen years ago, and have not done so since. Actually, there may be vastly many other kinds of cheese “native” to Georgia than we are commonly aware of, not visible at all in Tbilisi markets or shops. I found this out at the inaugural art exhibition of Georgia Today and Focus Magazine’s Focus Café in Tbilisi. The work was mine, photographs combining the themes of Svaneti and food, several years ago. Invited to regale us at the opening night with cheeses from across the country to accompany the wines was a lady who likely knows more about this
subject than anyone else here, Anna Mikadze, who also has her own cheese shop in Saburtalo. I admit to having been astonished and even thrilled at the sheer variety of sizes, shapes, colours, textures, aromas and of course tastes on display that evening. It seems that, like France, every part, possibly every village, of Georgia has its own specialty cheese! Who knew? Where have they been hiding all these years of my time here? The usual Georgian cheese which one finds at the market is young, not pressed, uncultured (not as an insult,
merely indicating a lack of deliberately added bacterial culture). It may have been soaked in brine for quite a while, and I often find it too salty as a result; if not, too bland, really. Sulguni is a twostep item, made by melting existing cheese in boiling water and making cheese from this. Look, I’m sorry, but I simply grew up on other kinds of cheese, and I’ve missed those all this time! They’re too expensive to buy as imports on rare excursions to Tbilisi, and there seems to be exactly one shop in all of nearer Zugdidi that has exactly two nonstandard cheeses on offer, a Gouda-type import and a Georgian “Mtiuli” (mountain) one which is also pretty good. Both rather pricey, though. I can now add goat’s or sheep’s cheese to the Georgian ones which I like, but again, these are hard to find at all locally. The real thing would be to make my own cheese of the right flavour, and get good enough at it to have a consistent
result. I would prefer to do this with all local ingredients: milk from our own cow, and only local additives if any (such as herbs), as opposed to having to buy a bacterial culture to make the flavour. I’ve been researching the topic, which thankfully is easier than ever thanks to the Internet. My first couple of experiments are now ageing in the fridge, over a month old, and I have to say I’m very pleased with the results, considering how much of an amateur I am at this stage. My goal? To be able to offer, at the table and for purchase, my own local cheese, different from anyone else’s and consistent every time. This will need some actual science, noting all possible variable parameters and gaining maximum control of them one by one, as well as some skill and even some luck. I now believe it’s within my grasp. More on this in my next article, when we’ll explore some of the numerous things which go into making cheese.
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
From Self ie to Self in T.G Selfie .G.. Nili’ s Digital Photo graph y phy Nili’s Photog By Lily Fürstenow-Khositashvili It is the reductionist black and white colour palette that allows us to focus on the digital image processing in T. G. Nili’s photographs. Using exclusively Apple software for the technique of creating by erasure, specifically developed by her for this purpose, Nili’s digitally edited selfies embark on a long journey of discovery of an alter-ego. The artistic gesture of shooting a selfie, in Nili’s attitude, tackles strategies of effacement, concealment and ultimate reduction. Far from digital self-indulgence, her feministic practice is informed with attention to detail attempting to transform a selfie into a portrait of someone other than self. Her approach explores the possibilities of representation of herself and the notion of otherness, suggestive of disappearance beyond self-recognition by researching the basic visual patterns that bridge the gab between oneself, one’s selfie and the other. Attempting to be someone other than self, even in one’s own selfie, is an ironic comment on the female role in contemporary visual culture, irrevocably connected with Web 2.0 patterns of representation. Being a female in contemporary society is always about being someone other than self – with a selfie as the best digitally possible means of expression. Nili’s work puts it as clear as black and white. The patterns, circuits, rasters visual or cultural imply the psychology
of presentation, questioning the techniques of photographic representation, analysing the social circuits of connection and disconnection where “self” disappears beneath the selfie, influenced by role-models, style icons, celebrities that each selfie strives to re-enact. Citations of famous, immediately recognisable female portraits puts Nili’s practice within a broader art historical theoretical framework. As media theorist Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Ernst points out, Nili’s oeuvre is “media-archaeological ‘image analytics’ ..., that is possibly influenced by the tradition of Georgian ornaments that forms something like cultural-aesthetic background for such algorithmic pixelisation.” The prime object being visualized - data or metadata - is hardly recognisable. Yet, the structures and patterns of “software layers” that she strives to reveal are sometimes more crucial in our understanding of an image than one can possibly imagine. Tea Nili’s work has been recently exhibited in Georgian National Museum, in Tbilisi Art Palace, at Gallery Iberart Berlin and other exhibitions across Europe, a special seminar dedicated to her photographic technique is planned for 2015 at the Humboldt-University Berlin following a presentation at the Institut national d’histoire de l’art (National Institute of Arts in Paris) at the seminar De-historicizing Art History: Bringing Back Foucault’s / Archeologie/ to France.
JUNE 12 - 18
Tskhadadz e’ sR evitaliz ed Geor gia No Pusho ver ffor or P oles skhadadze’ e’s Re vitalized Georgia Pushov Poles By Alastair Watt The result, a 2-1 defeat, may have been familiar for Georgia but the performance in Linz in the friendly against Ukraine in the Austrian city of Linz gave further reason to be encouraged by Kakha Tskhadadze’s apparently refreshed side. An uncharacteristic error by goalkeeper Giorgi Loria proved pivotal in a closely contested encounter, presenting as it did a gift of an opening goal to Ukraine’s Artem Kravets after which the widely coveted Yevhen Konoplyanka added a neat second to put Georgia out of sight. However, a fine consolation by Mate Vatsadze from a sumptuous Levan Kenia cross in the closing stages was the least Georgia deserved from a display that contained a high tempo and sense of freedom which was sorely missing in the latter days of Tskhadadze’s predecessor Temur Ketsbaia. Georgia’s next task is a Euro 2016 qualifier against Poland in Warsaw and, although the Georgians’ hopes of even a play-off spot are at best distant, there is little doubt that they are in far better
spirits than when Poland cruised to a 40 demolition in Tbilisi back in November. Tskhadadze will however have to make do without suspended captain Jaba
Samaritans’ R ugb y Pr oject Rugb ugby Project Bearing F ar tli Frruit in Shida K Kar artli
By Alastair Watt When Welsh invitational rugby team Crawshays visited Georgia recently for two tests against Emerging Georgia, they found that the sport is excelling at many levels in the country. With two narrow victories against their Georgian hosts to take home, it was nevertheless a trip to Shida Kartli that may be their most precious memory to take back to the land of song, valleys and Tom Jones. It is in this region of Georgia, still deeply affected by the 2008 war with Russia, that the project ‘Rugby for Socially Disadvantaged Children’ run by the Samaritan Association of Georgia (SSK) with assistance from the Austrian Samaritan Association and the Georgian Rugby Union continues to change the lives of youngsters. The project is now also supported both morally and financially by the NGO “Civil Alternative.” While the Welsh visitors, along with their Georgian counterparts, gave masterclass sessions to some of the increasingly enthusiastic young rugby players in the village of Ditsi, it is former Georgian international Giorgi Kacharava who is at the heart of the project.
When Georgia Today reported on the project last autumn, Kacharava revealed that he wanted the project to be sustainable which would involve training local coaches. It was pleasing to hear then, from SSK’s Irina Kldiashvili, that already two of the local coaches have now earned official certification to teach the kids and that, more broadly, the project continues to succeed. “We are happy with the progress being made as the kids are really getting more and more involved in rugby. Giorgi has noticed a massive improvements in only a short time in terms of the children’s attitude and enthusiasm for the sport,” she noted. Kacharava, back in the autumn, also talked of an ambition to form a club for the local kids to play in, something which appears to be nearing reality as the project has already seen the participating children compete twice against the Gori Lions. With the project due to come to an end in August, the organizers are already planning for the future. “If we want to expand we will have to explain to donors the benefit of doing so but so far it has been a very successful project,” added Kldiashvili.
Fill in the grid so that every row, every column, and every 3x3 box contains the digits 1 through 9. See answers in the next issue
Answers to previous puzzles
Kankava, who has been Georgia’s most consistent player in recent years. Without the defensive qualities of the Dnipro midfielder, Tskhadadze may be forced into an adventurous lineup in Warsaw.
It will almost certainly mean a first competitive start for Vitesse Arnhem’s box-to-box midfielder Valeri Qazaishvili, something many Georgian fans have been wanting for some time.
Qazaishvili, who finished the season strongly in Holland and helped Vitesse to a Europa League place, added verve to Georgia’s performance against Ukraine and the 22-year-old ought to be a national mainstay for years to come. Up front, Vatsadze’s goal should give him the nod over Tskhadadze’s son Bachana in the absence of the injured Levan Mchedlidze. Kankava’s armband was taken by central defender Aleksandre Amisulashvili and his return from the international wilderness provides a degree of composure alongside the reliable Guram Kashia. The displays against Germany and Ukraine belie Georgia’s world ranking position of 139th, but until Tskhadadze can deliver a result to complement the improving performances, it is in these murky depths that Georgian football will wallow. Poland, group leaders and so far unbeaten, may not represent the most obvious opponent against whom to halt this slide, but if the hosts are expecting the same bedraggled and downbeat Georgia they faced in November, they could be in for a damaging surprise.
Fir st Eur opean Games Kic ks Of First European Kicks Offf in Baku Two and a half years ago in Rome, a decision was made to hold the European Games for the first time in 2015, an international multi-sport event for athletes representing the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) of Europe. The decision was made at the 41st General Assembly of the European Olympic Committee and the applicant to host the games was only one – Baku. The capital of Azerbaijan received 38 votes for, eight against and two abstentions. The result: one of the most progressive cities in Europe for the first time will take on a prestigious sporting event. The timely installation and construction of the necessary infrastructure in
one of the richest cities in Eastern Europe took place thanks to a successful Application Review Committee. The program of the 1st European Games includes 20 sports, 16 of which are Olympic. In non-Olympic disciplines, of which there are 52, is karate, sports, dancing, and aerobics (gymnastics). The winners of 11 kinds of sports
will be able to participate in the Olympic Games in 2016. “Azerbaijan is ready to welcome Europe. I am confident that we will have the best games in the world, despite the fact that we had only two and a half years to prepare. But our people and our government have shown their strength. In a short time we have prepared for a world class games to the level of the Olympic Games, and will carry out them successfully,” said Ilham Aliyev, the President of Azerbaijan. All detailed information and the latest news from the European Games can be found on the official website baku2015.com which is available in English and Azeri.
Q&A with Dila Gori’ s Champion Midf ielder Gug aP ala vandishvili Gori’s Midfielder Guga Pala alav By Nini Gegidze As Dila Gori were crowned Georgian champions for the first time ever in season 2014/15, perhaps the discovery of the year was 21-year-old Guga Palavandishvili, a talented and diligent midfielder who has managed to win over the hearts of many fans, and the admiration of many opponents. Georgia Today sat down for a chat with the up and coming footballer. Q: Guga, how did you start your career? A: My career started at FC Gagra. In the early days of my career Paata Gotsiridze played a big role by putting a lot of effort into my development and improvement. The next step was Dinamo 2, where I met my current coach Ucha
Sosiashvili. He always trusted me and always had it in his head to move me to FC Dila Gori. I am very thankful to him. I would also like to thank my coach and I strongly believe that I am very fortunate to be on our team. Q: So you don’t regret leaving Dinamo? A: It would be great to be in the first team there, but nonetheless, I don’t regret my decision. My coach gave me the chance to play in the Premier League and in the first season I got a winner’s medal! Q: Was it easy to adapt to the new team? A: I’m a very communicative and outgoing person, so for me it was not a problem. My goal was to make my coach proud of me. Q: The season is over. What is your
future plan? Are you going to move to another team? A: I don’t know yet. I have to talk to the club in order to decide. Other than that, why should I not want to stay? The thing any footballer desires most is playing in the national team or Champions League and this could be possible where I am. This is Dila’s first time in the Champions League and representing the club is a great honour.
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