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Friday, December 30, 2011

Can I get a job or promote my business idea using Reality TV? Yes, You Can, in Georgia!

Georgians Looking for Jobs, Loans Can Make a Pitch on Reality TV - Wall Street Journal

TBILISI, Georgia—Governments around the world are scrambling to find innovative policies to create jobs in the teeth of a global downturn. In ex-Soviet Georgia, the government appears to have found a policy that's all its own: reality TV.

Every Sunday, Georgians gather to watch "Employ and Get Employed," an "American Idol"-inspired extravaganza, with echoes of "The Apprentice," on which unemployed citizens and wannabe tycoons pitch business plans to a panel of judges.

On "Employ or Get Employed," the new reality TV hit in the former communist state of Georgia, unemployed citizens and wannabe tycoons pitch business ideas to a panel of bankers. WSJ's Joe Parkinson reports from Tbilisi.

Only this panel of four suited men isn't chaired by a Georgian Simon Cowell, or even a Donald Trump.

Here, participants pitch to Vladimir Gurgenidze, head of Liberty Bank, who until 2008 was Georgia's prime minister; the current prime minister's brother, Bank of Georgia director Irakli Gilauri; plus a third banker and the mayor of the capital, Tbilisi. Mayor Giorgi "Gigi" Ugulava is widely expected to run for president in 2013, when his political mentor Mikheil Saakashvili steps down.

The show, screened at prime time, is notching up one of the highest ratings on Georgian TV.

A recent episode featured a Tbilisi pest-controller called "The Exterminator," who sought capital to decorate his van in cockroach skins. A man who said he was an economics professor pitched for financing to build a flying-saucer-shaped hotel. He said he had been contacted by aliens.

Soon after the show first aired in November, a trainee priest, accompanied by two uniformed female chauffeurs, pitched a "Pink Taxi" service that would be driven by women and only take women passengers. Neither of his companions had a driver's license, the show's producers said, but that didn't put off the panel. Bank of Georgia offered him a start running a taxi from its own fleet.

Critics say "Employ and Get Employed" is essentially a state enterprise, designed to help Mr. Saakashvili's pro-Western, pro-market regime overcome its political Achilles' heel: high unemployment. Georgia's official unemployment rate in September was 15.5%.

The show is bankrolled with funds backed by Tbilisi City Hall. The capital up for grabs—1.1 million lari, or about $660,000—is distributed by banks, but also guaranteed by the city government. If the panel likes a pitch, they offer the contestant a business loan at a 6% interest rate—far cheaper than the national average of around 20%—to help grow their ideas and combat unemployment.

As well as low-interest-rate loans, the panel can offer government jobs, places in state-run business education programs or free leases on municipal land. The show is broadcast weekly on the privately owned, pro-government TV channel, Rustaveli 2. It is produced by the team responsible for "Georgia's Got Talent" and the Georgian versions of "American Idol" and "Big Brother."

Mr. Ugulava, re-elected Tbilisi's mayor in 2010, is a philosophy graduate and former journalist. As the panel's chairman, he announces which contestants succeed in bids for state-backed loans. If a pitch falls flat and fails to secure a loan, the mayor occasionally doles out a job, a one-off contract or even lifestyle advice instead.

Bachuki Bakhtadze, a guitar teacher and composer from Tbilisi, asked for support to launch a floating restaurant for Georgian banquets. The panel decided that, as Georgian banquets are notoriously wine and vodka soaked affairs, the floating restaurant wouldn't be safe, or profitable. The mayor did, however, promise Mr. Bakhtadze a job as a tour guide at the capital's annual festival.

Guram Jobadze also failed to get funding for his project. He wanted to sell coil-shaped potato chips on skewers at vending stalls across Tbilisi. Still, he was offered a place to study at city hall's flagship business education program.

Mayor Ugulava also promotes Tbilisi's latest public works on the show. He leads the show's glamorous blonde presenter on tours that in recent weeks have encompassed the capital's new reservoir; an under-construction emergency call center; and a highway project designed to reduce travel times and accidents en route to the capital.

Since the so-called Rose Revolution swept President Saakashvili to power in 2003, his government has won international acclaim for economic reforms that overhauled labor and tax legislation, reduced corruption and eased the regulatory framework.

But while Mr. Saakashvili and his ruling United National Movement party survived defeat in a war with Russia in 2008, high unemployment is among the factors eating away at their popularity, in this country of about 4.5 million.

Mr. Ugulava's on-screen benevolence has raised some eyebrows. Critics say Georgia's business-friendly government is using the show to promote itself ahead of parliamentary elections next year, and to position the mayor for a run at the presidency a year later, when Mr. Saakashvili's final term expires.

"Of course this is political, but in a way it's smart politics. It's a pre-election treat for voters where the mayor is shoring up his credentials as a reform-minded job creator," said Koba Turmanidze, a political analyst at Tbilisi State University. "In Georgia, people like big political personalities."

From his office on the top floor of Tbilisi's 21-story city hall building, Mayor Ugulava denied the show is shaped to boost his popularity. He said he was warned by colleagues—and by his wife—of the political risks of starring in the show, but he wanted to help embed a free-market mindset in Georgia's population.

"The show's clearly not populist, because I have to say 'no' to a lot of people, and politicians don't like to do that; it brings no political benefit," said Mr. Ugulava. "We're a former Soviet state and we need to keep sending a message to the public: 'This is no longer a planned economy and the attitude cultivated during the Soviet period of reliance on the state is no longer relevant here.'"

Georgia's current prime minister, Nika Gilauri, also scoffed at suggestions that the show has a political objective. "Employ and Get Employed" is "like any other business show," he said in an interview.

Producer Giorgi Khaburzania said he previously tried to produce a show using the "Apprentice" format, but "it didn't work. We needed more money and more funny contestants," he said. "With this show, we've got it all."

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Georgia Certificate of The Compatriot Residing Abroad - Law passed and design is ready. Soon will be available for overseas compatriots!

Georgia State Minister of Diaspora Issues Mirza (Papuna) Davitaia and Georgia Deputy Minister of Justice Giorgi Vashadze presented design of the Georgia Certificate of The Compatriot Residing Abroad. The winner of the design contest Mamuka Gongadze was awarded 5000 GEL for his work.

The best design contest for the Georgia Certificate of Compatriot Residing Abroad Compatriots was announced on November 7. Those who were willing to participate had to submit their work by December 1st  to It was possible to view the works online on the Georgia State Minister's social network website –

Georgia Certificate of The Compatriot winning design and now, the formal and official design, looks like a booklet filled in Georgian and English languages. The background images feature Georgian public figures residing abroad, musical score of the anthem of Georgia and other Georgia historical sites and places.

The legal foundation of this Certificate is the bill "On the compatriots living abroad and diaspora organizations". The bill was passed by the Parliament of Georgia in November 2011. Bill "On the compatriots living abroad and diaspora organizations" will come into force in March 2012. That's the expected time when first Certificates will be issued to overseas compatriots. The purpose of the bill is to define public policy and the principles of Georgia with regard to overseas compatriots, to form the basis for implementation of this policy, and to determine the legal status of overseas Georgian compatriots and Georgian diaspora organizations.

Below you could see some snapshots of the Certificate. For additional information please visit online official page of the Georgia House of Justice (in english):

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Eristavi Wine vs. Eristoff Vodka from Bacardi: "wine story" sounds better for me...

Few weeks ago I wrote about one of the noblest Georgian families of Eristavi (Eristoff) and then there was another post from me talking about new Bacardi Vodka – Eristoff, advertised these days in many countries.

Well, I don’t drink vodka much and I can’t judge quality of Eristoff vodka. I was just a bit concerned about accuracy of branding and promoting it as a “100% grain vodka” which is ridiculous, given an old and very well known tradition of grape 'chacha' (Georgian grape vodka) in Georgia, as grain is not very much cultivated in Georgia, specifically in that mountainous part of the country,Bacardi was mentioning in the Eristoff vodka story.

Anyway, further research of Eristavi (Eristoff) ‘brand’ helped me to find another product associated with it, and I would say more ‘user friendly’ for me personally – wine!

Looks like there is a local Californian winery, called Eristavi Winery. This information below is from their website:

“Master Vintner Victor Eristavi passionately instills a unique combination of old-world winemaking techniques and modern technology to create his handcrafted wines – while capturing the essence of distinct California grape varietals.”

Eristavi winemakers does not claim they are affiliated with any Eristavi Dukes or Princes, like Bacardi does, but honestly I have more trust in Georgian wine called Eristavi, then in Georgian “100% grape” vodka called Eristoff. However, Eristavi winery has a coat of arms, supposedly Eristavi coat of arms.

This is, I guess, more for decoration purposes, but at the same reminding us that Eristavi is not just another Georgian last name, but has long history and great traditions.

Well, back to Georgian wines in California from Eristavi Winery. They feature 3 wines:

2009 Zinfandel: “Medium bodied vintage offers delicious aromas of red cherry and raspberry fruit. The silky mouthfeel reveals a touch of dark chocolate and spicy oak leading to a gorgeous finish. Made in elegant and balanced style, making it an ideal for an array of hearty dishes”

2009 Zinfandel is an award winning wine from Dry Creek Valley. Retail price is $30 and you can buy it online here

Syrah 2009 – “Deep violet color packed with rich ripe fruit and berry flavors with a touch of spiciness. A rich, smooth wine that is well-balanced with a delightful subtle aftertaste. 2009 Syrah is another award winning wine, but this one is from Amador County and priced $28 per bottle. Can be ordered online here.

Sauvignon Blanc 2010 “This is a refreshingly crisp and fruity sauvignon well balanced wine flavorful and smooth, made for daily enjoyment” 2010 Sauvignon Blanc comes from Contra Costa County and I actually plan to start Eristavi wine tasting from this one. It’s priced just $25, but the reason is not the price – I just like Sauvignon wines and this one should be a great representative of this class. To order, follow the link here.

Anyway, Eristavi (Eristoff) is definitely a great brand and product like wine fits perfectly for the business strategy. Especially if you chief winemaker’s name is Eristavi. I plan to taste those wines and may be some time later will post a review on my experience. But if you are not passionate enough to wait, read what others are saying about Eristavi wine and just give it a try, order it online:

2009 Syrah Review at, Rating: 13.5 / 20: “The Eristavi Winery's award winning 2009 Syrah has been selected as's wine of the week for July 18, 2011.” : “Natural Aphrodisiac and Gourmet Foods, Wine, Romantic Travel”

2009 Zinfandel Review at, Rating: 14.5 / 20: “Aromas of red cherry and raspberry lead to a silky mouthfeel with touches of dark chocolate and spicy oak.”

Monday, December 5, 2011

Georgia "Candy Music" Wins Junior Eurovision 2011

Georgia's "Candy" pop band with its "Candy Music" became the winner of the Junior Eurovision 2011 song contest in Yerevan, Armenia. They scored 108 points. The girls, who range in age from 11 to 15, wore leggings and pink dress patterned with candy canes, shoulder pads shaped like dollops of frosting and at least one tutu that resembled cotton candy. The second came the Netherlands with 103 points, followed by Belarus with 99 points. This is not the first time when Georgia wins Kids Eurovision. In 2008 the nation won this contest with a trio of childern dressed as bees singing in an imaginary bee language. See their performance on the scene and complete list of results of all participated countries in Eurovision 2011.

1. Georgia – 108 points
2. The Netherlands – 103 points
3. Belarus – 99 points
4. Russia – 99 points
5. Armenia – 85 points
6. Moldova – 78 points
7. Belgium – 64 points
8. Bulgaria – 60 points
9. Sweden – 57 points
10. Lithuania – 53 points
11. Ukraine – 42 points
12. FYR Macedonia – 31 points
13. Latvia – 31 points

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tbilisi Artisterium 2011

Since couple of years popularisation of the Georgian culture (the cultural heritage as well as the contemporary arts) was made one of priorities of the cultural policy. Starting from 2007 a program called „Georgian Season“ was initiated by the Ministry of Culture of Georgia in order to serve this purpose. Despite the fact that numerous important and successful projects were carried out within its framewok, contemporary Georgian art scene still is in search of its place in global art “landscape”. Many issues remain unsolved.

Georgia witnessed numerous attempts to organise international exhibitions and biennales starting from the end of the 90ies. Since two years Tbilisi became a host of an international exhibition/art forum of contemporary arts “Artisterium”. Participants of this event come from all over the world.

International symposium on contemporary arts “Transrelation” is scheduled in parallel to “Artisterium”. It offers the participants (experts, curators, art critics, artists, invited guests) an opportunity to discuss urgent issues of contemporary arts and at the same time visit “Artisterium” and get familiar with representatives of local and international art scene and their works.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Heliskiing in Gudauri, Georgia
 It is only a two-hour-journey from the International Airport of Tbilisi on the south slopes of the Greater Caucasus Range to a wonderful nook of the Caucasus located at an elevation of more than two kilometers, is a modern and actively developing ski resort of Gudauri. Thanks to magnificent snowy vastness of Cross Pass leading from the Terek River Valley to the Aragvi River Valley and wonderful sunny weather during the whole season of skiing, Gudauri is the most popular place among downhill skiers on the territory of Georgia.

The infrastructure of Gudauri is constantly developing, that is why today it is one of the most comfortable and technically equipped districts of the Caucasus suitable for downhill skiing. All marked tracks located on the slopes of the mountain Kudebi (3006 meters) and Sadzele (3307 meters) are situated above forest level and equipped with safe chairlifts of a famous Austrian company Dopplemayr. The vast region of skiing offering many variants of slopes is connected by five lines of chairlifts for 3 and 4 skiers – the lower station of the chairlift is at an elevation of 1990 meters and the upper station is at an elevation of 3270 meters. The length of the longest slope is 7 kilometers with height drop about 1000 meters. The ropeways work independently of the quantity of skiers and close only in case of bad weather conditions – very bad visibility and strong wind. In case of electricity disconnection all ropeways are equipped with emergency diesel engines. At night special snow packing machines – ratracs – prepare tracks around ropeways for safe skiing and the best sliding of skies and snowboards.

All tracks of ski resort Gudauri, the length of which is more than 20 kilometers, are approved and certified by the International Ski Federation (Fédération Internationale de Ski, FIS) and according to European criterions tracks have the following standards: slalom, giant slalom, supergiant slalom and speed skiing. Routes of all difficulty categories are at sportsmen’s service starting with “green” tracks which are suitable even for beginners in skiing and snowboard and finishing with “black” tracks of high difficulty level demanding sharp edges of skies and descent skills on icy slopes.

The main sight of Gudauri is excellent possibilities for freeride which is an extreme downhill on mountain skies or snowboard across virgin snowy fields. There are wide open slopes around main prepared tracks and they turn this region into a paradise corner for lovers of all kinds of freeride, backcountry and heliski. Ski seasons in Gudauri start unusually early – snow covering remains intact from December to April and rises to 2 meters height here. If we add together all these fabulous possibilities for active rest and skiing out of track, it becomes clear why many skiers and snowboarders prefer ski rest to Alpine resorts in Gudauri.

Unique nature relief of Gudauri, deep and stable snow covering, the lack of stones on tracks and out of tracks, avalanche safety and high-mountain allocation, comfortable hotels – all these factors attract thousands of tourists and sportsmen every year from all over the world.

Contact HELIKSIR LTD for Booking and Reservation

Address: 28, Pekini street, Tbilisi, Georgia, 0160
Tel: +995 (32) 2243 503; +995 (32) 2243 504
fax: +995 (32) 2243 501
Skype: heliksir
Contact persons: Pikria Javashvili, Levan Ananiashvili (English, Georgian, Russian)

Original of the article:

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Best Georgian vodka is always from grape. Eristoff Vodka - is it an exception or Bacardi blunder?

Couple of days ago I wrote a post about famous Georgian family Eristavi (Eristov, Eristoff). It's a great family and their impact on Georgian history and culture could not be overstated. Also if you recalling I mentioned that Eristavi is also a very high title in Georgian dukes hierarchy and it should not be confused with a surname - Eristavi.
I thing I forgot to mention - Eristavi is a great marketing brand these days. It would be surprising if businesses let such famous Georgian brand sit idle and not try to capitalize on it. Quick research shows at least two products claim association with the name of Eristavi. About one of those I want to talk today: Eristoff Vodka

First is the Vodka Eristoff. As the official webpage says, Eristoff Vodka originates from Georgia and was first created for Prince Eristoff in 1806.

Eristoiff Vodka is made from 100% grain spirit, is triple distilled and then charcoal filtered, a technique first established in 18th century Russia. A landmark in the history of the Eristoff family and Eristoff vodka came in the late 19th century when Ivane’s great grandson, Prince Alexander Constantine Eristoff moved from Georgia to Saint Petersburg. Prince Alexander went on to enjoy a distinguished military career eventually reaching the rank of Colonel in the Imperial Guard.

The last members of the Eristoff family were Prince Nicolai Alexandrovich Eristoff, whose name appears on every bottle of Eristoff vodka, who died in 1970, and his sister, Olga, who died in 1991. Neither had children. I don't have an access to the ancestry historical databases and research tools, but quick research on the web doesn't provide any more details about those particular members of Eristoff noble family. Seems like they are not relatives of Mr. Constantine Sidamon-Eristoff and his family. May be there are relatives of Prince Vladimir Eristov, one of the first pilots in Russian Empire, I don't know.

Few details about Vodka Eristoff sheds some light on what clan does it represent. Since Prince Ivane Eristoff was the one who created Eristoff vodka in 1806 and he was from the northwest province of Racha, it seems to me that they were members of Eristavi of Racha family, not the members of the two very first Eristavi clans - Eristavi of Aragvi and Eristavi of Ksani.
Anyway, Vodka Eristoff brand belongs to Bacardi Group and has 4 flavors:
  • Eristoff Red: sloe berry flavour
  • Eristoff Black: wild berry flavour
  • Eristoff Limskaya: lime flavour
  • Eristoff Gold: caramel flavour

I never tried it, but association with Bacardi tells me it should be a very good quality product.

One thing doesn't really  resonates well in this marketing brand story. Eristavi is a great name to call a good quality product, but I don't really understand, why it is 100% grain vodka??? Big question mark here.

Georgia is famous for its own original grape based brandy - Chacha (Georgian: ჭაჭა, pronounced [tʃʼɑtʃʼɑ]) is traditionally a clear strong liquor, which is sometimes called "vine vodka," "grape vodka," or "Georgian vodka." Chacha is made of grape pomace (grape residue left after making wine). It can also be produced from non-ripe or non-cultured grapes and, in some cases, figs, tangerines, oranges, or mulberries. Vodka Eristoff producers claim that Prince Ivane Eristoff of Racha originated this grain vodka. But Racha is a highland area in western Georgia and they don't grow grain. Corn - may be, but definitely not grain. And of course, grape grows there.

So, if Prince Ivane Eristoff was drinking a vodka or any other alcoholic beverage it should had been only wine or grape brandy, or grape vodka. I think Bacardi marketing groups missed this critical point. It casts doubts on authenticity of Vodka Eristoff as a real product that goes back to Prince Ivane Eristoff, Eristavi of Racha. Georgian Vodka is almost always Grape Vodka. Sorry, Bacardi...

Georgian Art Evenings in Tbilisi 2011-2012

The idea for Georgian Art Evenings came from the public interest towards Georgian art, the increase in the number of international tourists as well as frequent visits of political, business and other formal and not so formal delegations to the capital of Georgia.

Tbilisi Concert Hall continues its long-term commitment to arrange Georgian Art Evenings. Within the framework of this project, concerts with the engagement of Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theatre troupes as well as Georgian folklore groups will be held on a weekly basis during the next seven months.

Mako Choghoshvili, the deputy Minister of Culture and Monuments Protection of Georgia highlighted the importance of this project. She said Georgians and visitors alike will be given a memorable opportunity to partake, enjoy and access the diversity of Georgian art.

Choghoshvili conveyed gratitude towards the sponsors of the event. “Without their help this festival would have been unachievable,” she said at a November 10 press meeting.

The schedule of the concerts has such famous names as Georgian state song and dance ensembles like Rustavi; Erisioni; Georgian National Ballet Sukhishvilebi; Paliashvili Opera and Ballet State Theatre troupe lead by Nino Ananiashvili; National center of folklore with their new program. Renowned groups Martve, Georgian Voices, Niaz Diasamidze and 33a.

The first concert of the festival was held last month with a performance of a famous dance ensemble Erisioni. On November 13, the ensemble Martve together with the Georgian Folklore Palace will present their artistic program to the public.

The tickets will be sold in a price range of 10 to 30 Georgian Lari. ($7-$20 USD).

Major sponsors of the event are Magticom, Georgian leading Telecom company, Bank Constanta and Telasi, an electric utility company of Tbilisi. The media support will be brought by broadcasting companies Rustavi 2, PIK - First Caucasus Channel and Georgian Public Broadcaster, Fortuna radios, Focus magazine, and newspapers "24 Saati" and "Georgia Today".
Just to get a feel of what this event will look like, specifically what is Georgian Folk Dance, watch this video:

Georgians in Turkey - refuges of the old war

At the end of Russian-Turkish War (1877-1878) thousands of Muslim Georgians had to flee from their motherland. They wished to find "a new hope" in Turkey. Georgians wanted to choose the places similar to Georgia in weather, woodland, river valleys and natural features. According to villagers in 1880s their ancestors were led to that side of Hayriye By Imam Haci Mehmet Efendi Kochaoghli, Husein Ada Xinkiladze also took a great part in establishing the village.

Watch traditional ethnic dances of Georgians from Hayriye in Turkey:

About 250 Georgian Muhagirs lefi their houses near Artvin, from other sources villages of Machaxela: Chukuneti, Chxutuneti, kirkiteti, Xinkileti, Kirnati and etc and travelled to Turkey. Hayriye (Machaxela, “Small Moscow”) is situated in Marmara Region, Province of Bursa. It is located in the foothills of the Uludao range, that‘s why it was called a “Mountain Village”.

The mode of life, cultural-economic structure of old and present Hayriye are quite different. Other villagers call Hayriye “Kiiciik Moskova” (Small Moscow), “Communists”. We suppose that economic development, European experience, knowledge and desire of innovation can be considered to be its main reasons.

Since the 1960s, many inhabitants of Hayriye went as migrant workers to Germany and Austria. They still keep their ancestral homes in Hayriye where they return to in the summer. (During the 1950s and 1960s the number of permanent occupants was over 1,000; since the 1970s, the number steadily decreased due to emigration to Germany and Austria .) The older people still speak the Georgian language.

Based on research essay by Nino Okrostsvaridze “For the question of history of Turkish Georgians in Hayriye” published in Amirani Magazine 2010-01-27
To read complete essay in Georgian please follow the link

Friday, November 11, 2011

Eristavi (Eristov, Eristoff) - Noble Family of Georgia

Eristavi (Eristov, Eristoff) is one of the best known representatives of a duke Georgian family descended from two ancient Georgian clans of Eristavi: Eristavi of Aragvi and Eristavi of Ksani.
In 1560, the Georgian king Simon-I split the country among his two descendants into two counties: younger brother got Ksani area where the Princes Eristavi of Ksani are comming from and Aragvi area got senior brother, Jason, founding head of Eristavi of Aragvi clan. Jason's grandson, Nugzar, started a line of Princes Eristavi of Aragvi.
Eristavi of Aragvi family portrait
Surname Eristavi originates from the title "Eristavi" which in Georgian language means “head of the people”. In the Georgian aristocratic hierarchy the name Eristavi is a title of the third rank of prince and governor of a large province. Holders of the title Eristavi were ex-officio commanders of a military 'banner', wore a distinctive dress, ring, belt and spear and rode a particular breed of horse.

Back to the noble families of Eristavi of Aragvi and Eristavi of Ksani. Both families, and two others that resulted from a later county splits (Eristavi of Racha and Eristavi of Guria) confirmed in their princely ranks under the Russian rule in the 19th century. These four families were often known simply as Princes Eristov in Russia but they did not have the same origin. So, the last name Eristavi (Eristov, Eristoff) should not be confused with the title Eristavi the Georgian aristocratic hierarchy.

Georgian Princes Eristov played significant role in Russian empire politics, history and culture. The most famous Eristovs of the past two centuries are:
  • Eristov (Eristavi-Ksani), Alexander (1873-1955)-Russian and Georgian military commander, Lieutenant-General .
  • Eristov, Nikolay - Russian commander
  • Eristov, Andrew M. - member of the State Council of the Russian Empire .
  • Eristov, George Davidovich - poet and playwright
  • Eristov, David G. - poet and playwright
  • Eristov, Raphael - poet
  • Eristov (Eristov-Ksani), George Evseyevich (1769-1863) - Prince, General of Infantry, senator, member of the Caucasian campaigns.

Nicholas D. Eristov (Eristavi) (1821-1856) - Prince, a Russian general, hero of the Crimean War

It is a very little known fact, but Prince Vladimir Eristov was among the first 39 avia pilots certified in Russian Empire. Prince Vladimir Eristov born in 1968 was a pilot #24 in Russian empire and #324 in the world. His licence was issued for a plane "Anrio" on November 08, 1910 in France. Prince V. Eristov was one of the first 11 pilots selected for the first in history of Russian aviation flight from St.Petersburg to Moscow. Flight was scheduled for July 23rd 1911. Unfortunately on the day of the flight Eristov cancelled his participation as his plane was not ready by that date and didn't arrive to the departure location. Prince Eristov, Lieutenant Grenadier Corps Squadron, in May 1917, was drafted into the Russian white Army - The Black Sea Air Division as a pilot-observer. During the Civil War he served in the White Russian Navy. 

Portrait of Prince Eristoff, 1925 (Tamara De Lempicka)
Soviet occupation of Russia and Georgia forced most members of Erisoff families to leave the motherland. For example, among those refuges was a Georgian family of Sidamon-Eristavi who immigrated to the U.S. following the Soviet invasion of Georgia. Descendant of this family Andrew P. Sidamon-Eristoff is a Republican Party politician from New York City who currently serves as New Jersey State Treasurer under Governor Chris Christie. Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff's father, Constantine Sidamon-Eristoff is one of the is the founding Chairman of American Friends of Georgia, Inc., formed to provide charitable, educational and humanitarian aid to the people of the Republic of Georgia.  He is also President of the Caucasian Society Allaverdy, Inc. (a non-profit association benefiting refugees from the Caucasus mountain region now settled in the U.S. and their descendants) and a Trustee of the Allaverdy Foundation.
Constantine Sidamon-Eristoff, Esq.
Even being away from the homeland for several generations Eristavi were trying to participate in life of Georgia, support Georgian people and as far as possible to help the country of their ancestors. This is one of the greatest Georgian families that for generations influenced history, culture, social and economic life of whole countries and regions.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Contempopary Art Exhibition from Turkey is hosted in Tbilisi, Georgia

An exclusive exhibition for Turkish Contemporary art opened on Nov. 3 in Tbilisi, Georgia will finish today displaying the works of nine artists from Turkey.

Artisterium, a Tbilisi-based annual International Contemporary Art Exhibition and Art Events organized by the Artisterium Association is hosting the exhibition.

Artisterium has been taking place at six different venues. “The exclusive modern art exhibition for Turkish artists is taking place in the Literature Museum,” said Özer, adding that in the National Art Gallery, Artisterium’s joint exhibit also hosted Sıtkı Kösemen’s art.

This year festival’s theme in Tbilisi is Free Fall. The term relates to the situation in which persons are detached from the “mother ship” and find themselves in open space without any specific instructions, or even clues on how to survive. They are cut loose from the art-institutional heaven and must find their own, unique gravitational inspiration, according to festival organizers.

“We organized this exhibition in Tbilisi with the encouragement from the Art Bosphorus contemporary art fair, which takes place in March in Stambul,” said Denizhan Özer, the curator of the contemporary artist exhibition.
Özer said the artists came to Tbilisi from a variety of places around Turkey, including Adana, Malatya, Bolu and others. “In this exhibition, we tried to invite artists who are not in the mainstream and who are from outside of Istanbul. With this strategy, we gave a opportunity to those people,” he said.
Noting that their aim was to open a new dimension for modern artists, Özer said: “It is very important to be in a good collaboration with the neighboring countries for Turkey and this is a part of this activity. Turkey can reach far, but it is also critical to be active in the regions close by.”

The latest political and economic tendencies as set against the background of globalization are having an effect on the partnership between art establishments and art practice. The influence of establishments providing funding for the arts that support or commission work, subsequently providing visibility, is unquestionable. In recent years, artistic and theoretical investigations into the various issues of identity critically tracing the changes in all spheres of life have arrived at the point where it is impossible to distinguish the author from the system that supports their creation. Because of this, organizers said they chose Free Fall as the theme for this year’s Artisterium, held in Tbilisi, Georgia.

“We have also reflected the theme,” said Özer, noting that all nine artists had made their creations accordingly. The viewers in Tbilisi have the opportunity to experience artworks by Burcu Orhon, Ceren Selmanpakoğlu, Doğan Akbulur, Musafa Okan, Orhan Tekin, Pınar Yeşilada, Roş, Semih Zeki and Yıldız Doyran.

The exhibition, whose opening in Tbilisi also attended Turkish ambassador to Republic of Georgia Murat Burhan, is a part of the Koridoor contemporary art program, said Özer.
Read more:

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Reforms in Georgia - USAID snapshot

"The commitment of the Administration of Georgia was a key factor in the impressive impact of this project," says David Gosney, who directed the Office of Economic Growth in the Tbilisi journey during the project. "The Administration worked with us at every step, from initial project design, through launch, and even design of the follow-on project. It wasn't always easy finding the balance between pre-determined performance targets and the flexibility to respond to real-time, changing needs, but working specifically with the prime minister's office supported us prioritize based on political will."

USAID provided intensive technical and information encouragement for the process. For example, the Agency introduced in tax experts to simplify the filing system only once the administration was in a position to move. USAID also provided assessment, proposals, and launch assistance on laws, legal guidelines, and institutional capacity building in support of Georgia's dynamic reform agenda. 

The rapid improvement seen in Georgia had another detail as well-years of experience and knowledge from USAID's work in other region of Central and Eastern Europe. Beginning with the earliest programs just after the fall of the Soviet bloc, USAID and its partners have built a deep bank of expertise that provides advantageous impacts around the world today.
In the Republic of Georgia of just a few years ago, McDonald's wasn't a fast food. The journey from production to plate used to be arduous and long. Along the Georgian border, McDonald's trucks could be spotted languishing-sometimes up to two or three days-waiting for customs officials to inspect and clear their cargo.

The task was as arbitrary as it was frustrating: "You could never say which terminal was better or worse. All were the same: a long physical review process, poor professionalism, flourishing bribery, and a permanent misusing of energy and nerves," according to Tamaz Meg­re­lishvili, purchasing manager of McDonald's Georgian franchises and T&K Restaurants LTD.
Now, a series of customs reforms by the Ministry of Finance and the State Revenue Service have expedited clearance techniques, in part by promoting an helpful allotment of state resources. The information review previously undertaken on all freight were replaced by an automatic, risk-based system to recognise suspect products-with now only the 15 percent of products flagged as risky receiving physical review. By eliminating not needed inspections, this process has also reduced opportunities for crime. 

The new system is straightforward, which allows managers like Megrelishvili to plan ahead of time: "When the cargo reaches the terminal, I can fix precisely the timeframe of all operations to be undertaken after the clearance process. Loaders, who waited for products in the garage for hours, sometimes even for days, can now enjoy a normal work schedule and go home in time."

In addition to the personal benefits for managers and loaders alike, the savings for businesses add up to an estimated $90 million annually.
The new customs regulations are just one of the many reforms that have moved Georgia from number 112 to number 12 out of 181 countries ranked by the World Bank in its annual Ease of Doing Business survey, all in the span of four years. The transformation was called "unprecedented" by World Bank economist Simeon Djankov. Georgia is now ranked as having a more attractive regulatory climate than France, Germany, and the Netherlands.

Other results of this transformation include more efficient clinics, gas pipelines to heat remote towns, and a range of improvements to make administration offices more responsive to citizens. In Zugdidi, in western Georgia, local officials and a construction company were finally able to build a children's playground after regulations and paperwork were simplified.
Both Poland and Hungary have inspired the victorious package of business, legal, and institutional reforms implemented in Georgia. While Hungary moved forward gradually to a more market-oriented system, known as "goulash communism," Poland took a dose of "shock therapy"-unleashing market factors soon after the first opposition administration in the Eastern bloc took over in August 1989. The Balcerowicz Plan, named for Poland's visionary finance minister, eliminated price controls, eliminated preferential credits for state-owned enterprises, and allowed enterprises to declare bankruptcy, among other measures.

"Nineteen eighty-nine marked the very beginning of new era. It was completely unexpected, and there was no road map for transition. In the midst of all the hope and confusion, USAID had to rethink every approach. That investment is still paying off in the work we do today," said Paige Alexander, assistant administrator for USAID's Bureau for Europe and Eurasia.
Poland and the other former planned economic climates, emerging from economic stagnation in the 1980s, needed market-based structures, institutions, legal guidelines, and private-sector businesses. The United States contributed to the process through the 1989 SEED (Encouragement For East European Democracy) Act passed by the U.S. Congress with bipartisan encouragement. The law provided for critical assistance to advertise democracy and economic reforms throughout Central and Eastern Europe.
"From late November-when the SEED Act was passed-through Christ­mas we were working night and day," said Donald Pressley, former USAID mission director in Poland. "We had six weeks left in 1989 to develop a plan."

By December, Poland was suffering from hyperinflation, a currency that could not be converted, and an inefficient economy with subsidies amounting to 15 percent of the gross national product. All governmental services were centralized, but the system had broken down and social benefits were deteriorating; the regulatory framework and financial infrastructure were also weak. The economic climate struggled due to a lack of trained business people with acceptable access to credit as well as an industrial sector incapable of adapting to the new conditions of a market economy.

To help Poland achieve the double transition from a centrally planned economy to a private-sector led competitive economy, and from a society ruled by a single-party political structure to a vibrant participatory democracy, USAID worked in cooperation with the Polish Government. The Agency provided technical advice and other encouragement as Poland's leadership privatized state-owned enterprises, and improved the regulatory and institutional environment in which businesses and civil society function. 

Over the next years, USAID supported Poland's ambitious endeavours to restructure public debt, private banks, and set the flailing economy on a more powerful macro-economic footing. Poland worked with USAID, other U.S. Government agencies, and other development partners to pull itself out of economic recession and fundamentally transform its society and economy. 
During that time, USAID also worked directly with the Polish private sector to invigorate the economy. Private businesses needed financing to grow and adjust to the new market realities, and USAID/Poland responded to this need by creating a fund to provide loans to viable businesses. The Polish-American Enterprise Fund, established in 1989, was a private venture, started with sufficient capital to cover operating costs, but structured to earn enough income to become self-maintaining. 

For businesses with little experience in a market economy, USAID helped business people develop business skills-marketing, management, finance, and a host of other fundamental abilities. Says Eric Postel, assistant administrator for USAID's Bureau for Economic Growth, Agriculture and Trade: "When Poland began down the reform route in 1989, there was no clear path to move from a command economy to a market system. Thanks to the considerate and victorious endeavours of our Polish counterparts, our own staff, and our donor partners, combined with a willingness to rethink and rework approaches, the path for future reformers has become clearer. Our work made a impact for Poland, and the lessons learned continue to provide a foundation for improved assistance." 

And what a difference-Poland is now a member of the European Union. "One of the major lessons from our work in Eastern Europe was the importance of the laws, regulations, and institutions that underpin a well-functioning market economy," notes Nick Klissas, USAID senior private law adviser.

Poland provided as the starting point for USAID's well-established Private Legal and Institutional Reform (CLIR) programs and tools. Discouraged with slow progress in the early years of reform, the Agency developed analytical tools for identifying constraints to growth in the private sector, moving beyond laws-which often were passed but not implemented-to the government and private sector institutions crucial to success.
Establishing on the first CLIR analysis conducted in Poland in 1998, USAID has now developed a series of policy environment diagnostics, including a gender-sensitive agricultural policy tool used in the Feed the Future initiative, the Obama administration's global food security effort, led by USAID. Tools born in Poland have since been adapted and used on every continent.
"USAID's ability to learn from the past has paid off," says Jock Conly, operating mission manager for Georgia. "What took 10 years in Poland took only four in Georgia."
USAID/Georgia is currently applying the Economic Prosperity Initiative, a project that focuses on accelerating growth in the private sector to help create a brighter economic future for all Georgians. And lessons of Georgia-flexibility in design, direct encouragement to country-owned initiatives, and increased private-sector participation in policy-will inspire the next generation of reforms.

When Tariel Chanturia, one of Georgia's most renowned poets, wanted to publish his poetry, he found out that he had to register as an individual small business owner first. Instead of the horror adventure he expected, he was helped in no time-and with no bribe-thanks to the streamlined tax registration process. It was "a fairy tale" according to Chanturia. "A couple of years ago it would have taken all my lifetime, nerves, and half of my honoraria."

Flydubai - Direct flight to Tbilisi from a low-cost operator

Flydubai, Dubai's pioneering low cost airline, celebrated the start of its operations to the 45th international destination on 4 November 2011, with the launch of direct flights to Tbilisi, Georgia. The inaugural flight represents a very important milestone in the development of relations between the two nations with Flydubai the first UAE airline to offer direct flights between the UAE and Georgia.

Flight FZ713 departs Dubai Terminal 2 at 11-45pm on Mondays and Fridays, landing in Tbilisi International Airport at 03-15am local time. The coming back flight FZ714 departs at 03-55am, arriving in Dubai at 07-20am.

Vera Kobalia, the Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development addressed the audience and talked about the importance of enlarging the Georgian air flight market in different destinations, "Georgia is becoming more and more attractive for foreign airlines and the interest from Arab airline to enter is another illustration. This flight will increase passenger flow between Georgia and the United Arab Emirates and have a positive impact on the trade and tourism cooperation between two countries."

Deputy Minister of Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, George Karbelashvili agreed that the new Dubai-Tbilisi operations will help encourage tourism and promote two-way trade links. "Dubai and Tbilisi share many core sectors of industry, which will benefit from the introduction of these direct flights. I see Flydubai as a key companion to help us promote our country to tourists and the business community in the UAE and wider Middle East looking to visit Central and Eastern Europe."

Mete Erkal the General Manager of TAV (Tbilisi International Airport operator), said, "I am delighted to greet Flydubai's first flight to Tbilisi. I am very confident about these flights that will help to increase the opportunities for trade and commerce between our two nations. I wish the flight operation of Flydubai between Tbilisi and the UAE great success."

Speaking at a press conference in Tbilisi, Flydubai CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith mentioned, "I would like to thank the Georgian authorities for advancing a cordial welcome to Flydubai and for their strong support in establishing operations to Tbilisi. At Flydubai, we aim to link Dubai to growing countries and we are very enthusiastic about the route to Tbilisi - a capital steeped in history. In addition to advancing travel and tourism between our nations, we hope that these new routes will play a significant role in forging future collaborations in the various fields of common interest such as finance and real estate."

Monday, November 7, 2011

Greek drama with Georgian accent: Mike Maran and the Georgian puppets

Captain Corelli's Mandolin (Mercury Theatre, Colchester) 
Millions have read the book, seen the film and, by now, ditched the T-shirt.

But Louis de Bernieres’ Nineties bestseller is back, and this time his Greek drama is playing out in Colchester. With puppets.

There are also real actors but, oddly, not a single note is struck on the mandolin.To be honest, the show is a mixed blessing, but there’s something tremendously robust about De Bernieres’ story of a Greek doctor’s daughter torn between an earnest fisherman and a charismatic Italian army officer on the Greek island of Cephalonia during World War II.

In a co-production with a puppet theatre company from Tbilisi, in Georgia, the show stops and starts like a dusty old tractor chugging up a stony hillside.
My hunch is that it really belongs on a smaller stage.
The poorly lit puppets are only about a foot tall and, despite big visual set pieces, you’ll need your opera glasses to keep up with the marionettes, including the mischievous puppet goat ‘Bastardo’. Levan Tsuladze’s direction also has a foreigner’s ear for the English language — the accents are as mixed as in an EU bail-out meeting.
And yet the story’s charm shines through like the Mediterranean sun. Mike Maran proves quite affable as the island’s doctor, despite his mysterious Scottish accent.

Meanwhile, the pulchritudinous Natalie Kakhidze, as his daughter is suitably strident but speaks in either a strong Greek or native Georgian accent. And Tony Casement’s Corelli seems to have cultivated his own accent in a dodgy trattoria, where he’s been kept from his beloved mandolin.

Roger Delves-Broughton typifies the good humour as a Peter Sellers-like English spy who has been parachuted in and radios back to base murmuring ‘Roast Beef this is Moussaka’.

In one moment of danger, he shushes our heroes only to wave a flaming torch wildly overhead. Despite such anomalies, the production benefits hugely from Vakhtang Kakhidze’s shamelessly emotional score.

There are big cinematic strings for the weepy bits and jaunty whistling for happy bits — while Greek Orthodox chant solemnises spiritual moments and unusually agreeable lobby-Muzak chimes in between times.
It’s such a theatrical hotch-potch, it has no right to work. But its heart (if not its mandolin) is in the right place.
Read more:

Sunday, November 6, 2011

More infrastructure construction in Georgia

The repair works on 8.3 km of road between Tbilisi and Tianeti have been completed. On 3 November the Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia, Ramaz Nikolaishvili, visited the new road with the President's Governor of the Mtskheta-Mtianeti region, Tsezar Chocheli, and met with the local population.

Nikolaishvili introduced the Georgian Government's "10-point Strategy" ("Ten-Point plan for modernization and employment for the years 2011-2015") to the audience that attended. One of the main aims of the strategy is to improve the social conditions and create well-paid jobs.
The road, which goes to Tianeti and Lake Sion had become impassable, creating problems for the local population to access other regions. The foundation works were carried out with drainage canals and then asphalt covered, by the Department of Roads of the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure. The project was funded by a loan from the World Bank with more than 100 people employed for the road works, mostly local residents. (Prime-News)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Georgia allows Russia to join WTO

By Margarita Antidze

TBILISI, Nov 4 (Reuters) - Russia and Georgia will formally sign an agreement on Nov. 9 that paves the way for Russia's entry into the World Trade Organization after 18 years of talks, a senior Georgian negotiator told Reuters on Friday.

A deal with Georgia is the last major hurdle to Russian entry which would open up its $1.9 trillion economy and cement its integration into the global trade system two decades after the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union.

"The whole package of documents will be formally signed on November 9 in Geneva," Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergi Kapanadze told Reuters by telephone from Geneva after talks.

Kapanadze said Russia had formally informed Georgia that it agreed with the compromise deal worked out with the help of Swiss mediators, and added the document would be initialled on Saturday.

"The Russian side confirmed that they agree to the proposals," said Kapanadze. "We are very glad that Russia has finally made this decision."

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Thursday that Russia accepted the Swiss compromise, which focuses on trade between Russia and two Georgian rebel regions it supports, and that he hoped to have WTO entry tied up by the end of the year.

Equity traders say confirmation that Russia would finally join the WTO could push investors to buy shares in Russian companies, driving up benchmark stock indexes .

Some technical issues remain to be discussed, including a mandate for a company that will monitor trade in the two Georgian rebel regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

If the bilateral accord is completed before the Nov. 10-11 WTO working group meeting, Russian entry could be approved at the Dec. 15 conference of WTO trade ministers in Geneva.

Entry also needs the approval of the Russian parliament, which is controlled by the ruling party of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Tbilisi Wind Festival

Place: Tbilisi Georgia
Time: 14th-18th of November, Conservatory Recital Hall and Marjanishvili Theater

Tbilisi Wind Festival is the first wind instrument festival ever held in Georgia. The idea of creating and founding this event was born couple of years ago and this year we are happy to organize our third edition of the festival.
The aim of the festival is to increase the interest to the wind instruments and chamber music in the country and to create a better school of wind playing, which is the main foundation of a good Orchestra.
Every year we are honored to host fantastic foreign and Georgian instrumentalist for concerts and master classes. The festival became a part of Georgian cultural scene and concerts and master classes are fully attended by the audience.

Official Tbilisi Wind Festival Website:

Levan Tskhadadze
Founder and Artistic Director of the Tbilisi Wind Festival

Please click here to view a presentation about the Festival, its history and its goals. (PDF)
Festival Program 2011

16th of November at 19:00 in Conservatory Recital HallDvorak - American Quartet in F major (transcribed for wind quintet)
Kersten McCall - flute,
Giorgi Gvantseladze – oboe,
Levan Tskhadadze - clarinet,
Bram van Sambeek – bassoon,
horn - n.k.
Gabunia - Sonata for Trumpet, Piano and Percussion
Frits Damrow – trumpet,
Nino Gvetadze – piano,
Wim Vos - percussion
Dvorak - Serenade for winds, cello and double bass in D minor, Op. 44 (B. 77)
Giorgi Gvantseladze, Zurab Gvantseladze – oboe,
Levan Tskhadadze, Davit Jishkariani – clarinet,
Bram van Sambeek, Murtaz Matskepladze – bassoon,
Koka Chaduneli, Bachana Bekauri – horn,
Hayk Babayan – cello,
Giorgi Makhoshvili - double bass
17th of November at 19:00 in Marjanishvili TheaterSaint-Saens - Carnival of the Animals
Kersten McCall – flute,
Levan Tskhadadze - clarinet,
Nino Gvetadze – Piano,
Georgian Sinfonietta and Levan Tsuladze - narrator
Gabunia - The Fable
Kersten McCall – flute,
Levan Tskhadadze, Davit Jishkariani, Nodar Bitsadze – clarinet,
Bram van Sambeek – bassoon,
Giorgi Makhoshvili – double bass,
Nino Gvetadze – piano,
Davit Zatiashvili, Paata Tsetskhaldze, Zurab Tskrialashvili – singers
Levan Tsuladze - narrator
Prokofiev - Peter and the Wolf
Kersten McCall – flute,
Giorgi Gvantseladze – oboe,
Levan Tskhadadze – clarinet,
Bram van Sambeek – bassoon,
Koka Chaduneli, Bachana Bekauri – horn,
Frits Damrow – trumpet,
Mamuka Bekauri – trombone,
Georgian Sinfonietta,
Levan Tsuladze - narrator
18th of November at 19:00 in Conservatory Recital HallOpera Evening
Verdi/Bassi - Fantasia Brillante on the Themes from Rigoletto for Clarinet
and String Quintet
Levan Tskhadadze – clarinet,
Georgian State String Quartet and Giorgi Makhoshvili – double bass
Rossini - Concerto for Bassoon and String Quintet
Bram van Sambeek – bassoon,
Georgian State String Quartet and Giorgi Makhoshvili – double bass
Donizetti/Pasculli - La Favorita for Oboe and String Quintet
Giorgi Gvantseladze – oboe,
Georgian State String Quartet and
Giorgi Makhoshvili – double bass
Weber/Taffanel - Fantsie sur le “Freyschutz” for Flute and String Quintet
Kersten McCall – flute,
Georgian State String Quartet and Giorgi Makhoshvili – double bass
Ponchielli – Concerto for Trumpet and Brass Quintet
Frits Damrow – trumpet and Georgian Brass

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Project of Mutual Co-Operation between Georgia and Estonia Launched

The project “Facilitating Vocational Education Development in Georgia” has been activated from October 2011 between the Ministries of Education and Science of Georgia and Estonia. The presentation of the project was held at the “Courtyard Marriott” hotel during a seminar. Deputy Minister of Education and Science of Georgia, Irine Kurdadze, Estonian Ambassador to Georgia, Tomas Luke, representatives of the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia and Estonia and the heads of Vocational Education Institutions of Estonia and Georgia participated in the seminar.

An “agreement of mutual cooperation” was signed between eight Georgian and eight Estonian Vocational Education Institutions during the seminar, according to which exchange programs of students, teachers and experts will be launched between the abovementioned institutions. Experience sharing, curriculum development, adjustment to EU standards, joint seminars and conferences, training courses in both countries are also envisaged in the agreement. The project is fully financed by the Estonian side.

The following Vocational Education Schools are involved in the project from Georgian side: "New Wave" - Kobuleti, "IC" - Katchreti, IT-Tbilisi, "Iberia" - Kutaisi, "Mermisi" - Tbilisi, "Professional" - Tbilisi, "Ikaros" - Tbilisi and Batumi Maritime Academy.

The cooperation between Georgia and Estonia started a few years ago and the development of Vocational Education strategic plans represents continuation of the joint endeavor.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Georgia's Kobiashvili enjoys 100-cap honour

Georgia may have lost at home to Greece in their concluding UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier but Levan Kobiashvili had cause for cheer at Tbilisi's Mikheil Meskhi stadium after becoming his country's first 100-cap player.

The midfielder – who has played more than 300 Bundesliga games for SC Freiburg, FC Schalke 04 and current club Hertha BSC Berlin – is 34 yet remains hungry for more despite having started 99 matches from that century of appearances. "Every game for Georgia is a special occasion and a great responsibility for me," he told

"Despite my age, I'm always ready for action and have the same will to win. It doesn't always end this way, but I feel happy just to have been part of the national team for so long. In the future I will tell my children about this period. It has had its difficulties and sad moments, but you can't avoid things like that."

Former FC Metalurgi Rustavi and FC Dinamo Tbilisi prospect Kobiashvili was a Georgian youth international in 1994, before making his senior bow two years later. He can look back on "many notable moments – my goals, the pain of defeat, the joy we gave our fans". However, it is "the victory against Croatia in this qualifying round that stands out," he says, citing Georgia's 1-0 win over Group F's second-placed finishers last March – a game settled by Kobiashvili's 90th-minute goal. "I hope there will be many more great matches. I still feel fit and well, I play in the Bundesliga, so I hope to be of use to my country for a while yet.

"I remember my first match, a friendly against Norway in Oslo in 1996. I didn't even expect to be in the squad, but coach Aleksandr Chivadze put me in the starting lineup. We played well only to concede from the spot and it was me who gave away the penalty. However, I got enormous support from everyone in the dressing room."

A year later he helped Georgia register a goalless home draw with Italy in FIFA World Cup qualifying. "I almost lost my mind when I first faced Italy," Kobiashvili said. "Instead of warming up like usual, I just stared at our opponents, all their legendary players. But when the game started there was no mercy from me. They had to be satisfied with a point in Tbilisi.

"When I started playing I didn't think about personal records. I dreamt of representing my country at a major tournament, but unfortunately it wasn't to be. Recently I said that I'll have this honour as a coach, but it was a joke – coaching is extremely tough and I don't fancy becoming one. Football is my life and I'll probably stay in it, though I'm not sure in what role."

As one of the latest recipients of the UEFA award for players winning 100 caps, Kobiashvili added: "On Tuesday, before the Greece match, I fully understood the feelings of those players who have received or will receive this award. My family and I were really happy and it wasn't an everyday emotion. I will cherish it for the rest of my life. But it's not just my achievement – I owe this award to all the people I have worked and played with for the last 15 years. They all played their part and I want to thank them."

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Georgia says no deal in talks on Russia WTO entry

By Margarita Antidze
TBILISI | Sat Oct 8, 2011 4:16pm EDT
(Reuters) - Talks between bitter rivals Georgia and Russia over Moscow's bid to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) ended without agreement on Saturday, and Georgia said it would block Russian accession unless Moscow's position changes.

The failure to resolve a dispute rooted in a 2008 war between the ex-Soviet republics undermines Russia's chances of joining the WTO this year, a target set by Moscow and the United States, and could worsen Russia's relations with the West.

"The negotiations are over and we can say that they collapsed, ended with no result at all," Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergi Kapanadze, the head of his country's delegation to the talks in Switzerland, told Reuters by telephone.

Since the WTO, a 153-nation trade rules body, makes decisions by consensus, Georgia -- a pro-Western NATO aspirant -- has an effective veto over membership for the much larger Russia.

Kapanadze said the sticking point was Russia's refusal to let Georgia have access to information about trade in the breakaway Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which Moscow recognized as independent nations after the five-day war.

"Georgia cannot give its consent to Russia's entry to the WTO until Russia changes its position on trade within the occupied territories," Kapanadze said, referring to the two regions, where Russia maintains sizable military forces.

Kapanadze said the talks were the last agreed round of negotiations "and we do not see any sense in continuing talks just for the sake of talks." But a Russian source close to negotiations said they would resume on October 17.

Russia is the largest economy outside the 153-member world trade rules body, which it has been seeking to enter since 1993.

Georgia halted WTO talks with Russia in April 2008 after the Kremlin ordered the lifting of economic sanctions against Abkhazia and South Ossetia in the run-up to the war that August.

Russian forces repelled a Georgian attempt to regain control of South Ossetia, which has long been outside the sway of the central government in Tbilisi.

Almost all remaining trade issues between Russia and WTO members including the United States and European Union have been resolved since U.S. President Barack Obama made support for Russia's bid a part of efforts to improve ties with Moscow.

Senior negotiators have said that it would be possible to formally admit Russia at a ministerial meeting in December if accession talks remain on track.

In pointed remarks this week, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin urged the United States and the European Union to help overcome Georgia's objections. [ID:nL5E7L62JE]

Failure to bring Russia into the WTO soon could damage relations between Russia and the West as Putin prepares to return to the presidency in an election next March.

Kapanadze suggested Georgia did not feel heat from the West, saying there was "no pressure on Georgia on this issue."

(Additional reporting by Gleb Bryanski in Moscow and Tom Miles in Geneva; Writing by Maria Kiselyova; Editing by Steve Gutterman and Mark Heinrich)

Monday, September 5, 2011

New railway station to be constructed in Akhalkalaki as part of Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway

Building a unique railway station in Akhalkalaki will begin in two weeks as part of construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, the minister of infrastructure and regional development of Georgia Ramaz Nikolaishvili said on Thursday during the review of construction work on the Georgian section of the railway.

He was accompanied by chairman of the supervisory board of the Azerbaijan Azerromservis Company Javad Gurbanov.

According to the Georgian minister, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway assumes strategic importance. Nikolaishvili reminded that this project was the winner among 100 projects in the competition, held this year in New York.

"The construction of the railway line Marabda-Kartsakhi is carried out intensively. The work involves more than 500 people, and this number will double with the construction of the station," said the minister.

In his turn, Gurbanov said that Europe is also looking forward the new railway. "This way will connect us to Europe via Turkey, and the implementation of this project is very important for the region," he said.
The total project cost is over $600 million.

For the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, Azerbaijan has allocated $575 million loan to Georgia.

The capacity of the railway will be 17 million tons per year. Commissioning is expected late next year.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

This is official now! U.S. Senate recognizes that Russia is still occupying Georgia’s sovereign territories

July 29, 2011
(Washington, DC) – The U.S. Senate today unanimously approved a resolution introduced by U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) affirming U.S. support for the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of the country of Georgia and calling upon Russia to remove its occupying forces from Abkhazia and South Ossetia.


“Today, the Senate spoke with one voice in support of Georgia’s territorial integrity,” said U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen.  “While I am pleased by the Senate’s action and the clear message we are sending to Georgia and the Russian Federation, the situation there remains fragile and unresolved, as Russian troops are still occupying Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions.  As we near the three-year anniversary of the war in the South Caucasus between Russia and Georgia, it is critical that we remain engaged in the region, strengthen U.S.-Georgia relations, and continue to seek long-term peace and stability.”

“Russia’s invasion of Georgian land in 2008 was an act of aggression not only to Georgia, but to all new democracies,” said U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham.  “I will continue to stand by Georgia to make sure this young democracy moves forward and becomes a shining example of what can happen after the fall of the Soviet Union.”

Shaheen and Graham have been leading the effort in the Senate to strengthen the U.S.-Georgia relationship.  The two currently co-chair a bipartisan task force on Georgia, sponsored by the Atlantic Council, which was launched on the second anniversary of the Russia-Georgia war and aims to encourage a bipartisan consensus on policy toward Georgia.

As Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on European Affairs, Shaheen also convened a hearing on the situation in Georgia on the first anniversary of the Russia-Georgia war in August 2009.

Read full press release: here

Saturday, July 23, 2011

5 Days of War/ 5 Days of August/ Georgia movie review

Usually movies about war are just collections of special effects, cool weapons and fights. This movie has it all, but great thing about this movie that it very precisely conveys the key idea of this short, but bloody war in August 2008 - Russia tries very hard to hide every evidence, every fact of what was happening in reality during this war. Occupation, mass killings of Georgians, torture and looting.

First, the movie is very accurate in showing the sequence of events, exactly as they were happening. If you followed news that days, you could easily see that. This is the first thing Russian official propaganda machine wants everybody to forget.

Second, the movie shows real people who lost their family members, sons and daughters, fathers and mothers in this war. This is scary, but watch the movie till the very end and you won't stay indifferent. You will just feel emotions, true emotions, true pain of these people and you will cry... This is so painful.

Third, the movie does a good job showing Georgia, landscapes, churches, places and sights...showing Georgian people. It should be interesting for those who never been in Georgia as they are not many modern movies about Georgia. War is not the best time to depict the beauty of any country, but still, the movie captures it quite well.

And, by the way, you could see some really historical places, like Stalin square with a Stalin's statue. If you didn't know, town of Gori is the birthplace of the Soviet bloody dictator Stalin. Russian occupation army destroyed almost everything in Gori, but they didn't touch one thing - Stalin's monument. Stalin is Putin's army spiritual leader and again, the movie conveys it perfectly. The key episode of the movie happens on the Stalin square under the monument. This is very important to mention. After 5 days of August war in 2008 Georgian people finally decide to get rid of this bloody dictator's statue. There is no more Stalin on that square in Gori but in the movie you could see this really historical site with the statue...

Finally, as I mentioned the movie plot is built around the main idea of this war - Russia tried very hard to hide everything about this war, about massacre they arranged in Georgia. War started same day as Olympic games and movie reminds us about it. Five journalists were killed by Russian occupation troops and this is another fact - Russia was hunting journalists more than anybody else during this war.

Interesting to see bunch of (I bet, hired) reviewers of this movie, who ranked it 1 star saying that this movie is nothing else but "tasteless American propaganda". Seems like they appeared and registered on amazon just to review this single movie and say that it's all false. I think this is just another good example of how Russia is afraid of any truth about this War, even a Hollywood movie scares them...

Don't fall in the trap of KGB propagandists - watch the movie till the end... see these people, look into their eyes, listen their short stories... The truth will ALWAYS find its way out. Collapse of evil Soviet empire confirmed that 20 years ago. Collapse of evil Putin's empire will confirm it again.. very soon.

Read my review on
To order this movie in US, read my post here. Keep in mind that the movie DVD is coded as 'region 2', so you won't be able to watch it straight on your regular dvd player bought in US, unless is reads 'region' 2 (European) DVDs. Phillips DVD players usually do.
OR just watch this DVD without any restriction on your PC or laptop. It should work there without a problem.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Georgian freelance photographer Daro Sulakauri - one 30 new and emerging photographers to watch

Daro Sulakauri , 26, is a freelance photographer in Tbilisi, Georgia. She graduated from the International Center of Photography in 2006. She was chosen by Photo District News as one 30 new and emerging photographers to watch in 2011. Her conversation with Kerri MacDonald for the Turning Point series has been edited and condensed.

Tell me about this picture. How did you take it?
I was doing a story about a settlement of Chechen refugees in Georgia. They all came to Georgia to escape the war [in Chechnya]. There are approximately 2,000 people there now. They’ve lived here for a long time now and they don’t have any documents. There’s no work, so it’s very hard. I was with them for about half a year.

They have this festival called Independence Day; the day when they escaped the war and came to Georgia. The tradition is to take toy guns and the little kids shoot at each other. This kid was pointing the gun, playing around. It was raining very hard. I realized the mountains and everything were in the background. I saw this. That’s when I took the photo.

Why do you like it?
It really shows the moment. They all experienced this when they were little and they play it out themselves with these guns. This picture tells a lot about the people there. It tells the history: this gun and this horse and this young generation, and what they experienced when they were growing up in this isolated village.

How has it changed the way you work?
I don’t really look at pictures too long when I shoot. I go with the flow. Whatever I feel at the moment, that’s how I react. It was later on that I decided that this picture was the leading picture of the series ["Terror Incognita"]. It showed everything. I didn’t know it at first. I don’t like to put weak pictures in a series. I want all the pictures to be strong and tell the story.

When did you first see this image?
Maybe 10 years ago. Growing up, I experienced the civil war in Georgia. When I saw this image, I was astonished that he could get so close at that moment. I saw other Capa photos, but this one was the best for me because he was inside the situation.

How do you try to bring this into your own work?
To not be afraid to get close. As he says, “If your picture isn’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” This image represents that quote for me.

NY Times Blog: Too Close to Comfort

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Traveler and Blogger Ethan Martin: Tbilisi "may be the most beautiful city I've laid eyes upon"

On the eastern shore of the Black Sea there is a long beautiful beach, not of sand but of smooth gray stones. It's well over a mile long, and it's where I'm sitting in the early afternoon, enjoying a beer and a quick visit to Batumi, my second and final stop in Georgia.

I haven't seen a beach like this, or more importantly heard a beach like this — the sound of the waves raking the stones back and forth is supremely soothing — for about seven years, when I spent a couple days in Nice.

Sitting in the sunshine listening to the stones roll over each other is just one reason I wish I could stay longer in Georgia. It was only three days ago when I arrived in the capital of Tbilisi by overnight train and just last night when I left. I have an appointment in Istanbul that I can't afford to miss.

The capital may be the most beautiful city I've laid eyes upon. Ancient churches with octagonal towers look over the city from hills and ridges that offer a full panorama from along the crenelated walls. The city has cafes on thin cobbled streets in old neighborhoods along the winding Kura river, naturally heated sulfur baths covered by brick domes, and a high saturation of beautiful apartments and residences that are almost Tuscan with their bright smooth facades, arched windows and orange tiled roofs.

Things are cheap in Tbilisi, and quality is high. The beer, the wine, the hearty food, the cozy apartment-sized hostels, the transportation. A subway ride is about 50 cents (though pricey compared to Baku, Azerbaijan) and gets progressively cheaper with each ride in a day.

Just outside the city, accessible by shared minivans found in a hectic market, are some great day trips. There's Gori, the coincidentally named hometown of Joseph Stalin, and site of the museum in his honor. I sat in his personal train car, formerly belonging to Russia's last tsar, Nicholas II. The small city also saw some action in the recent conflict with Russia, and now has an EU Monitoring Mission office there.

There's Mtskheta, home of Georgia's most important cathedral and an ancient hill-top monastery that gives a fantastic view of the city nestled into the confluence of two rivers. I'm normally not very impressed by churches, but the thousand-year-old cathedral is truly stunning. My good luck at arriving in the middle of some sort of rite helped the favorable impression: incense wafting from swinging censers, towering ceilings with aged murals, flagstones and pillars smoothed with years, chanting priests, male and female choirs harmonizing, gilded icons gleaming in dim light.

I think I'm in Georgia for just long enough to want to stay longer. Sure, there are travel warnings issued by the U.S. State Department, but you can always count on the government for overexaggerating to cover their backs. The Georgian tourist maps also state bluntly that there are areas not in control of the government, but they're easy enough to avoid. Hopefully it's just the early season, but it seems that at the moment Tbilisi and Batumi are pleasantly undertouristed.

I arrived in Batumi this morning, and I'm going to leave in a couple hours, as soon as the beachside Ferris wheel starts running so I can get a ride before I move on. I've spent the morning strolling around town, happily unburdened of my luggage. The train station was so small that it lacked any sort of bag storage, but I've managed to talk the good folks at the enormous Sheraton into holding on to my stuff.

It's a short visit, but better than none, and a perfect example proving that the more places I travel to, the more places I want to see.

Ethan Martin is traveling throughout Asia and Europe, and keeping a blog, The 2001 Exeter High School graduate's column on his travels will appear monthly in the Exeter News-Letter.
Original article here

Creative architectural solution will be used in Tbilisi, Georgia

Another architectural design innovation will be installed on one of the building in Tbilisi, Georgia in September of 2011.

The external facade of a building in Tbilisi will be clad with Cymat’s Alusion large cell two-sided open panels.'s Levan Mushkudiani wanted a new and creative cladding for the project and chose the Alusion panel.

The architectural product Alusion would be used to clad a uniquely shaped building in Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi. The cladding would cover an area of 12,000 m2 in a multifunctional complex. The shape of the outwardly sloping building would make it distinct from other buildings in the city.

Alusion product metallic luster combined with a variety of finishes, each of which offers a distinctive surface that cannot be exactly reproduced, can add a signature touch to any work of architecture.

Cladding product that will be used in Tbilisi is used for many unique modern design solutions. Here is the list of most interesting examples from around the world.

The external cladding project in Tbilisi represents Cymat's first order in the region. Valued at more than $700,000, it is the company’s second largest external cladding order.

Cymat's President and COO, David Fowler stated that the order marks an important breakthrough for the company to enter into a new region. He added that the order had to be produced and delivered within six weeks for installation in September 2011, and proves the improved manufacturing process of the company.