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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.