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Issue #622

20.07.12 - 26.07.12

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Svaneti: 1000 Words

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Author:  By Tony Hanmer

Time for another “focus” on photography instead of writing. This time all the scenes are from Svaneti.

1. It took me far too long to ask what these things were, on the side of the road but not necessarily near villages. I had been assuming that they were postboxes - the form is right for the purpose, at least in Canada. But why did they often occur in unpopulated areas; and why were there often a glass and a bottle inside? And no little door to lock, to keep one’s letter safe... Nodar informed me that these are the simplest form of a memorial to a person who died on that spot, usually in a drinking and driving related accident. You stop and drink a toast to the departed, hopefully not getting drunk yourself in the process. The irony was, for me, unspeakable.

2. Tourists enjoying a bit of nature’s glacial-fed cooling system in the middle of summer. This waterfall is a popular stop, quite low down on the long road to Mestia. The pool where you can have this shower, though, isn’t visible from below. You have to scramble up a bit even to see it.

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Student Face 2012 to join Women’s Health and Healthy Lifestyle Campaign

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On July 17, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Georgia Office, hosted 30 participants of the Student Face 2012 beauty contest, which is initiated and organized by the Ministry of Sports and Youth of Georgia. The contest was first organized four-years ago and this year it is dedicated to women’s reproductive health and healthy lifestyles.

The contestants gathered at the conference hall of the United Nations where they were greeted by Tamar Khomasuridze, Assistant Representative of UNFPA Georgia; Irina Onashvili, the organizer of the contest, and Eka Laliashvili, representative of the Don’t Worry, Be Healthy Initiative.

During the meeting Tamar Khomasuridze gave a presentation on UNFPA’s goals and projects, highlighted the importance of reproductive health and rights, and briefed the contestants on the programs available for the different segments/age groups of Georgia’s population.

After the official presentations, the contestants received the task for the final Gala Show scheduled for July 28 in Batumi. The girls were instructed to come up with a creative, smart, innovative and easy to understand short message that relates to women’s health and healthy lifestyle topics and be present it on the Gala Show.

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Tsinandali: Radisson rejuvenates a wine destination in Kakheti

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Author:  By Robert Linkous

The first time visitor to Tsinandali, reaching its outskirts from the southeast, may doubt its eminence as a wine town. On the right, a sprawling, rather unkempt cemetery. Just beyond, a bridge over the dried out, refuse strewn Doliauriskhevi River, an objectionable eyesore beyond which one must look across the Alazani Plain and even further east, to the haughtily unperturbed Caucasus Mountains, for relief.

The town itself: sleepy, dusty, seemingly careless of appearances, not even tackily touristy. Another Kakhetian village seeming to face the world with its backside.

At the center a handful of shops purvey goods and essentials in limited variety.Still, at high noon on a cloudless Saturday in June, the roaring trade in shoti at one tiny establishment suggested the presence of a master baker and the need for a drive-thru window.

What’s more, at the other end of town is the handsome Alexander Chavchavadze Museum and resort complex, whose manager, Nika Mumlauri, confidently estimates that 90% of the local residents are occupied with winemaking to one degree or another, often including the ownership of vineyard land and their own equipment.

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UNICEF: overall poverty down but child poverty remains a challenge

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Author:  By Ia Natsvlishvili

The number of households below the relative poverty line fell from 24% to 22% between 2009 and 2011, according to the UNICEF Discussion Paper, entitled Georgia: Reducing Child Poverty.

The paper, which was released on July 18, says that the percentage of children living in poor households fell from 28 to 25%. “Around 77, 000 children under 16 are living in extreme poverty,” Roeland Monasch, UNICEF Representative in Georgia said.

According to Monasch, the fact that overall poverty has decreased and the reforms in Georgia have triggered rapid economic growth in recent years, are “remarkable achievements” but the benefits of growth are not necessarily equally distributed and children are not adequately represented in existing social protection schemes. “Additional investments are required to protect the most vulnerable children in Georgia,” he added.

The discussion paper argues that any future increases in social protection must take children more into account: International evidence is clear that children who grow up in poverty have worse outcomes in health and education, and are more likely to end up in prison or unemployed; therefore, protecting children from poverty is one of the best investments one can make.

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Tbilisi takes the cultural central stage with the “Art Gene” and “Tbilisi Opera” festivals

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Author:  By Jennifer Walker

While the hot summer begins to crank up and people start to think about going away to somewhere cooler, Tbilisi’s cultural scene also begins to heat up alongside the thermometers. Mid-July plays hosts to two of the biggest events in the capital – the Art Gene Festival, showcasing the best in Georgian folk art, crafts and music, to Tbilisi’s Opera Festival.

The Art Gene Festival runs throughout the whole of July in various parts of Georgia, beginning in Kakheti and ending in Poti, before arriving for a weeklong celebration at Tbilisi’s Ethnographic Museum up by Turtle Lake from July 21-29.

The festival was founded seven years ago by a group of artists whose intention was to preserve traditional Georgian art forms, from folk music to art handed down from one family to another in various regions of Georgia. More than just a festival, the Art Gene movement seeks to research and preserve these traditions by undertaking extensive expeditions to many parts of Georgia, where the best work is showcased nationally at the festival.

The festival’s aim is to promote and popularize Georgian folk culture with planned concerts of known and unknown artists, also with exhibitions and sales of local arts and crafts. In addition, the festival’s free style allows for unknown and improvised acts to take part, many of whom have gained recognition through the festival and have even taken center stage in future events.

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MDG Report: poverty goals met early but more work left to be done

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Author:  By Ia Natsvlishvili

Three important targets on poverty, slums and water have been met three years ahead of 2015, according to the report on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which was launched in July of 2012 by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

In his foreword to the 2012 MDG Report, Ban Ki-moon says that further success depends on fulfilling MDG-8, the global partnership for development. “The current economic crisis besetting much of the developed world must not be allowed to decelerate or reverse the progress that has been made. Let us build on the successes we have achieved so far, and let us not relent until all the MDGs have been attained,” he noted.

The Millennium Development Goals Report, an annual assessment of regional progress towards the goals, reflects the most comprehensive, up-to-date data compiled by over 25 UN and international agencies. The report is produced by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

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GFSIS continues training program in national security and public policy

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Author:  By Nino Edilashvili

Speaking at a meeting with graduates and current participants of the one-year training program in National Security and Public Policy run by the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies (GFSIS), Stephen Larrabee, Distinguished Chair in European Security at the RAND Corporation, said that it’s a “very important course” and he is “proud of the success of the people who were trained under this program.”

The program is designed for government policymakers in defense/security agencies, diplomats, non-governmental policy analysts and business leaders, to prepare analysts for roles in the national security community.

The key focus is on the skills and knowledge necessary to participate in the national security policy process. The training curriculum includes courses in economics, international security, research methods, the post- Soviet space and international finance.

GFSIS, a Tbilisi-based think tank, is very active in terms of various types of training courses for the public sector and media and has been organizing its English language course since 2002 in partnership with the U.S. Rand Corporation and the U.S. Government.

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