The Association held 5 general meetings and the AGM during the year. The dates of the meetings were decided at the AGM, and varied by days, to give as much notice as possible and hopefully to maximize the possibility of attendance by members who might have other evening commitments. Association business between general meetings is decided by officers, according to agreed procedures, particularly if immediate decisions are required However the value of the general meetings is critical and as Chair I know I speak for other officers when I say that we value the advice and comments of members, especially on specific projects and developing the work of the association.
2. Ariel and Land of the Colchi
Editions 5 and 6 of the Association’s journal, Ariel, were published to much critical acclaim. Colour photographs together with a wide range of articles added to the appeal of the publications. Please continue to support the editorial board by submitting photos of articles, or ideas/suggestions for future editions. Two editions of Land of the Colchi, published in Kutaisi by our partner organization, the Kutaisi Newport International Association, were distributed during the year. It is appropriate to note the contributions made in each other’s journals by supporters of the twinning programme.
3. Kidnapping of Peter Shaw.
The most serious setback during the year to those working for better understanding and collaboration between the UK and Georgia occurred with the kidnapping of Peter Shaw, a British national from Cowbridge, working of an EU funded agro-business project in July 2002. The Association sent a letter of concern about the kidnapping, as did some individual members. Mr. Shaw managed to escape safely from his captives in November.
4. Visitors to Newport.
In July, Oliko Mugulia came to stay for several weeks with Mrs. Sue Turnbull. Oliko had attended Basseleg High School many years ago and is now a medical student. More recenlty, Kate Pochkhua came to Newport in October, met Andrew Rock and married him in May at the Newport Registry Offcie. The Association sends them our warmest wishes for a happy life together. Egnate Sandukhadze (Tato) came to UK for the wedding.
5. Student Scholarships
The longstanding support given to the twinning project by University of Wales College Newport has continued throughout this year. In August we said good bye to David Mindishivili who successfully completed a years study on the university’s MBA course as previously arranged, Mariam Melkadze (Maka) commeneced, what was to be anj 18 month MA course in Multi media Studies at UWCN, in October. In March, Maka took up part time employment with a local architectural practice. After much discussion with the University and our partner organization in Kutaisi, the Association in May of this year agreed a Memorandum of Understanding on the Kutaisi Student Scholarship Programme. This provides for three –year programme, which sets down the different roles of the three collaborating organizations in an open method for the selection and support of students from Kutaisi studying at UWCN.
6. Hospital Equipment
The Association had been contacted to see whether it was possible to send any equipment, which might be no longer needed in Newport to clinic in Kutaisi. The Royal Gwent hospital kindly agreed to this request however there has been a delay over deciding how the equipment should be received in Kutaisi and in preparing it for shipping. At the time of writing this report the equipment is being packed and after kind offers of assistance from a local transport company, Monex and Coyne Airways, it is hoped to have it one its way very soon.
7. Georgian Study Day
This annual event was held in Bristol (twinned with Tbilisi) in November. A full report of the proceedings “Building Bridges and Exchanging Cultures” appeared in Ariel 6.
8. Other twinning activities.
The Association has been instrumental this year in encouraging some collaboration between the NKTA, the Newport Heidenheim Twinning Association and those in the city involved with twinning with Guangxi Province in China, also twinned with Newport. It is agreed by all that sharing experiences and ideas should be of benefit. It is hoped that the collaboration will continue.
9. Local Democracy Agrency in Georgia.
Newport City Council and the Association were incited by the Local Government International Bureau to attend a meeting in December, and later in Bristol, with other British locals authorities and twining groups involved in twinning with Georgian communities. This was to consider a possible Council of Europe initiative to form an LDA to encourage and facilitate better local democracy in Georgia. The discussions are still continuing.
A display case featuring Georgian artifacts, documents and details of the Association has been in the Museum and Art Gallery in John Frost Square since August 2001. The Association maintains a website at www.communigate.co.uk / newportkutaisita / index.phtml and leaflets explaining our work and ideas are distributed. Some new members and contacts are developed through this activity. Members of the NKTA as well as our partner organization in Kutaisi have recently collaborated with David Savill to produce a radio programme about the twinning of the two cities. It is due to be broadcast on BBC Radio Wales on Welsh Take on Sunday July 6 at 12:30pm.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all officers and members for their involvement in the Association’s work this year. Any errors or omissions in this Report are my responsibility; please contact me so that they can be noted. I wold also like to acknowledge the continuing political and financial support given to the NKTA by Newport City Council.
Bernard Tyson, NKTA