In April, Georgia forced an Abkhazian tourist exhibition to shut down at a tourism fair in Montenegro because it presented Abkhazia as an independent state.

TBILISI, DFWatch–Georgia’s ambassador to Italy, Kakha Sikharulidze, says the Georgian breakaway region Abkhazia will not be allowed to open a cultural institute in Rome.

The planned Abkhaz Cultural Institute in Rome is an initiative by the de facto Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Abkhazia, a region that broke away from Georgia in the early 1990s, but is struggling to achieve international recognition.

The official opening is planned for 17 June, but Georgia’s ambassador to Italy says he has been in touch with Italian authorities and believe they will not allow the center to open.

“This initiative has no official status at all. We have already addressed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy, the City Hall of Rome and very soon they will react properly. This is an initiative of several individuals which is in no way connected to any entity with an official status and the Italian government put an end to it in due time, as it usually did,” Sikharulidze said.

“According to the [Abkhazia] MFA, the minister of foreign affairs of Abkhazia, Viacheslav Chirikba will participate at the opening ceremony together with the deputy minister Kan Tania and the head of the information department, Tengiz Tarba. A press conference and the inauguration of the office of the Europe–Abkhazia Association will be held,” Sputnik Abkhazia reported.

According to Sputnik, guests from Russia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Italy were invited to participate in the event. The ceremony will also feature a presentation of a new quarterly journal called Abkhazia Today.

Earlier this year, Georgia forced the Abkhazian exhibition at a tourism fair in Montenegro to shut down because it presented Abkhazia as an independent state. The de facto Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned Georgia for alleged attempts at isolating Abkhazia internationally.

In October 2015, after an intervention on behalf of Georgia’s MFA, Abkhazian athletes were prevented from participating in an international freestyle wrestling tournament in Yerevan.

In April 2013, the Abkhazian children’s ensemble Abaza refused to participate in the International Children’s Festival in Turkey after organizers altered the programme in a way which said that Abkhazia was an autonomous republic in Georgia, on official Georgian request.

In June 2013, Poland refused to grant visas to the members of the ensemble. According to the statement by Poland’s MFA, Russian passports issued in Abkhazia were not valid documents for applying for visas.