By Shakeh Avoyan
The foreign ministers of Armenia and Cuba signed on Wednesday an agreement in Yerevan which they hope will significantly boost modest trade between the two geographically distant countries.
“We hope that this step will substantially increase the volume of economic contacts between our countries,” Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian said of the document.
His visiting Cuban counterpart, Felipe Perez Roque, also sounded upbeat, announcing “a new stage” in the Cuban-Armenian relationship.
Perez, who also met with President Robert Kocharian on the trip, said the two nations are well positioned to cooperate in tourism and production of pharmaceuticals. He said Cuba is also interested in exporting to Armenia its famous products such as sugar, tobacco and alcohol.
The existing volume of bilateral trade is negligible, with Oskanian admitting that little expect Cuban cigars can be found in the Armenian market. But he said there is a strong potential for closer ties. Oskanian paid an official visit to Cuba last August.
Speaking at a joint news conference, the two foreign ministers made similar comments on the ongoing U.S.-led military campaign in Iraq. Perez, whose country has extremely strained relations with the United States, said military action was “unnecessary.” “This is not a just war,” he added.
Oskanian was more cautious in his assessments, “regretting” the failure of diplomatic efforts to resolve the Iraqi crisis.