Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko has telephoned his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian to discuss ways of improving the frosty relationship between their countries.
Sarkisian’s press service said the two men explored the possibility of stepping up bilateral “political dialogue” and implementing joint economic and other projects when they spoke on November 11.
“The Heads of State noted the mutual willingness to develop bilateral cooperation in all spheres of mutual interest,” said a readout of the phone call released by Poroshenko’s office.
“The parties emphasized the importance of enhancing the trade and economic component of cooperation between Ukraine and Armenia,” it said. “In this context, they agreed to consider possible dates for a regular session of the Joint Intergovernmental Ukraine-Armenia Commission on Economic Cooperation.”
“Special attention was paid to the interaction of the two countries within the United Nations,” added the statement.
Sarkisian’s office likewise said that he discussed with Poroshenko “bilateral cooperation in the framework of international organizations.” The two men agreed on the need for “regular consultations on sensitive issues,” it said.
Official Yerevan angered Ukraine’s pro-Western government in March 2014 when it voted against a UN General Assembly resolution that condemned Russia’s annexation of Crimea and upheld Ukraine’s sovereignty over the Black Sea peninsula. Shortly before that vote, Sarkisian welcomed a disputed referendum in Crimea that preceded the annexation.
The Ukrainian government responded by recalling its ambassador to Armenia. The envoy returned to Yerevan more than two months later, shortly after Sarkisian congratulated Poroshenko on winning Ukraine’s last presidential election.
Despite those pro-Russian moves, the Armenian government stopped short of formally recognizing Russian sovereignty over Crimea. Nevertheless, relations between Armenia and Ukraine have remained tepid.
In May this year, Poroshenko reportedly called for a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict that would restore Azerbaijan’s control over the Armenian-populated territory. His stance may have also been influenced by the Russian takeover of Crimea and the ongoing secessionist conflict in Ukraine’s Donbass region.