KIEV (RFE/RL)—Armenia’s leaders have been invited to attend the inauguration of Ukraine’s newly elected President Petro Poroshenko in what a senior Ukrainian diplomat portrayed on Thursday as proof of Kiev’s readiness to repair relations with Yerevan.
Ivan Kukhta, the Ukrainian ambassador to Armenia, indicated that President Serzh Sarkisian’s decision to recognize Poroshenko’s victory in the May 25 presidential election paved the way for the normalization of bilateral ties. He said Sarkisian’s move was the main reason why he returned to Yerevan more than two months after being recalled by the Ukrainian government in protest against a positive Armenian reaction to an internationally condemned referendum in Crimea.
“Relations between Ukraine and Armenia have always been, are and will be good,” Kukhta told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “After two-month consultations [in Kiev] I want to point out that Armenia was one of the first countries to recognize the May 25 presidential election in Ukraine. President Sarkisian congratulated Ukraine’s President-elect Poroshenko, thereby indicating that Armenia recognizes the election result.”
“This was a very friendly diplomatic step,” stressed the ambassador.
Kukhta said that he met with Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian on his return to Yerevan on Sunday and that they both reaffirmed their governments’ commitment to deepening bilateral ties. In that regard, he said, the Ukrainian government has invited Armenian leaders to attend Poroshenko’s inauguration slated for Saturday.
“To my knowledge, the Armenian side is ready to send a representative,” added the diplomat.
The Armenian president angered the interim government in Kiev in March when he welcomed the referendum in Crimea that led to the Ukrainian region’s annexation by Russia. Armenia went on to vote against a pro-Ukrainian resolution on Crimea that was overwhelmingly adopted by the UN General Assembly.
“Armenia explained its position in this way: the principle of peoples’ self-determination is its main foreign policy tenet and Yerevan was therefore guided by that principle,” said Kukhta. “Armenia said it has nothing against Ukraine and is simply in favor of peoples’ self-determination.”