A golden op­por­tu­nity to re-es­tab­lish ties with Iran

E DII TO RII A L

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

The land­mark deal reached be­tween Iran and the E3+3 group, and the sub­se­quent lift­ing of eco­nomic sanc­tions on Iran, may be very good news for Cyprus as all along, the Amer­i­cans had been pres­sur­ing the govern­ment not to be gen­er­ous with res­i­dency per­mits to Ira­nian prop­erty in­vestors and hol­i­day­mak­ers on the is­land.

Sanc­tions had also pre­vented con­struc­tion gi­ants from bid­ding for projects in Iran, ei­ther for so­cial hous­ing or larger scale ven­tures such as in­fra­struc­ture in the en­ergy sec­tor, where Cypriot com­pa­nies have an en­vi­able track record in north­ern Africa and in the Gulf. Ship­ping, too, was not “en­cour­aged” by our western friends, for fear that the Cyprus flag could be used to har­bour sanc­tion busters, trans­port arms and ul­ti­mately help fi­nance ter­ror groups such as Hezbol­lah.

Even Is­rael, that has been hes­i­tantly warm­ing to Cyprus by sup­port­ing in­vest­ments in the en­ergy sec­tor (oil and gas, elec­tric­ity ca­ble, etc.), prefers to rekin­dle its some­what tense re­la­tions with Turkey, as its sees Ankara as a more re­li­able part­ner in keep­ing a mil­i­tary bal­ance on its doorstep in Syria and the re­gion.

This cau­tion­ary stance by what should have been a very close friend, with broth­erly even re­la­tions, and em­brac­ing its for­mer ad­ver­sary (who has al­ways re­mained a mil­i­tary ally), could al­low Cyprus to ex­plore its re­la­tions with Iran once more. This is not to say that we should an­tag­o­nise Is­rael, but there is no doubt that Tehran is cur­rently de­ploy­ing a diplo­matic ef­fort of its own in an at­tempt to chal­lenge the likes of Saudi Ara­bia and Qatar as dom­i­nant forces in the Is­lamic world.

If peace is reached in Syria, highly un­likely any time soon, Iran will prob­a­bly be a key player both be­fore and af­ter any deal, ul­ti­mately ex­tend­ing its in­flu­ence even within Le­banon, where it has a proxy rep­re­sen­ta­tion. Iran also has a say in Le­banon’s oil and gas ex­plo­ration and li­cens­ing deals, where Cyprus has a vested in­ter­est due to the prox­im­ity of po­ten­tial de­posits, as has been ev­i­dent from the case with Egypt.

Now is the time for Cyprus to play its role – no mat­ter how in­signif­i­cant on a global scale – and main­tain good re­la­tions with Tehran, for the sim­ple rea­son that we do not want to have Iran in op­pos­ing camps, sim­ply be­cause we felt an obli­ga­tion to our western and EU part­ners. Af­ter all, it is those na­tions that were first to rush in by en­cour­ag­ing trade deals and sale of goods and tech­nol­ogy.

Pick­ing up some of the crumbs, to boost our tourism, prop­erty, ship­ping and ser­vices sec­tor will not harm any­one.

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