A golden opportunity to re-establish ties with Iran
E DII TO RII A L
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.