More Iran op­por­tu­ni­ties ahead

E DII TO RII A L

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

Now that the Cyprus econ­omy is im­prov­ing, its en­ergy and political hub sta­tus in the east­ern Mediter­ranean is el­e­vated, and grow­ing bi-lat­eral trade op­por­tu­ni­ties with Iran are crop­ping up, the em­ploy­ers’ and in­dus­tri­al­ists fed­er­a­tion OEV has rightly an­nounced a trade mis­sion to Tehran, sched­uled for early-March.

The tim­ing of the visit could not have been bet­ter, as soon af­ter the western eco­nomic sanc­tions on Iran were lifted, the rat­ing agency Moody’s de­clared that “Iran is fis­cally and struc­turally well placed for in­ter­na­tional re-emer­gence.”

This vote of con­fi­dence to the se­cond largest econ­omy in the Middle East, af­ter Saudi Ara­bia, has come to over­shadow re­cent noises about Iran’s mis­sile pro­gramme, with the U.S. once again im­pos­ing new sanc­tions and jeop­ar­dis­ing the mo­men­tum that has so far suc­ceeded in get­ting Tehran to ne­go­ti­ate, or at least dis­cuss, is­sues that would have been un­think­able for the hard­lin­ers a decade ago.

What is at­trac­tive for Cyprus is not just the op­por­tu­ni­ties cre­ated for ship­ping and con­struc­tion com­pa­nies that need to join forces with larger in­ter­na­tional peers in or­der to get a slice of the ac­tion. Iran’s Fi­nance Min­is­ter has said that the coun­try will need $90 bln a year in ex­ter­nal fi­nanc­ing to meet its 8% eco­nomic growth tar­get.

Al­though the Cyprus bank­ing sec­tor is as dry as the Per­sian desert, when it comes to fi­nanc­ing, how­ever, there are ma­jor fund man­agers who might be keen to en­ter the mar­ket and share in the boom that is cure to fol­low.

For­tu­nately, the “dis­ad­van­tage” of be­ing a small and de­fence­less na­tion al­lows Cyprus to es­tab­lish good re­la­tions with all its neigh­bours, as last week’s tri­par­tite sum­mit with the prime min­is­ters of Greece and Is­rael has shown, while a sim­i­larly warm co­op­er­a­tion is al­ready un­der­way with Egypt.

Just as the three lead­ers sought to re­as­sure Turkey that the Greece-Cyprus-Is­rael al­liance should not be deemed as a threat, the same must also ap­ply to Is­rael, with Cyprus and Greece jointly mak­ing in­roads to Iran and re­as­sur­ing the Is­raelis that any com­mer­cial tie-up with Tehran is not a threat ei­ther.

If Pres­i­dent Anas­tasi­ades has the courage to put aside for a few days the child­ish petty pol­i­tics that have gripped our party lead­ers, des­per­ate to get re­elected in the May par­lia­men­tary elec­tions, then he should prob­a­bly join the OEV trade mis­sion and give the del­e­ga­tion a far higher sta­tus with his pres­ence in Tehran.

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