WITH the recent news that Russian tourist arrivals are on the up, or at least will be this summer, the government seems to have washed its hands of plans to attract Iranian tourists and investors.
Cyprus banks, in line with conforming with the US led UN sanctions imposed last year and mirroring the denial of banking facilities to Iranians in the UAE and the Gulf states, have frozen the accounts of a number of Iranians, many of whom are long-term residents or students. To overcome the problem of sending money back home or receiving student fees, individuals are resorting to money transfer services, but this is far from ideal.
The flipside here is that this problem just adds another negative to Iranians buying property here on top of the title deeds/fraud issue. Of course, our government must surely have factored that in and decided that the Cyprus property market doesn’t need new foreign buyers as the Russians will save us.
Perhaps unrelated to the sanctions, or maybe simply attributed to stupidity, there are also some cases of harassment reported at Larnaca airport of incoming Iranians who either have visitor visas or yellow slips. An associate of the Financial Mirror was held up for 20 minutes the other week when she came in from Dubai. When she showed both her Iranian passport (on which she travelled from Cyprus and exited from Tehran) and her British passport and her Cyprus Certificate of Permanent Residency, the immigration officer first tried to insist that she needed a Cypriot visa, then tried to assert that her permanent residency permit had expired and then when he got bored and ran out of excuses said “OK, you can enter”. This has never happened before in the past seven years she has been going to/from Iran from here. A really brilliant advert to go with “Love Cyprus… PLEASE!!! We’re BEGGING You!!!”
Perhaps if we rely on the Russians more, we can continue to sweep under the carpet all the property related horror stories, the latest being that Alyn Smith, the sole MEP for Scotland and its 5.2 million inhabitants, who has issued a statement that he is now advising all Scottish residents NOT to buy property in Cyprus, following years of complaints from his constituents and the failure of the Cypriot authorities to do anything.
This is probably the first specific blacklisting from an MEP and others are likely to follow suit, as the discourteous behaviour of the Cyprus government towards him has not helped. There is also a new campaign being co-ordinated by Daniel Hannan, MEP, to put pressure on both the Cyprus government and the EU Commission over Cyprus’s failure to implement the EU Unfair Commercial Practices Directive in respect of immovable property. The British High Commission has also beefed up its advice on its website; it’s the closest coded language to ‘don’t buy in Cyprus’.