Asre Khodro: After a widely-hailed accord on Iran nuclear issue was reached in July between Tehran and world powers, senior European officials have been flocking to Teheran to revive diplomatic ties put on ice for more than a decade to snatch a place in the lucrative Iranian market, an expert told Xinhua in an interview.
Reporting "Asre Khodro", Thierry Coville, an economist and expert on Iranian issue, said the visits of French foreign minister and German economy minister to Iran, which came shortly after a nuclear accord was reached between major powers and Tehran, mirrored European countries' willingness to regain their places in Iranian market, which according to the expert, was very important for European companies.
"The first trade partner of Iran was the European Union... But because of the sanctions spurred by the United States, European companies have almost disappeared from the Iranian market," added Coville.
According to the researcher at the Institute of International and Strategic Relations (IRIS), European firms have paid a heavy price for the sanctions imposed on Teheran, and by opening its market again, Iran would offer a wide range of business accords to European partners although it would not help to fix growth trouble in the old continent.
"Peugeot -- France's No. 1 auto maker -- sold 450,000 vehicles in Iran in 2011 before leaving it in 2012 and which had cost it thousands of jobs," Coville said.
He also cited Renault as an example which recorded "100,000 vehicles sold per year in Iran and manufactures a Logan in Iran."
"The potential of the Iranian automotive is enormous," he told Xinhua.
Regarding the aeronautical sector, the French researcher noted that Iran was a lucrative market for Airbus given that the national airline would have to renew its fleet, which meant new order of dozens of aircraft.
Asked about the visit of France's top diplomat Laurent Fabius to Iran Wednesday last week, the first such visit in 12 years, Coville said Paris wanted to open a new chapter in diplomatic ties that were very tense for years.
"France's quite tough line in nuclear talks was heavily criticized in Iranian press. It is accused of being a staunch ally of Israel and Saudi Arabia. This is why the idea is to discuss again, to start with new basis in order to return to a genuine diplomacy with Iran," he added.
"Fabius' visit is symbolic but very important because there was no dialogue between the two countries... The fact that (French President) Francois Holladne has officially invited the Iranian president to France, is the beginning of a new diplomatic era," the expert said.
Earlier this month, Iran and six major world powers reached a nuclear deal ending 12 years of negotiations with an agreement under which sanctions imposed by the United States, European Union and United Nations will be lifted in exchange for cut on Iranian nuclear program.