Switzerland’s ambassador to Iran on Thursday called the Islamic Republic a “pole of stability” in the Middle East and urged companies to make the most of a lucrative market about to re-open after years of crippling sanctions, Reuters reports.
The ambassador, Giulio Haas, was addressing some 500 Swiss business people as Europeans race back to Iran, expecting sanctions to be lifted thanks to the recent deal signed with world powers.
“Iran seems still for a lot of people to be bearded, elderly gentlemen with turbans. You see them, but you see not a lot of them, especially when you’re dealing with business,” Haas said, according to Reuters.
Haas said his nearly two years in Tehran had convinced him Western perceptions of Iran as the world’s most-aggressive nation were about to change.
“Iran at the moment is most probably the pole of stability in a very, very unsafe region,” he was quoted as having told the conference.
Several European countries have taken steps to renew ties with Iran following the nuclear deal with world powers, with Switzerland two weeks ago becoming the first country to officially lift the sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
Britain reopened its embassy in Tehran Sunday, catching up with rival European powers that have rushed to tell Iran their companies are ready to restart business.
France’s foreign minister visited Tehran just two weeks after the nuclear deal was agreed on July 14.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said this week he plans to travel to Iran in October, following a three-day trip last month by Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who became the first senior figure from a large Western government to visit Tehran after the deal.
After the deal was signed, EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini announced that she would visit Iran as well.