Diplomats past and present convened on Tuesday to mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (Unficyp) and discuss prospects for peace in the future.

Unficyp chief Colin Stewart insisted that “the solution to a conflict is always political and we must invest in negotiations and in finding common ground.”

He spoke about events which took place in Pyla last summer, highlighting Unficyp’s role in finding a “mutual understanding” regarding construction projects in the area.

However, he noted, “we’re still working on it. Things can be quite complicated.”

He said the “will of those involved” is important and that “political courage” is required to find a solution.

“Diplomacy and leadership are about compromises and hard decisions,” he added, while also praising the “effort and time” put into efforts to solve the Cyprus problem by various stakeholders.

He added that the arrival of UN Envoy Maria Angela Holguin represents an “opportunity”, and said, “we cannot afford to miss opportunities like this, and we cannot afford to just wait and see what happens.”

Former Greek Cypriot negotiator and 2023 presidential candidate Andreas Mavroyiannis also spoke, saying that the talks in Crans Montana in 2017 saw Cyprus “come closer to a solution than ever before,”

Former Turkish Cypriot negotiator Ozdil Nami said recent developments in the Middle East and in Ukraine “prove that there are no frozen conflicts.”

Conflicts are all alive and painful,” he said.

“We all agree that the status quo is not acceptable and expressed the view that what is most important is to agree on the process before moving onto the substance,” he said, while also highlighting the importance of “balance”.

Former UN Special Representative in Cyprus Zbigniew Wlosowicz said he “learnt a lot from the local population,” and that he remembers his time in Cyprus “with nostalgia”.

He also expressed regret that the Annan plan referendum in 2004 did not pass.

A speech was also read on behalf of the foreign ministry’s Cyprus problem department head Penelope Erotokritou.

She expressed her gratitude for Unficyp’s “invaluable contribution,” and described the appointment of UN Envoy Holguin as “a positive development which will hopefully create momentum for talks to resume.”