The relationship between the UK and Cyprus is unique and deeply valued, British High Commissioner Irfan Siddiq said on Wednesday at King Charles’ official birthday party in Nicosia and lauded the cooperation on ‘Amalthea’ humanitarian aid corridor to Gaza.

The reception was attended by President Nikos Christodoulides, who said Cyprus and the UK share deep-rooted historic, economic, cultural ties as well as close people-to-people contacts.

“These ties are underpinned by our mutual support to democratic values, peace and freedom,” the president said.  

Commenting on the growth of relations this year, he said the 2024 bilateral defence cooperation programme, the joint arrangement relating to the non-military development in the British military bases area, as well as the excellent cooperation both shared and continue to do so on the ‘Amalthea’ plan are also speaking examples of the close cooperation between Cyprus and the UK.

“I would be remiss if I did not underline my appreciation for the UK’s consistent and persistent support on the Cyprus maritime initiative. Together, both with your help and other partners, we aim to facilitate the long-term political and socio-economic sustainability of the Gaza Strip while providing a sustained tool to the international community for complementing existing routes,” he said.

Commenting on the first run, the president said from the 2023 test run with the Lyme Bay ship to assisting the US pier via the military planners in Larnaca, the UK’s engagement and efforts in breathing life into this initiative have been pivotal.

“This maritime corridor can – and must – be part of a sustained effort to increase the flow of humanitarian aid to people who desperately need it,” he said.

 Also commenting, Siddiq said “The relationship between the United Kingdom and Cyprus remains unique and deeply valued.”

He added that in this last year, the cooperation of the two countries has been seen through the military and humanitarian cooperation to tackle regional threats and provide humanitarian support for those in need.

“We are proud that the UK was the first country to stand beside Cyprus and recognise the potential of Cyprus’ Amalthea corridor initiative. We were the first country to deliver humanitarian aid to Cyprus, the first country to provide a vessel to transport such aid and the first partner country to attempt to deliver aid to Gaza from Cyprus,” he explained.

He mentioned that the first mission at the time had reached Gaza indirectly but proved the “viability of the corridor”.

“With our Cypriot, American and other partners we have now successfully operationalised the Amalthea corridor, with over 100 tonnes of UK aid on one of the first ships to reach Gaza. The success of this operation symbolises the fantastic collaboration between Cypriot and British political, defence and civil authorities,” he said.

He added that the Israel-Gaza conflict continues however to be a horrific humanitarian crisis and a source of instability in the region. 

“The United Kingdom, like the Republic of Cyprus, has been clear in our call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, the lifting of all restrictions to humanitarian aid, and the immediate release of all hostages,” Siddiq said.  

Commenting on the Cyprus problem, Siddiq said that the UK also continues to unwaveringly support a just and enduring solution to the Cyprus issue based on the agreed international framework of bicommunal, bizonal federation with political equality.

“We have worked closely, as a guarantor power, to support the efforts of the personal envoy of the secretary general, to find common ground between the parties and resume negotiations. We will continue to do so,” he added.

The event had a multimedia theme, paying tribute to the milestones being celebrated by the BBC in 2024, including the launch of BBC 2 60 years ago and the first televised news broadcast 70 years ago.

The event also featured a red telephone box on loan from the transport ministry, to celebrate 100 years since its launch in the UK.