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‘Halloumi is not a political issue’

By Evie Andreou

HALLOUMI does not fall within the responsibilities and mandate of UN Secretary General’s Special Adviser on Cyprus Esper Barth Eide government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said yesterday.

The government expressed its dismay on Sunday after word got out that Eide had discussed the matter of the halloumi cheese registration as a product with protected designation of origin (PDO) during his contacts in Brussels.

“We are aware that Mr Eide had discussed the issue, among others, during his contacts in Brussels and we are also aware of the fact that the Turkish Cypriots have for some time now made repeated demarches expressing unjustified and untimely concerns. We have done all that is necessary, making clear to everyone that the application for the registration of a name of origin is the right of all EU member states,” Christodoulides said.

He also stressed the necessity that both communities need to join forces in order to protect the common product from foreign imitators.

“We asked for the name ‘halloumi’ and ‘hellim’ to be registered with all of Cyprus as the place of production. The goal is to build on the historic unifying nature of halloumi, which constitutes a common tradition and historic reality for Cyprus” the announcement said.

All interested Cypriots, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, had the opportunity to submit objections when we were still at the stage of domestic consultation, the it added.

The halloumi issue is a technical one and is not political “like some try to present it”, Agriculture Minister Nicos Kouyialis said.

“We included in the registration file that the geographic area where halloumi will be manufactured will be the whole of Cyprus, in order to give the possibility to the Turkish Cypriots to produce it,” he said.

He added that when the product was registered producers would use the word halloumi or hellim or both.

“We have included in the domestic consultation … Turkish Cypriot producers who submitted their objections which we investigated. All these prove our position is not to exclude but secure the interests of all the producers, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots,” Kouyialis said.

He added that halloumi should unite Cypriots and not divide them.

“The government will secure the interests of all producers so Turkish Cypriots need not to worry,” Kouyialis said.

In July, following the application the agriculture ministry filed to the European Commission to register halloumi as a PDO, the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Industry (KIBSO) had started a campaign asking to be inspectors for the dairy’s production in the north, since they feared that when halloumi was registered as a PDO the Turkish Cypriot producers would not be able to use the name hellim any more since as a PDO it would have to be produced according to the registration’s standards and Turkish Cypriot producers would be excluded from the process.

Kouyialis had reassured everyone that there were provisions for production controls in the north to be conducted by international organisations.

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