By Andria Kades
THE European Commission has published Cyprus’ official application to designate halloumi as a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO).
“Halloumi is considered traditional to Cyprus … it has played a very important role in the life and diet of the island’s inhabitants, both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, since ancient times and knowledge of the production process has been handed down from one generation to the next,” the application published in the official journal of the European Union said.
It adds: “the proportion of sheep or goat’s milk or the mixture thereof must always be greater than the proportion of cow’s milk.”
Called halloumi / hellim, the two names can be used together or separately and will fall under the administrative boundaries of the Nicosia, Limassol, Larnaca, Famagusta, Paphos, and Kyrenia districts.
“This is really a great day for Cyprus. After many years we are overcoming another obstacle,” Agriculture Minister Nicos Kouyialis said, adding that the process would take between six to seven months.
“It is the appeals procedure and I hope that all will go well,” the minister said.
The Green Line regulation will also be amended to allow Turkish Cypriot producers to trade hellim through Cyprus’ legal ports, a move that will “further facilitate trade and boost the economic development of the Turkish Cypriot community,” according to the European Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu.
From his part, the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in a statement said “this step demonstrates the commitment of both communities of Cyprus to work together on projects unifying the whole island. I would like to commend and pay tribute to the two leaders for their efforts that make possible this outcome.
“The common understanding reached around this application is highly symbolic and it confirms the willingness of the two parties to work together with the help of the Commission to build confidence with concrete measures. halloumi/hellim cheese symbolises the shared heritage of the island of Cyprus. It is a tradition which has linked the communities living here for centuries.”
Kouyialis appointed Bureau Veritas last April as an independent inspector for all of Cyprus, something the European Commission was expected to ratify on Tuesday, he said. On their website, the commission said the application “fulfils the conditions of the Quality Regulation for registering the names halloumi /hellim as PDO”.
Kouyialis appointed Bureau Veritas last April as an independent inspector for all of Cyprus, something the European Commission was expected to ratify on Tuesday, he said.
Turkish Cypriot producers were concerned about inspections falling under the sole responsibility of the Republic of Cyprus leading to months of negotiations.
During Juncker’s visit to the island earlier this month, he said the problem has been resolved with the leaders of both sides over a working lunch.
“I am happy to announce we found a common understanding as far as the geographical protection of halloumi/hellim cheese under EU law is concerned,” Juncker said.
Cyprus applied to the EU for a PDO for halloumi last year for the entire island, upsetting Turkish Cypriot producers of hellim that makes up 25 per cent of the breakaway north’s exports.
Fears that these would be affected if it was registered as a PDO, without an input from the north led to the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce filing five cases to the Supreme Court, challenging Cyprus’ application.