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Cyprus still waiting for halloumi PDO developments

Cyprus has not yet been officially informed whether there have been objections filed against the registration of halloumi/hellim as a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) product), Agriculture Minister Nicos Kouyialis said on Sunday.

Kouyialis told the Cyprus News Agency however that he had been unofficially informed that the countries which had expressed an intention to object Cyprus` application had proceeded with their filings. Any objections would be examined by the EU Directorate General of Agriculture. UK and New Zealand cheesemakers were among those who were planning to file, it emerged last year after Cyprus submitted its PDO application.

If and when objections are accepted by the department of agriculture in Brussels, Cypriot authorities, the ministry of agriculture and the legal service, will have to submit their response, arguing against the objections, Kouyialis said.

Asked if there was a request by the Turkish Cypriot side to cooperate with the Republic of Cyprus on the amendment of the Green Line Regulation for halloumi, and the elimination of animal diseases, Kouyialis said he had no such a document. “However, if the Turkish Cypriots are to produce and trade halloumi, an amendment to the Green Line Regulation is required,” he said.

He also noted that an agreement was reached during the visit to the island last July by European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker with the island’s two leaders providing that inspection and certification would be carried out by the International Bureau of Testing, Inspection and Certification “Veritas”, and this amendment at some point needed to be made.

As regards the elimination of animal diseases, Kouyialis said that the Turkish Cypriots would have to work hard in that direction “and certainly the EU`s assistance will be required”. He also said it was possible the Cypriot government`s help might be needed.

Kouyialis said a technical committee comprising veterinarians had already been set up under UN supervision, which has been holding regular meetings to deal with any animal diseases but he ruled out any possible joint decision by the Cypriot government, the EU and the Turkish Cypriot side on the matter.

“Such an issue does not exist. The Republic of Cyprus and the so-called state will not co-decide under any circumstances,” he said, stressing that the only competent authority on the issue was the Republic of Cyprus.

In relation to the amendments submitted by the Republic of Cyprus on the Brussels proposals for registering halloumi/hellim as PDO product, Kouyialis said that Nicosia had submitted four amendments and some of them were under discussion. There were some objections, but the discussions would continue until a final solution between the EU and Cyprus, was reached, he said.

On July 17, 2015, the Commission received the official application for the registration of the names ‘Χαλλουμι’ (Halloumi)/‘Hellim’ as a PDO. The application covers producers from the whole island and foresees the protection of the name in the two languages, Greek and Turkish.

On July 28 2015, Cyprus application to register halloumi as a PDO was published in the EU official journal. This followed Juncker’s visit after he announced a common understanding between the leaders on the contentious issue.

The Green Line Regulation concerns the movement of goods and persons across the Green Line in Cyprus, and has been in force since the accession of the Republic of Cyprus to the EU in 2004. The Commission reports annually to the Council on the implementation of the Regulation and the situation resulting from its application. (CNA)

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