Agriculture Minister Nicos Kouyialis acknowledged there were disagreements with the European Commission with regard to the halloumi/hellim protected designation of origin (PDO) application but said he believes these will be soon overcome.
Speaking to public broadcaster CyBC, Kouyialis confirmed that there was a disagreement with the European Commission as to the interpretation of the agreement made between President Nicos Anastasiades, Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and the president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker during the latter’s visit to the island in 2015.
The minister said that the disagreement concerns the trade in halloumi by Turkish Cypriots. “We want to facilitate Turkish Cypriots to legally conduct halloumi trade, and it is there where a problem exists which we want to overcome,” Kouyialis said.
Juncker, during his meeting with the leaders was said to have resolved the long-standing issue of the halloumi/hellim PDO that the two sides could not agree on. Following the understanding between the three men, the European Commission announced that the international certification body Bureau Veritas would be tasked with inspecting halloumi/hellim production throughout the island and action will also be taken to facilitate Turkish Cypriot producers to export hellim via the government-controlled areas.
This was the temporary agreement that was to be implemented pending the reunification of the island, the EC had said.
“I do not want to link the matter with the Cyprus problem and consider that this issue has been blocked. We are at the last stages of this procedure,” Kouyialis said. He added that a number of changes must be made concerning the regulation.
“We are working on it in consultation with the EC’s competent services. I hope that all problems and disagreements presented today will be overcome by July,” Kouyialis said.
Cyprus applied to the EU for PDO for halloumi in 2014 for the entire island, upsetting Turkish Cypriot producers of hellim, who had said that the dairy product makes up 25 per cent of the north’s exports and expressed fears that these would be affected if it was registered as a PDO, without an input from the north. Akinci had welcomed the given solution.
Kouyialis had said earlier in the year that the EC’s verdict on Cyprus’ application on the registration of halloumi as a PDO, would be announced soon, as the agriculture committee was close to completing its task, which was the assessment of appeals filed, and from then on, the College of Commissioners would decide whether halloumi can be registered as a PDO or not.