As a follow-up to my recent letter to the Sunday Mail regarding ‘labelling of information leaflets’ provided only in the Greek language regarding medical products purchased in Cyprus, and other correspondents who complained similarly of confusing labelling on would-be ‘dangerous’ supermarket items. I received a response from the EU Directorate for Health and Food Safety that said there was nothing that could be done as the rules state the labelling must be in the national language.
It seems that somewhere along the line the important and most relevant point is being missed! It is of paramount importance that the users of these products should understand how to use them safely.
There are multitudes of non-Greek speakers permanently visiting/residing in Cyprus throughout the year. Tourist arrivals in 2017 reached over three million, the vast majority of whom were non Greek speakers. It is also worth noting that there is currently a population of 1.16 million people in Cyprus, not all Cypriots.
It is however difficult to ascertain exactly how many non-Greek speaking people live in Cyprus, thus the plethora of EU referendum stories. As always it depends on how you count as different nationalities frequently fail to register with their consulates. It is however clearly evident from observation especially out of season that there are vast numbers.
The island’s economics have been increasingly dependent upon the tourism sector and income engendered through permanent residency. The British Bases and Unficyp too are economic contributors.
Despite this, the authorities pay little heed in a very shoddy manner to the requirements of non-Greek speaking residents, either casual of permanent with regard to such basic requirements as ‘labelling for all’ by reintroducing English as a universal language within labelling and information leaflets. Ironically, prior to Cyprus becoming an EU member, this had always been the case.
Michael G Kelly, via email