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Losing halloumi trademark was ‘act of suicide’, spokesman says

By Evie Andreou

Losing the halloumi trademark in the UK after failing to act on time was an act of suicide as far as the interests of the country were concerned, Government Spokesman, Prodromos Prodromou, said on Friday.

The outrage caused after news that Cyprus lost the trademark due to the commerce ministry’s failure to respond on time to applications filed by a British company, John & Pascalis Ltd, to invalidate or revoke the trademark, did not ebb on Friday.

The matter will now be discussed at the House trade and commerce and agriculture committees. The House watchdog committee is calling for an immediate reform of the civil service citing practices of the 1960s, while opposition is calling on the commerce minister to assume his responsibilities.

Prodromou told Sigma TV on Friday that the whole matter was “embarrassing”, “painful”, but also “an act of suicide as regards the interests of the country.”

He said that the government would assume its responsibilities.

“We will make every effort with all the means available not only to rectify it but also for a positive ending as regards the halloumi file,” he said.

It is obvious, he said, that there have been tragic mistakes and omissions which need to be investigated and for responsibilities to be attributed.

The commerce ministry said on Wednesday it has launched a probe into the reasons why one of its departments had delayed defending a legal suit in the UK, which resulted in the private company registering halloumi as a trademark in that country. Commerce Minister, Giorgos Lakkotrypis said on Thursday Cyprus has already reapplied to register halloumi in the UK.

The head of the House watchdog committee, Zacharias Zachariou, said that the incident concerned issues relevant with the operation of the civil service and stressed the importance of reforming the way the state operates.

It was inevitable for something like this to happen, he said, as the public service, functions as it did in 1960 and “in the mindset of non-modernisation, indignation, and lack of accountability by every public official.”

The head of the Greens, Giorgos Perdikis, said that it was possible that conspiracy lies behind the incident and that there should also be an in-depth investigation, as other than disciplinary responsibilities, there might also be criminal ones.

He also said that the House watchdog committee should be the legislative body to discuss the matter, instead of the House agriculture. The latter, he said, will discuss the matters as regards specifications filed for the registration of halloumi as an EU Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) product and will not focus on the incident per se.

Diko called on Lakkotrypis to assume political responsibilities as regards the blunder and for accountability of those found to be at fault.

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