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Date set to vote on Halloumi PDO

The European Commission has set a date to vote on the PDO status of halloumi, spokeswoman Miriam Garcia Ferrer said on Tuesday with Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar saying an agreement would help foster trust ahead of the informal five-party summit.

The case has been on the agenda since 2015 and the Commission is now in a position to present a proposal, Garcia Ferrer told the Cyprus News Agency.

“We have carefully analysed all objections raised and will start voting on the issue on March 26,” she said.

“The protected designation of origin (PDO) proposal will incorporate a parallel decision that will allow halloumi and hellim cheese producers to cross the Green Line, provided that they produce it in full compliance with EU health and safety standards,” she added.

The decision will then pass through the Standing Committee on plants, animals, food and feed (PAFF Committee), setting the conditions on halloumi and hellim trade between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities via the Green Line.

This will also open up the possibility for cheese produced in the north to be exported to Europe by passing through government-controlled areas.

Asked whether the Commission is confident it can ensure compliance, Garcia Ferrer said that discussions with both sides established that only those in full compliance of the conditions will be able to cross the Green Line.

Tatar was positive about these developments, calling the establishment of PDO status for halloumi and hellim a step towards fostering trust between the two sides ahead of the informal five-party meeting in Geneva at the end of April.

However, he also said that it would not be acceptable for the Republic of Cyprus to get involved with economic procedures in the north.

“We also want to sell halloumi and other dairy products to the EU, but we will never allow for Greek Cypriots to have any jurisdiction in the matter,” he said following a meeting with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

The north will not, under any circumstances, espouse the perspective that there are two authorities but one leader, he added.

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