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‘The EU must deal with Turkish Cypriots’ problems’

kizilyurek hayvan
Akel MEP Niyazi Kızılyürek

Cypriot MEP Niyazi Kizilyurek said on Wednesday night that the European Union “must deal with Turkish Cypriots’ problems.”

He was speaking on Kibris Postasi TV and said the EU “does not approach the Cyprus problem very favourably.”

“While the EU was waiting for a solution around the Annan Plan in 2004, this did not happen. Unfortunately, we have been missing opportunities for a solution ever since,” he said.

With this in mind, he said the EU “does not have an active policy towards the Cyprus problem” and noted that this has in some instances left Turkish Cypriots out of European integration efforts.

However, he said, “since Turkish Cypriots are EU citizens, the EU must as a matter of necessity deal with their problems. It is important that we demand this.”

He pointed to a number of matters which concern Turkish Cypriots and on which he believes the EU could work to improve.

“For example, the Green Line Regulation has never been fully implemented. There are problems when Turkish Cypriots introduce their products to the European market.

“This has been my primary field of work [as an MEP]. Despite the fight we have put up, some problems are continuing in this regard,” he said.

One of the successes of his work, he said, was ensuring that Turkish Cypriot halloumi producers would be able to export their product across the Green Line and into Europe.

“Halloumi is Turkish Cypriots’ biggest export products. There may be some setbacks and difficulties, but it is necessary to think long term,” he said.

To this end, the north’s European Union Coordination Centre’s chairman Selcuk Yurukogullari had said earlier this month that he expects halloumi exports from the north into the EU to begin by June.

Speaking to the Turkish Agency Cyprus (Tak), he said four Turkish Cypriot companies have received certification that their production facilities can produce Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) halloumi, and 15 farms have received certification of their PDO suitability and their freedom from disease.

Moving forward, he said, the European Commission is set to establish a laboratory in the north to analyse residue in milk and animal feed for the purpose of ensuring Turkish Cypriot halloumi’s compliance with EU standards.

In addition to halloumi, Kizilyurek had also brought to the European Parliament’s attention the exclusion of Turkish Cypriots from the EU’s Erasmus exchange programme.

The European Parliament’s Culture Committee had described the situation as “unacceptable” and said that reasons given for Turkish Cypriots’ exclusion by the Republic of Cyprus “were neither sufficient nor convincing.”

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