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July 22, 2015

Cyprus halloumi PDO “understanding” reached

A "common understanding" on a potential protected designation of origin for halloumi has been reached between Cyprus and Turkish-held Cyprus in the north of the island, the EU has said.

By Dean Best

A "common understanding" on a potential protected designation of origin for halloumi has been reached between Cyprus and Turkish-held Cyprus in the north of the island, the EU has said.

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci, president of the Turkish north, have struck an initial agreement on the cheese, which is known as hellim in Turkish.

Cyprus had applied for PDO status for halloumi, which had prompted criticism from officials in the north.

"I am happy to announce that we found a common understanding as far as the geographic protection of halloumi/hellim cheese under EU law is concerned," European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said. "This common understanding is highly symbolic and it confirms the willingness of the two parties to work together with the help of the Commission to build confidence with concrete measures."

Speaking last week to reporters in Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus, Juncker said there had been "tough discussions" and, while he would not "enter into details", he sought to emphasise the importance of the agreement.

"This common understanding, which is not a small thing, it is not a thing you can joke about, because it is important for the two communities, it is highly symbolic and it is a strong symbol in fact that confirms the willingness of the two parties to work together with the help of the Commission to build confidence with concrete measures," Juncker said.

Speaking to just-food, a Commission spokesperson said: "As for every geographical indication application procedure, a number of questions has been clarified, in particular a balanced and workable control system that covers all producers in all the island, including in the part not under government control."

The spokesperson added: "Following a frequent practice among other member states, the assessment of whether the cheese meets the PDO specification will be delegated to an independent body which will perform controls throughout the island."

The Commission said in a further statement the agreement will be implemented "pending the reunification of Cyprus".

It added: "A proposal to modify the Green Line Regulation, in order to facilitate trade, will be adopted by the Commission on the same day of the publication in the Official Journal of the formal application to get the registration of halloumi/hellim as a protected designation of origin on the basis of Regulation (EU) No. 1151/2012."

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