Today (13 April), the European Commission adopted a package of two measures regarding an important Cypriot heritage: Χαλλούμι/Halloumi/Hellim. First, the Commission registered Χαλλούμι/Halloumi/Hellim as a protected designation of origin (PDO), protecting the valuable name against imitation and misuse across the EU. Only Χαλλούμι/Halloumi/Hellim produced in Cyprus according to the product specification is now allowed to use the registered name, bringing clear economic benefits to the island.
The registration allows producers of this iconic Cypriot cheese, famous around the world for its characteristic texture, folded appearance, and suitability for serving grilled or pan-fried, based anywhere on the island of Cyprus to benefit from the PDO status.
Secondly, to facilitate that producers in the Turkish Cypriot community draw full benefits from the protection, the Commission has adopted a measure allowing the PDO product to cross the Green Line, provided that the cheese and milk from which it was made has met all EU animal and public health standards.
This historic package that gives effect to the Common Understanding for Χαλλούμι/Halloumi/Hellim reached in 2015, to be implemented pending the reunification of Cyprus.
The measure accompanying the registration of Χαλλούμι/Halloumi/Hellim as a PDO aims at ensuring that the animal and public health situation in the EU as well as food safety are not compromised. It also establishes the conditions for trade to take place including provisions on controls. In addition, the milk processing establishments will have to be in compliance with the relevant public health rules.
The main features of the package are:
- The name “Χαλλούμι (Halloumi)/Hellim” is now in the register of protected designations of origin and protected geographical indications. Only Χαλλούμι/Halloumi/Hellim produced on the island of Cyprus and according to the traditional recipe can now be marketed in the European Union under that name.
- An internationally accredited inspection body will be appointed to conduct PDO inspections throughout Cyprus. The inspection body will be responsible for ensuring that producers respect the traditional recipe.
- A workable arrangement will be set up to ensure efficient PDO controls throughout Cyprus, which will be closely monitored by the Commission.
- A measure lifting the prohibitions of movements of certain animal products on the island of Cyprus, pending its reunification, and laying down certain conditions for the movement of those products to allow the production of ‘Χαλλούμι' (Halloumi)/‘Hellim' (PDO) across all Cyprus.
- A private inspection body will be appointed to conduct inspections of farms and dairies in the Turkish Cypriot community to ensure that they comply with all EU health and hygiene rules. Only Χαλλούμι/Halloumi/Hellim that meets all EU health standards can be traded across the Green Line.
Remarks by Members of the College
Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira, who is also responsible for the Cyprus Settlement Support, said: “This is a major achievement with political and economic significance for the entire island of Cyprus. It shows that mutually beneficial solutions are possible, as well as the important role of the Commission in bringing them about. The implementation of these arrangements, in a spirit of cooperation, should contribute to bolster trust and confidence between the two Cypriot communities. The Commission will continue to play an active role with a view to achieve a comprehensive and lasting solution to the Cyprus problem”.
Commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski, said: “I am delighted that Χαλλούμι/Halloumi/Hellim has entered the register of PDOs and PGIs, joining the finest products of Europe's high quality agriculture and food. The application to all producers on Cyprus willing to adhere to the scheme is the fruit of many years of patient and careful work on all sides. This PDO registration arrangement ensures equal and fair treatment for all producers on each side of the Green Line, and will finally guarantee that consumers throughout the European Union can identify this authentic Cypriot product”.
Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, said: "Today, the Commission adopted an historic Decision after years of dedicated work. With the unanimous endorsement of all Member States, today we safeguard not only a unique national product of Cyprus, but also our Union's strict sanitary protections, which are paramount for food safety. The Commission has developed this framework in agreement with Cyprus competent authorities, and is fully committed to supporting its successful implementation and oversight. The two communities in Cyprus can now reap the economic benefits of this Decision, pending the reunification of the country, while ensuring that our stringent food safety standards are upheld”.
Χαλλούμι/Halloumi/Hellim is the most prominent animal product of Cyprus. Besides its cultural value, it is also a product of significant economic importance for the island.
The registration of Halloumi/Hellim as a PDO – equally available to producers from both Cypriot communities – is also a highly symbolic step to bring the two communities closer and working together to build confidence.
In order to protect animal and public health throughout Cyprus the Commission will assist the Turkish Cypriot dairy sector to reach compliance as soon as possible with EU animal and public health standards. The Commission envisages intensifying its support to the Turkish Cypriot dairy sector under the Aid Programme for the Turkish Cypriot community.
As part of the package, the decision foresees the possibility of setting up a Working Group on Χαλλούμι/Halloumi/Hellim. This Group will be chaired by the Commission and composed of representatives from the two Cypriot communities. The Working Group will review the implementation of the Regulation and Decision.
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Ahead of Geneva talks, Cypriots march for peace
Thousands of Cypriots from both sides of a dividing line splitting their island marched for peace on Saturday, ahead of informal talks in Geneva next week on the future of negotiations.
With some holding olive branches, people walked in the bright spring sunshine around the medieval walls circling the capital, Nicosia.
The routes stopped at semi-circles on either side, at barbed wire thrown up decades ago when conflict split Cyprus's Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities.
"Cyprus belongs to its people," demonstrators chanted, holding placards in Greek and Turkish.
Activists also called for the opening of checkpoints between the two sides, which have effectively been sealed for little over a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic in a disruption to the lives of thousands used to more regular interaction between the two communities after restrictions were eased in 2003.
"The world is going though extraordinary times and sometimes people have been using this excuse to justify the closure of crossings, and on such a small island with no land borders with anywhere else," said Kemal Baykalli, a member of the grassroots platform Unite Cyprus Now, one of many organisations that participated in Saturday's event.
"What could have been done is open the crossing points for the benefit and welfare of all Cypriots and jointly coordinate the situation, but they didn't do this," he told Reuters.
The United Nations has called for informal talks of parties in the Cyprus dispute in Geneva on April 27-29, in an attempt to look for a way forward in resuming peace talks that collapsed in mid-2017.
Prospects for progress appear slim, with each side sticking to their respective positions. Greek Cypriots say Cyprus should be reunited under a federal umbrella, citing relevant United Nations resolutions. The newly-elected Turkish Cypriot leader has called for a two-state resolution.
Cyprus was split in a Turkish invasion in 1974 triggered by a brief Greek-inspired coup, though the seeds of separation were sown earlier, when a power-sharing administration crumbled in violence in 1963, just three years after independence from Britain.
Discussions in Geneva will also be attended by representatives of Greece, Turkey and Britain, guarantor powers of Cyprus under a convoluted system that granted the island independence.
The Turkish Cypriot activists who demonstrated on Saturday were in favour of a federation.
"We need to fix it," said Baykalli. "We can have a common future and the only way to do this is through a federal arrangement. Its very clear that a two-state solution is not possible."
President Tatar calls for a 'Cyprus reality-check' to usher in 'a new era of co-operation and mutual respect' between Turkish and Greek Cypriots
Ersin Tatar, the president of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, has urged the international community to acknowledge the existence of two states in Cyprus to help resolve the decades-old dispute between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots. “We are going to Geneva with a new vision for Cyprus, one based on the realities on the island. There are two peoples with distinct national identities, running their own affairs separately since 1964. Today, they have their own institutions, national assemblies and laws, but sadly there is very little interaction between the two sides. We want to change that and usher in a new era of co-operation and mutual respect, but we need the help of the international community to achieve this,” said President Tatar.
The president was speaking ahead of his trip to Geneva this week for informal talks with the Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and the foreign ministers of the island’s three Guarantor Powers, Turkey, Britain and Greece. The meeting is being held on the invitation of the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. Cyprus has been ethnically divided following the outbreak of the conflict in December 1963, when the numerically larger Greek Cypriot partner forcefully seized control of the three-year-old bi-communal partnership Republic of Cyprus. Forced out of government for refusing to forgo their political equality, Turkish Cypriots quickly formed their own administration, which was declared as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) in 1983. CONT.
There have been eleven major plans and initiatives to settle the Cyprus issue since 1964. Eight of these have been based on the ‘bi-zonal, bi-communal’ federal settlement model that was first adopted by the UN in 1977. Turkish Cypriots have accepted every single proposal, while Greek Cypriots have rejected all of them, including the 2004 Annan Plan, which was put to a simultaneous referendum. The Greek Cypriot side also blocked progress at the 2017 Crans Montana Summit, which was named by all parties as “the final attempt” to resolve the issue through the bi-communal, bi-zonal federalism formula. President Tatar was elected on a two-state mandate in October 2020 and wants to redefine the UN parameters to increase the chances of a sustainable settlement deal.
“We’ve had decades of failed federation talks. This is adequate proof that federalism is not an appropriate settlement model for Cyprus. Federalism needs interdependence, mutual trust and most of all strong mutual interests for its establishment and sustenance. These do not exist in Cyprus. “If Greek Cypriots don’t want to share power with us, that’s OK. We can continue to function and stimulate co-operation as two separate States. What is not OK is for Turkish Cypriots to endure ongoing isolation and discrimination. That must stop!” the TRNC President said.
“European nations, Germany among them, took just six years to put the horrors of the Second World War behind them and focus on forging a common future. Yet more than fifty years on from 1963, we have yet to establish good neighbourly relations between the two sides,” said President Tatar. “Even before the pandemic, trade levels and the movement of people across the Green Line was woefully low. We need to change that, to encourage more commercial, cultural and political ties, which can only happen if there is mutual respect and equality,” he continued.
“It’s time for a Cyprus reality-check. Our two States is the legacy of the Cyprus conflict, and suffering and the polarisation of the two peoples will continue as long as the status quo remains. For the sake of future generations and for regional peace and stability, we need to end this dispute, and start normalising relations between the two States of the island. “Turkish Cypriots exist, we have our own State and we have rights. It’s vital the international community acknowledges this and helps us to expand the UN parameters, which in turn will pave the way for a fair and sustainable permanent settlement,” Tatar concluded.
Cyprus Tech Association: Cyprus-based international ICT companies join forces
As part of its efforts to promote Cyprus as an ideal location for international ICT companies, and provide support to existing and potential foreign investors, Invest Cyprus today welcomes the foundation of the Cyprus Tech Association.The Cyprus Tech Association provides a strong platform for all international ICT companies established in Cyprus to promote new opportunities and partnerships.
It also constitutes a formal representation of its members to all forums and offers direction on key strategic issues, including the economic importance of the sector and policy advocacy. In addition, the Cyprus Tech Association acts as a bridge of communication with world-class technology centers, empowering the country's efforts to become an attractive investment destination for foreign investors and a competitive business center.
The Board of Directors of the Cyprus Tech Association consists of representatives from major international ICT companies operating in Cyprus, including as Kyriakos Kyriakou, General Manager Cyprus and Director Government Central and East Europe of NCR Corporation, Giannis Tinis, Head of amdocs Cyprus, Valentinos Polykarpou, General Manager and Global HR Operations and Services of Wargaming, Avi Sela, CEO of eToro Cyprus, Peter Valov, Founder and CEO of Exness, Nick Galea, founder and CEO of 3CX and Pavlos Christoforou, CEO and Chief Technology Officer of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) Investor Services Fintech Limited.
Kyriakos Kyriakou, chairman of the Board of Directors, expressed his appreciation to Invest Cyprus for this initiative. “It is a great honour for every professional to be part of such a significant Association,” Kyriakou said. “Taking this opportunity, I would like to thank the Vice-Chairman and the rest of the Board Members for accepting the invitation to join our Board. I'm certain everyone joining this Association will contribute with excitement and eagerness to support our newly established initiative's goals. Our vision is to make Cyprus an ideal destination for International ICT companies. I feel confident that we can achieve it.”
The Vice President of the Board, Yiannis Tinis, added: “It is an honour to be elected to the position of Vice-Chairman of the newly established Cyprus Tech Association. I am confident the Association will put all efforts necessary to increase the number of international businesses choosing Cyprus, attract direct investments in the country and support the already established enterprises; I very much look forward to the success of the Association.”
Avi Sela, CEO of eToro said: “I am honoured to be part of the Board of the Cyprus Tech Association. I believe that this initiative will add great value to the Cyprus economy. As a representative of a major fintech from Israel that chose to expand its European operations in Cyprus, I acknowledge a great potential in the ICT sector. The establishment of the Cyprus Tech Association will allow us to promote and discuss potential challenges and support companies looking to relocate to Cyprus, encouraging the development of the ecosystem in the country. I do look forward to collaborating with all the parties involved to promote this important initiative.”
The Head of ICT Headquartering Unit at Invest Cyprus and Board Secretary of the Cyprus Tech Association, Marios Tanousis, said: "The establishment of international ICT companies on the island is a top strategic priority for Invest Cyprus. We stand ready to support the existing investors to overcome challenges and successfully scale up operations and at the same time assist new companies relocate to Cyprus.”
George Campanellas, Chief Executive of Invest Cyprus, which encouraged the foundation of the new organization, said: “Cyprus offers enormous potential to ICT companies of all sizes to help them flourish and grow, and the creation of the new association is an exciting new development that will allow all companies to come together under one umbrella to shape the future of the sector in Cyprus.”
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