A Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) certificate was awarded for the first time to a Turkish Cypriot halloumi/ hellim producer, according to an announcement issued by the European Commission.

The designation was awarded by Bureau Veritas, an internationally accredited body delegated to perform the related official controls throughout the island. The Commission has not announced which Turkish Cypriot producers received the designation.

The first control in the Turkish Cypriot community took place in February this year by Bureau Veritas, and the first producer from the community was assessed to be compliant with the requirements set out in the ‘Χαλλουμι’ (Halloumi)/‘Hellim’ PDO product specification.

Halloumi or hellim “is a shared heritage of both communities of the island of Cyprus. Today’s important step demonstrates that concrete benefits of a full EU membership are available to the Turkish Cypriot community, and encourages the Turkish Cypriots to proceed towards achieving compliance with EU standards”, Mario Nava, Director General for Structural Reform Support in the European Commission said in a statement.

Nava stressed that in this context, the PDO process “is a mini-reunification laboratory. We remain committed to work with both Cypriot communities, contributing to rebuilding of trust between them and paving the way to the reunification of the island”.

Following the registration of the name ‘Χαλλουμι’ (Halloumi)/‘Hellim’ as PDO, only Halloumi/Hellim produced on the island of Cyprus in accordance with the requirements of the related product specification can be marketed in the European Union as such. The PDO control and certification system by Bureau Veritas is in place since the application of the Commission Regulation registering the cheese as PDO.

Producers on both sides of the Green Line can apply for PDO certification of their products. A number of halloumi producers established in the areas of the Republic of Cyprus under the effective control of the government have already received the PDO certification under this system.

Meanwhile, the Commission points out that measures concerning EU animal and public health requirements, which are required to be fulfilled for the Turkish Cypriot community to fully benefit from the EU quality scheme by trading the PDO products across the Green Line, still remain to be implemented.

Halloumi/ hellim was registered as a PDO in 2021, after a long process to define the characteristics of the cheese as well as to define the ways T/C producers can receive certification.

According to the Commission, the T/C community is expected by the end of 2024 to implement measures related to EU sanitary and phytosanitary standards, which are necessary before halloumi/ hellim by T/C producers can be allowed to be marketed in the EU.

The Commission is supporting this process and the Turkish Cypriot dairy sector under the Aid Programme for the Turkish Cypriot community.

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