European Commission is working very hard to ensure that Turkish Cypriot producers may benefit from the registration of Halloumi/Hellim as an EU Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) and this requires that the Turkish Cypriot producers comply with the PDO requirements and that they fulfil the relevant EU food safety and animal health standards, said Judit Rozsa, Director of Resources, Coordination and Aid Programme in the Directorate-General for Structural Reform Support of the European Commission.

Speaking online Friday at the 4th Cyprus Forum in Nicosia, Rozsa said that their approach “is to foster reunification by offering Turkish Cypriots a concrete example of EU benefits”.

She noted however that it comes with obligations, namely compliance with EU standards, pointing out that the Halloumi/Hellim scheme is therefore a “mini reunification lab”.

Rozsa thanked the Republic of Cyprus authorities for the constructive cooperation to make this happen.

She also said that the Turkish Cypriot community has embraced the Halloumi/Hellim project and they are working on meeting the necessary EU standards, and several producers have already received the PDO label or, are in the process of obtaining it. “Our goal is to see Halloumi/Hellim sold over the Green Line in 2024”, the EC official said.

Rozsa noted in her speech that reason dictates that Cyprus and its people will be best served if the island overcomes its current division and is reunited, pointing out that Cyprus’ reunification will allow the whole of Cyprus to benefit from full EU membership.

She said that the EU and the European Commission facilitate the reunification in a three-pillars level, namely settlement talks, Aid Programme and Green Line trade.

Referring to the settlement talks she said that they help ensure that the negotiations reflect EU rules and requirements because a reunified Cyprus will need to continue being a well-functioning member state. “We do this in close collaboration with the UN,” she said.

Rozsa also referred to the EU aid programme for the Turkish Cypriot community, which has one and only one overall objective, namely to facilitate reunification. She said that since 2006, the EU has allocated close to 700 million Euros to this programme, which is substantial, given the size of the Turkish Cypriot community.

The programme, she added, has financed more than 2,000 scholarships for Turkish Cypriots to study in the EU, and experience European values and way of life.

In her speech Rozsa also said that the EU also supports important confidence-building measures, such as the bi-communal technical committees, including notably the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage, which has restored or protected more than 130 cultural monuments across Cyprus.

“We also provide funding to the Committee on Missing Persons, which has found, exhumed and identified the remains of more than 1,000 missing persons, contributing to healing of historical wounds”, she further said.

The EC official also noted that the Commission gives grants and advice to Turkish Cypriot small businesses and farmers so they can innovate, create employment and comply with EU standards.

She said that they have provided science laboratories to nearly one hundred primary and secondary schools, so that kids can do hands-on experiments in biology, chemistry and physics.

“We are currently supporting the establishment of the first bi-communal solar power plant. This power station of an envisaged 30 to 50 MegaWatt capacity will be more than a pilot project. If implemented, it would hopefully kick-start the green transition on the island,” she said.

As regards the Green Line trade she said that they believe that more Green Line trade facilitates the reunification of Cyprus, because it brings people together, builds trust and contributes to the economic re-integration of the island.

“Last year, the value of this trade was 14.6 million Euro, which was the highest ever figure, so we believe that more efforts are needed to increase this further still. On Monday, we will open an EU-funded one-stop-shop, where interested businesses from both communities can get information about Green Line trade requirements and opportunities,” she pointed out.

She concluded by saying that these are difficult times, but there is no viable alternative to the resumption of negotiations within the UN framework.

“We all have to make a better case for how a reunified Cyprus would benefit both communities. I hope that what I have outlined here this morning will contribute to this important objective for Cyprus,” she said.

Cyprus News Agency is a communications sponsor of the Cyprus Forum.

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