The European Commission has been told its proposals to regulate the trade in Hellim/Halloumi, the traditional cheese of Cyprus, are “not sufficient to safeguard the interests of Turkish Cypriots and not in keeping with the new positive spirit of the Peace Talks.”
The respected Turkish Cypriot pressure group Embargoed! says the appointment of maritime specialists Bureau Veritas to oversee quality inspection – an essential part of the Brussels PDO, or Protected Designation of Origin, for the cheese – will not provide a satisfactory working solution.
One major fault is that Bureau Veritas is not obliged to provide any reports of its quality inspections to TRNC cheese producers, while the EU Commission and the Greek Cypriot republic will get reports of all inspections.
Embargoed! Chair Mr Fahri Zihni said this week: “We lobbied hard before the PDO was published to explain to the EU Commission the need for an inspection system that is transparent and fair to both communities. Anything less would damage the spirit of positive co-operation that President Akinci is bringing to the Peace Talks”.
“Bureau Veritas already do a huge amount of work for the Greek Cypriot Republic, who are the client in this contractual arrangement – not the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC). We would therefore question whether this constitutes a conflict of interest for the company, given the sensitive nature of Cyprus politics. There is no explanation from the European Commission as to why North Cyrus could not have independent inspections”.
“We have written a firm letter to Commissioners Cretu and Hogan setting out our concerns. There is now a three-month period during which non-EU members can make objections, and we are hoping that all fair minded people, NGOs, TRNC and other nation states including Britain and Turkey will play a role here and put the inspections regime on the right track.”
Mr Zihni said that Embargoed! is very pleased that the Turkish word ‘Hellim’ is accepted as part of the new PDO definition, providing cultural equality. There is no reason as to why the European Commission cannot also provide equality for the inspection processes.