The famous halloumi cheese — or hellim for Turkish-Cypriots — is now officially a protected designation of origin (PDO) product with two names, courtesy of the EU.
The step is being as seen as a positive move toward the reunification of the divided island of Cyprus.
“This step demonstrates the commitment of both communities of Cyprus to work together on projects to unify the whole island,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Tuesday.
“Halloumi/Hellim cheese symbolizes the shared heritage of the island of Cyprus. It is a tradition that has linked the communities living here for centuries,” the official statement said.
The special cheese is a significant product of the Cypriot economy. It is made from a mix of goat and sheep milk that originates from Cyprus.
On July 18, Juncker had announced that the Turkish and Greek sides were in agreement over the “protected designation of origin” issue. Last year, the Cypriot government applied to the EU to recognize halloumi as a PDO. The Turkish side reacted, worried that the recognition of the halloumi name could affect hellim exports.
In May, peace talks between the two sides resumed after the newly elected Turkish-Cypriot leader of the occupied part of the island, Mustafa Akinci, met with President Nicos Anastasiades. The agreement over the island’s famous cheese can be considered a concession and a positive sign.