Member of the Communal Democracy Party (TDP) Zeki Celer has addressed the TRNC Assembly on the issue of halloumi/hellim cheese.
He said that in spite of the decision which was taken in 2009 as a result of the efforts exerted by the Chamber of Industry, that halloumi/hellim should be produced only in Cyprus and that mainland Turkey’s legal regulations which states that it is an offence to produce halloumi anywhere other than Cyprus, the production of halloumi/hellim in Turkey, are still in force.
Celer explained that there are 17 companies in total, which produce the halloumi cheese in the TRNC and South Cyprus and also 19 Turkish companies in Turkey. He added that the production of hellim with the TRNC mark of origin in Turkey’s markets is lower than 50% and wondered what the Republican Turkish Party- Democratic Party (CTP-DP) government is doing about this issue.
He recalled that after the efforts made by the Chamber of Industry in 2009, the Turkish Patent Institute in Turkey decided to register the product under the name “Hellim” and its geographical registration to be the island of Cyprus alone. Celer stated that should Hellim be produced anywhere else other than Cyprus, there will be penalties of 2-4 years imprisonment and fines between 600 million and 1 billion TL, or the closure of the company which committed this offence for a minimum of one year.
Celer went on to call on his government to protect the local producers on the issue, underlining at the same time, that although there are legal regulations, Turkish companies still continue to produce halloumi/hellim cheese in Turkey.
Pointing out that the halloumi/hellim product is the most important source of revenue for the economy, Celer stressed the need for the necessary consultations to be made and added that they will continue with legal procedures should no positive results be achieved.
Referring to the Chamber of Industry’s report, published some months on the issue, Celer said that the report included some important elements. He stressed that the proliferation of local production would reflect positively on agriculture and stock-breeding in the TRNC.
Stressing the need for the state to undertake measures to protect halloumi/hellim, Celer asked the government to make openings, and legal regulations to protect their rights on the issue of halloumi both from Turkey and South Cyprus.
Also speaking at the Assembly, the Minister of Agriculture and Energy Onder Sennaroglu agreed with Celer’s position and views on the issue and added that Hellim is the main product of the TRNC.
Stating that the geographical registration of Hellim had been made in Turkey and referring to the great controversy in the EU about the issue, Sennaroglu said that they are exerting considerable efforts to protect their rights.
Sennaroglu said that the government works hard on the issue of Hellim and added that the Chamber of Industry also has launched legal initiatives on the issue.
He added that representations had been made in Ankara by a governmental delegation and the Chamber regarding the registration of Hellim.