I say Halloumi, You say Hellim: Cyprus, Also Divided over Cheese

Uploaded by TheVJMovement on 24.05.2011

I was born in Limassol.
There I had my house, my gardens, my agriculture.
But after the Peace Operation of 1974 I had to come here,
to the north.
Hussein Bey is talking about the invasion of Cyprus
by Turkey thirty-six years ago.
Besides of being a refugee of that war.
Bey produces food that best symbolizes the divide.
A cheese, called 'halloumi' by the Greeks and 'hellim' by the Turks.
On the other side of the so-called Green Line, the border between both halves of the island,
the Greek-Cypriot Spyros Leventis makes his halloumi cheese from goat's milk.
Halloumi is known since the Byzantine period,
it was the main food of the population.
Thanks to a special cooking technique used through centuries,
it can be conserved for about 10 years.
That's why it could be carried by the peasants,
because it resisted heat without spoiling,
so it was established as national food.
Go to the house and bring the shovel.
The Leventis family make this cheese at home in the traditional way.
Take a piece.
This problem exists since the Ottoman times,
the Turks tried halloumi and they liked it so much that they wanted to produce it too.
They used the word hellim, but when they withdrew the word halloumi was used again,
also by Turkish Cypriots.
In the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, things are seen in a different way.
This rebel state is only recognized by Turkey and faces an international trade embargo.
Greek Cypriots are very comfortable with the status quo,
they can export halloumi to Germany, England or any part of Europe, but we can't.
This is pretty unfair and the embargo affects our production in a very negative way.
However the conflict also affects the Greek cheese-makers.
Two years ago, they asked the European Union for a Protected Denomination of Origin,
to safeguard their Halloumi.
This hasn't been granted precisely because of the protests from cheese-makers in the north.
We want the name Hellim to appear next to the name Halloumi,
because in the island, Greeks and Turks live together and they have their languages:
Greek, Turkish, and English as a common language.
Once Turks started exporting it as Hellim, Arab costumers didn't know what was it,
so they started to use Halloumi again.
If Brussels says yes, Greek Cypriots will take our place in the Arab markets,
because with the PDO they could sue us for using the name Halloumi.
We are not accepting the imposition of name Hellim, because it's our product.
In Cyprus, Greeks and Turks remain divided by a conflict that is harmful to all.
Talks of reunification are stuck and uniting the two seems more difficult every day.
But everybody admits that the other, the one on the other side, is in the end, very near.
The name is not that important. I don't know if Halloumi is an Arab or Greek word,
it's Halloumi, or Hellim, for everybody. In the end it's the same product.
Halloumi is a product of Cypriots, all of them,
it is maybe the only Cypriot word that we all have in common.