`Two Sides of Cyprus Meet Halfway in the Name of Olive Oil

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Two Sides of Cyprus Meet Halfway in the Name of Olive Oil

Nov. 28, 2014
Aldo Pesce

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Olive trees in North Cyprus (OOT File)

Let’s grow together” is the name of the first Bi-com­mu­nal Olive Fes­ti­val and autumn fruit fair that will be held this week­end at Ledra Palace and the Ful­bright Foun­da­tion in Nicosia’s buffer zone.

The aim of the meet­ing is to cel­e­brate the coop­er­a­tion between the two parts of the divided island and find solu­tions to com­mon prob­lems.

The event was first pro­posed by the Greek and Turk­ish Cypriot olive oil pro­duc­ers asso­ci­a­tions, SEKEP and ZEYBİR, through an EU-funded project, Crop Hus­bandry Tech­ni­cal Assis­tance, to sup­port the meet­ing.

The chair­men of SEKEP and ZEYBİR, Philip­pos Kameris and İrfan Çelik, said in a joint press con­fer­ence the event is con­sid­ered just the first step toward a future fruit­ful coop­er­a­tion. They stressed the impor­tance of work­ing together to face com­mon issues affect­ing the Cypriot olive sec­tor.

Find­ing new mar­kets, grow­ing new vari­eties and bat­tling the olive fly were some of the com­mon chal­lenges men­tioned by Kameris. The bi-com­mu­nal fes­ti­val and sim­i­lar ini­tia­tives will cre­ate a Cypriot iden­tity for local prod­ucts and fos­ter high-qual­ity olive oil pro­duc­tion on the island, said Çelik.

Olive oil is an impor­tant ele­ment in the diets of both com­mu­ni­ties but it could be a high-value prod­uct for the local econ­omy. The direc­tor of the Crop Hus­bandry project, Chris­t­ian Harel, said Greek and Turk­ish Cypri­ots will share major ben­e­fits through such coop­er­a­tion.

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Crop Hus­bandry direc­tor Chris­t­ian Harel, ZEYBIR chair­man Irfan Celik and SEKEP chair­man Philip­pos Kameris

The pro­gram will start with a tech­ni­cal meet­ing tomor­row, Novem­ber 29, and will be open to the pub­lic 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM on Sun­day, Novem­ber 30. Vis­i­tors will enjoy fresh, local olive oils and prod­ucts, and enter­tain­ment that will include Cypriot folk music.

The event is seen as impor­tant in the his­tory of the small Mediter­ranean island which has been divided since 1974. The talks for a reuni­fi­ca­tion of the island started long ago but with­out suc­cess. Now a com­mon pas­sion for olive oil could prove to unite peo­ple and suc­ceed where politi­cians have long failed the two com­mu­ni­ties.


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