A life dedicated to Turkish Cypriot cause

A life dedicated to Turkish Cypriot cause

YUSUF KANLI ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
A life dedicated to Turkish Cypriot cause

Rauf Denktaş was the first Turkish Cypriot president.

Former Turkish Cypriot President Rauf Denktaş died due to internal organ failure in Nicosia today. He was 88 years old.

Denktaş was first hospitalized in May 2011 following complaints stemming from high blood pressure and later underwent brain surgery in Ankara. He was admitted to a hospital in Nicosia on Jan. 5 following complaints of diarrhea and fatigue. 

Yusuf Kanlı of Hürriyet Daily News writes:

A monument falls

Tears poured down my eyes when a shivering voice on the telephone reported Wednesday evening that Turkish Cypriot founding president Rauf Denktaş was back in “intensive care” unit Near East University Hospital in northern Nicosia.

By early Thursday Denktaş, who was hospitalized with serious dehydration problems caused by diarrhea and fatigue, started developing liver and kidney failures and soon he was placed on a respiratory machine. His son, Democrat Party, or DP, leader Serdar Denktaş as well as other family sources reported that the founding president was in “extremely critical condition” while his wife Aydın Denktaş said the former president told him he wanted people who loved him to go to mosques and pray for him so that he would not suffer any longer.

Still, it was difficult to believe that a monumental figure like Denktaş, the founding president of the Turkish Cypriot state, leader of the Turkish Cypriot Resistance Movement, or TMT, the courageous guided that guided Turkish leaders out of those terrible years when Greek Cypriots were trying to annihilate Turkish presence from the island, or simply the father of my childhood friend Serdar, could indeed fall. Even though Islam teaches clearly that “Everyone who lives will taste death one day,” it was difficult to believe that Denktaş might pass way one day. Alas, that day has come only days before he turned 89 on Jan. 24, the father of the Turkish Cypriot state decided time has come to walk to eternity.

It was a shock. Though, like all his supporters, lovers, I was expecting something odd to happen since he was first hospitalized on May 24 last year with hemiplegia and since then underwent three brain surgeries, two on the island once in Ankara, his passing away was a real shock…

Since my sister informed me on the phone years ago that my father suffered a stroke and lost his wife on the way to hospital in an ambulance I never ever felt so bad… And Denktaş has always been very much like a father to me. I remembered my first interview with him. It was in October 1981, days after Andreas Papandreou became prime minister in Greece and there were hopes that the new Greek government would probably be more forthcoming for a “just and lasting settlement” on Cyprus. That day, the “Denktaş, the father of my friend Serdar” was replaced with a Denktaş “the leader of Turkish Cypriot people” wishing to pass on a message to the Greek government through this apprentice journalist.

“I am ready for a just and lasting federal settlement based on the political equality of the two peoples of Cyprus … Indications are that Greece of Papandreou do not wish to walk that road and instead will opt for a course that will further aggravate the Cyprus issue,” or something like that, he had said.

Years passed, Denktaş left the presidency. The successor of Denktaş was replaced as well. The Greek Cypriot side continued, as Denktaş has always believed, objecting a power-sharing deal with Turkish Cypriots on the basis of bi-zonality, bi-communality and political equality of the two peoples of the island.

Naturally, as is said in a Turkish proverb that can be best translated into English as “human errs”, particularly after 1993 European Union decision to process the Greek Cypriot membership application, Denktaş followed a “No, but” style while the Greek Cypriot side cunningly followed a “Yes, but” approach. Thus, while the Greek Cypriot side did not move an inch towards any sort of compromise, Denktaş allowed himself be presented to the international public opinion as “Mr. no”, particularly during the Annan Plan period. However, his Greek Cypriot counterpart Glafcos Klerides had confessed at the time that should Denktaş had said “yes” he would most probably say “no.”

The last jubilation of Denktaş was in hospital bed when he observed that the political mentality that sidestepped and condemned him of being responsible of no settlement on the island started defending the very same political line he has been defending all through his struggle… Still, he did not believe and told this journalist “Well they appear to have found the correct path… Let’s wait and see them walking down that path…”

Life will be far less colorful without Denktaş… I miss him so much…

Yusuf KANLI

Turkey, Cyprus, Turkish cyprus, rauf denktas