After a decent man: Mümtaz Soysal
Mümtaz Soysal, a distinguished constitutional law professor, former foreign minister and a devoted chief advisor of late Turkish Cypriot founding father Rauf Denktaş, silently passed away at age 90. He was born in Zonguldak in 1929.
He did not deserve it. No one deserved such an end. He spent his last few years confined to a hospital room, unaware of the developments as he completely lost his connection with reality. Like his love, Sevinç Karasapan Soysal, he was suffering from Alzheimer’s.
It is not easy to accept seeing such a man with such sharp views with such a condition.
Maintaining integrity right until the last moment of life might be far more difficult than being said and probably very few politicians manage it. Soysal was not an easy man at all, but he was a decent politician, a determined fighter and a relentless supporter of the Turkish Cypriot struggle for equality and an honorable life.
Most of us remember Soysal during his short Foreign Ministry tenure in 1994. “I will continue fighting as I retreat” was his famous quote from that period. He was foreign minister of the True Path Party (DYP) and the Social Democratic Party (SHP) coalition government.
Naturally, a man of his caliber could not get along well with the center-right Prime Minister Tansu Çiller and her unpredictable and often “excessively submissive” policies vis a vis the European Union. Thus, he served only for a short few months, earning a solid and monumental place among the Turkish diplomatic community. How would he, who did not succumb to the junta and served a prison sentence, accept the policies pursued by Çiller with which he totally disagreed? Thus, his resignation came as no surprise at the time.
As a leftist political figure, he was originally a critic of late Turkish Cypriot leader Denktaş. But after a short visit to Cyprus and a few hours of discussions in the late 1970s, the two established a strong bond of friendship based on full confidence that Soysal became a life-time chief constitutional advisor for Denktaş. Often, he was accused of being the person who whispered to Denktaş the hardline political views which earned him the nickname, “Mr. No” by his adversaries.
Until his illness started to deteriorate his mental abilities, he served for many decades, even when he was the foreign minister, as a columnist, most of the time for the Milliyet newspaper, which he considered a true home.
He was a true friend and a mentor for many people, including this writer. I will miss him. May he rest in peace.
As is said, “Nothing ever dies; everything lives on.”