Rauf Denktaş: A life dedicated to Turkish Cypriots

Rauf Denktaş: A life dedicated to Turkish Cypriots

NICOSIA-Anadolu Agency
Rauf Denktaş: A life dedicated to Turkish Cypriots

Turkey on Jan. 12 commemorated the seventh death anniversary of founding father of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus Rauf Denktaş, who passed away in 2012.

Denktaş was born on Jan. 27, 1924, in the western Cypriot town of Baf, now on the Greek side of the island.

After graduating from the English School of Nicosia in 1941, he held various professions including as an interpreter, judicial clerk, teacher, and lawyer.

In 1944, he traveled to the U.K. to study law at Lincoln’s Inn, returning to Cyprus in 1947.

In 1942, Denktaş was introduced to the ideas of former Cypriot Prime Minister Fazil Küçük -- of whom Denktaş was to become a close confidant -- and other prominent Turks on the island who said that their rights were being usurped by the then-sovereign British.

In 1949, he got married to Aydın Denktaş.

Following his return to Cyprus, he practised as a lawyer and after that worked as a prosecutor. Between 1956 and 1960, he served as a crown prosecutor.

Years of struggle

On Nov. 27, 1948, Denktaş and Fazıl Küçük, the voice of Turkish Cypriots, addressed a meeting held by Turkish Cypriots.

He took the role of mediator between the two important figures of Turkish community, Faiz Kaymak and Küçük.

In 1955, Denktaş led the struggle of the Turkish Cypriots against Enosis (union with Greece) and Greek nationalist EOKA terrorist group.

Denktaş founded the Turkish Resistance Organization (TMT) in 1958 and staged a protest against Greek Cypriots who were attacking Turkish villages.

Before the London and Zurich Agreements in 1960, Küçük and Denktaş paid a visit to Turkey to meet Fatin Rustu Zorlu, then-Foreign Affairs Minister. In the meeting, Denktaş mentioned sending Turkish troops to the island.

He made an effort for preparation of the London and Zurich Agreements in 1959 and the constitution of the Republic of Cyprus in 1960.

In the same year, he was elected as the president of the Turkish Communal Chamber's executive commitee.

On Aug. 16, 1960, a Turkish regiment of 650 soldiers arrived at the Northern Cypriot port of Magusa, also known as Famagusta.

However, the Turkish Cypriots, who had been attacked since 1963 by the Greek Cypriot armed groups, were removed from the state administration by pressure and oppression.

After the incidents in 1963, Denktaş went to Ankara for consultations with the Turkish government. He returned to the island by boat and began to organize Turkish resistance in the island.

In 1964, Denktaş was declared persona non grata by then Cypriot President Archbishop Makarios and later in 1967, he was arrested while he was entering the island secretly.

After that, he was given back to Turkey. When the ban on entry to the island was abolished in 1968, he returned to the island.

Political career 

For the first time, in 1968, Denktaş negotiated with Glafkos Clerides in Beirut for the solution of the Cyprus issue. Later, he negotiated with former Greek leaders Spiros Kyprianu, Yorgos Vasiliu, Glafkos Klerides and Tassos Papadopoulos for years.

Denktaş, who was elected as president of the Turkish Communal Chamber in an election, went into politics in 1970.

Later, he served as vice president of Cyprus and head of Cyprus-Turkish Administration in 1973.

The island has been divided since 1974 when a Greek Cypriot coup was followed by violence against the island's Turks and Ankara's intervention as a guarantor power.

Following the operation, Turkish Federated State of Cyprus was established on Feb. 13, 1975, with Denktaş being elected president and parliament speaker.

Denktaş was elected to three more terms as president of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) after its establishment on Nov. 15, 1983.

Denktaş rejected the “Annan Plan”, put forward by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2014.

While the plan was rejected by more than 70 percent of the Greek side, 60 percent of the island’s Turks approved despite the failure of the plan.

Denktaş, who was not a candidate in the presidential elections in April 17, 2005, handed over his post to Mehmet Ali Talat on April 24.

Social life

Besides his political career, he wrote many books and articles from 1985 to his death. Denktaş, who likes photography, held a large number of photography exhibitions about Cyprus.

Denktaş, a fluent speaker of both Turkish and Greek, was a father of six. He authored more than 50 publications including a memoir of 10 volumes.

Denktaş passed away at the age of 88 in a hospital on Jan. 13, 2012. On his death, Turkey and the TRNC declared national mourning.

Turkey on Jan. 11 commemorated the seventh death anniversary of Denktaş.

The Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying: "We respectfully commemorate the late Rauf Raif Denktaş, the founding president of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, on the seventh anniversary of his passing away."

The ministry said Denktaş had devoted his entire life to the Turkish Cypriots' "dignified struggle for survival and freedom, defended the cause of the Turkish Cypriot people for rights, equality and liberty, in unity of mind and spirit with the Turkish motherland".

Denktaş will always "retain his exceptional place in our hearts and minds, as a leader who left his mark on history," it added.

"We will continue to fully support the resolute struggle of Turkish Cypriots, inspired by the late Denktaş, to achieve a just and lasting solution on the Island."