Turkey, Cyprus bid farewell to Denktaş
NICOSIA / ANKARA
Rauf Denktaş, who died at the age of 87 late Jan 13, has worked for the independence of Turkish Cyprus throughout his life. AA photoFormer Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktaş, who passed away Jan. 13 at the age of 87, will be laid to rest in Cumhuriyet Park in Nicosia tomorrow with a state ceremony, according to a decision from the Turkish Cypriot Cabinet.
The late statesman’s son, Serdar Denktaş, said yesterday that a monument would also be built for his father, Anatolia news agency reported.
A funeral ceremony for Turkish Cyprus’ founding president will begin today while he will be laid to rest tomorrow.
Schools and public buildings will be shut for tomorrow’s funeral in the Turkish Cypriot capital Nicosia, while all official events will be canceled and flags will fly at half-mast, Turkish Cypriot official Osman Ertuğ said Jan. 14.
Top Turkish leaders will fly to Turkish Cyprus for the funeral to pay their last respects to the legendary leader. President Abdullah Gül, Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek, Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu are expected to attend, Turkish Cypriot President Derviş Eroğlu said. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s participation is also “very likely,” he added, although officials from Erdoğan’s office were not available for comment.
Turkish senior officials to attend funeral
The leaders of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and Devlet Bahçeli, respectively, also said they would be in Nicosia tomorrow for the funeral, along with the chairmen of the Democrat Party (DP) and the Democratic Left Party (DSP).
In Ankara, the government announced a period of national mourning until Denktaş is laid to rest and ordered all flags, at home and at Turkish missions abroad, to fly at half-mast.
Erdoğan, who had at times chided Denktaş, voiced “profound sadness” over his death, saying, “His ideals will live on forever on [Turkish Cypriot] soil, to which he dedicated his life.”
Gül said the Turkish nation had lost “a true hero” and described Turkish Cyprus as Denktaş’s “greatest legacy” for his people.
“A just and lasting settlement in Cyprus will be the most significant achievement to keep Denktaş’s memory alive,” he said.
The General Staff also issued a message to honor “a true Turkish nationalist” who “embraced the Turkish soldiers [in Turkish Cyprus] with a fatherly affection.” The Turkish military “will be a follower in keeping his ideals alive,” it added.