Rauf Denktaş

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Rauf Denktaş
Rauf Denktash.jpg
1st President of Northern Cyprus
In office
15 November 1983 24 April 2005
Prime Minister Nejat Konuk
Derviş Eroğlu
Hakkı Atun
Mehmet Ali Talat
Preceded byOffice created
Succeeded by Mehmet Ali Talat
2nd Vice President of Cyprus
In office
February 1973 July 1974
President Makarios III
Preceded by Fazıl Küçük
Succeeded byVacant
Personal details
Born(1924-01-27)27 January 1924
Paphos, British Cyprus
Died13 January 2012(2012-01-13) (aged 87)
North Nicosia, Northern Cyprus
Nationality Turkish Cypriot
Political party National Unity Party
Spouse(s)Aydın Denktaş
Children6, including Serdar (3 predeceased him)
OccupationPolitician, statesman, political writer
EducationEnglish high school, Nicosia, 1941
Studied in Istanbul
Studied law at Lincoln's Inn in London, 1944–1947
ParentsRaif Mehmet Bey (1882–1941)
Emine Hanim
[1] [2] [3]

Rauf Raif Denktaş [4] [lower-alpha 1] [lower-alpha 2] (27 January 1924 – 13 January 2012) was a Turkish Cypriot politician, barrister and jurist who served as the founding President of Northern Cyprus. He occupied this position as the President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus between the declaration of the de facto state by Denktaş in 1983 and 2005, as the President of the Turkish Federated State of Cyprus between 1975 and 1983 and as the President of the Autonomous Turkish Cypriot Administration between 1974 and 1975. He was also elected in 1973 as the Vice-President of the Republic of Cyprus. [5]


Early life and career

Denktaş was born in Paphos to judge Raif Mehmet Bey and Emine Hanim, Turkish Cypriots. He graduated from The English School, Nicosia in Cyprus. Following his graduation he worked as a translator in Famagusta after that as a court clerk and then as a teacher for one year in the English School. He later went to Istanbul and London, [1] training first as a teacher and then as a barrister at Lincoln's Inn. He graduated in 1947 and returned home to practice law.

In 1948 Denktaş served as a member of the Consultative Assembly in search of self-government for Cyprus and became a member of the Turkish Affairs Committee. He was a crown prosecutor 1949–1958.


In 1957, Denktaş played the lead role in the founding of the Turkish Resistance Organization (TMT), which was formed to resist EOKA's struggle to proclaim Enosis (union with Greece) and worked for the partition of Cyprus. In 1958, he attended the U.N. General Assembly on behalf of the Turkish-Cypriots, and in December of that year he advised the Turkish Government on the rights of Turkish Cypriots during the preparation of the London and Zurich Agreements (signed 19 February 1959). In 1960, Cyprus won independence from Britain, and the Republic of Cyprus was established. Denktaş was elected as the President of the Turkish Communal Chamber. [6]

In November 1963 President Makarios gave for review to Turkey, Greece and Britain a document with a series of constitutional amendments designed to loosen the acquired rights of Turkish Cypriots in the name of "the workings of the state". Then the paramilitary action against the Turks began in December 1963, after which Turkish-Cypriots forcefully withdrew from government. Upon these events, Denktaş went to Ankara for consultations with the Turkish government. His reentry to the island was prohibited by the Greek-Cypriot leadership in years 1964–68 due to his involvement with TMT. In the 1973 vice presidential elections he replaced Fazıl Küçük. [7]

After the 15 July 1974 Greek ultra-nationalist military coup in Cyprus, fearing for the safety of the Turkish Cypriot population, Turkey unilaterally invaded by landing troops on the north coast of Cyprus. During the military operation, the dictatorship led by Nikos Sampson fell and political wrangling began. After three weeks, Turkey continued to advance military operation. The Turkish Army took control of 37% of the island by the time it completed its second advance on 14 August 1974 and reached Famagusta. Denktaş was subsequently elected speaker of the legislature in 1975, [6] and then President of the Turkish Federated State of Cyprus in 1976 and for a second term in 1981.

He played a key role in the 1983 Unilateral Declaration of Independence of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, and was elected as the President of the TRNC in 1985, 1990, 1995, and 2000. [8]

The TRNC has not been recognised by any state other than Turkey. Denktaş had been the chief negotiator of Turkish Cypriots in the United Nations sponsored peace talks since 1968.

Later career

By 2000, the desire of both Cyprus and Turkey to join the EU led to renewed efforts to reach a settlement. In 2002 there were large demonstrations in northern Cyprus by Turkish Cypriots demanding reunification of the island, which would give them EU citizenship when Cyprus joined the EU in 2004.

In February 2004 Denktaş embarked on a new round of UN sponsored talks with the Greek Cypriots, aimed at re-uniting Cyprus. Ultimately, as did the Greek Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos, he opposed the final version of the settlement proposal drafted under the authority of the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan (the Annan Plan), which was voted on by the two Cypriot communities in a referendum on 24 April 2004. The plan was accepted by 65% of the Turkish community, but was rejected by a vast majority of the Greeks.

On 14 May 2004, Denktaş announced he would not be standing for a fifth term as President of the TRNC in the next election. His tenure as President came to an end following the 17 April 2005 election of Mehmet Ali Talat, who formally assumed office on 25 April. [9]

Personal life and awards

Denktaş's favourite pastimes included photography and writing. His photographs have been exhibited in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Italy, some of the former republics of the Soviet Union, Poland, France, Austria and Turkey. He has written about fifty books in English and Turkish. Between the years 1949 and 1957 he wrote many articles for the newspaper Halkın Sesi ("Voice of the People"), published by Fazıl Küçük, the first Vice President of the Republic of Cyprus.[ citation needed ]

Denktaş has been the recipient of many awards and honorary doctorates given by various universities in Turkey, Northern Cyprus and the United States. He was married to Aydın Denktaş (1933–2019) for 63 years and had three sons and three daughters. He lost a daughter at the age of three, one son, Raif in a traffic accident and another son in a tonsillectomy. His surviving son Serdar Denktaş is also a politician, and as of 2019, leader of the Turkish Cypriot Democratic Party. [10]

Illness, death and funeral

Funeral of Denktas Denktas Funeral 2.jpg
Funeral of Denktaş

Denktaş's health gradually deteriorated throughout the 2000s. [11] He had a heart condition and on 25 May 2011 suffered a stroke. [2] He died on 13 January 2012 of multiple organ failure at the Near East University Hospital in Nicosia. [2] [11] Northern Cyprus declared a weeklong mourning period, [12] while Turkey declared five days' mourning. [13] His funeral, which thousands attended, was held on 17 January. He was buried in the Cumhuriyet Park ("Park of the Republic"). [14]

Books by Denktaş

Note: The translations of the titles in Turkish is not necessarily the actual English title

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  1. 1 2 "Denktash, Rauf (1924–)" (fee, via Fairfax County Public Library). Encyclopedia of World Biography. Detroit: Gale. 1998. GALE|A148418503. Retrieved 15 January 2012.. Gale Biography in Context. (subscription required)
  2. 1 2 3 Hadjicostis, Menelaos (14 January 2012). "Rauf Denktash dies at 87; former Turkish Cypriot leader – latimes.com". Los Angeles Times . Associated Press . Retrieved 14 January 2012.
  3. "Founder of Turkish Cyprus, Rauf Denktaş, dies at age 88". Sunday's Zaman . Istanbul. 13 January 2012. Retrieved 14 January 2012.
  4. "Biyografi – Kurucu Cumhurbaşkanı Rauf Raif Denktaş" (in Turkish). Presidency of Northern Cyprus. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  5. "Obituary: Rauf Denktash". BBC News. 13 January 2012.
  6. 1 2 Kuzey Kibris Türk Cumhuriyeti Cumhuriyet Meclisi. "GEÇMIS DÖNEM MECLIS BASKANLARI". www.cm.gov.nc.tr.
  7. Mirbagheri, Farid (1 October 2009). Historical Dictionary of Cyprus. Scarecrow Press. ISBN   9780810862982 via Google Books.
  8. "North Cyprus: People & Life – Rauf Raif Denktaş". North Cyprus Home Page. Retrieved 15 January 2012.
  9. "Radikal-çevrimiçi / Dış Haberler / Rauf Denktaş vedalaştı". Archived from the original on 5 May 2009.
  10. "Aydın Denktaş hayatını kaybetti" (in Turkish). Yenidüzen. 2 February 2018. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  11. 1 2 Stefanos Evripidou. "Denktash to be Buried on Tuesday". Archived 17 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine Cyprus Mail . 14 January 2012. Retrieved 15 January 2012.
  12. "Turkish Cypriots mourn Rauf Denktaş's death". Archived 18 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine Today's Zaman . 14 January 2012. Retrieved 17 January 2012.
  13. "Turks all over world mourn loss of Turkish Cyprus founder Denktaş". Archived 18 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine Today's Zaman . 15 January 2012. Retrieved 17 January 2012.
  14. "Funeral service for former Turkish Cypriot leader". Hurriyet . 17 January 2012. Retrieved 17 January 2012.


  1. transliterated as Rauf Denktash in English [5]
  2. Turkish:  [ɾaːˈuf ˈdeɲctaʃ]

Further reading

Political offices
Preceded by
Fazıl Küçük
Leader of the Turkish Cypriots
18 February 1973 – 24 April 2005
Succeeded by
Mehmet Ali Talat
New title President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus