[MGSA-L] Former Turkish Cypriot leader Denktash dies

June Samaras june.samaras at gmail.com
Fri Jan 13 19:18:12 PST 2012

Former Turkish Cypriot Leader Denktash Has Died


NICOSIA, Cyprus January 13, 2012 (AP)

Rauf Denktash, the former Turkish Cypriot leader whose determined
pursuit of a separate state for his people and strong opposition to
the divided island's reunification defined a political career spanning
six decades, has died. He was 87.

Dr. Charles Canver, who treated Denktash for his heart condition, said
he died late Friday of multiple organ failure at Near East University
Hospital in the Turkish Cypriot north of Nicosia. He had been in poor
health since suffering a stroke last May. Denktash was hospitalized
last week with diarrhea and dehydration. Canver said Denktash's
weakened heart contributed to his organ failure.

Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu said: "We as Turkish Cypriots
won't forget (Denktash's) selfless struggle for our freedom."

Denktash's son, Serdar, said his father was no longer with his people,
but that "he is now among the fallen heroes and soldiers."

Denktash's death comes in the middle of yet another diplomatic drive
to reunify Cyprus, which has been split along ethnic lines since 1974
when Turkey invaded the island in the aftermath of a short-lived coup
by supporters of union with Greece.

Denktash had maintained the Turkish Cypriots needed a separate state
to preserve peace and avoid a return to what he called massacres of
Turkish Cypriots at the hands of the majority Greek Cypriots.

His dedication to the partitionist cause made him a hero to many
Turkish Cypriots, just as Greek Cypriots saw him as their arch-villain
— the standard-bearer of all they opposed.

That image began to be molded in the late 1950s when Denktash helped
found the Turkish Resistance Organization or TMT as a counterweight to
EOKA, a Greek Cypriot group waging a guerrilla campaign against the
island's then colonial ruler Britain to achieve union with Greece.

"Greek Cypriots saw him as the cynical adversary," said Cyprus
University History Professor Petros Papapolyviou. "He was seen as the
man who put the interests of Turkey above those of Cyprus."

Born in Paphos, Cyprus, on Jan. 24, 1924, the London-trained lawyer
known for his wit rose to prominence as a leading figure in the
Turkish Cypriot community during the tumultuous period in the 1960s
and 1970s when intercommunal conflict claimed hundreds of Cypriot

He blocked efforts to reunite the island, claiming that unification
would open the way for Greek Cypriot domination and raise the threat
of renewed violence.

After the Turkish invasion, he was chosen as leader of what was then
the self-declared Cyprus Turkish Federated State. He proclaimed the
independence of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) in
1983, but the breakaway state failed to gain recognition from any
other country other than Turkey, which maintains some 35,000 troops

"He was Mr. TRNC," said Eastern Mediterranean politics professor Erol
Kaymak. "He was very much a man of is time ... you could rely on him
to stick to the ethno-nationalist line that he believed in."

A series of United Nations-backed talks to end the island's division
through the 1980s and 1990s went nowhere.

Most of these negotiations pitted Denktash against a familiar
adversary — Glafcos Clerides, who was Denktash's Greek Cypriot
counterpart for much of his time in power.

Clerides, like Denktash, is a lawyer, and the two men knew each other
from the 1950s when they locked horns in the courtroom with Denktash
prosecuting EOKA fighters and Clerides defending them.

June Samaras
2020 Old Station Rd
Canada L5M 2V1
Tel : 905-542-1877
E-mail : june.samaras at gmail.com

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