To my readers:
Rauf Denktaş has died and Cyprus mourns. The expats mourn because he was their friend. My thoughts go to his family. He was the first man to welcome us on this island as members of the EMYR Rally in 1999 with our sailing boat Early Bird, and he gave us one of his lovely photographic books. Later we met him at various meetings the expats had arranged.
In 2010 I went to see him in his office in downtown Lefkosa and we had a good talk. We will all miss him. The world would need more of his caliber to stand up for a cause and defend it to the end of his life.
Heidi Trautmann and family
THE BIOGRAPHY OF RAUF RAIF DENKTAS
A statesman, lawyer, journalist, and a teacher, Rauf Raif Denktaş was born in Baf town in Cyprus on 24 January 1924. He graduated from the English School in 1942 after which he worked as a court clerk, interpreter, and teacher. In 1944 he went to the United Kingdom to study law and graduated from the Lincoln’s Inn in 1947. That same year, he returned to Cyprus to start his own law practice.
In 1948 he 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 appointed as a prosecutor at Attorney General’s Office in 1949, a job he held until 1958.
After resigning from his government duties, Denktaş started to play a more active role in the affairs of the Turkish community. He was elected as the chairman of the Federation of Turkish Cypriot Association from 1949-1957. Meanwhile Denktaş took interest in journalism and wrote several articles on the problems of the Turks on the island in Halkın Sesi newspaper published by Dr Fazil Küçük. When the ENOSIS movement, trying to incorporate Cyprus to Greece, turned to terrorism and started to attack the Turkish Community, Denktaş assumed a leading role in orchestrating the Turkish Cypriot Resistance organization.
Denktaş advised the Turkish Government on the rights of Turkish Cypriot people during the preparation of Zurich and London Agreements in 1958, which paved the way for the creation of a bi communal partnership state after the British withdrawal in 1960. He was also the head of Turkish Cypriot Delegation at Constitutional Committee drafting Cyprus Constitution.
With the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus in 1960, Denktaş was elected as the President of the Turkish Communal Chamber. After the unconstitutional expulsion of the Turkish Cypriots from their public posts and the collapse of the federal arrangements in 1963, Denktaş went to Ankara to maintain diplomatic contacts. Since his entry to the island was prohibited by the Greek administration, he could only return in 1968 and took up duties as the vice President of the Republic of Cyprus and President of the Turkish Cypriot Administration.
Following the Greek coup in Cyprus on 15 June 1974 and the landing of the Turkish troops on the island in July 1974, Denktaş played a key role in the proclamation of the Turkish Federated State of Cyprus and was elected to the Presidency and the head of the Assembly. In the election of 1976, he was elected as the president of the Cyprus Turkish Federated State and was re-elected for a second time in 1981. He had also founded the National Unity Party in order to carry on his struggle in political arena. In 1983, he proclaimed the Turkish republic of Northern Cyprus and was elected as the president in 1985, 1990, 1995, and 2000.
Denktaş is married and has had three sons and two daughters. He is fluent in English and Greek. Outside of politics, Denktaş is a very keen photographer and opened several exhibitions in foreign countries. He is also the author of more than 40 books, mostly on the Cyprus Problem and has been awarded Honorary Degrees by more than 30 universities.