Leader of Turkish Cypriots The former leader of the Turkish minority in Cyprus, Rauf Denktash successfully opposed reunification of that divided Mediterranean island in his resolute pursuit of a separate state for his people. In a country split along ethnic and religious lines since 1974, when Turkey invaded the island after a short-lived coup by supporters of union with Greece, Rauf Denktash had been the standard-bearer of the Turkish Cypriot cause for demanding partition to prevent what he called massacres at the hands of the Greek Cypriot majority. Starting in 1983, when Turkish Cypriots proclaimed independence in the name of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus Ã¢â‚¬â€ a government recognised only by TurkeyÃ¢â‚¬â€ Rauf won four consecutive five-year terms as president. Rauf Denktash became a leader of the Turkish Resistance Organization in the 1950s, creating a counterweight to EOKA, the Greek Cypriot group then waging a guerrilla campaign against British colonial rule. When Cyprus won independence and became a republic in 1960, the rival sides sought attachment to Turkey and Greece. In 2005 he left politics and withdrew himself from public life but behind the scene Rauf Denktash continued to exert an influence on Turkish Cypriots. Turks and Greeks lived side by side in Cyprus. They had co-existed thus since the Ottomans had taken over in 1571, as separate communities speaking different languages. The son of a judge, Rauf Denktash was born into a wealthy family and was a lawyer himself. He passed away after a long illness in Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus.
Compiler: M. Nauman Khan