By Ahmet Salih Alacaci
As the founding president of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), Rauf Denktas has left an indelible mark on the eastern Mediterranean island.
Denktas was born on Jan. 27, 1924, in the western Cypriot town of Baf, now on the Greek side of the island.
After graduating from the English School of Nicosia in 1941, he has held various professions including as an interpreter, judicial clerk, teacher, and lawyer.
In 1944, he traveled to the UK to study law at Lincoln’s Inn, returning to Cyprus in 1947.
From 1942, Denktas came in touch with the ideas of former Cypriot Prime Minister Fazil Kucuk -- of whom Denktas was to become a close confidant -- and other prominent Turks on the island that their rights were being usurped by the then-sovereign British.
On July 20, 1974, Turkey launched an operation on the north of the island in response to a coup by an ultra-nationalist and anti-Turkish Greek Cypriot paramilitary organization that had support from a military junta in Greece.
Following the operation, Turkish Federated State of Cyprus was established on Feb. 13, 1975, with Denktas being elected president and parliament speaker.
Denktas was elected to three more terms as president of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) after its establishment on Nov. 15, 1983.
Rauf Denktas, a fluent speaker of both Turkish and Greek, was a father of six. He authored more than 50 publications including a memoir of 10 volumes.