TRNC founding President Rauf Raif Denktaş was remembered with a sombre state ceremony on Wednesday to mark the fourth anniversary of his death. President Mustafa Akinci, parliamentary Speaker Sibel Siber, Prime Minister Ömer Kalyoncu and senior military figures joined widow Aydin Denktaş and the children and relations of the late leader at the graveside ceremony. Flags around the country were flown at half-mast.
Mr Akinci paid tribute to the former leader, saying he had been an important character who had “led the Turkish Cypriots during a turbulent era when they were faced with the threat of being wiped out”.
“Just like the late Mr Denktaş used to do, we need to look for a path that takes into account the needs of our times and is in tune with our times.
“It is for this reason that we are working with all our good will for a just solution,” he added. A memorial service was also held at Lefkoşa’s Atatürk Cultural Centre where son and politician Serdar Denktaş recounted how his father had once foretold the arrival of Turkish troops on the island.
“When I was growing up, he said to me: ‘My grandfather saw the departure of the ottomans from the island – you will see their arrival’.”
He said in the wake of his father’s passing even those who did not agree with his views had “bowed with respect”, adding: “If we exist today we owe it to him, his struggle of 55 years and to our martyrs and war veterans.”
Father-of-six Rauf Denktaş died on January 13, 2012, of multiple organ failure at Lefkoşa’s Near East University Hospital. He was 87 at the time.
He declared the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in 1983 and became the new state’s first president in 1985. He was re-elected in 1990, 1995 and 2000 but did not stand as a candidate in the 2005 presidential election after Turkish Cypriots voted in favour of the 2004 United Nations plan to unite the island, a plan which Mr Denktaş had vehemently opposed.