Turkish Cyprus leader Rauf Denktas dies


Turkish Cyprus lost one of its most vocal politicians over the weekend. Rauf Denktas, a conservative Turkish Cypriot politician, passed away late Friday. Denktas spent his life campaigning for the sovereignty of Turkish Cyprus, a state recognized only by Turkey on the divided island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea.

Denktas was against reunification of the island, with Greek Cypriots living in the southern Republic of Cyprus, an EU member, and Turkish Cypriots living in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, only recognized by Turkey.

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Cyrpus has been divided since the partition created by unilateral Turkish action on the island in wake of a Greek inspired coup to reunite the island with mainland Greece in 1974. Denktas played a pivotal role in the establishment of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus when it declared independence in 1983.

The issue of a divided Cyprus has regularly strained relations between the European Union and Turkey. In the last round of European Union expansion the Republic of Cyprus was admitted in to the union. In December, Ankara signaled that it would not attend sessions chaired by the Republic of Cyprus, slated to take over of the presidency of the Council of the EU in late 2012.

Denktas is survived by his son Serdar, who served as a deputy Prime Minister of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in 2006, and his wife Aylin.

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