Rauf Raif Denktas (1924-2012) was a prominent Turkish Cypriot politician and the founding president of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).
Born in Paphos, Cyprus, Denktas studied law in the United Kingdom and became a lawyer in 1947. He returned to Cyprus the same year to establish his own law firm. He was a co-founder of the Turkish Resistance Organization during the 1950s and played an active role in the Turkish Cypriot community’s struggle for political rights and self-determination.
Denktas became the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community in 1973 and was one of the main negotiators in the talks leading to the establishment of the independent Republic of Cyprus in 1960. However, tensions between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities erupted into violence in the 1960s and early 1970s.
In 1974, following a Greek Cypriot coup d’état backed by the military junta in Greece, Turkish troops landed in Cyprus to protect the Turkish Cypriot community. Denktas became the first president of the newly established TRNC in 1983 and held the position until 2005.
President Denktas was praised by the Turkish Cypriot community for his leadership and efforts to protect their community. He received numerous honorary doctorate degrees from various universities in recognition of his depth of political knowledge and experience.
Denktas was a prolific author and wrote extensively on the Cyprus issue, the history of Cyprus, and Turkish Cypriot identity. In addition to authoring numerous books and journal articles, Denktas was an avid photographer. He passed away in 2012 at the age of 87, and his legacy continues to shape the politics of Cyprus.