Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktaş was born in 1924 in Pafos. He studied law in England and returned to practise as a solicitor in 1947. He quickly became involved in politics, helping to found the Turkish resistance movement the TMT during the 1950s. He rose to further prominence during the troubles that followed independence in 1960, became known for strong-arm tactics, even against fellow Turkish Cypriots with whom he disagreed, and finally replaced his mentor Dr Fazil Küçük as the leader of the Turkish Cypriots in 1973.

In 1974 he welcomed the Turkish invasion, became head of the “Turkish Federated State of Cyprus” and oversaw the foundation of the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus in 1983. His uncompromising support for a “two-state solution” (he once claimed that there were no such things as Greek and Turkish Cypriots, saying that the only true Cypriots were the island’s donkeys) made him the darling of the Turkish military and the Turkish Cypriot community and the bane of a succession of Greek Cypriot, UN and US negotiators (he became known as “Mr No” for his intransigence). However, during the early years of the twenty-first century his unchanging views began to look outdated, with Turkish Cypriots in the north becoming increasingly frustrated by their isolation from the rest of the world, a situation only exacerbated by the republic’s accession to the European Union. Even Turkey began to find his inflexible views difficult as the north started to experience serious economic problems, and as Turkey began to nurture their own hopes of joining the EU. Though Denktaş reluctantly presided over the easing of restrictions on crossing the Green Line, he looked more and more out of touch, and finally left politics in 2005. He died in January 2012.

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