It was April 15, 2005 when I had the honor to interview His Excellency Rauf Raif Denktas, a week before the presidential elections in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Here is how our conversation started:
“All I can say is I wish the best of luck to all the candidates and hope the best wins, and whatever the result of the elections naturally, he will be our president and we shall try to help him with our background knowledge if he wants it, we will support him if he is supporting the independence and sovereignty of the Turkish Republic of Cyprus, we will try and prevent mistakes which we regard will destroy our Republic and its independence so I hope that it will be a fair change for the good of the country.. I repeat I shall be available whenever wanted and if they want to share my experiences.
What is my experience during all these years? I was 7 years old when the Greek Cypriots burned the government house for ENOSIS, I was 21 years old after the 2nd World War when Greek Cypriots who had been banished from Cyprus for taking part in that rebellion turned back with higher voices for union with Greece, ENOSIS. Ever since we have been struggling to prevent it in order to prevent domination by Greek Cypriots, and in order to prevent Cyprus becoming a Greek island which will close Turkey to the Mediterranean. If that happens this will be 13th island around the Turkish coast so Turkey has a very important strategic cause in Cyprus; luckily for us because that is why we have been saved by Turkey in 1974. So if anyone thinks Turkey will abandon the Island of Cyprus, and will abandon us, then they are very mistaken. We want a settlement; settlement has not been achieved because the world has settled the Greek Cypriot problem for them by treating them wrongly as the legitimate government of Cyprus.”
I had many talks, conversations, interviews with his Excellency but this was one of the most memorable ones, as for the first time in its history the country was not going to see Denktas as one of the presidential candidates. How humble he was, as always, in his responses.
Born in Pathos o January 27th, 1924, he lived a life fully devoted to the welfare of his country and even in his dying bed yelled out saying to the Greeks, “Don’t you ever dare forget: the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is a sovereign independent state!” and then his soul departed. This was January 13, 2012.
In remembrance of Denktas, the legendary man of the Turkish Cypriot people, the idol, the patriot, the leader, the President, the commander…. Words really do fall short of describing his attributes, yet I will have to just say he was not only our President but he was just like a Fatherly figure to all, especially to me.
Never has there been a day I have not thought about you His Excellency, and to share your success stories, to pass on all I know about you to the people around and especially to those living in AMERICA so far away from the TRNC, is and shall forever be my first and foremost duty.