Yvonne Cerkez, "Rauf Denktas, A Private Portrait", A Book Review (in English language only)
by Dr. Christian Heinze
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2016 06 13

Yvonne Cerkez, “Rauf Denktas, A Privare Portrait”, Cyprus 2014

Yvonne Cerkez has studied English at the University of Greenwhich. She worked as an English teacher in Cyprus since 2001.

The book starts out with the interesting story of the life of the grandfather and father of Rauf Denktash and of the first two decades of his youth, providing also insights into life in Cyprus during these times. The atmosphere prevailing around the time at the end of British rule over the island (1960) appears well captured. The book then recalls Dentash’s career becoming the leader of the Turkish Cypriots, uniting them in their struggle against Greek unfriendly domination through the project of creating a Republic of Cyprus in 1959/60 and its breakdown, through the Turkish Cypriot defence efforts against Greek assaults under most difficult conditions between 1963 and 1974 that has cost lives of hundreds and led to the loss of home and property of tens of thousands Turkish Cypriots, and through their struggle continuing until today for being accepted as full members of the family of nations that unfortunately came to the aid of their usurpers. Cerkez relates exciting stories of many events and adventures involving Denktash with Greek and foreign powers and Turkey. Particularly his attempts at invading Greek dominated Cyprus personally during his ostracization are thrilling. The frustrating endless struggle contained in the very specific Cyprus type of negotiations in which he represented the Turkish Cypriots through several decades is described convincingly at length and in sine detail. Some of the pictures contained in the book are rare and very interesting but unfortunately not of a very high quality. The style of parts of the book appear to reflect the strong influence taken by Denktash himself in the making of the book.

On the whole, however, a full biography of Rauf Denktash would require additional research and elaboration. One topic would probably be the large step that had to be made from the background of Denktash’s forefathers to his own knowledgeability, status and performance. His family history and even his good school education hardly suffice to explain how this step was able to be taken. Another particular topic would be the impact of his legal studies in England on his political and legal thinking and their meaning for the contributions by Denktash to the constructive planning of the constitutions of Cyprus and of the TRNC. The social and economic surroundings of Cyprus familiar to him were very different from those in England at the time, so that the impression from what he saw and learned in England during his studies must be considerable and certainly detectable in his later activities. The effective way the Turkish Cypriots administered and defended themselves and their poor resources under great hardship and constant threat to life and liberty between 1964 and 1974 and their building their own State in the decades thereafter did not just come about but certainly depended on well prepared leadership. Even regardless of the importance of his legal studies, Denktash must have developed, in cooperation with the other leading Turkish Cypriot and probably Turkish personalities, comprehensive ideas about how the political existence and future of the Turkish Cypriots should be shaped within the given and changing local, regional and international social, economic, political and legal situations. The shortcomings concerning these aspects are reflected by a rather meager register and list of literature contained in the book.

In more detail one misses, for example, a substantial description of Denktash’s role in the preparation of the constitutional and contractual project of a “Republic of Cyprus” of 1959 as a member of the constituent organization and in forming the political development of Cyprus between 1959 and 1963. Another lack is the absence of any mention in the book by Cerkez, of the (according to Denktash’s own testimony) most important legal and diplomatic advisor during half a century of great toil, Dr.h.c. Necati Münir Ertekün QC OBE (vide This lack does not help in producing a complete and true image of Denktash.

A complete and profound biography of Rauf Denktash remains to be written. It would add to the chances for nothing less than world peace. This derives from Denktash’s correct profound understanding of the Cyprus conflict and of the possibilities of a permanent settlement as well as his relevant real politics. Denktash knew “by heart” that, in this world, peace depends on a supreme power over a defined territory for its population, both the power and the people being permanently and sincerely dedicated to mutually providing equal justice, security and welfare. The results of his efforts at applying this knowledge to Cyprus constitute valid examples and sources for any attempt at creating peace even beyond the scope of the particular Cyprus conflict and regardless of the merits of any evaluation which their publication would certainly provoke. The publication would also provide a concise history and evaluation of the decisive decades of the Cyprus Conflict.

Christian Heinze, 2016 06 13

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