Profile: Dervis Eroglu

Veteran nationalist leader favours independence but vows to continue peace talks.

    Eroglu has vowed to continue peace talks with Greek Cypriots [AFP]

    Hardliner Dervis Eroglu who has been voted leader of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) is a veteran politician whose first choice of career was medicine.

    Several-times prime minister of the TRNC, which is recognised only by Turkey, Eroglu, 72, heads the right-wing National Unity Party (UBP). 

    He staunchly defends his nationalist convictions and attachment to the "mother country".

    Born in 1938 in Famagusta - Gazimagusa in Turkish - he pursued his early schooling in the east coast town where he gained a diploma before leaving to pursue a higher education in Turkey.

    Nationalist agenda

    It was while studying medicine in Istanbul in the 1960s as communal violence raged on the island following independence from Britain in 1960, that Eroglu became a nationalist.

    He returned to Cyprus in 1963 after graduating and practised medicine for the next five years in his native Famagusta before returning to Turkey, this time to the capital Ankara, to specialise in urology.
      
    After Turkey invaded the island in 1974 in response to a short-lived coup backed by Greece, and the island of Cyprus split into the internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus in the south and Turkish-held Northern Cyprus, Eroglu threw himself into Turkish Cypriot politics.
      
    He became a member of parliament in 1976 for the UBP party he now heads, which was founded by veteran Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktas, his political mentor who is now retired.
      
    In 1983, Eroglu became UBP leader, a post he must now relinquish since the Turkish Cypriot leader must be free of any party affiliation.

    Two-state solution
      
    Before the unilateral declaration of independence in 1983, when Denktas announced the TRNC, Eroglu held several high-ranking posts in the Turkish Cypriot administration.
      
    Turkey backs the TRNC both economically and militarily, keeping a 35,000-strong military force in the north.
      
    Three times TRNC prime minister between 1983 and 2009, Eroglu won a fourth mandate after legislative elections in April last year.
      
    Eroglu has long opposed the man he now succeeds as Turkish Cypriot president, Mehmet Ali Talat, who on Sunday won 42.8 per cent of the vote as against his 50.4 per cent.
      
    Talat is pro-European and supports a Cyprus solution on the basis of a federation, whereas Eroglu favours a two-state solution - a stance rejected by the Greek Cypriots.
      
    Eroglu has, however, said he will not walk away from peace talks with the Greek Cypriots, which were relaunched in September 2008 under United Nations auspices.
      
    No breakthrough in the negotiations between Talat and Demetris Christofias, the Republic of Cyprus president, had been forthcoming, however, with the two leaders failing to agree on the key issues of property and power sharing.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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