Former Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash was honoured on Tuesday with a statue in northern Nicosia.

Serdar Denktash, the former leader’s son, spoke at the event and emphasised that: “My father would have been 99 years old today, he spent two thirds of his life for the goal which he believed in.”

Denktash served as leader from 1973 to 2005, steadfastly opposed to the island’s reunification after the 1974 Turkish invasion. He insisted that Turkish Cypriots needed a separate state to preserve peace and avoid domination by the larger Greek Cypriot community.

A London-trained barrister, he was appointed crown prosecutor in 1949 when Cyprus was under British rule. It was in this capacity that Denktash met and became friends with fellow lawman Glafcos Clerides, later to became president of Cyprus and thereby Denktash’s sparring partner in negotiations between the two communities.

In 1957, Denktash was one of the founding members of the Turkish Resistance Movement, TMT, an underground militant organisation whose declared aim was to prevent union with Greece.