Eroǧlu, Derviş (Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Cyprus)

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Three times TRNC prime minister between 1985 and 2009, Eroğlu became president in 2010. Known for his hard line nationalist approach, his presidency cast doubts over the prospects for progress towards reunification.

Early Life

Derviş Eroğlu was born in Famagusta (also known as Gazimagusa), Cyprus in 1938. Having graduated in medicine from the University of İstanbul in 1963, he returned to Famgusta to practise. He later went back to Turkey to specialise in urology at Ankara’s Numune Hospital, once again returning to Cyprus to work as a urology specialist from 1972 until 1976.

Eroğlu entered politics after the creation in 1975 of the Turkish Federated State of Cyprus (renamed the TRNC in 1983). From 1976–77 he served as the minister for education, culture, youth and sports in the assembly of the Republic of Northern Cyprus. He became head of the right wing nationalist National Unity Party (UBP) in Famagusta in 1977 and was elected leader of the party in 1983.

Eroğlu served his first term as prime minister from 1985–93 under President Rauf Denktaş (founder of the UBP). He returned to the post in Aug. 1996, heading several different coalitions until 2004. Intending to give way to ‘fresh blood’, Eroğlu resigned as leader of the UBP in 2005 but nonetheless became prime minister again in May 2009.

In presidential elections in April 2010 Eroğlu narrowly defeated the pro-settlement leader of the Turkish-Cypriots, Mehmet Ali Talat, with just over 50% of the vote. In contrast to Talat’s pro-European approach, Eroğlu campaigned on a nationalist platform, favouring a two state solution. He was sworn in for a 5-year term on 23 April 2010.

Career Peak

Eroğlu began his tenure stating that he would not walk away from peace talks, although some have questioned his desire to achieve a settlement. Negotiations with Demetris Christofias, the Republic of Cyprus president, were slow, prompting United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon to set a deadline of Oct. 2011 for reaching a comprehensive settlement. However, a series of summits ended without agreement on several key issues, with Ban Ki-Moon promising to broker new talks in 2012.

In Feb. 2014 Eroğlu signed a bill that decriminalized same-sex relations in the TRNC—the last territory in Europe where homosexuality was still outlawed. Arrests for gay sex had continued to take place as recently as 2011.

Eroğlu was defeated by Mustafa Akıncı at the April 2015 elections.

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