by Emily Ullmann
“Glo is about to meet another president… of an unrecognized country!”
Sanjena could barely contain her disbelief and excitement as she followed three men and the paparazzi into a remodeled Byzantine church. On a walking tour led by two of our friends, one a Turkish Cypriot and one a Greek Cypriot, we had just entered the northern side of Nicosia, which is a part of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
Our two guides brought us to these vast, gothic Byzantine churches to explain the complicated history and transformation of the churches into mosques. As we approached the buildings, we saw a crowd of people and cameramen swarming around two men. Our Turkish Cypriot guide pointed to a short, bald man explaining that he was Cemal Metin Bulutoğluları, the mayor of Northern Nicosia. We had our cameras posed on him even before our guide explained that the taller man with white hair was Derviş Eroğlu, the president of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
Before we could totally understand the situation, a large man dressed in all black pushed through the crowd with a small, older man in tow. As it turned out, this man, Rauf Raif Denktaş, was one of the founding members and the first president of TRNC. We found out later that Denktaş ruled as president for over twenty years and our Greek Cypriot guide described him as, “the impersonation of evil” in the eyes of Greek Cypriots.
Eager journalists as always, Sanjena and I charged to the front of the pack with cameras and notepads ready. We stood with the other reporters, snapping shots trying to get close enough to ask a question. In the end, the leaders had to go their separate ways only ten minutes after arriving for an appearance. We did, however, succeed in taking pictures both of and with the most important politicians in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
Even though those in the south would have had us call them two “pseudo Presidents.”