Former Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash is in critical condition because of a weakened heart, putting him at risk of multiple organ failure, a hospital official said Thursday.
Near East University Hospital doctor Finn Rasmussen told The Associated Press that the 87-year-old is awake and talking, but that his blood circulation is poor. He added that it was too soon to tell how Denktash would respond to medication, but that doctors remain hopeful.
Denktash was admitted to the hospital in the breakaway Turkish Cypriot north of divided Cyprus on Jan. 8 suffering from diarrhea and dehydration.
His health had deteriorated markedly in recent months. In May of last year, Denktash was placed on a respirator after suffering a lung infection while recovering from an arterial blood clot.
Denktash has been a staunch, lifelong advocate for a Turkish Cypriot state separate from majority Greek Cypriots.
The island was split in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup by supporters of a union with Greece.
Denktash led the north as president from 1983 _ when Turkish Cypriots declared an independent state that only Turkey recognizes _ until 2005, when he left politics after announcing that he would not seek re-election.