Relations between Switzerland and the Republic of Turkey are close and diverse. The two countries maintain a regular high-level political dialogue and extensive business and trade links. The large diaspora from Turkey plays an important bridge-building role in Switzerland.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Turkey
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
The most recent official visit by a Turkish foreign minister to Switzerland was on 23 March 2017.
Relations between Switzerland and Turkey have become significantly closer, and high-level visits have increased since 2008, when former Federal Councillor Pascal Couchepin made the first official visit to Turkey as a president of the Swiss Confederation. In 2010, Abdullah Gül was the first president of the Republic of Turkey to visit Switzerland. The two countries also hold annual political consultations at state-secretary level, consular consultations (since 2009) and regular meetings for critical and constructive dialogue on matters related to security, business and migration.
In 2019 the volume of trade amounted to about CHF 5 billion, making Turkey Switzerland's 20th most important trading partner. The volume of Swiss investment in Turkey in 2018 totalled CHF 2.3 billion and created about 16,000 jobs in Turkey, making Switzerland the country's 8th largest international investor.
Turkey is a major tourist destination. More than 278,000 Swiss tourists visited the country in 2019.
Switzerland and Turkey have a number of instruments at their disposal to ensure proper regulation of their economic relations, including the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement of 3 March 1988 and the agreement on the avoidance of double taxation, which took effect on 1 January 2013.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
In the field of research, Switzerland and Turkey mainly work together under the EU's framework programme for research as associated countries. To date, under the current 8th EU framework programme (Horizon 2020), Swiss and Turkish research teams are cooperating on 121 projects, in particular in the areas of research infrastructure and energy.
Turkish citizens are also eligible for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships;184 have been granted to Turkish researchers since 1961 for research residencies, doctorates and post-doctorates in Switzerland.
Peacebuilding and human security
Human rights issues are addressed with Turkey in bilateral dialogue at the political level. Switzerland also supports human rights projects on the ground.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
Since 2011, Switzerland has provided humanitarian aid for the victims of the Syrian crisis in the amount of CHF 484 million, with projects in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and Turkey. Almost 4 million refugees, mainly from Syria, are currently living in Turkey. To help manage the refugee crisis, Switzerland provides about CHF 2.5 million each year to support various migration-related projects in the region, with a particular focus on Turkey and Lebanon.
Swiss nationals in Turkey
According to statistics on the Swiss abroad, there were 4,863 Swiss citizens living in Turkey at the end of 2019.
History of bilateral relations
Switzerland and Turkey began to develop relations from the 19th century and have since become increasingly close. Two treaties of paramount importance to Turkey were signed in Switzerland.
- 1899: The Ottoman Empire's first representation (a legation) is opened in Bern.
- 1923: First official contacts between Switzerland and Turkey take place on the margins of the Lausanne Peace Conference. The peace treaty signed at the conference was considered to mark the birth of modern Turkey.
- 1925: The first Turkish representative presents his diplomatic credentials. Conclusion of a bilateral treaty of friendship.
- 1926: Turkey largely adopts the Swiss Civil Code and Code of Obligations.1928 Establishment of diplomatic relations with Switzerland opening a legation in Istanbul.
- 1936: Turkey gains full sovereignty over the Dardanelles and Bosphorus straits with the signing of the Montreux Convention.
- 1937: Legation transferred to Ankara.
- 1957: Legation upgraded to embassy.
- 2008: Switzerland presents Turkey with the desk upon which the Treaty of Lausanne was signed.