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. A large diaspora from Turkey plays an important bridge-building role in Switzerland.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Turkey
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
The most recent 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 to discuss police cooperation, migration, combating terrorism and the energy sector.
Economic relations between Switzerland and Turkey are regulated by the investment protection agreement of 3 March 1988 and the agreement on the avoidance of double taxation, which took effect on 1 January 2013.
In 2018 the volume of trade between the two countries amounted to CHF 5.2 billion. The volume of Swiss investment in Turkey in 2017 totalled CHF 2.6 billion and created 15,810 jobs, making Switzerland the 8th largest international investor in Turkey in 2017.
Turkey is a major tourist destination. More than 222,000 Swiss tourists visited Turkey in 2018.
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. Swiss and Turkish research teams are conducting 68 collaborative projects under the current 8th EU framework programme (Horizon 2020). Their main topics are food, biotechnology, the environment, research infrastructure and information and communication technologies.
Turkish citizens are also eligible for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships; 170 have been granted to Turkish researchers since 1961 for research residencies, doctorates and post-doctorates in Switzerland.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
Since 2011, Switzerland has provided humanitarian aid for the victims of the Syrian crisis in the amount of CHF 421 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 has provided CHF 7.4 million for the 2015-19 period to support various projects run by NGOs and international organisations in Turkey and to develop the Turkish migration authority.
Swiss nationals in Turkey
At the end of 2018, there were 4,620 Swiss nationals living in Turkey.
History of bilateral relations
The Ottoman Empire's first representation (a legation) in Bern was opened in 1899. The first official contacts between Switzerland and the Republic of Turkey took place in 1923 on the margins of the Lausanne Peace Conference.
The first Turkish representative presented his diplomatic credentials in 1925. That year, Switzerland and Turkey concluded a treaty of friendship. Diplomatic relations were established in 1928, when Switzerland opened a legation in Istanbul. This diplomatic representation was transferred to Ankara in 1937 and was upgraded to an embassy in 1957.
In 1926, Turkey adopted the Swiss Civil Code and Code of Obligations almost verbatim. Moreover, two treaties of paramount importance for Turkey were signed in Switzerland: the Lausanne Peace Treaty, which is considered to mark the birth of modern Turkey, and the Montreux Convention (1936), which granted Turkey full sovereignty over the Dardanelles Strait and the Bosphorus. This helped create especially close relations between the two countries. In 2008, Switzerland gave Turkey the desk on which the Lausanne Peace Treaty was signed.