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Bilateral relations between Switzerland and Turkey
Relations between Switzerland and the Republic of Turkey are close and diverse, and are characterised by regular high-level political dialogue as well as extensive economic and trade ties.
Relations between Switzerland and Turkey have become significantly closer and high-level visits have increased: the first visit to Turkey by a President of the Confederation (former Federal Councillor Pascal Couchepin) took place in 2008. Abdullah Gül visited Switzerland in 2010, the first President of the Republic of Turkey to do so.
The two countries also hold annual political consultations at the level of secretary of state, consular consultations (since 2009) and counter-terrorism consultations. The memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the field of energy that was signed in 2009 should make it possible to forge closer ties in this area.
The investment protection agreement of 3 March 1988 and the agreement for the avoidance of double taxation, which will enter into force on 1 January 2013, constitute instruments for orderly economic relations between the two countries.
In 2011, the trading volume between the two countries amounted to approximately CHF 2.8 billion. The volume of Swiss investment in Turkey totals CHF 2.8 billion and has created some 14,000 jobs, making Switzerland the 14th largest international investor in the country.
Turkey is a major tourist destination. In 2011, some 319,000 Swiss tourists visited Turkey.
As part of the Seventh Framework Programme for European Research, with which both Switzerland and Turkey are associated, 91 Swiss teams are cooperating with Turkish partners in a total of 73 projects. The Swiss National Science Foundation also plays a role in this regard with various financing tools that enable Swiss researchers to collaborate with Turkish partners. The Secretary of State for Education and Research (SER) visited Turkey in June 2012 in order to identify common interests and assess potential opportunities to increase scientific bilateral cooperation between the two countries.
Switzerland supports the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which is working with the Turkish authorities to care for refugees from Syria (as of autumn 2012). Switzerland also provided emergency financial aid following the Van earthquake on 23 October 2011.
The SDC programme in Turkey was completed at the end of 2006. The SDC supported various NGOs with the aim of reducing poverty and strengthening civil society and women's rights.
In the aftermath of the 1999 earthquake in İzmit, SDC Humanitarian Aid operated an office in İzmit and Istanbul and implemented a neighbourhood disaster support programme to train and equip neighbourhood teams with basic first aid equipment. The project is being continued by a Turkish foundation with the financial support of the SDC.
As of June 2012, 3036 Swiss nationals were registered in Turkey, most of whom (80%) are dual citizens.
The Ottoman Empire's first representation (known then as 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 its first diplomatic mission to Turkey, in Ankara (the legation was elevated to Embassy status in 1953).
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 put an end to the war of national liberation under the leadership of Atatürk (1919–1923) and is considered to mark the birth of modern Turkey, and the Montreux Convention of 1936, which granted Turkey full sovereignty over the Dardanelles Straits and the Bosphorus.
This helped create a special relationship between the two countries. In 2008, Switzerland gave Turkey the desk on which the Treaty of Lausanne was signed.