Switzerland and the Republic of Turkey enjoy close and diverse relations, which include engaging in regular high-level political dialogue and maintaining 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 took place on 14 August 2020.
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 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, which started in 2009, and regular meetings to engage in constructive dialogue on security, business, and migration issues.
In 2021, the total volume of trade was approximately CHF 4.6 billion, making Turkey Switzerland's 24th most important trading partner. In 2020, Switzerland invested CHF 2.2 billion in Turkey, creating some 14,500 jobs and making Switzerland the country's 6th largest investor.
Turkey is a major tourist destination, with over 218,000 Swiss tourists visiting the country in 2021.
The instruments governing trade between Switzerland and Turkey include the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement of 3 March 1988 and the Agreement for the Avoidance of Double Taxation, which took effect on 1 January 2013.The 1991 Free Trade Agreement between the EFTA States and Turkey, as amended, entered into force on 1 October 2021.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Citizens of Turkey are eligible for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships. Since 1961, 196 scholarships have been granted to Turkish citizens for research residencies, doctorates and post-doctorates in Switzerland.
Peacebuilding and human security
Human rights issues are addressed with Turkey in bilateral dialogue at political level.Switzerland also supports human rights projects on the ground.
International cooperation and humanitarian aid
Given the devastating impact of the Syrian conflict across the region and huge burden this places on neighbouring countries, Switzerland has adopted a regional cooperation programme for work to be undertaken in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey. Since 2011, Switzerland has provided over CHF 610 million for affected communities across the region. Switzerland has prioritised work in four areas: protection and migration, education and income, conflict prevention/peacebuilding and water/sanitation. Migration-related projects have been prioritised in Turkey.
Cultural events involving Switzerland, especially concerts, take place regularly in Ankara and Istanbul. Switzerland also offers two university scholarships and the opportunity to apply for an arts scholarship every year.
Swiss citizens in Turkey
At the end of 2021, there were 5,016 Swiss citizens living in Turkey according to statistics on the Swiss abroad.
History of bilateral relations
Relations between Switzerland and Turkey began to develop in the 19th century and have grown ever closer. Two major treaties that are essential 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 is regarded as having laid the foundations 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: Relocation of the legation