Bilateral relations Switzerland–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.

Key aspects of diplomatic relations

The most recent visit by a Turkish foreign minister to Switzerland was at the end of 2013. In 2010, Abdullah Gül was the first president of the Republic of Turkey to visit Switzerland.

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.  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.

Treaty database

Switzerland and Turkey decide on a strategic partnership, Press release, 10.10.2013

Economic cooperation

Economic relations between Switzerland Turkey are regulated by the investment protection agreement of 3 March 1988 and the agreement on the avoidance of double taxation, which came into force on 1 January 2013.

In 2015 the volume of trade between the two countries amounted to CHF 3.2 billion. The volume of Swiss investment in Turkey in 2014 totalled CHF 2.8 billion and created 14,651 jobs, making Switzerland the 12th largest international investor in Turkey.

Turkey is a major tourist destination. In 2015 some 380,000 Swiss tourists visited Turkey, only slightly lower than 2014's record high of 394,000.

Trade promotion, Switzerland Global Enterprise

Europe / Central Asia, SECO

Double taxation agreement with Turkey has entered into force, Press release State Secretariat for International Financial Matters, 08.05.2012

Cooperation in education, research and innovation

The Seventh Framework Programme for European Research, with which both Switzerland and Turkey are associated, has brought about more than 239 partnerships in 154 projects (primarily in food, biotechnology, environment, research infrastructure and ICT). The State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) visited Turkey in June 2012 in order to identify common interests and assess opportunities to increase scientific  cooperation between the two countries.

Switzerland also offers two university scholarships and one art scholarship every year.

Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships for Foreign Scholars and Artists, SERI

Development cooperation and humanitarian aid

Switzerland's humanitarian aid for the victims of the Syrian crisis currently amounts to CHF 250 million with projects in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and Turkey. Turkey is currently home to around 2.7 million refugees, mainly from Syria. To help manage the refugee crisis, Switzerland has provided CHF 2.9 million for the 2015-17 period to support various projects run by NGOs and international organisations in Turkey.

The SDC's programme in Turkey was completed in 2006. The SDC supported various non-governmental organisations with the aim of reducing poverty and strengthening civil society and women's rights. Switzerland provided humanitarian aid in the aftermath of the earthquakes of 1999 in İzmit and Van at the end of 2011.

Switzerland’s commitment in Syria and the Region

Swiss nationals in Turkey

In 2015, there were 4,130 Swiss nationals registered 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 a special relationship between the two countries. In 2008, Switzerland gave Turkey the desk on which the Treaty of Lausanne was signed.

Turkey, Historical Dictionary of Switzerland (de, fr, it)