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.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Turkey
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
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. Abdullah Gül became the first president of the Republic of Turkey to visit Switzerland in 2010. Many more ministerial visits have taken place since then. The most recent visit by a Turkish foreign minister to Switzerland was at the end of 2013.
The two countries also hold annual political consultations at state-secretary level, consular consultations (since 2009) and consultations on police cooperation.
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, constitute instruments for orderly economic relations between the two countries.
In 2012, the trading volume between the two countries amounted to approximately CHF 3 billion. The volume of Swiss investment in Turkey totals CHF 2.8 billion and has created over 20,000 jobs, making Switzerland the 14th largest international investor in Turkey.
Turkey is a major holiday destination; in 2013 approximately 380,000 Swiss tourists visited the country.
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.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
Switzerland's humanitarian aid for the victims of the Syrian crisis currently amounts to CHF 120 million. Switzerland is contributing CHF 3 million to programmes in Turkey itself. In addition, Switzerland has contributed approximately CHF 9 million to support regional projects in neighbouring countries including 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 in İzmit in 1999 and in Van at the end of 2011.
Swiss nationals in Turkey
As of April 2013, there were 3,255 Swiss nationals registered in Turkey, 80% of whom are dual citizens.
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.