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
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.
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 2016 the volume of trade between the two countries amounted to CHF 5.3 billion. The volume of Swiss investment in Turkey in 2015 totalled CHF 2.6 billion and created 15,242 jobs, making Switzerland the 12th largest international investor in Turkey.
Turkey is a major tourist destination. Some 215,000 Swiss tourists visited Turkey in 2016. The number of Swiss tourists has declined since the record level of 394,000 in 2014.
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.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
Since 2011, Switzerland has provided humanitarian aid for the victims of the Syrian crisis in the amount of CHF 250 million, with projects in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and Turkey. Some 3 million refugees, mainly from Syria, are currently living in Turkey. To help manage the refugee crisis, Switzerland has provided CHF 4.4 million for the 2015–17 period to support various projects run by NGOs and international organisations in Turkey and the structure of the Turkish migration authority.
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.
Swiss nationals in Turkey
According to the Statistics on the Swiss Abroad, 4,422 Swiss nationals were living in Turkey at the end of 2016.
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.