Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu meet to discuss bilateral relations and an open and constructive dialogue between Switzerland and Turkey

Press release, 14.08.2020

Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), met today with his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, who was on an official visit to Bern. The two foreign ministers reaffirmed their commitment to build on the good bilateral relations between the two countries. "Turkey is a very important partner for Switzerland, and we intend to pursue an open and constructive dialogue," said Mr Cassis. He also offered Turkey Switzerland's good offices, for example to find a resolution to the Cyprus issue. The ministers also discussed the international crisis surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, rising tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean and the situation in Libya.

Mr Çavuşoğlu's visit to Bern follows on from Mr Cassis' visit to Ankara on 12 July 2019, when both sides agreed to hold regular Swiss-Turkish bilateral meetings. "This underlines that Turkey is a priority partner for Switzerland as well as our shared desire to strengthen our relations," said Mr Cassis. The two countries enjoy close and wide-ranging bilateral relations, thanks in part to the large Turkish community in Switzerland, engage in regular political dialogue, and maintain a lively trade relationship. Switzerland is the eighth largest international investor in Turkey. Over 300 Swiss companies operate in the country, providing more than 16,000 jobs. The volume of trade between the two countries amounted to CHF 5 billion in 2019.

The two foreign ministers also noted concrete progress in a number of areas, in particular with regard to the possible conclusion of a bilateral agreement on the protection of cultural property. Mr Cassis also expressed Switzerland's readiness to continue to provide its good offices to help find a resolution to the Cyprus issue. "It is in Switzerland's interests to continue on the path of open and constructive dialogue with Turkey," said Mr Cassis. Against this background, issues relating to human rights and the rule of law in Turkey, in particular respect for freedom of expression, were also discussed.

COVID-19 and the international situation
The meeting also focused on the impact and challenges of the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Mr Cassis thanked Turkey for its cooperation in the repatriation of Swiss tourists stranded abroad. Despite border restrictions, over 300 Swiss nationals and residents were able to return home from Turkey.

Other international issues addressed included the situation in Libya and the escalating tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean region, about which Mr Cassis expressed his concern. Mr Cassis reaffirmed Switzerland's determination to pursue a policy of dialogue aimed at a peaceful resolution of conflicts. In this context, Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis called for a rapid solution to the current crisis affecting the leadership of the OSCE chairmanship.. Lastly, the two ministers also conferred on the issue of migration: Switzerland recognises the important role played in the region by Turkey, which has taken in some four million refugees.

Address for enquiries:

FDFA Communication
Federal Palace West Wing
CH-3003 Bern, Switzerland
Tel.: +41 58 462 31 53
E-mail: kommunikation@eda.admin.ch
Twitter: @SwissMFA


Federal Department of Foreign Affairs