Turkish foreign minister to visit Switzerland amid row over rallies

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 23, 2017 6:39 AM

ZURICH (Reuters) - Turkey's foreign minister travels to Switzerland on Thursday to meet his Swiss counterpart, who has tried to keep the neutral country out of a weeks-long dispute between Ankara and several other European nations over campaigning by Turkish politicians.

Turkey has been embroiled in a dispute with Germany, the Netherlands and Austria over campaign appearances by Turkish officials seeking to drum up support for an April 16 referendum that could boost President Tayyip Erdogan's powers.

The Swiss foreign ministry confirmed the meeting between Turkey's Mevlut Cavusoglu and Switzerland's Didier Burkhalter in Bern but gave no other details.

The SDA news agency said Cavusoglu would also meet compatriots at the Turkish embassy in Bern. Embassy officials were not immediately available for comment.

Zurich officials earlier this month asked the Swiss federal government to stop Cavusoglu from speaking at an event in the country's financial capital, citing security concerns. Bern refused, saying there was no extraordinary threat level that would justify curbs on freedom of speech.

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The speech was eventually canceled for lack of a venue.

Swiss government statistics show around 68,000 Turkish citizens live in Switzerland, a nation of 8.3 million whose population is a quarter foreign. The Turkish embassy's website refers to around 130,000 Turkish citizens.

(Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Gareth Jones)