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Cassis in Turkey Swiss minister tries to mediate in Cyprus conflict

Swiss foreign minister Cassis shaking hands with his Turkish counterpart Cavusoglu

Swiss Foreign Minister Cassis (left) described the bilateral ties with Turkey as 'solid'. 

(Keystone/Cem Ozdel Handout)

Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis has praised Turkey for its role in stabilising the situation in the Middle East and offered Switzerland’s good offices for peace talks in the conflict with Cyprus.

Speaking in the Turkish capital on Friday, Cassis said stability in the Mediterranean region was important for the whole of Europe.

Switzerland was willing to host a new round of talks with all parties involved in the conflict over Cyprus which Turkish troops nearly 50 years ago.

Cassis said he addressed a number of controversial issues in talks with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, notably human rights and freedom of speech.

“Our relations with Turkey are solid,” Cassis is quoted in a foreign ministry statement.

However, a series of incidents, notably suspected Turkish intelligence activities against opponents of the regime among the diaspora in Switzerland, the alleged kidnapping of a Swiss businessman and reports of Turkish propaganda in Swiss schools, have strained bilateral relations in recent years.

The Swiss foreign minister said he was shocked by the deteriorating humanitarian situation following a military escalation in the north-western Syrian city of Idlib and highlighted Turkey’s efforts to de-escalate the tensions.

Switzerland has provided CHF7.4 million ($7.5 million) to Turkey for various aid projects over the past five years, the ministry said.

Cassis’ visit to Ankara came at the end of a week-long trip to Cyprus, Greece and Turkey. “It allowed me to make a more accurate assessment of the Cyprus issue,” he is quoted as saying.

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