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Swiss-Turkish relations Turkish diplomats seek asylum in Switzerland

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, left, shaking hands with Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter in Geneva in January 2017


Switzerland is processing asylum requests from hundreds of Turkish citizens, including a few diplomats – a delicate situation considering that Turkey’s foreign minister is planning to visit Zurich on Sunday.

At a parliamentary Q&A session this week, the Swiss cabinet confirmed that 408 Turkish citizens had applied for asylum since the attempted coup in Turkey last July. These include diplomats still based in Switzerland. The Swiss authorities have declined to comment on the identities or status of the various requests.

As the Tages-Anzeiger newspaperexternal link reported on Wednesday night, Volkan Karagöz, Turkey’s outgoing vice ambassador to Switzerland, is one of the diplomats. The paper says he has filed for asylum for himself and his family. Last month, Karagöz was supposedly one of 48 people that the Turkish government had accused of supporting a “terrorist” group.

Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlüt Cavuşoğlu, plans to visit Switzerland on March 12. According to a note sent by the Turkish embassy to the foreign ministry, Cavuşoğlu is scheduled to meet the Turkish consul generals of Switzerland and Austria in Zurich. Later, he is expected to meet members of the Turkish community.

However, he needs to find a new venue after the Zurich hotel he booked cancelled the rally on Thursday. As the manager of Hotel Hilton in Zurich-Opfikon told Swiss public television, SRF, it did so because the organisers “couldn’t guarantee the safety of hotel guests, attendees and hotel staff”.

The decision follows canton Zurich’s plea for the Swiss federal authorities to cancel Cavusoglu’s visit because of security concerns.

Cavuşoğlu is currently in Germany, where he accused Berlin of being hostile to Turkey and Islam. On Thursday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Turkey not to compare the German government to the Nazis for cancelling Turkish minister rallies.

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