Federal Councillor Burkhalter told his Turkish counterpart that he understands the difficult situation Turkey is facing after last summer’s attempted coup d’état. But he also expressed his concern about the large number of dismissals and arrests in Turkey, and underscored that the declaration of a state of emergency does not exempt Turkey from its international human rights obligations. The two ministers also discussed their countries’ positions on various issues, including a possible reintroduction of the death penalty in Turkey, the duration and proportionality of the state of emergency, the independence of the judiciary, and cooperation with institutions such as the Council of Europe. Mr Burkhalter also reiterated Switzerland’s position on the situation in south-eastern Turkey and Switzerland’s willingness to offer its good offices.
During their meeting, Mr Burkhalter and Mr Çavuşoğlu also exchanged views on the upcoming referendum in Turkey. On 16 April, the citizens of Turkey will vote on a reform of their country’s constitution. In this context, Mr Burkhalter underscored the validity of Swiss law on Swiss soil, urged Turkey to comply with it, and said that Switzerland would rigorously investigate illegal intelligence activities. In addition, Mr Burkhalter stressed the importance of freedom of expression and the freedom to speak out for democracy in particular. Switzerland expects Turkey to respect its international commitments in this respect, said Mr Burkhalter.
Mr Burkhalter and Mr Çavuşoğlu also discussed regional and international issues, especially the situation in Syria. Mr Burkhalter expressed grave concern about the catastrophic situation in Syria six years after the outbreak of the war. Their discussion also focused on talks aimed at reaching a political solution to the Syrian conflict and on international humanitarian commitments.
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