ZURICH – Several Turkish citizens with diplomatic passports have sought political asylum in Switzerland, the Tages-Anzeiger newspaper reported on March 8, calling the move a potential test of the neutral country’s ties with Turkey.
The paper said the second-ranking Turkish diplomat in Bern and his family were among those seeking asylum after he refused to comply with a summons to return home.
Swiss Foreign Ministry officials and the Turkish embassy in Bern were not immediately available to comment on the report.
The news comes as Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu plans to address compatriots in Zurich on the weekend, prompting city officials to ask the federal government to block the event for security reasons, Swiss media reported.
Çavuşoğlu accused Germany earlier on March 8 of hostility toward his country and Islam, and Berlin complained of increased Turkish espionage on German soil as acrimony between the two NATO allies showed no sign of abating.
Ankara is furious over the cancelation of several rallies by Turkish ministers in Germany, while Berlin has demanded the immediate release of a Turkish-German journalist, Deniz Yücel, detained on terrorism charges.
Turkish ministers want to rally support among Germany’s large Turkish community for a referendum on April 16 that will, if passed, usher in a presidency with vastly enhanced powers for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Germany has said they can hold rallies, provided they respect local laws, but local municipalities have canceled several rallies, citing security concerns.