Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Switzerland
June 15 2005

Deiss "is welcome" to visit Turkey

Swiss Economics Minister Joseph Deiss is welcome to visit Turkey as
planned in the autumn, according to a senior Turkish parliamentarian.

The renewed invitation comes just days after the trip was thrown into
doubt following a diplomatic row with Ankara over a Swiss
investigation into a Turkish historian.

Mehmet Dülger, head of the foreign-affairs committee of the Turkish
Grand National Assembly, told swissinfo that he had no reason to
doubt that Deiss's visit would go ahead as planned in September.

"I am sure that this visit will take place in Istanbul in September,"
said Dülger. "We are all convinced that this would be a very useful
trip and a welcome opportunity to further [economic ties]."

He was speaking on the second day of the foreign-affairs committee's
week-long trip to Switzerland which has so far included meetings with
Deiss and Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey.

The visit was overshadowed last week by news that the Turkish trade
minister, Kürsad Tüzman, had cancelled plans to speak later this
month at the Swiss-Turkish Business Council in Zurich. It also
emerged that Deiss's trip to Turkey was unlikely to take place as

Newspapers in Ankara reported that Tüzman had decided not to travel
to Switzerland in protest at the treatment of Turkish historian Yusuf

Last month the cantonal prosecutor's office in the Swiss city of
Winterthur launched an investigation into claims that Halacoglu had
violated anti-racism laws by playing down the massacre of Armenians
in 1915-18 during a speech in Switzerland in 2004.

Testing times
Turkey and Switzerland have been at odds over the Armenian question
since 2003, when canton Vaud's parliament ? and later the House of
Representatives ? voted to recognise the killings as genocide.

Armenians say around 1.8 million people were killed. Turkey disputes
this, putting the figure closer to 200,000.

But Dülger rejected suggestions that Swiss-Turkish relations could
suffer as a result of the investigation into Halacoglu's comments on

The Turkish ambassador to Bern, Alev Kiliç, added that he had been
assured by the Swiss authorities that there was "no reason to be
concerned" about the case against the historian.

"It seems that an official complaint was made [about what Halacoglu
said] and the prosecutor therefore had no choice but to launch an
investigation," said Kiliç.

"Our understanding is that the legal proceedings now have to run
their natural course."

Dülger confirmed that Halacoglu's case had come up during discussions
with government officials.

But he made it clear that the focus of the talks ? which included
meetings with Swiss parliamentary colleagues ? was on how to
strengthen bilateral ties.

The five-member Turkish delegation travels to Geneva on Wednesday for
meetings at the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. The
parliamentarians move on to Zurich on Thursday for talks with Swiss
business leaders.


From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress