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Swiss government backs visit of Turkish foreign minister

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Swiss government backs visit of Turkish foreign minister
Mevlut Cavusoglu. Photo: Steffi Loos/AFP
08:59 CET+01:00
Switzerland on Thursday rejected a request from Zurich authorities to cancel a weekend visit by Turkey's foreign minister over security concerns, after several German regions blocked rallies backing a Turkish referendum.
"There is nothing to justify the cancellation of this visit," a Swiss government statement said, referring to Sunday's scheduled trip to Zurich by Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
   
The visit "does not represent a particularly heightened threat from a security point of view", it added.
   
Zurich on Wednesday asked that the visit be cancelled, with the canton's security spokesman Urs Grob warning of possible "heavy demonstrations" if Cavusoglu were to come.
   
That followed an acrimonious row between Ankara and Berlin over Cavusoglu's planned trip to Switzerland's neighbour Germany.
   
The diplomatic tour is aimed at rallying support ahead of an April 16th referendum in Turkey on whether to strengthen the president's powers.
   
After several German local authorities barred rallies, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Berlin of resorting to tactics "not different from Nazi practices".
   
Zurich said it had stressed the controversy in Germany in its request to the Swiss federal government.
   
Bern said it reserved the right to change its decision if the situation evolved.
   
Cavusoglu said on Thursday that his government was still planning around 30 rallies in Germany and that he expected Berlin to "solve this problem."
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