Espionage Linked to Swiss FM’s Canceled Turkey Trip


GENEVA–(AFP)–Turkish intelligence services spied on Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey because of her alleged links with Turkey’s restless Kurdish minority–Swiss newspapers reported Sunday–claiming that the minister canceled a scheduled trip to Ankara last month–as a result.

The newspaper Le Matin said Turkish intelligence had informed Swiss police of the alleged links–quoting a Turkish memo saying: "If your foreign minister is persona non grata in Ankara it is because she lends too attentive an ear to Kurdish opponents."

Militants in the Kurdish community in southeastern Turkey have been campaigning for decades to achieve self-rule.

Relations between Turkey and Switzerland deteriorated last month when the foreign minister’s visit was called off at the last moment.

The Turkish government let it be known it was offended because the Swiss canton (district) of Vaud had publicly acknowledged the 1915 genocide of Armenia’s.

This is a highly sensitive topic in Turkey’s foreign relations. Turkey continues firmly to deny any responsibility in the genocide of neighboring Armenia’s during the Ottoman Empire–and always reacts sharply to any foreign assertions insisting on Turkish culpability.

Le Matin reported Calmy-Rey had been kept under surveillance in August by a Turkish agent who had observed her at a cocktail party talking briefly to a Kurdish opposition activist.

Reports said the memo from Turkish intelligence to Swiss police had been passed on to Swiss President Pascal Couchepin–who had called an urgent cabinet meeting to condemn the foreign minister.

Asked by the Swiss news agency about the reports–a spokesman for the Swiss attorney-general described them as "staggering."

"If there were any evidence of Turkish espionage–an investigation would be opened into illegal activities by foreign intelligence services on Swiss soil," he said.

The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)–outlawed in Turkey and now renamed KADEK–began an armed campaign against Turkish authorities in 1984 for self-rule–and declared a unilateral cease-fire in 1999 after its leader Abdullah Ocalan was captured by Turkey.

It called off the truce last month–however–saying the cease-fire could only continue only if it is also respected by the army. It nevertheless did not call on militants to renew fighting.


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