(AFP, AP) - Switzerland said Wednesday it was affronted by Turkey's decision to cancel a trip by the Swiss foreign minister in a diplomatic spat over the highly-charged issue of the killings of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire.
Turkey decided Tuesday to call off the planned visit next week by Micheline Calmy-Rey after the Swiss canton (region) of Vaud last week said it would recognize the 1915 killings of hundreds of thousands of Armenians as genocide.
"It is a blow for Switzerland and for Turkey," the Swiss ambassador to Ankara Kurt Wyss said in an interview with Swiss news agency ATS, calling the move "exaggerated and disproportionate." "It is an affront to Mrs. Calmy-Rey and to Switzerland," said Wyss, who was summoned by the Turkish foreign ministry earlier this week to be informed of the cancellation.
Calmy-Rey said Tuesday that Switzerland had informed the Turkish authorities of its disappointment. The move will make relations between the two countries "somewhat complicated", she said.
Ankara still intended to invite the minister at a later date, Swiss authorities said, but nothing could be decided while Calmy-Rey was away in France. "I don't think that the whole thing is finished now," said Swiss foreign ministry spokesman Simon Hubacher.
The Armenian genocide has been recognized by a U.N. human rights panel and several national governments - including France, Argentina and Russia - as well as a number of U.S. state governments. Such a move by France led to stormy relations with Turkey in 2001.
On September 23, the local parliament in Vaud decided to recognize the genocide, becoming the second Swiss canton to do so following a similar decision by Geneva in 1998. However, Switzerland's national parliament narrowly rejected a similar motion in 2001.