Talks about the importance of re-implementing the Adana Agreement signed between Turkey and Syria in 1998 on ensuring border security between the two countries have returned to be a starting point in the path of possible rapprochement between Damascus and Ankara. This comes at a time when questions are raised about the possibility of reaching a second version of the agreement after the failure of Russian efforts to deploy the Syrian army on the border in areas controlled by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northern Syria.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said during his participation in the “Primakov Readings” forum in early December in Moscow that “Russia is interested in Turkey and Syria. This is based on the Adana Agreement between the two countries, which is still in force, to settle the specific issues related to ensuring border security by resuming dialogue– the preludes to which seem to be maturing.”
Lavrov added that “this must be done taking into account Turkey’s legitimate concerns, which “the Syrian leadership recognized during the era of the late President Hafez al-Assad and now recognizes,” according to Russia Today.
Russian President Vladimir Putin was the first to call for a return to the agreement during his meeting with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Moscow in January 2019. He said: “The Turkish presence is legal according to the Adana Agreement signed between the two countries in 1998. The application of this agreement is the rule that will close many questions related to security issues between the two countries. ”
In turn, the Turkish president bases the presence of Turkish forces inside Syrian territory on the clause in Annex No. 4 of the agreement, which indicates that “the failure of the Syrian side to take security measures and duties, stipulated in this agreement, gives Turkey the right to take all necessary security measures inside Syrian territory at a depth of 5 km.”
Regarding the possibility of re-implementing the Adana Agreement, political writer Ghassan Youssef believes in an article in the Middle East Online website, that “returning to the Adana Agreement or amending it is not that easy, but if Turkey thinks strategically, it will seek to return to this agreement or work to amend it for several reasons. These reasons include the return of normal relations with neighbouring Syria and the return of Syria as a land corridor for Turkey and Europe to reach the Arab Gulf countries. This returns Turkey as a regional economic center after what president Putin worked on to make it a regional gas distribution hub.”
“Turkey will also become accepted by the Arab world as it does not occupy Arab lands. Turkey and Syria, with the help of Russia, Iraq and Iran, will work to prevent the establishment of a separatist canton in northeastern Syria, which Turkey fears and threatens to carry out ground operations to eliminate the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) – which seeks to establish this separatist entity,” Youssef said.
In the same context, political analyst Kamal Al-Jafa previously explained in a statement to Athr Press that “although Turkey does not refuse to expand the Adana Agreement again, what it previously accepted will not be accepted today, because there are demands related to the political settlement, the refugee issue, the dissolution of armed factions and the Astana outcomes. In addition to that, it wants a declared Syrian position in the face of the SDF, considering that “the SDF is the one that stands in the face of activating the Adana Agreement because its position was negative with regard to the deployment of the Syrian army on the border with Turkey.”
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.