Syria Turkey Adana Agreement

In 1998, Turkey and Syria signed an agreement in the Turkish city of Adana that eased the tensions that brought the two nations to the brink of war. Under the Adana agreement, Turkey has the right to drive PKK fighters up to 5 km inside the border with Syria – but they cannot stay long. Syria`s decision to expel Ocalan and negotiate with Turkey was linked to its concern about the strength of the Turkish army in the face of its own weakness. However, a few years later, Syrian President Bashar Assad said in an interview that “the deportation of Ocalan was not out of fear, but because we preferred you. We could either be friends with the Turkish people, or prefer the Kurds and lose you. As our preference was with you, we sent Ocalan. In signing the agreement, Syria recognized the PKK as a terrorist organization and pledged not to provide financial, logistical or military support. Until 2011, Turkey benefited greatly from the agreement in its fight against the PKK. However, when the civil war broke out in Syria, Assad was inclined to replay the PKK`s map against Turkey because his northern neighbour had taken a hard stance and criticized him. Article 1 of the Adana Agreement states that “on the basis of the principle of reciprocity, Syria will not allow any activity that originates from its territory and that would compromise Turkey`s security and stability.” However, several reports during the war suggested that Syria had given the PKK carte blanche on its soil and that the Syrian security services had murdered moderate Kurdish politicians to allow the PKK to re-assert itself in kurdish areas. Turkey is now at serious Syrian threat due to the activities of the People`s Protection Units (YPG), the Syrian branch of the PKK. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said: “We think he (Putin) referred to this protocol, which means that Turkey can intervene in (Syria). And that`s good for us. As part of the 1998 agreement, Damascus agreed not to allow the PKK to operate on its soil.

However, the YPG claims an autonomous administration in northern Syria, based on the political ideals of Ocalan. The refocusing on the Adana agreement is a reminder of some critical points. First, it means that Syria should be forced to either extradite terrorists to Turkey, in this case members of the YPG or the Democratic Union Party (PYD), or withdraw them from the country. But to hope that Damascus awaits, Turkey must conduct an official communication with the Syrian regime. According to several analysts, the return of the Adana agreement to the agenda is intended to pave the way for formal contacts between Ankara and Damascus and a new beginning for bilateral relations.

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