Russia ready to support Adana amendments if Syria, Turkey think fit

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Moscow is ready to support any amendments to the Adana agreement signed between Turkey and Syria in 1998 if both sides of the deal deem it necessary, Sputnik reported on Monday.

As part of the deal, the Syrian government prohibited in the country all activities of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group of Kurdish militants who have been fighting against the Turkish state for Kurdish self-rule since 1984.

The Adana pact also allowed Ankara along with the United States and the European Union, to go after any PKK fighters fleeing from Turkey into northern Syria, as far as 5 kilometers into the country without holding any territory in the process. PKK militants are labeled as terrorists by Turkey.

“If the parties [Turkey and Syria], in the course of contacts, consider it necessary and mutually acceptable to clarify or amend this [Adana] agreement in any way, this will be their decision, we will certainly accept and support it,” Lavrov said on Monday at a press conference.

The minister also expressed that his country has no plans to host a possible security summit between Ankara and Damascus while there is tension between the two parties over the former’s military operation in the northeast of the neighboring country.

“A representative of the presidential administration has already commented on planned contacts between Syrian and Turkish representatives in Sochi. We do not plan such contacts,” Lavrov noted.

He also suggested that so as to guarantee the absence of any threat coming from the Syrian territory against Turkey, all the Kurds in Syria should be covered by the new constitution.

“All the Kurdish structures on the Syrian territory should be solidly covered by the Syrian legislation, the Syrian constitution so that there are no illegal armed groups, … and so that no threat to the security of the Republic of Turkey and any other nation comes from the Syrian territory,” the minister explained.

Emphasizing the necessity of a dialogue between Ankara and Damascus, Lavrov added that it should “obviously” be based on the 1998 Adana agreement and that Moscow is ready to play a supporting role to encourage such direct contacts.

Lavrov’s remarks came in the aftermath of the Turkish offensive called Operation Peace Spring, which was launched in northeastern Syria on October 9.

Ankara’s stated aim is to establish a “safe zone” along its border to resettle up to two million Syrian refugees.

The Turkish incursion into Syria drew international condemnation with the Syrian government defining it as an “occupation.” Moscow, which backs forces of Damascus in the region, urged Ankara to avoid escalation.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday agreed, following talks with senior US officials including US Vice President Mike Pence, on a 120-hour ceasefire for the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG)’s withdrawal from the region where Turkey wants to create the zone.

However, both the Turkish government and the Kurdish forces have reported incidents of ceasefire violations since the deal was reached on Thursday.

Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin are expected on Tuesday to talk about the situation in Syria during a visit to Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi as the ceasefire agreement between Turkish and Kurdish forces expires.

Kurdish forces leave Ras al-Ayn as Turkey resumes attacks

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