On the flight back from his Moscow meeting, Erdogan told journalists aboard the plane with him that Turkey would not have any top-level contact with "someone who is the reason behind the deaths of more than one million people and the displacement of millions of others," referring to Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.

Unal Cevikoz, deputy chairman of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and a retired ambassador, told Qantara that Putin’s reference to the Adana accord to address Ankara’s security concerns is a legitimate and logical suggestion.

"Russia wants Ankara and Damascus to enter dialogue, which will become inevitable sooner or later. Turkey has to accept a fact that has already been acknowledged by the world: Assad will remain in power. But Erdogan believes that accepting that fact will mean a step back, something he has been refraining to do. Such stubbornness is incompatible with the necessities of realpolitik," Cevikoz said.

At the time, the Adana deal did not only prevent a war between Ankara and Damascus, it improved ties to such an extent that the Erdogan and Assad families even holidayed together.

Adana does not give Turkey the right to act unilaterally

The deal remained in place until the Syrian uprisings erupted in 2011, Ismail Hakki Pekin, a retired lieutenant general who formerly headed the intelligence department of the General Staff, told Qantara. He stressed that, contrary to what Erdogan is implying, the Adana agreement does not give Turkey the right to act unilaterally.

"The Adana agreement prepares the ground for co-operation, not unilateral action. I visited Syria every six months when I was head of the military’s intelligence service between 2007 and 2011. They extradited all PKK members, shut down their camps and eradicated their financial sources. The last meeting between Turkey and Syria was in January 2011 during my time. I went to Damascus within the framework of the agreement. They were supposed to come in August, but did not under the circumstances," he said.

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