A new BBC2 documentary has revealed that German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s private talks with Turkish officials in 2016 to discuss the flow of migrants into the EU infuriated European Council President Donald Tusk, who warned that the Ankara-Brussels migration deal “would be a catastrophe,” Sputnik International reported
“I couldn’t believe it was true. These were my closest partners,” Tusk said, referring to Merkel and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who sat down with then-Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu ahead of the 2016 EU summit in Brussels.
The “Inside Europe: Ten Years of Turmoil” documentary revealed that Merkel and Rutte had agreed on almost all items on Davutoğlu’s wish list, citing Davutoğlu as saying that he “regarded it as a win-win deal.”
“My reaction was ‘Are you kidding?’” Tusk told the documentary makers, while former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi claimed that the meeting “with Mark and Angela without Donald was a mistake.”
In March 2016 the EU and Turkey clinched a deal which stipulated that Syrian refugees arriving in Greece would be returned to Turkey if their claim for asylum was rejected, while Syrian asylum seekers in Turkey would be resettled in Europe on a one-for-one basis.
In return Ankara received $6.4 billion in financial aid and major concessions on EU membership and travel.
The EU, in particular, vowed to accelerate the Turkish EU accession bid and introduce a visa-free regime as well as provide financial aid to Turkey to cover the costs associated with migrant reception.
The agreement resulted in a decrease in new migrants arriving in Europe, but at the same time, it prompted thousands of refugees to resort to unsafe routes operated by smugglers.
In 2018 the German magazine Spiegel reported that the deal was on the edge of collapse as Germany, as well as some EU members, denied further payments to Turkey as part of the Ankara-Brussels agreement.
European countries have been experiencing a severe migration crisis since 2015 due to the influx of thousands of migrants and refugees fleeing crises and poverty in the Middle East and North Africa. Along with Merkel’s so-called open door policy, Germany has since then welcomed hundreds of thousands of migrants and asylum seekers.