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The two European leaders met with then Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to discuss the details of the EU-Turkey refugee deal in private the night before the EU-Turkey summit in March 2016. The details of the secret trilateral meet where the deal was struck, has been revealed in a new book, 'Driven by Events: Merkel’s Refugee Policy,' by Robin Alexander, a journalist with Die Welt.
During the meeting, Merkel, and Rutte, who held the rotating EU presidency at that time as the Dutch PM, agreed on all the major provisions of the future EU-Turkey agreement which was later presented at the summit as a spontaneous Turkish initiative.
In particular, they gave consent to the idea of Europe taking between 150,000 and 250,000 Syrian refugees from Turkey each year even after the massive inflow of asylum seekers and migrants to Europe would have subsided and the principle, under which the EU should accept one Syrian refugee for each asylum seeker returned from Greece to Turkey, would not work anymore.
However, this particular 'deal' never made into the official text of the agreement and remains a “gentleman’s agreement” between Merkel, Rutte and Turkish authorities, Alexander writes in his report, citing unnamed officials that “were directly involved in the negotiations” between the three leaders on the night before the summit.