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Special Event

Millennium 2000: A Drop to Drink, Gorbachev and Peres on the World's Water Problem

Aired January 3, 2000 - 9:15 a.m. ET


JIM CLANCY, CNN ANCHOR: We are welcoming two distinguished guests this hour in our millennium coverage: former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, and former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Both of these men are uniquely qualified to address some of our top news stories of the day: the resignation of Boris Yeltsin and the conflict in Chechnya, and the reopening of peace talks between Israel and Syria, and we're going to hear their views on these issues later in our program.

CLANCY: But first, they have joined us this day to address a much larger challenge for mankind that will prove critical in the coming century: water.

We pour it, pollute it, waste it. Now we're running out of it. And soon we could be fighting over it.


SANDRA POSTEL, AUTHOR/WATER ANALYST: Looking out to 2025, the number of people living in water-stressed countries will increase six and a half times.


CLANCY: Out most plentiful resource is fast becoming scarce.

Water, an essential component for life on this planet. It's also chronically overused, often polluted and irreplaceable. We'll talk to our distinguished guests in just a moment.

But now, CNN's Siobhan Darrow give us an idea on the state of the world's water supply.


SIOBHAN DARROW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Water, it's the very essence of life, as basic as the air we breath. It falls freely from the skies, laps against our shores. It is the most common substance on Earth, covering more than 70 percent of the planet's surface. It makes up most of what living things are. Our own bodies are two-thirds water. In Las Vegas, a city in the desert, water fountains dance to lure in potential gamblers. But the abundance of water is an illusion. Only a tiny fraction of the planet's water is drinkable, 97 percent is sea water, which is expensive and difficult to desalinate; two percent is caught in polar ice caps; That leaves one percent to sustain life in the next millennium. Already, 26 countries are classified as water-stressed, meaning they don't have enough water to support agriculture and economic development.

POSTEL: Looking out to 2025, the number of people living in water-stressed countries will increase six-and-a-half times.

DARROW: Much of the world relies on natural underground storage tanks called aquifers. We're rapidly using up those reserves, digging ever deeper wells like these in Northern Syria, lowering water tables at an alarming rate in every continent.

Chinese leaders are even considering moving the capital from Beijing because of chronic shortages.

WILLIAM COSGROVE, WORLD WATER COUNCIL: Up until a couple of hundred years ago, we were hardly using but a small fraction of the Earth's water. Today, we are using more than half of it, and polluting more than that even, and the result is that we are reaching a dangerous point that is not sustainable.

DARROW: More than half of the major rivers are going dry or are polluted, endangering the health and livelihood of those who depend on them.

In 1998, 25 million people fled their homes because of water crisis in river basins, a higher number than refugees of war. By 2025, environmental refugees could quadruple.

RICHARD JOLLY, U.N. DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM: In developing countries, about a quarter of the population don't have access to clean water. That's 1.3 billion people.

DARROW: More than twice that number, almost three billion people, don't have decent sanitation, causing millions of deaths each year. A child dies every eight seconds from drinking contaminated water.

This is the Ganges in India. Hindus consider the river sacred. People use the Ganges to bathe themselves, to launder their clothes, even to bury their dead, sure that the river's holiness will protect them from typhoid, cholera and diarrhea. But it doesn't.

In China, the Yellow River was once the cradle of their civilization, nurturing China's northern plains; 3,600 miles long, it was known throughout history as China's sorrow for it's tendency to flood. Now it is causing distress for the opposite reason. It is running dry.

ELIZABETH ECONOMY, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Industry has expanded, agriculture has expanded and the population has boomed, but there has been no thought given to how to manage the resources of the Yellow River.

DARROW: And grandiose plans are in the works to rearrange another river: the Yangtze. China is in the process of building the world's largest dam, a controversial project expected to displace more than a million people and radically change the ecosystem for the entire region.

One needs only to look next door to the former Soviet Union to see the potential damage such solutions can cause. The Aral Sea in the former Soviet Central Asia may provide a nightmarish glimpse of ecological disaster of the future.

When Soviet central planners decided to grow cotton in the desert, they diverted water from the rivers flowing into the Aral Sea to irrigate the fields. The sea has since shrunk to 2/3's of it's size. Ships lie in the sandy graveyard that once was water.

The old port town of Muynak is now 30 miles from the coast of the dying sea. Children suffer respiratory diseases, the cows are sick, the native fish are all gone. Salt and toxic dust choke everything in their wake.

POSTEL: It's one of the examples that really shows the close connection between the health of an aquatic ecosystem and the health of the whole economy and the community and the people that depend on that ecosystem.

DARROW: It's not only communist central planners, but capitalists as well who meddle with the flow of rivers. In the United States, the Colorado River is ranked as one of the world's most stressed and over-committed rivers. Dams harness its mighty waters, and in dry years, not a single drop of the Colorado reaches the sea.

(on camera): It took nearly 5,000 workers four-and-a-half years working 24-hour-a-day shifts to build the Hoover Dam in the 1930s. Ninety-six died during the construction of what was, in it's day, the world's largest dam.

(voice-over): It helps control the Colorado, whose waters are divvied up between seven states and Mexico.

(on camera): Hoover Dam was built to bring electricity to a vast area and water to the arid western United States. Like the world's other enormous dams, it is an engineering wonder of our age, some say rivaling the pyramids. But in the future, as the disruption to the environment becomes more fully understood, experts studying water supply say it could stand as a testament to the folly of man's quest to tame nature.

(voice-over): Water from the Colorado transformed the desert into productive farmland.

JESSE SILVA, IMPERIAL IRRIGATION DISTRICT: You fly over the mountains and you see this half-a-million acres of different shades of green.

The annual value of the crops and the beef production, sheep production is a billion dollars annually.

DARROW: The Colorado is the life blood of the burgeoning American Southwest, filling swimming pools and keeping Los Vegas' 48 golf courses lush. Ever-thirsty southern California uses 14 percent more water than its allotment. Little water is left to flow downstream and nourish the Colorado delta in Mexico, turning a once- vibrant ecosystem into a parched and salty marsh.

BILL SNAPE, DEFENDERS OF WILDLIFE: Our dollars would be better spent rejuvenating the delta as opposed to growing more lettuce in the hot desert.

DARROW: Not only delta wildlife is at risk, but an Indian tribe that has depended on the river for centuries is on the brink of extinction.

"For us, this river is life," says a Cocopah chief, "because the life, the soul is what we call the river."

Perhaps nowhere in the world is the strain of sharing water more acute than in the Middle East, where the shortage adds to tensions between nations. Some political leaders have warned disputes over water could eventually lead to war. But it's been a long time since that's happened.

AARON WOLFE, WATER RIGHTS EXPERT: If you look in history for the last water war, you have to go back 4,500 years. The only water war in history was between the city states of Lagash and Umma over irrigation rights on the Tigris River.

DARROW: Today, the Tigris and Euphrates are again a source of potential conflict. Turkey's $32 billion dam and irrigation project will mean less water to downstream neighbors, such as Syria and Iraq, who claim the project will rob them of water they need.

But there are hopeful signs between once-bitter enemies in the region. Jordan and Israel included a water agreement in their peace treaty.

MARY MORRIS, MIDDLE EAST CONSULTANT: It's the first real treaty in the region that deals with water. instead of treating each other as adversaries, they have begun to come together.

DARROW: Instead of stirring conflict:

MORRIS: The scarcity can be a catalyst for a miracle in the Middle East.

DARROW: Perhaps ushering in an era of cooperation.

Siobhan Darrow, CNN, reporting.


CLANCY: For more on the issue of water in our future, joining us now live former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev coming to us from Paris and former Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres in the Jordan River Valley. Mr. Gorbachev is, of course, the founder of Green Cross International that promotes water conservation, and the Peres Center for Peace works with Green Cross to prevent water conflicts in the Middle East.

I want to begin the questioning with Mikhail Gorbachev, asking you, you started Green Cross International back in 1993. In the years that have followed, have you seen an improvement in the way man shapes his relationship with the environment?

MIKHAIL GORBACHEV, FMR. SOVIET PRESIDENT (through translator): In the first place, let me say hello to everyone and my friend, Shimon. And I salute the CNN initiative, because if in the first days of the new year it pays attention to the environment, it's very important.

This is our main -- our main issue on the agenda in the new century. Yes, I participated in founding of International Green Cross because the governments cannot deal with them alone. All the peoples have to support the cause. So, that's the main issue of my initiative: to unite the people in nongovernmental organizations, to help them realize the environmental problem, it's global character, and we saw water, that's a big problem, and a lot could be added to that. So, I think that the people who unite for the environment act very, very rightly.

And the other viewers, I would like to appeal to, let's unite to save the environment to save our nature. Otherwise, we'll all suffer.

CLANCY: All right, Mr. Gorbachev there in Paris, obviously we have some delays due to the translation. Just bear with us on that, because everybody is communicating well.

In the Jordan River Valley, Shimon Peres, welcome to you to our special program looking at water.

SHIMON PERES, FMR. ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: I think that Green Cross is doing a very important job. Now, the water may be the watershed between peace and war in the Middle East. We spend over $100 billion over the last 10 years to acquire arms. Would we invest the same amount of money to produce water or to use corrected (ph) water, we would enjoy peace and prosperity at the same time.

Actually, the water can become the really diplomat of diplomacy for peace. There are many ways to save water and to produce water. We estimated half of the waters of the Middle East -- and the Middle East is a dry area, we don't have a Mississippi, we don't have a Volga, we have the Jordan River that you can see behind me, which is really richer in history than in water -- but we waste, in spite of it, half of the waters because strategic consideration, because the wrong pipelines. Because the wrong conduit of water, water is being evaporated, overused, misused, and we're endangering the future of our children. If we shall together try and bring in a real plan to supply water to all the needed parties of the Middle Either, it can be both good business and a great contribution for peace. CLANCY: Mikhail Gorbachev, your concerns that particularly in the Middle East, particularly right where Shimon Peres is standing, the competition for water could cause conflict.

GORBACHEV (through translator): I do not think that it could be overcome, but Shimon is right that, that, you know, if we take the river of Jordan at the very basin and the people who would like to be -- who would like the water to be used in the right way and so that everybody would have the -- enough amounts of water, the climate between the people has been different, and, of course, it will affect all other issues. And the fresh water problem is not just the problem for the people who experience a big deficit. Also -- but the people who -- the people who consume the bad water, and it affects their health.

Also, the difference in consumption is also great. And you take different countries and the same indicators are different two to three times .

So, we can talk about irresponsibility, irresponsibility in consuming water, and the problem is everybody's problem, that of Russia, the United States, the Middle East, central Asia. It's the problem of Latin America, and not to mention India, etcetera, and China. So, it's the -- one of the most acute problems, today. Without food, the human beings can live, you know, many days, but without water we're talking about days. So, today, to preserve -- to preserve water means giving life to the environment, nature, and get vegetation and give people a chance to -- to improve their lifestyle.

So, there has to be a revolutions in people's conscience.

CLANCY: Shimon Peres, there has to be also cooperation on all different fronts. We heard earlier in Siobhan Darrow's report about cooperation between Jordan and Israel. You, in fact, held secret talks over the issue of water with your neighbors in the region, overcoming, perhaps, some of these political barriers, because is there a genuine recognition in the region that water is not a lone crisis or a competitive crisis, it is a shared problem of the region?

PERES: It is a shared problem, because as Mikhail has said, water is, today, a coin with two sides. On one hand, you can irrigate with water, on the other hand, if you will not have water, you will have pollution.

Now, borders cannot stop pollution. Minefields cannot stop the pollution of water. And it's becoming a very real problem, because every 20 years the population of the Middle East is doubling itself. We have the same amount of water and more and more consumers and users. And if we shall not deal with the issue together, we shall be together the victims of the lack of planning and the following of all histories and prejudices.

You see, the Middle East is organized in a way where, far in the north, in Turkey, you have plenty of water. And as it goes down, the scarcity for water goes up. Now, we can buy and sell water like oil. I do not see any other reason why shouldn't we commercialize the use of the water instead of making out of it a foolish strategy. Let's buy and sell water. I told to some of my Turkish friends, your fresh water is flowing to the sea. The fish don't buy water. They don't pay for it. We are ready to pay for it, we are ready to distribute it, we are ready to recycle it desalinate it. And also, with modern technology, you can make a better use of the water and introduce vegetable and fruits which are not so thirsty for water.

So, a combination of a new policy of water to commercialize it, to stop stopping water on the borders, to really try to distribute it reasonably would really help a young generation to have a different future.

Today, you know, poverty produce deserts, deserts produce poverty, there is an increase of population beyond any control and any hope. And, you know, starvation is a source of violence and maybe a reason for war as well.

Right now, with the negotiations with the Syrians and with our fair relations with the Turks and with our agreement with the Egyptians and our agreement with the Jordanians and eventually with the Lebanese, we can for the first time to have an overall plan for the Middle East concerning water and concerning environment, because they go together, and offering a different future to this region.

CLANCY: A strategy for the future dealing with the water crisis. We'll be back with our special guests, Mikhail Gorbachev in Paris, Shimon Peres at the Jordan River.

Stay with us.


KAGAN: Welcome back to our special "Millennium 2000" coverage. We will continue our interview with Mikhail Gorbachev and Shimon Peres in just a second. We want you to know we're also keeping our eyes on the first day of trading on Wall Street, where the Nasdaq is up an astounding 120 points, almost unheard of. We'll have a business report coming up later in the day.

CLANCY: We're going to go right back now to our interview with Mikhail Gorbachev, the former president of the Soviet Union, as well as Shimon Peres, former prime minister of Israel. They're joining us. Mr. Mikhail, of course, this is being translated to him; we have a bit of a delay from his location in Paris.

But Mr. Gorbachev, I want to ask you about the ideas put forward there by Shimon Peres to make water the commodity, to buy it, to sell it, to make arrangements as you would with oil, to pipeline it into countries in the Middle East or in other location where it might be needed. How feasible is that?

GORBACHEV (through translator): Let me tell you this: Shimon Peres actually touched the concrete part of the problems which we attribute to the deficit of fresh water, drinking water. It's not just -- we're not just talking. I would like you and the viewers to realize that. We've had contacts, International Green Cross contacted the governments of the Middle East, and we sent our experts in order to find a common -- common issue, a common point for a common position, how to approach -- how to approach the problem. And in Paris, ecologists and representatives of various governments met each other, too, and in Jordan, I used to talk to the now-late King Hussein, and now his son expressed interest in continuing working on the problem. And King Hussein used to say that he was ready to patronize -- patronize the problem and work out the different approaches.

So, different issues are being touched, like the problem of sovereignty, how to work on the problem of water without touching the sovereignty of the states.

Another problem, you know, we're talking about business community being active. I would say that different companies would like -- I would like to see different companies to approach the problem differently, not just buy the water and bring it to the areas that need it. For instance, I like Evian water very much, and I always ask for it, so it's being bought all over the world from France. Of course, we'll have to keep doing it, and it's very important for having the persons -- having the people drink good water.

But Shimon Peres and I are saying that each region, each basin of each river, could be approached in a combined way between business, science and politicians. Those are big problems, and we have to approach them as soon as possible. I think we are in a big agreement with representatives of the countries of the region, and they actually react to our initiatives, and I would like to appeal to the politicians who deal with security, with Mideast peace process, and we must not think that those who deal with water get in the way of the peace process. No, it's on the contrary. If we find an agreement on fresh water, how to deal with it, how to use it, how to cooperate, that would affect the whole atmosphere in the region. And it's not just by chance I'm talking about it.

When we began -- when we started being more active in the region some people were doubting whether our activities would not stand in the way of the peace process. No, I think mine understanding is totally different. Our salvation lies in cooperation and combining our efforts, and not enforcing each other's efforts on each other.

KAGAN: Mr. Peres, a question for on this day when Israel and Syria reopen their peace talks, do you see the day when they can cooperate on specific projects, such as building desalinization plants, or perhaps even getting together, and as a group buying water and importing it from Turkey?

PERES: Yes. You see, the minute we shall replace borders with pipes we should begin to see solution for water. Under the auspices of the green cause and Mikhail Gorbachev just did a meeting in Jordan to discuss the issue. The problem is that freshwater you can have free. The salinated water is very costly. Poor countries and poor farmers cannot carry the cost of water. So we have to have a consumption of water, where you have a reservoir of freshwater, or artificial made water, of recycled water, and pipe them in accordance with nature. You see, basically, the rains don't go through the customs, the rivers don't follow the frontiers. We can really conduct the water so we shall make the best of nature, and offer the lowest price to farmers.

Now let's not forget one thing. Today, water is needed not just to produce tomatoes or computers, water is needed to keep your country green, to have fresh air. Fresh air is a more important commodity today than tomatoes or computers. And I think that can and have to come together and agree to combine the offers of nature and the potential of technology to really supply water to all the countries around us. It is a matter of basic reason and goodwill, and it is not such a great deal to a replace borders with pipelines and canals.

CLANCY: Shimon Peres, Mikhail Gorbachev, stay right there. More of our millennium coverage looking at the politics of the Middle East, the issue of water, that global crisis, coming up right now.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With the sun shining on top of us, we have a very serious problem with water. So I hope they take care of that problem before they sign anything.


CLANCY: Concern over water and the peace process. I'm Jim Clancy at the CNN Center, we are continuing our special coverage here. Daryn Kagan and I talking with Mikhail Gorbachev, the former leader of the Soviet Union, as well as Shimon Peres, former prime minister of Israel. Mr. Peres is at the Jordan River.

We talked earlier, Mr. Peres, about conservation, certainly Israel has some of the highest technology that there is for agricultural, watering crops, but at the same time, the Palestinians argues that Israelis are using per capita three times as much water as they are. What is the truth, what has to be done?

PERES: Well, it is true that Israel, the use of water by 70 percent. We use to irrigate vegetables and fruit just 30 percent of what you use in the United States or in Europe. We are in such a shortage of water.

Now it is true that the Israelis use more water than the Palestinians, partly because we have more cities, and maybe we have more industry, and need for water is larger. But there is no reason why the Palestinians should be deprived of the water. Both of us, the Palestinians and us, are living on the same aquifer. We have really to distribute the water that is coming from two basic aquifers in Israel, one on the mountain and the other on the seashore, in a way that it will answer the needs of the people.

We have to have more water by desalinization, and by recycling, those are two technologies which are available to all of us, and we should never forget clearly the Jordanian side of the story because Jordan, too, is terribly short of water.

The three of us have to come together and agree to build some desalinization stations, to have some recycling organization, and have a fair distribution of water for the uses of drinking water, industrial water, and agriculture water.

If you ask me, is it is possible? Yes. The sooner we shall do it, the better it will be. An important part of it is Syria, because part of the water which is coming not far from here to the lake Tiberia are coming from Syria, and we have to guarantee that nobody, because of this, will lose water.

For the first time in the Middle East, we can do something which is regionally right, and that is to build an infrastructure for the need of the people, and not just for the glory of the leaders.

You know, we have two economies now in the east, we have the world economy, which is a market economy, but we have the regional economy, which is an economy of infrastructure of water, of energy, of tourism, of telecommunications. And we have to compliment the two for the benefit of all parties and all people. I believe it is possible. Furthermore, I believe right now is the time.

The year 2000 can be a breach between an old divided belligerent Middle East, and a new pacified reasonable organized flourishing Middle East. It is in our hands. We cannot accuse the nature, it is a problem of politics, it is a problem of agreements, it is a problem of really looking for the future and the need of the people.

CLANCY: Mikhail Gorbachev, just very briefly before we change the line of questioning, on the issue of water. Are you and Green Cross International getting the support of political leaders around the world, are there problem areas?

GORBACHEV (through translator): This is what I would like to say. The initiative and the project emerged of being based on the signals that we received at Green Cross. First of all, there's been very fruitful work done by Shimon Peres. And Shimon Peres who is being widely trusted in the Middle East, and he's been able to realize some project that would connect countries, business and the whole issue of cooperation. So fresh water is one of the projects, and we helped him out there.

Also, we started collecting information about fresh water around the whole world and we have a data bank and we've been able to use different centers in the Middle East and Europe and in the United States. So we have plenty of information about usage of fresh water now around the whole world.

Plus, here's another example of cooperation between the Green Cross and, for instance, the Green Cross organization in Argentina, they even have an agreement with different government agencies there in order to solve the problem of using fresh water. The problem there is different. It may be not as acute as in the Middle East, but it's still a problem, and they're trying to solve it using everybody else's help, by school children, scientists, and all the information is being collected at the Green Cross of Argentina.

The other example is Russia. For instance, take the river Volga. We know the situation is acute in that country, but about half of the population of Russia lives around Volga -- around the Volga River, and we are approaching the problem with a great deal of caution because it needs plenty of attention. We would not like to -- anyone to think that we would be able to solve that problem without the help of governments or the people. No, we have the information; we are linked to different authoritative and influential people, and we can help with our consultation.

CLANCY: Mr. Gorbachev, if you could...

GORBACHEV (through translator): And there's always a great deal of reaction from us.

Yes, please.

CLANCY: Mr. Gorbachev, if you could hold it there, we want to talk about some of the political issues that are at stake this day. Specifically, I want to go back to the Jordan River Valley, talking with Shimon Peres.

Mr. Peres, obviously these peace talks with Syria getting under way. We have a good idea of what the terms must be, at least from the Syrian side. Two things seemed set in concrete in the Middle East 25 years ago until a couple of years ago, perhaps a couple of months ago. One of them was that Israel would never give up the Golan; the other was that Israel would never share Jerusalem with the Palestinians. If we do see a peace deal in which the Golan Heights go back to Syria, is it unreasonable to expect we could also see a shared Jerusalem in the future of the Middle East?

PERES: Well, I think on the Golan Heights, Israel has indicated a real willingness to find a solution. The formula offered by late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, saying the depth of our withdrawal from the Golan Heights will equal the depth of the peace that the Syrians are ready to sign is more than an indication of our willingness and readiness.

When it comes to Jerusalem, I wouldn't like to jump to conclusion. Basically, I believe that every plan which is being offered is being developed at the very same moment. I do believe there are many creative ideas more than it looks at the first sight to solve the problem of Jerusalem. And by the way, the Palestinians agree that Jerusalem should remain one city. They understand also that in one city you cannot have two capitals; you cannot make another Berlin. But as I have said, I can imagine some solutions which will enable the parties to come together.

You know, we have overcome already many difficult issues that looked like unsolvable -- they were solved. And I believe that, in the year 2000, or maybe 2001, we can complete our agreement with the Palestinians. We are quite near and we can reach an agreement with the Syrians. The differences are not as wide as one may think. I do believe that the Israeli leadership headed by Mr. Barak is seriously willing and engaged to look for solutions. Clearly, compromise must come from the two sides; our side, it is clear to us; the other side, it must be clear to the other side as well.

KAGAN: And our final question to Mr....

PERES: I hope Mr. Gorbachev...

KAGAN: One second, Mr. Peres.

PERES: I hope Mr. Gorbachev from the Red Cross...

KAGAN: Go ahead.

PERES: I hope Mr. Gorbachev from the Red Cross to the Green Cross, this is the future for all of us.

KAGAN: Looking towards that future, that directs us to our final question, to Mr. Gorbachev:

Your country goes into the new millennium with the resignation of Boris Yeltsin and a new president in Vladimir Putin. Is Mr. Putin the right man to lead your country into the new century and do you support his actions in Chechnya?

GORBACHEV (through translator): I think we don't have a president yet, we have an acting president. And in accordance with our Constitution, we'll go to the polls in three months to elect the new one. So, now, Russia is in a situation that has a chance -- that features a chance to -- after the elections -- after the elections, to elect a new president.

The very fact of, you know -- the very fact that we are -- that we are experiencing the transition democratically and democratic-wise, though I have plenty of things to say about it, I think it's a great achievement and all the problems can and should be solved democratically.

As far as who the president will be, I think, in the near future, we will see the situation a little bit differently because, right now, I think the consultations are under way -- the closed consultations, and I think it's quite possible that -- clearly, the acting president, Vladimir Putin, intends to take part in the elections -- I think there will be some contenders. And I think the situation can be very interesting.

And, in any case, the people would like to hear the candidates to actually say what they suggest, to either follow the course that has led to the country to where it is now, or should we implement some changes. So the problem of power, the problem for the next president, should be -- all these problems should be solved in an honest, democratic, free elections. That's the way we want to see it, so I think that, politically, there's a very great deal of responsibility as well as the citizens of Russia. But also it depends on the environment Russia is living in, especially Europe and the United States. KAGAN: Mr. Gorbachev, in these final moments that we have, if you could also comment on how Russia is handling the situation in Chechnya, please.

GORBACHEV (through translator): The situation in Chechnya has become more acute. In Russia, when the government decided to hit the bandits in Chechnya, the ones who became to act very aggressively in different parts of Russia, especially in Dagestan and other parts of the country, so the issue -- the issue was that it can't go on that way anymore. The government has to keep the situation stable and support the Constitution. So contrary to the first Chechen war, all opposition parties supported it under the condition that the fighting will be against the bandits, the terrorists, including international terrorists -- and there's plenty of those, by the way, and there's plenty of arms.

So, the government has to seriously approach the situation, not let it grow into a war -- the war with a peaceful population, a civil population -- and prevent the situation from getting out of control. So I think that in -- if in the beginning that's what we saw, right now, I think we're witnessing a situation and facts that not everything is going the way it should have been going. So I think demands put forward by democratic forces, the ones who support the government and the opposition...

KAGAN: And with that, Mr. Gorbachev, we're going to have to say thank you because we're just -- we are just about to lose our satellite time.

Want to say thank you. Didn't mean to cut off Mr. Gorbachev, but satellite time ruling the universe today.

CLANCY: Both Shimon Peres -- our thanks to you for being with us from the Jordan River -- Mikhail Gorbachev from Paris, two men very much involved in the issue of water in our future. Some interesting comments.


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