Return to Transcripts main page
CONNECT THE WORLD
Gearing Up for a Crucial Vote of Confidence; The Mood on the Street; George Papandreou Speaks to the Greek Parliament
Aired November 4, 2011 - 16:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MAX FOSTER, HOST: Tonight on CONNECT THE WORLD, tensions running high on the streets of Athens and a crucial confidence vote due within hours. Hanging in the balance, a prime minister's future and perhaps the fate of the Eurozone.
We'll be live in Cannes at the G20 summit. Becky is there for us.
Becky is in Cannes for us tonight.
I'm here in London.
I'm Max Foster.
We're also looking at the fate of Conrad Murry. It's in the hands of a jury. We'll have a live report from Los Angeles for you.
And a mock mission to mars -- why these cosmonauts spent the last 18 months locked in a steel tube and what they had to say when they came out.
First, though, G20 leaders can point to several accomplishments as they leave their summit in Cannes. But their biggest priority still hangs in the balance, hijacked by political drama thousands of kilometers away.
We're awaiting a vote in the Greek parliament that could have huge implications for the Eurozone debt crisis. Prime Minister George Papandreou's government is on the brink of collapse after his call for a referendum on an EU rescue deal created an uproar abroad and at home.
He's now backed off the referendum call, but still faces a vote of confidence, expected very soon, indeed.
The world's major economies are anxious for Greece to approve the rescue deal and fast to stabilize those jittery markets. U.S. President Barack Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy discussed the Greek crisis during a joint interview with French television as the G20 summit wound down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY FRANCE 2-TF1)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We still have some work to do. But I think that the plan that the European leaders agreed to on October 27th lays the foundation for progress. It recapitalizes the banks. It provides a path for Greece to move forward. It focuses on how to build a farewell that assures markets that Europe stands behind the euro.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY FRANCE 2-TF1)
NICOLAS SARKOZY, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): We are working as a team. This is teamwork. There is no economy that can go it alone. We were -- this is teamwork with the single objective, which is to create growth, create jobs, recovery. We need the United States of America to achieve growth and they need a stable Europe.
I would love to be able to answer your question, is the crisis behind us. I don't know. We have no alternative but to speak frankly to the peoples of the world, be it in Europe or the American people, as regards President Obama. We are doing everything within our power to ensure that the crisis is stopped.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: Well, the G20 summit produced a number of deals, but not an awful lot of details.
Here are some of the broad agreements.
Leaders promised, in principal, to honor their commitments to the International Monetary Fund to act as a crisis farewell. They also welcomed Italy's decision to accept IMF oversight of its economic reforms. The G20 also produced and action plan for the global economy that would boost growth and create jobs. And they approved measures requiring banks judged too important to fail to increase their shock absorbers against future potential losses.
With that final communique, it's lights out in Cannes now, but the -- the night is still young in Athens, where lawmakers are burning the midnight oil, gearing up for a -- a crucial vote of confidence.
Let's get the very latest now from Jim Boulden, live in Athens tonight.
So what's going on in the parliament right now and when is the vote?
JIM BOULDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Max, we're still hearing parliamentarians speak. Every one of them gets a chance, gets a few minutes to say what they want to say in front of the microphones and in front of the TV channels. Many Greek TV channels are showing it live, wall to wall coverage.
We're still waiting for Mr. Papandreou, the prime minister, to speak. And when he speaks, apparently, that would be the end and then the vote will begin.
All along, the vote was supposed to start in about one hour's time. That would be midnight Athens' time, after three days of debate. Then, we should have about a 40 minute vote and we hear the fate of Mr. Papandreou.
Now, there are many different scenarios here. We don't have time to go through all of them, but let me explain some of them.
He could fall. He could lose, not have enough votes. He only has a one or two majority in the parliament. Or, if he wins, he could still step down in a few days. That seems to be one of the scenarios that more and more people think is likely, he would win this vote. He would be confident that he won the vote. And then there would be -- he would step down to a national unity government.
If the government collapses, well, then the president would have to step in in the next few days, try to get one of the smaller parties or, in fact, PASOK Party, to try to form a new government.
So all those scenarios are on the table. But the opposition does say very clearly, Max, that they do support the bailout plan that was agreed to last week. There are things they would like to do differently. But it's no longer about would they or would they not vote for the euro, vote for this plan. It seems very likely they will. We just don't know whether Mr. Papandreou will be head of that government when the parliament behind me would have to vote on the bailout agreed last week in Brussels. And we don't know when that vote will happen. It could be next week, it could be the following week -- Max.
FOSTER: What about potential replacements for him, then?
Because as I understand it, he -- as unpopular as he is, he does have generally broad support, unlike some of the people most likely to take over from him. You know, he's the best of a bad bunch, I've been reading.
BOULDEN: You know what's so interesting, Mr. Papandreou's father and grandfather were both prime ministers of this country. There is a family dynasty, there's no doubt about it. He has been trying to keep this government together through this entire quagmire, for the last eight months. And what we saw this week, I think, was frustration on his part by saying, well, let's have the people vote in that referendum. Now we know that referendum won't happen.
The question is, will Mr. Papandreou go quietly?
We just don't know. We'll have to see about that vote in about an hour's time -- Max.
FOSTER: And it's not just a debate in Athens, Jim.
Thank you very much for that.
It's a big debate in Cannes, where Becky is, covering the G20.
BECKY ANDERSON, HOST, "CONNECT THE WORLD": That's right. Struggling to get our signal up tonight. There's an enormous storm here and we've been using this metaphor across the last couple of days. It's been a summit that's been -- had a storm cloud hovering over it for most of the time.
The Greek public may not get to vote on the Eurozone bailout deal, but they certainly have strong opinions about the debt crisis.
CNN's Diana Magnay got the mood on the streets of Athens.
DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Break time at Athens's New York Business College. A bunch of students set on getting qualified then quitting the country.
(on camera): Don't you feel that your country needs people like you?
DMITRIS TSIOUTSIAS, BUSINESS STUDENT: They do, but there's no opportunity. People are closing, stores are closing. Strikes are making it very hard for people to even go to school and work.
MAGNAY (voice-over): His friend, Hrack Altunyan, thinks it's more deep-rooted than that.
HRACK ALTUNYAN, COMMUNICATIONS STUDENT: If you take a Greek guy, a Greek guy who lives in Greece, he do nothing. If you take a Greek guy and move him to Australia, move him to Canada, move him any -- anywhere we want, he will do great things.
MAGNAY: There's a special course here on Greece and the crisis -- an attempt to try and buck the trend and keep the young back home.
LEONIDAS BOUITSAS, PROFESSOR, NEW YORK COLLEGE, ATHENS: It's all about finding the presence of mind to go against a lot of what has been built and declared debunked. It's -- it's something that only younger people can do.
MAGNAY (on camera): But it seems the younger generation feel the principles of democracy broke down long ago. They say they feel cheated by their own politicians, by their own parents and grandparents, for creating a mess of monumental proportions that no one seems able to fix.
(voice-over): Talk to older generations and they'll freely admit much of the blame lies with Greek society.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I believe that we have to earn our living. It was, the last 10 years...
(END VIDEO TAPE)
ANDERSON: All right, now, I want to bring you out of Diana's package now, because the Greek prime minister, George Papandreou, has just begun to speak, an hour before a vote of confidence in the Greek prime minister.
Let's listen to what he's got to say.
GEORGE PAPANDREOU, GREEK PRIME MINISTER (through translator): (INAUDIBLE) is really hard in this country and an opposition which doesn't take its place and the only thing which is -- in which they're interested is to keep the old system going.
And we've gone through a lot mud slides. There have been some tragic mistakes in this country by the (INAUDIBLE) there was the last government and the five years of New Democracy that led us here.
And let's be honest, was it me who doubled the debt or was it New Democracy?
Was it me who left a deficit of 36 billion euros?
Was it me or us that we increased the deficits?
Now, we have decreased the deficit and what the Greek citizens face is a -- it's a new trial that we have to go through and some people are trying to forget about it.
And that's why we're going from one country to another, from one capital to the other, from one meeting to the other, me and the cabinet, for months now. And this is the truth, my colleagues. We have to pay the bill of decades of mismanagement and nobody cares for what's going on in this country. And all these months, we have to pay that bill. (APPLAUSE)
PAPANDREOU: But we are proud that after all these months of trying so hard, adventures and sacrifices, a country managed to achieve an agreement at the last summit which is absolutely essential for our future, for the short-term future and the long-term future and the future generations, something which will provide us with security, which will keep us within Europe and -- and we have the essentials to -- to make this -- the state function and pay the salaries and the pensions. And if we do what we have to do and we wipe out a large chunk of the deficit within the next few months, it will make us able to pay less interest rates for the money we borrowed in the past, which will make our way in the future a lot easier, will give us the chance to put all our strength together to build a Greece of development.
And because some people, they're being completely irresponsible, I would like to reassure the Greek people, with this agreement, there is no problem with the money that they have invested in the banks. Quite the opposite. And remaining in Europe, they more guarantee that ever. And with this agreement, there is no problem with the -- that will bring us quickly out of the crisis. This agreement, it doesn't -- it doesn't necessarily mean that it will reduce the wages by 50 percent, as people are saying, or the pensions that some people, they spread such news.
This agreement will give us a huge chance -- and perhaps the last one -- to rebuild the country on new and strong foundations. And this agreement shouldn't go wasted. It cannot go wasted. Otherwise, we'll be historically responsible.
We have to ensure this agreement and implement it within the next few months. This is the -- the highest responsibility of all of us. And this is ultimately to our own benefit.
This is the national priority. And I'm very pleased, honestly, very pleased, that more and more people, they realize how important this agreement is. And I'm very pleased for -- for the significant step that the opposition made that we'll go ahead and vote for it.
And why do you think that we need a Jr. Consensus from more parties?
Maybe you realize now. But maybe I would like to -- to repeat something which is obvious.
Why do you think I am aiming for these concessions for all -- for such a long time, because the changes that we're going to implement in our country are historical. And they don't just require the other parties to bear with, but they have to participate in it.
And when -- well, the other parties, they call you by traitors and pawns, they gave the chance to a -- a large chunk of -- of the Greek people, which I represent, to -- to reject this.
Like things were so -- or the obvious things, like paying the taxes, every try, for years, the -- the pain, the real pain of the Greek people, in order to stop the most obvious changes and the daily duties. And that's because there's lawlessness. And that lawlessness leads the country into violence and polarization and conflict.
And this lawlessness, it's -- it's mostly against -- for the -- the innocent people and the weak people, as opposed to the ones with a -- an advantage, the stronger ones, and, at least -- at last we have to put some rules in this country in order to protect the citizens...
PAPANDREOU: -- and avoid lawlessness, because otherwise, we'll weaken the -- the laws which protect the civil rights, while -- while when the -- the parties, they are in cooperation, they -- they're getting a good message across. And in every situation which is very difficult to deal with, if it was dealt with a -- just a change of policy, it would have been very easy.
And now, New Democracy realizes it, that we have to -- we have to move on from the Greece of deficits, of -- of not paying and we'll move on to a credible Greece of exports, of quality and green development of Greek laws -- laws and I'm doing what I'm doing in order to protect our rights.
These are duties on a daily basis in our participation to the euro. So this is -- what we're trying to do is much bigger than one party's side all alone.
And we can -- we can get more parties involved in order to get justice instead of we try to get the people to understand and avoid tax evasion and -- and get the people together in order to get such a law to be successful.
But up until now, my colleagues, the last few years, we, PASOK, we had to carry the close (ph). And this is our historical duty. And it's across that -- we're not responsible for this debt and the lack of credibility that a country has. We carry this cross in order to change everything, every malfunction over the last decades, to fight the establishment, not just to beat something over, but to transfer them and trans -- the come -- make them a focus, in a way, things which (INAUDIBLE) us as Greeks.
And as I said, it's not just enough to have one party and a majority. We need a -- a Jr. Support. This support can only be achieved with two ways. One of them would have been a referendum and let the -- the people choose. And they would have the right to reject it and whatever the consequences would be. But at least we are being a democratic way to do it, yes or no.
I personally believe that the yes answer would have been guaranteed because I strongly believe this is -- this package is to the advantage of the Greek people and the Greek people, they know how to choose what's best for them. (INAUDIBLE) being a redemption for the Greek people themselves to choose, rather than us or our partners.
It's strange that all the parties in, of the opposition, although they're -- they had some similarities, they were all totally against it. They were talking about adventurism. Some people, they think that protecting our democracy, they call it an adventure. We think that if -- if they were worried that the people, they might not vote in -- in support of the bailout package, then why don't we all just vote -- vote positive for it here, in parliament?
On the other hand, if they were worried that -- if they had voted against they -- they were worried that they wouldn't be able to represent the Greek people because -- because they -- the Greek people have had (INAUDIBLE) result.
So what they were worried about?
They were worried that they might miss out the advantage of saying that they represent the will of the people.
As soon as we took the Greece democratic decision, that shook the whole of Europe and -- and the markets. They said, listen, there still -- there are Greek people who still have to decide and these people either from the left, also the right, they -- they said that we both are partners and the stock markets went down.
We may say at last that the G20 -- we must say that at last, yes, they are the markets, but first of all, they are the people and this is the message that we want to bring across.
PAPANDREOU: But I'm coming back to the criticism I will be receiving. We've been accused that -- of waiting to hear -- that's being put to risk because of our policies.
How can they say that when they were the ones who said they ruled by hypocrisy, when -- when the state was spreading the money around, when there was no order?
Someone in the opposition may be -- make a listing about everything. They never mention about the responsibilities that they had all these years that they were in the government, when they used to be minister.
What did they do?
How did they change the -- the state?
How all these deficits that occurred or the friends that they got jobs in state departments?
Let's talk about it openly.
Some, they quit. Because I -- I can't remember if someone quit when - - when Greece was stinking of disorder after remembering getting the country rid of bureaucracy because those days, you could borrow money easily and now that's why the Greek people, they have to pay back for it.
And now some kind of -- someone has to tell them that those things they knew, it's over. And Europe is not just about rights, it's also about responsibilities.
But my colleagues, we just want to turn the page over and move forward. We want all this conflict about the past to be over and turn the page over. In my political life, I always went one step ahead, taking the cost and take the risk, but always for the benefit of democracy, of our home country and our citizens. And everybody, every time I've been criticized as if I'm -- I lack responsibility, I'm dangerous. I remember then, at the time when Mitsotakis was part of -- the leader of New Democracy. Then I was the, quote, "anti-Greek" when I said that we should liberate the universities out of the state, when I said not
To increase drug users and just instead of we should kill them, when I've asked for clarity for the media, I was still accused of that.
ANDERSON: George Papandreou in what could be his last speech to the Greek prime minister. There is a vote of confidence within the hour in Greece, as he makes his impassioned speech to not just parliamentarians there gathered in Greece, but to the Greek people and to those around the world who are watching.
He is insisting that the problems of Greece are not of his making and blaming the former administrations.
Also, the "R" word coming up once again, the word "referendum," still insisting that he thinks it is a decent decision to put the bailout deal, the European debt deal, to the Greek people in a referendum. But sadly, I don't think that is going to happen at this stage.
So George Papandreou there speaking to the Greek parliament in a debate ahead of what is a vote of confidence at midnight Greek time.
Of course, we'll bring you the results of that as we get it.
Greece has been front and center, of course, at this G20 summit, which been -- has been a summit like no other. Greece may have taken center stage, but the focus is now shifting, or certainly did today, on the last day, to Italy, how Berlusconi is trying to reassure his European peers and my big interview with the IMF chief, Christine Lagarde.
How much pressure is being put on the Italian prime minister?
That coming up next here on CONNECT THE WORLD.
You're watching CNN.
I'm Becky Anderson in Cannes at the G20 summit.
Stay with us.
FOSTER: You're back with CONNECT THE WORLD on CNN, the world's news leader, and here are the latest news headlines for you.
Greek prime minister George Papandreou is urging political unity addressing Parliament right before it begins a critical vote of confidence in his government. Mr. Papandreou also said Greece must adopt the EU bailout deal, calling it a national priority.
Israeli navy commandos boarded two aid ships that were trying to break the blockade around Gaza. No resistance was reported. Activists called Israel's actions illegal and say they'll keep coming.
There were protests across Syria on Friday, including the gathering in front of a huge yellow sign that says "Liar." There was also more violence despite pledges from the government two days ago. Activists say as many as 20 people were killed.
There's some cause for optimism in the US jobs market, 80,000 non-farm jobs were added in October. Analysts were hoping for stronger growth, but that number was enough to bring the unemployment rate down very slightly to nine percent.
Stocks in the US and Europe dropped on Friday, closing the week down on the European woes we've been talking about. The Dow Jones fell around 60 points. In Europe, the major markets gave up some of Thursday's gains, and Frankfurt and Paris registered sharp losses.
Those are the latest headlines this hour. We'll have more from London later in the program. Now, it's back to Becky, though, at the G20 summit in Cannes. Becky?
BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Well, Greece, as you know, has dominated this G20 meeting. That is undeniable. But the words that stand out as Cannes wraps up are "contagion" and "containment."
The euro zone crisis has expanded far beyond Greece. Italy and Spain, much larger economies, their problem is the same. And that's too much debt.
Borrowing costs for Italy are soaring. In fact, bond yields have risen to their highest level since the euro began, above 6 per -- 6.3 percent. And that is dangerously close to the 7 percent mark viewed as unsustainable by many economists.
Well, let's take a look at where Italy stands now in comparison to other countries at the time they requested their bailouts. You can see for yourself, here, Italy is very near to hitting the levels of Greece, Ireland, and Portugal were at the point at which they fell into crisis.
Italy under intense pressure from financial markets and other European countries to implement reforms, and now the International Monetary Fund is getting involved, as well. Matthew Chance joins me now live from Rome.
It's not something that Silvio Berlusconi wanted, but the IMF, he has conceded, will be allowed to come in and check how he implements this austerity -- these austerity measures, Matthew.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's kind of a humiliating blow, isn't it, for Silvio Berlusconi? He's sort of -- the country's been placed on the naughty step, and he's being watched, now, by the IMF.
It's only going to increase pressure, Becky, on Silvio Berlusconi. He's already under fire at home -- and abroad, of course -- for his management of the economy. He's got so many other problems, legal problems, that he has to deal with.
Even members of his own coalition are going at him in the national press here in Italy and writing letters saying that -- suggesting that he should step down.
The country's president has just stopped short of saying that as well. And so, Silvio Berlusconi will come back to Rome tomorrow. He'll face a no confidence vote, possibly as early as next week, as he struggles to push through the bare minimum of the austerity reforms that the country's economy so badly needs, Becky.
ANDERSON: What a mess. All right. Matthew Chance, our Senior International Correspondent there in Rome for you.
Earlier here at the G20 summit, I spoke to the IMF chief Christian Lagarde -- Christine Lagarde -- and asked her quite simply whether she thought Italy was doing enough, and this is what she told me.
CHRISTINE LAGARDE, MANAGING DIRECTOR, IMF: Italy is one of the soundest euro zone countries except for one component, its debt. It has a heavy debt burden with a debt that is very largely borne by the Italians themselves.
But in terms of deficit, in terms of primary surplus, it's one of the best countries in the zone, and it does relatively well.
So, it has undertaken to continue to decrease its deficit, continue to reestablish a debt trajectory that is healthier, and the Italian prime minister has actually committed to go to the Italian population to say, come on, buy Italian bonds because non-Italians are worried about our economy, and we should demonstrate our faith in our economy.
His request to me for the IMF to come and verify on a quarterly basis that they're doing the right things is exactly in the same vein. He wants to convince the rest of the world that Italy is doing the right things.
ANDERSON: Just how much pressure did you have to put on Silvio Berlusconi in order that he would allow this public scrutiny?
LAGARDE: I didn't put any pressure on him. It was he and his minister of finance, Giulio Tremonti, who actually invited the IMF to come in and check on a quarterly basis and publish on a quarterly basis a report on what Italy does compared with what it has promised to do.
And we will do that, very independently, very carefully, in a very demanding way as we normally do.
ANDERSON: That stakes couldn't have been higher here. Having read the communique, I can't help but feeling that it will underwhelm many, many people who are hoping for more. And they will, I'm sure, have these persistent concerns that policymakers are yet to fully understand and get ahead of the multiple hurdles that lie ahead.
LAGARDE: I think you need to look at the fundamentals, and certainly one should not get carried away with market trepidations. They are there - -
ANDERSON: It's easy to, though, isn't it?
LAGARDE: They are there. They have a role to play. They move money around. They hedge and they play and they make and they lose money. But what is absolutely key is the economy, the growth of the economy, the creation of value, and the creation of jobs.
We should not be shortsighted. We should really look at the depth of the economies and make sure that the policies are in place so that there is actually jobs, that there is growth, that there is value created around the globe.
Lots of things to do. Lots of policies to adjust, lots of collective, bold action to be taken. But I don't think that anybody should be exclusively and solely guided by market expectations.
ANDERSON: Well, sadly, the markets take their decisions, bet against these countries, and the rest, of course, is history. We've seen that in the price on the bonds as they've fallen as these yields go higher. Christine Lagarde speaking to me earlier, the head of the IMF.
Well, that's the picture in Italy. Let's get you back to Greece where the Greek prime minister is still speaking to the parliament just ahead of what will be a vote of confidence in his government. This may be his last speech to that government, indeed, if he lost that vote of confidence.
If he moves on, it seems we're looking at a government of unity going forward. The idea of referendum appears, now, to be off the table, but things are really, really tough as we move forward both in Greece, in Italy, and across this European zone.
Well, as Greek politicians prepare to decide their leader's future, in Spain, voters appear ready to punish their prime minister's party for the country's worst economic crisis in decades. CNN's Madrid Bureau Chief Al Goodman with us now from the Spanish capital.
Al, the parliamentary election campaigning has officially started, and the economic protests, it seems, continue.
AL GOODMAN, CNN MADRID BUREAU CHIEF: Hi, Becky. That's right, I'm here at the Puerta del Sol in central Madrid where the economic protests started five months ago in this country, the protesters worried about that high unemployment, worried that Spain might go the way of Greece or possibly Italy, and the economy clearly is the issue in this campaign.
Now, this rainy night, the protesters mustered only several hundred. They're down to just about 50 at this hour. But let's take a look at this report that tells us why the economy, according to so many people here, is the issue in this election. Let's listen.
GOODMAN (voice-over): To get a sense of what Spain's parliamentary elections are about, consider the plight of Francisco Murcia, a real estate developer on the Mediterranean coast.
Just a few years ago, he couldn't build houses fast enough, back when Spain's construction and real estate boom fueled what the government proudly called the world's 8th largest economy.
But then, the global economy took a nosedive. Credit dried up, and Spain's boom went bust.
FRANCISCO MURCIA, REAL ESTATE DEVELOPER (through translator): This is hurting all businesses because it's gone on so long, this lack of liquidity in the financial markets, not just in Spain, but abroad. Some companies are surviving, others are not.
GOODMAN: What he experienced also hit companies and workers right across Spain. Soon, the only growth was in the unemployment lines as Spain became a global leader in unemployment at 21.5 percent and nearly 5 million jobless.
The two-term socialist prime minister was so badly damaged by the crisis that he decided not to run again. Polls suggest the opposition conservative candidate, Mariano Rajoy, will be elected November 20th as the next prime minister. His fix for the crisis? Government austerity and lower business taxes to spur job growth.
MARIANO RAJOY, PRIME MINISTER CANDIDATE, SPAIN (through translator): Ours is a project for all Spaniards who know that it is time for a government that is able to rise to the occasion.
GOODMAN: The socialist candidate, Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, was until recently the deputy prime minister.
ALFREDO PEREZ RUBALCABA, PRIME MINISTER CANDIDATE, SPAIN (through translator): We cannot only do a policy of budget cuts. We need public sector investment to create jobs in the framework of the European Union.
GOODMAN: The economic crisis is the dominant issue of the campaign, says this professor.
FERNANDO FERNANDEZ, PROFESSOR, IE BUSINESS SCHOOL: Now, this country has 5 million people unemployed, 1.5 million families which have nobody employed in their home, over 2 million people have been unemployed over a year. The figures are so outstanding.
GOODMAN (on camera): As the election campaign officially gets underway, Spaniards are closely watching the European Union debt crisis in Greece and Italy. But they're much more worried about the problems right here at home.
GOODMAN (voice-over): A crisis that economic protests across Spain in the past five months have kept at the forefront. Many wonder what clout the mostly young demonstrators will have at the ballot box.
But for many Spaniards about to vote, the overriding concern is sheer uncertainty about the future.
MURCIA (through translator): The tunnel is very long, and you still can't see the light at the end of the tunnel.
GOODMAN: The two candidates will get a chance to give their different visions for how to get out of this crisis in the only nationally televised debate between them. That's this Monday. Millions of Spaniards are expected to watch that one. Becky?
ANDERSON: The story out of Spain for you this evening. Al, thank you for that. And I'll be back with more from Cannes shortly. For the time being, though, let's get back to London and Max Foster. Max?
FOSTER: Becky, straight ahead, a new attempt to breach Israel's naval blockade of Gaza. We'll see what happened when a flotilla of aid activists refused calls to turn around.
FOSTER: I'm Max Foster in London. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD, and here's a look at other stories we're following for you this hour.
Activists say they'll keep coming, wave after wave, to try to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza. The Israeli navy thwarted another attempted breach of its Gaza blockade on Friday. It intercepted two ships in international waters after the pro-Palestinian activists onboard refused calls to turn around. The ships were escorted to an Israeli port without incident.
Syria appears to have gone back on its promise to end its crackdown on anti-government protesters. The sound on this video is said to be gunfire in a presidential -- in a residential neighborhood of Hama on Friday.
Just two days ago, Syria told the Arab League that it would pull troops back from violent confrontations with protesters. But reports indicate at least 21 civilians were killed during today's demonstrations. Arwa Damon is following developments from Beirut.
ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Activists from the onset said that they had absolutely no faith that the Syrian government ever had any intention of implementing this Arab League proposal.
And in the southern province of Daraa where the uprising effectively began, activists had a massive banner that had one word on it: "Liar." They say that the Syrian government quite simply trying to buy itself more time.
Activists networks again reported that in many cases across the entire country, people going out to demonstrate following Friday prayers were again meet with indiscriminate force causing many casualties.
They say that the Syrian government is simply bluffing when it says that it intends on removing the military from the streets. Instead, in areas like Homs, activists and residents reported a military buildup.
The Syrian government, for its part, is denying any sort of claim that any casualties occurred on this Friday, and it is also reaching out to the opposition to a certain degree, offering amnesty to those individuals who have been carrying weapons or smuggling weapons if they turn themselves in within a week and if they have not carried out any act of murder.
Very difficult to fathom that any activists would actually turn themselves in to a government that so many of them have flat-out called brutal, and many of them so fearful of the repercussions if they do end up in government hands when they are wounded in demonstration.
For example, they prefer to go to secret underground clinics rather than find themselves in a government hospital.
By all accounts, it most certainly seems as if the spiral of violence that is growing even deadlier by the day inside Syria is only going to continue.
Arwa Damon, CNN, Beirut.
FOSTER: Four people have been killed in central China after an explosion ripped through a mine. These are pictures of two injured miners being lifted to safety. The 57 other workers are still trapped underground. The explosion happened shortly after a small earthquake in Henan province. China has one of the world's deadliest records for miners.
Now, a surfer and two kayakers near Santa Cruz in California got the surprise of their lives this week when they were nearly swallowed up by a pair of humpback whales. Take a look at this amazing moment caught on tape by another kayaker just six meters away.
FOSTER: Unbelievable. Scientists say humpback whales have moved closer to shore as they follow anchovies and sardines. The whales shoot straight out of the water to eat the small fish, which is what you just saw there. They weren't actually going for the kayaks.
Experts have warned people to stay away, though from the whales. But as you can see, not everyone is taking that advice. Be warned.
Now, the man charged in the -- death of Michael Jackson could learn his fate at any moment. Right now, a jury is deliberating over whether the singer's doctor, Conrad Murray, is guilty of involuntary manslaughter. Ted Rowlands is outside the court in Los Angeles.
Ted, I gather you're going to get some sort of notice, though, aren't you, on a decision?
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We're -- we will hear a decision when -- obviously, when the jury buzzes. In the courtroom that they're using, they have a system where if they come to a verdict, they'll buzz a buzzer three times, which alerts everybody that they've come to a decision.
They've been at it, now, for about six hours, and they have about an hour and a half left of court time to deliberate today. Then it would have to extend until Monday. They cannot deliberate over the weekend.
So, if they come to a decision in the next hour and a half, we'll find out. Otherwise, we'll have to wait until at least Monday.
FOSTER: OK. Ted, thank you very much. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN. When we come back, we'll get you the latest from Greece, where the Greek government is set for a showdown that could topple it.
ANDERSON: All right. Well, here in Cannes at the G20, the issues of economic growth and jobs taking center stage. But over in Greece, one job in particular is in the spotlight, that of the Greek prime minister George Papandreou.
Let's get you straight to Athens for some news just out of parliament there. Jim Boulden joining us. Jim, what are you hearing?
JIM BOULDEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Becky, the prime minister well into his speech said that he would go to the president of Greece and ask to form a coalition government.
That's one of the pledges he has just made to parliamentarians moments before they have to vote on confidence of him. So, that's the latest from the speech, Becky.
ANDERSON: All right. So, that news just out minutes before this vote of confidence in the Greek parliament. George Papandreou, the prime minister, announcing he will go to the president and he will form a coalition or government of unity. Fascinating stuff.
It's been a long week here. In politics, they always say that, don't they? Ali Velshi joining me now. A week's a long time in politics.
ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
ANDERSON: Forty-eight hours is a long time in politics.
VELSHI: This has been the most exciting G20 I've ever been involved in.
ANDERSON: That you'll ever be, actually -- in fact.
VELSHI: Yes. Yes. Most of it was a pre-show. I would say that if you look back on the week, the turning point was after Papandreou was called here to Cannes to get a dressing down from Sarkozy and Merkel, where they basically said, "You can deal with this how you want. You can call it what you want."
But it was like a mafia don threat. They said, "Do anything you want. But if you do the wrong thing, we'll break your legs."
ANDERSON: Yes. Take off financial aid or --
VELSHI: Yes. Yes.
ANDERSON: It's quite unbelievable. So, then we move on. So, we sort of to a certain extent tried to draw a line under Greece, but it never happened here.
ANDERSON: And then, of course, Italy becomes --
VELSHI: That's right.
ANDERSON: -- front and center stage. Berlusconi arriving here with practically nothing to offer --
ANDERSON: -- either the IMF or the European leaders.
VELSHI: And it is a substantially bigger and more serious problem than Greece ever was. Greece is the 32nd biggest economy in the world. It is remarkable -- that's how intertwined we are financially that Greece has had the world on edge, and it's not that big an economy.
Italy is. Spain is. So, we're not out of the woods. There's a sigh of relief here in Cannes as everybody gets ready to leave. We've got problems ahead of us still.
ANDERSON: And the weather's been absolutely dreadful --
ANDERSON: -- these metaphorical storm clouds which we knew --
VELSHI: That's right.
ANDERSON: -- were hanging over this conference anyway. They really came.
VELSHI: Before Papandreou got here, it was sunny.
VELSHI: And since then, it's been rainy and windy, and it hasn't let up.
ANDERSON: Listen, we're on our way out. We're closing out our coverage for you viewers. Thank you very much, indeed. Ali Velshi, my colleague here at CNN International. We welcome him here to CNN International. You'll see more of Ali as we move through the weeks and coming months.
I just want to take you back to Greece just for the time being, because we are just moments away from a crucial, crucial vote, not just for Greeks, not just for the Greek parliament, but for the whole of the European space. This is the beginning of the rest of the European future, as it were.
Let's get back to Jim Boulden, who's standing by for you. He's just found out that the prime minister, whatever happens with this vote of confidence, of course, is off to the president to set up a government of unity.
I guess if he doesn't win this vote, it won't be him who goes. What happens at that point?
BOULDEN: Yes, well, we'll find that out soon, won't we? I think he's really trying to make what is one last stab at it.
Let me give you the exact translation. He says, "Tomorrow, I will go see the president and inform him that I'm willing to hold talks with other parties in order to form a coalition government."
So, he says he will be the one who goes to the president. So, I guess that means, as of now, he expects to win this vote, and that he can then go and get this coalition government.
Still not sure, though, whether he would run that coalition government. We'll have to wait and see. But I think this is something the markets wanted to hear, Becky.
ANDERSON: Yes. And just a sense from you of what people on the streets of Athens are saying today. We've been talking long and hard about the state that Greece is in as we've been discussing things here at the G20, and world leaders have got Greece, as we say, front and center as far as their priorities are concerned here.
What are the people on the streets of Athens saying today, Jim?
BOULDEN: One thing that connects to where you are, Becky, is that people here felt humiliated that the prime minister went to Cannes and got a dressing down. People here feel that Greece has been humiliated.
Even the prime minister just said that Greece has to go from a govern -- a country of deficits to a country of credibility. People here know that they have lost their credibility, and they are angry. They're angry at the politicians.
One woman said to me yesterday, "Don't tell people we are lazy. We are not lazy. We are Europeans. It wasn't us. It was the politicians."
ANDERSON: Jim Boulden in Greece. I'm Becky Anderson closing out our coverage from the G20 summit in Cannes. Stay with CNN for the result of that vote of confidence in Papandreou and his government in Greece. Max will be back with the world news headlines, and you'll get "BackStory" after that.
From the team here in Cannes, myself, Ali Velshi, and the rest of those behind the scenes, we thank you very much for watching all of our coverage, including this special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD. It's a very good evening from Cannes.