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Interview with Alexis Tsipras; Interview with Amr Moussa; Interview with F.W. de Klerk

Aired May 16, 2012 - 15:00:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, HOST: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program.

I'm Christiane Amanpour.

In Greece tonight, what was once the unthinkable is now being openly discussed, the very real prospect that Greece could exit the euro.

My brief tonight, is the EU out of options and can only Greece now fix this mess?

Greek voters have repudiated the austerity program and you only need to take a look at this vandalism at a Greek bank to figure out who many Greeks blame for their pain.

In Athens a short time ago, a senior judge was sworn in as a caretaker prime minister. He'll sit for just a month until new elections can be held June 17th.

Meanwhile, European leaders are starting to plan for a euro without Greece.

At the same time, Greeks are exiting their own banks. On Monday, they withdrew almost a billion dollars in savings. It's a recipe for frightening instability across Europe. And across the Mediterranean, Egyptians are yearning for stability themselves in their first ever free elections next week.

And later in the program, I'll be speaking with the presidential frontrunner there, Amr Moussa.

But first to Greek politics and the man many blame for today's crisis, Alexis Tspiras.

He's had of Syriza, the coalition of the radical left party, and now leading in the polls.

Critics are calling him immature and a risk to Greek stability.

When we spoke a short time ago, Tsipras made clear that he's not ready to concede to Germany's bailout demands.

Mr. Tsipras, thank you for joining me from Athens.

Mrs. Merkel has said you either do the reform and the austerity or you are out of the euro.

Do you think that the German chancellor is bluffing?

ALEXIS TSIPRAS, PRESIDENT, SYRIZA PARTY: I don't know what Mrs. -- Madam Merkel wants to do. But I know what we want to do. We don't want Greece outside -- outside Europe. We don't want Greece outside -- outside the euro. We don't want Greece outside the Eurozone. We want Greece inside euro and inside Eurozone.

But I

-- we

That Madam Merkel puts euro and Eurozone in a big danger by keeping we -- in these austerity measures.

The austerity measures put Europe and the Eurozone in a big danger.

So we want to change the austerity measures, also in Greece and also in Europe. That's what we want to do and we want to do this with -- in cooperation with the other forces and the -- the -- the people of -- of Europe, the people who want a big change, because everybody now, at this time that, with this policy, we are going directly to the hell. And we want to change this -- this way.

AMANPOUR: You know, you talk about going directly to hell. And a lot of people are concerned, because, obviously, this would be unprecedented, if Greece leaves the euro and goes back to the drachma. Nobody knows what that would mean.

If that happens, what do you think it would mean for Greece and for Europe?


That if Greece go back to -- to -- to drachma, that the second day, the other countries in Europe will have the -- the same problem. And I -- I really disagree with a lot of things that Madam Merkel say and do.

But I -- I -- I -- I agree with that that she said. She said before - - before a month -- a month ago, a month before, that if Greece go out of euro, the second day, the markets will find who will be the second. And the second will be Italy or Spain.

Italy has a very big debt, public debt, not like Greece. Greece have 3,500 million euros, but Italy has a debt about 1.9 trillion.

So you can understand what I was meaning when I was telling to you that this road goes to hell.

We don't want Europe to be in -- in -- in a catastrophe way.

So if we want to save Europe, we need to change -- to change these directions.

AMANPOUR: I hear you loud and clear. And you keep saying we do not want to do austerity, we need to change this.

What is your responsibility, as a Greek politician, to make this work?

TSIPRAS: No, I don't

That we will have a benefit if Greece goes back to the drachma. I don't

That because as -- as I told you before, the second day, the Eurozone will be in a big disaster.

So I don't -- we don't

-- we don't want a whole catastrophe of the Eurozone and for Europe.

And, at the same time, we don't want to go back to drachmas because, in Greece, we will have the poor people to have drachmas and the rich people to buy everything with euro.

And this evolution, it will not a good evolution for society and for the people.

We -- we are here to -- to -- to try to be with -- with the majority. And the majority of people need to be in a safe way.

So that's why we don't

That we will have a benefit with the drachma.


TSIPRAS: It's clear for us, we will be -- we will do whatever we could do in this direction, to keep Greece inside the Eurozone and inside Europe.

But as I told you before, we are watching this situation in -- in -- in the whole view of Europe and the Eurozone. You can understand what will happen if Eurozone will -- will be split -- splitted and if Eurozone will be in -- in this big danger.

AMANPOUR: Right. You said you...


AMANPOUR: You said you're...

TSIPRAS: -- I think that our position is clear in this...

AMANPOUR: It's clear.

TSIPRAS: -- in these questions.

AMANPOUR: It's very clear.


AMANPOUR: But you said you'll do everything that you can do.

Just tell me, what will you do?

TSIPRAS: First of all, we will cancel all -- all Greece's austerity measures in memorandum.

Do you know the memorandum?


TSIPRAS: We will cancel the memorandum. And then we will go to renegotiate, in a European level, about a common way to go out -- to go outside of this crisis.

And we

That this crisis is not a Greek crisis, but a European crisis. And we will try to find a common solution. And I said to you before, what's -- what's our opinion about the solutions, about the role of ECB, about the Eurobonds, about the negotiation of the debt in the European level of -- of -- of the public debt of -- of all the European countries.

That's -- that's -- that's our opinion. That's our position. And I think it's a clear position.

AMANPOUR: And do you think you'll...

TSIPRAS: Again...

AMANPOUR: -- do you think you'll have partners for that negotiation?

TSIPRAS: Yes, we think that we will find partners. First of all, in -- in the south countries, I think that we'll have the -- the same problem with Italy, with Spain, with Portugal and also with Ireland. And I think that we will find partners, and also in the Central Europe.

I'm looking very positive the change in -- in France, with Mr. Hollande's win in the elections. We will try to find -- to find partners. But I think that the situation -- the political situation in Europe will change the next days, especially after the big change in Greece. These...

AMANPOUR: And do you think you'll win?

TSIPRAS: -- these people instead in this -- in this -- in this opinion that we -- we don't want more state measures. We -- we can't go on with these austerity measures, because everything is -- was destroyed in Greece.

If the Greek people stick in this opinion, I think that everything will change in Europe.

AMANPOUR: Mr. Tsipras, thank you very much, indeed.

And if, as he said, Greece could go to hell,

As our guest just warned, in Egypt, they're getting ready to go to the polls. And we'll hear from the frontrunner in Egypt's presidential race and get his take on another candidate. Only this one is not Egyptian, he's a U.S. Republican.

But first, a picture of the new Greek economy. Greek farmers have begun selling thousands of tons of potatoes directly to consumers, cutting out the middleman at half the cost they would pay at the supermarket.

The so-called potato movement has spread to other staples like flour, rice, onions and olive oil, with no sign of stopping.

We'll be right back.


AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

And now to Egypt, where in exactly one week from today, people will do something that they've never ever done before, and that is vote in a free, democratic election for their next president.

Egyptians are optimistic about their future, as they get ready to decide amongst the 12 candidates who are vying for that position.

Leading the pack right now is the veteran diplomat, Amr Moussa. He's a former foreign minister and former head of the Arab League. Moussa says he's the best man to lead Egypt to the future.

But some critics say that he's a remnant of the past. Others, looking for security and stability, believe that Moussa's experience are exactly the selling point they want and they see him as a counterweight to the Islamist that already controls most of the parliament.

But secular Moussa has to walk a delicate line. Most Egyptians want Islam to play some kind of major role in their society.

He took a break from his heavy campaign schedule today to talk about religion, foreign policy and his priorities for the new Egypt.


AMANPOUR: Amr Moussa, thank you so much for joining me from your campaign headquarters in Cairo.


Very glad to hear your voice and to talk to you.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you, sir, the polls, such as they may be, show you very far ahead.

Why do you think that is, given your ties to, let's face it, the previous regime, the pe -- the previous establishment?

MOUSSA: You know, there is a huge trust between me and the population, the people in Egypt. They know my stand. They know my career. They know my position on so many issues. And they know that when the regime was toppled, I was not in the regime that has been toppled. So I was outside of the government of the regime for the last 11 years.

AMANPOUR: Mr. Moussa what do you think the priorities are?

What are your priorities and what do you think the people want?

MOUSSA: Well, Christiane, the -- the situation in Egypt or the previous regime left Egypt in a very uncomfortable position, to put it that way. The implications, the implicators were very worrying about poverty, about illiteracy, about unemployment.

So the people expect and need somebody whom they consider as a serious man, already tested, known to them, capable of talking to them and to the people in our region and to the people around the world.

They need somebody to lead the (INAUDIBLE) of the future. They don't want somebody who would learn on the job and then he would deliver four or five years later.

Therefore, they want a statesman, a man whom they do know.


MOUSSA: And I believe the majority -- and we're talking about the majority, of course, it's not 99 percent, but the majority meaning 50 plus, 50 percent plus...

AMANPOUR: All right, which is very different from...

MOUSSA: -- it is there, I believe.

AMANPOUR: -- very different from previous elections, which always was 99 percent in favor of the ruling party.

But clearly you...

MOUSSA: Absolutely. This is finished.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you about what you have said in the past about the Islamic candidates, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Freedom and Justice Party and others.

Do you think that a Muslim Brotherhood president would be dangerous for Egypt?

MOUSSA: Well, I believe a -- a -- a statesman, a liberal nationalist Egyptian would be better for Egypt. It would create a balance between the majority in the parliament and the president in the executive.

But this does not necessarily mean that there would be confrontation.

AMANPOUR: Taws is a question, as we look at the new Egypt, how Islamic will it be?

If you win, will Islam play a major role in your government?

MOUSSA: Islam will play a role as the constitution stipulates. Article 2 of the last constitution, which would be, in my opinion, and in the majority opinion, will be reinstituted in the next -- in the coming constitution -- refers to the principles of sharia as the basic -- basic source of legislation and that the believers in other religions would be governed by their own -- the rules of their religion.

This is the framework within which Islam will have its role as the basic principle of legislation, but has a space, also according to the principles of Islam, to other religions, in particular, the Christian religion and Christians that form a part of our society.

We -- and the constitution will also call for citizenship as the basic criterion for any citizen to enjoy his rights and carries his responsibilities -- his or her responsibilities.

AMANPOUR: And given that fact, would you guarantee women's full and unadulterated rights?

MOUSSA: I will certainly do my very, very best, supported by many Egyptians. If I am elected, then I would have the majority supporting me. And this will be our message and our mission, including the rights of women, including the modernate -- modernization of Egypt, including rebuilding the country, including rebuilding the relations with the rest of the world, including US.

We have a chance. I believe, Christiane, that we have a chance. The opportunity is there. And we can do a better job than before.

AMANPOUR: You have not wanted to talk about the military and its power, both political power and -- and commercial economic power.

But many people in Egypt are asking, will the military, which is currently the ruling party now, will it have political authority or some kind of political activity after the election?

MOUSSA: Christiane, after the elections and in a day, not later than the end of June, the authority will be transferred fully from the council - - the military council -- to the elected president, whom I hope and I trust that he will be a civilian president.

Once the authority will be transferred to the president, he would be the boss. He would be the president. And he will be responsible for ruling and managing the country.

Therefore, the nature of the government, of the regime, has changed. It cannot continue the same. But this -- the details of which should be talked about quietly and responsibly.

AMANPOUR: Let me turn to foreign policy. You've talked about debates. There's been an amazing debate that you had this week and also last week, a four hour debate between you and -- and the former Muslim Brotherhood candidate, who's now running as an Islamist candidate, Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh. And there were many things discussed. And a little bit of that debate talked about Israel.

Your challenger talked about Israel as an enemy and an aggressor.

I want to know from you, how do you view Israel?

Is it the enemy?

MOUSSA: Well, I expressed that and I was very clear in commenting on that point. We have a peace treaty with Israel. And this peace treaty will be respected on their part and on our part, too.

But I must say that we differ with many aspects of the Israeli policy, in particular this policy vis-a-vis the Palestinians and the Palestinian state and the viability of a Palestinian state.

We also differ on how Israel deals with the issue of occupation, the issue -- issue of settlements and so on.

So there are serious problems. But this does not negate the fact that what we need is not war or confrontation, but bringing justice in a reasonable way and negotiating our way through in a -- an efficient way, and, at the same time, we are going to respect all the commitments, including the Arab initiative, which I say we are going to continue to comment -- to commit the Egyptian policy and the other -- the other agreements and treaties and so on.

AMANPOUR: And what about the United States?

What do you think of President Obama's foreign policy, his presidency, particularly toward your region?

MOUSSA: Well, first of all, let me state categorically that what we need, what Egypt needs is the best of relations with the United States. We are not after any adventurist policy that would cause any deterioration in such a policy.

That's number one.

Number two, what we need from the U.S. is the leadership toward peace and stability in the region, including in particular a fair solution to the Palestinian problem.

Here, I expect there would be certain differences as they exist today, because what we need is a fair settlement between Palestinians and Israelis and not one that tilts toward Israel.

And we will be very categorical and honest in what we talk about with the American administration.

AMANPOUR: And what do you make of the challengers, the Republican challengers -- now it's basically boiled down to Mitt Romney -- their potential policy in your region?

MOUSSA: Well, I think what Mr. Romney says as electoral rhetoric and I hope that if elected, he will reconsider such positions that if, really, he means what he says, will be detrimental to the interests and prestige and relations of the United States with the whole of this region.

AMANPOUR: Specifically what?

MOUSSA: Well, if -- if -- if his position is that aligned to the -- the -- the most fanatic Israeli current policies, Israeli current policy, so it will be very negative, I must say.

AMANPOUR: On that note, Amr Moussa, thank you very much for joining me.

MOUSSA: Thank you , Christiane.

AMANPOUR: And as Egypt rebuilds and reinvents itself, South Africa is still coming to terms with its not so distant past. F.W. De Klerk, the former prime -- president, created a firestorm when we spoke last week about apartheid. And now, he is trying to put out the flames.

We'll have that when we come back.

But first, don't forget that you can catch up with the show at You can watch the entire program and our documentary archive there.

We'll be back after a break.


AMANPOUR: And a final note on evolving positions. Last week on this program, I had a wide-ranging conversation with F.W. De Klerk, the former president of South Africa. We included our talk about apartheid, which he helped end, along with Nelson Mandela, 20 years ago.

During the interview, he admitted again and apologized again for the terrible injustices that had been done to South Africa's black majority.

But he wouldn't fully reject the underlying concept.

Take a listen.


AMANPOUR: So you're a convert. You've just talked about trampling human rights. You're talking about profound injustice.

So I'm offering you the opportunity, as the person who helped dismantle apartheid, to say whether or not you believe that it was also morally repugnant today, in retrospect.

F.W. DE KLERK, FORMER SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT: I can only say that in a qualified way. Inasmuch as it trampled human rights, it was and remains -- and that I've said also publicly -- morally indefensible. There were many aspects which are morally indefensible.

But the concept of giving as the Czechs have it now and the Slovaks have it, of saying that ethnic unities with one culture, with one language, can be happy and can fulfill their democratic aspirations in an own state, that is not repugnant.


AMANPOUR: We might have imagined that qualified answer we do have created the storm of controversy that it did in South Africa. And Mr. De Klerk's office immediately issued a statement saying that viewers were misunderstanding him.

But today, he further clarified his views and they do seem to have evolved. He refers to his days as leader of the country. And it says, and I quote, "We concluded that apartheid was morally unjustifiable, that it could not be reformed, that the concept of separate development had led to manifest injustice and had to be abandoned."

He also says now, quoting, "That it was unacceptable and offensive."

We look forward to continuing this conversation, but that's all we have time for tonight.

Thank you for watching.

Good-bye from New York.