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NATO to Provide Patriot Missiles to Turkey; Egyptian Prime Minister Talks about Current Situation
Aired December 3, 2012 - 15:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour.
Is Syria about to cross a red line as NATO is poised to take its first strong action in this raging conflict?
Tonight, the NATO secretary general confirms to me the alliance will deploy Patriot missiles on Turkey's border to protect it from Syrian missile attacks, including the possible use of chemical warheads. This after U.S. officials tell CNN they are increasingly concerned that Bashar al-Assad is preparing chemical weapons for use against the opposition.
It's an ominous development and President Barack Obama has repeatedly warned that a chemical threat would bring a swift and dramatic response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have communicated in no uncertain terms with every player in the region that that's a red line for us and that there would be enormous consequences if we start seeing movement on the chemical weapons front or the use of chemical weapons. That would -- that would change my calculations significantly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: The possible use of chemical weapons is, of course, particularly frightening for Turkey, as Prime Minister Tayyip Recep (sic) Erdogan told me previously on this program.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, PRIME MINISTER OF TURKEY (through translator): If the slightest suggestion of such an attempt should emerge, not only Turkey but the attitude of the entire globe is going to change forever. And that's my biggest concern.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And today, the threat to Turkey was apparent as the Syrian Air Force bombed a town right near its border. In a moment, my exclusive interview with the NATO secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
I'll ask him is NATO on a path towards intervention in Syria?
But first, the other stories we're covering tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR (voice-over): The ink is still wet on Egypt's new draft constitution. What's really in it? And will a referendum in two weeks quiet the storm? Our exclusive interview with Egypt's prime minister.
And with revolution, civil war and fiscal cliffs, imagine a world where one thing never seems to change: the latest Royal baby and who will rule Britannia -- will she rock the world?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: We'll get to that in a bit. But first, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the secretary general of NATO. I spoke with him a short while ago with NATO members, foreign ministers are gathering in Brussels to decide on strong action against the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Secretary General Rasmussen, welcome to the program.
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Let me ask what's on everybody's mind right now, and that is about Patriot missiles being stationed in Turkey.
Is NATO going to accept the request by Turkey to do that this week?
RASMUSSEN: Yes, I would expect foreign ministers to take a decision tomorrow. And I would expect foreign ministers to respond positively to Turkish requests.
AMANPOUR: Tell me what exactly that would entail. We have a map; we understood that there's going to be a certain area in Turkey where they're going to be stationed.
What would those Patriot missiles do? What's the intent?
RASMUSSEN: The intent of the possible deployments of Patriot missiles is to ensure effective protection and defense of Turkish population and territory and they will be designed to counter any missile attack on Turkey.
AMANPOUR: So this is obviously because of Syria and what's been happening over the last several months.
Is it to defend against just missiles or aircraft as well? Is it to defend against missiles with ordinary warheads or those that might possibly contain chemical warheads?
RASMUSSEN: It's to protect against missiles, whether they carry chemical weapons or not. But, of course, the existence of stockpiles of chemical weapons in Syria is a matter of great concern, and that does add to the need for effective protection of the Turkish population and territory.
We are very much concerned about the situation along the Syrian- Turkish border. And this is the reason why I expect foreign ministers to respond positively to the Turkish request.
AMANPOUR: Well, let me ask you this. I want to know what you know about what's happening in Syria vis-a-vis their chemical weapons stockpiles. The United States, an official has said that activity we are seeing suggests some potential chemical weapons preparation, going beyond what is the normal activity we've seen in the past.
What do you know is happening with the Syrian stockpiles?
RASMUSSEN: Allies are monitoring the situation closely. We don't know what is the intent of the regime in Damascus. But this just emphasizes the need to ensure effective protection of our ally, Turkey.
AMANPOUR: OK, well, let me read this for you then.
The Syrian foreign minister has issued a statement today, obviously because of the concerns that you're all voicing, quote, "Syria has stressed repeatedly that it will not use these types of weapons, if they were available, under any circumstances against its own people."
Do you believe that?
RASMUSSEN: Well, it's hard to say. We have seen outrageous actions by the Syrian regime and their security forces. So I don't exclude anything. But let me stress that we have no intention to intervene militarily in Syria.
Our obligation is to ensure effective protection of our allies and Turkey is an ally. And this is the reason what -- we will do what it takes to protect Turkey.
AMANPOUR: All right. You say you have no intention. But Secretary General, the President of the United States has said that chemical weapons and any movement, any preparation to potentially use them or anything unusual would be a red line.
He said that publicly. So has the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
So if there was troubling movement, preparation of chemical weapons, would that not be a trigger for NATO to intervene?
RASMUSSEN: Such an if (ph) question.
It's a hypothetical question and I will refrain from answering hypothetical --
AMANPOUR: No, no; it's not hypothetical, sir.
RASMUSSEN: -- I can repeat that we have --
AMANPOUR: It's not hypothetical. It is a clear red line.
RASMUSSEN: Yes, it is hypothetical.
AMANPOUR: It's a clear red line. And U.S. officials are saying they're noticing unusual activity.
RASMUSSEN: Yes. But actually, we don't know what is the intentions of the Syrian regime. I do hope that the fact that we will deploy Patriot missiles in Turkey will serve as an effective deterrent so that any potential aggressor will have to think twice before even considering an attack on Turkey.
AMANPOUR: Or on their own people.
RASMUSSEN: Yes, but let me repeat that we have no intention to intervene militarily in Syria. We will do what it takes to protect our ally, Turkey.
AMANPOUR: Will this Patriot shield provide a safe zone?
RASMUSSEN: No. The deployment of the Patriot missiles doesn't aim at preparing a no-fly zone. Let me stress that the possible deployment of Patriot missiles is a purely defensive measure. It doesn't aim at preparing any offensive operation.
I do believe that it will have a deescalating effect because the deterrent in itself will make it necessary for potential aggressors to think twice before they even think about attacking Turkey.
AMANPOUR: Yes. I hear your message to Syria loud and clear. But these Patriot missiles, it is assumed, have a range that could extend slightly beyond the border of Turkey.
So my question again, is would these provide, if not intentionally, a de facto safe zone close to the border inside Syria?
RASMUSSEN: No, they are not designed -- they are not technically designed to prepare a no-fly zone.
AMANPOUR: I know that, sir. But could they be used as a de facto safe zone? Could they provide a shield close enough to the Syria border to make it -- turn it into a no-fly zone?
RASMUSSEN: The brief answer is a clear no.
AMANPOUR: And why wouldn't you want to do that?
RASMUSSEN: I do believe that the right way forward, when it comes to the conflict in Syria, is to find a political solution. And this is a reason why we have no intention to intervene militarily.
To facilitate a political solution we need a strong and unified international response. So far, unfortunately, the U.N. Security Council has failed to agree on a legally binding resolution.
However, the efforts to unify the Syrian opposition is a step in the right direction. So in conclusion, I do believe the right way forward is a political solution and this is the reason why we have no intention to intervene militarily.
AMANPOUR: Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, thank you for joining me from Brussels.
RASMUSSEN: You're welcome.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So an emphatic no to intervention, at least for now, by NATO. Well, Syria, as you can imagine, has called the Patriot plan provocative and its allies Russia and Iran have protested what they regard as a first step towards implementing a no-fly zone.
Before we take a break, another look at Syria's troubled border with Turkey. Those are Syrians on the far side of that barbed wire in that picture tossing a bag to someone waiting to catch it on the Turkish side, as they make their way to safety across the border, along with hundreds of thousands of others who've done so over the past month.
And when we come back, we'll turn to Egypt and my exclusive interview with the prime minister. I'll ask him about the heat that's been raised by Egypt's new draft constitution.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. Egypt's struggle with democracy centers on the nature of the state itself, whether the new draft constitution that was rushed through in the dead of night this weekend will put power in the hands of the people as in most democracies or will power come from God?
Before President Morsi was elected, this is what he told me on this program.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOHAMMED MORSI, PRESIDENT OF EGYPT (through translator): Rights will be based on the constitution. So all Egyptians, whether Muslims or Christians, men or women, everyone and all will agree to it and will themselves call for it in the constitution.
And that means there is no need to worry at all over any kind of abuse of power. It will be impossible to allow these kinds of abuse in the shadow of a constitutional state, a lawful state, a state that protects the dignity of a person.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Only, of course, there has been a lot of worry since November 22nd, not just about the constitution but about a possible abuse of power by the president. Demonstrators on the street are raising serious questions about President Morsi's commitment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: For his part, the president promises it -- that his emergency decree will soon be lifted, that it was necessary because Mubarak-era courts had already dissolved parliament and disbanded the first constitutional committee last June in what was then called a soft coup.
Joining me now to discuss Egypt's rocky transition to democracy is Prime Minister Hesham Kandil.
Prime Minister, thank you so much for joining me.
HESHAM KANDIL, PRIME MINISTER OF EGYPT: Thank you for having me on your show.
AMANPOUR: Let me start by asking you -- and I meant to say welcome back to this program. Let me start by asking you whether you think this referendum that's apparently scheduled for December 15th is going to quiet the storm. It's going to suddenly, miraculously calm things down.
KANDIL: Well, if you look at the recent history since the revolution, during this transitional period, all was before we have any (inaudible) in any important step like the one we have, a major step, a historic one, that we will have the constitution that we all have been looking for.
Usually people from both sides will want to hear -- will want to have their voices heard, but we certainly hope that things will quiet down after the referendum is completed. And then we move to the next step toward building another democratic institution. We must be the last one and our - - in completing the democratic system that we are aiming for.
AMANPOUR: Prime Minister, you seem to be saying that democracy is playing out on the streets and none of us should worry about anything. But, of course, President Morsi, as we all know, has given himself these emergency powers.
So the question is, will that decree be lifted once this constitution passes? When will the decree be lifted?
KANDIL: OK. I mean, I didn't -- I hope -- you don't get my point, that I'm not worried. Of course, I'm worried. I'm worried about people rallying in the street; I'm worried about their safety. I'm worried that they all go home to their families. This is something that we worry about. This is new Egypt. This is new Egypt with the police, is really protecting this people while they're doing peaceful demonstrations.
This is a new Egypt that we all look forward to be like the model, a model for the Arab Spring. So we definitely worry about what's happening. But let me -- let me come to your question about the -- about the decree.
The whole essence of this decree was to protect the process of building the democratic institutions. So I'm -- by training, I'm an engineer; I'm not going to go in a word-by-word about the declaration. But the essence of the declaration is extremely important. It is very clear and President Morsi made it also (inaudible) many times that he is -- this is what he meant to be.
This is what is behind the declaration and he give assurance to all the opposition parties that there is no abuse of power. There is -- this is not a new dictatorship. And this declaration -- and the previous ones as well -- will fall immediately after the -- after the referendum.
So it is -- we're talking about the remaining of now after one hour from local time here will be remaining only 12 days till this declaration drop. So I don't think --
KANDIL: -- people should worry about the declaration. We should now worry about what is coming as democratic institutions.
AMANPOUR: Well, that was going to be my next question, because the constitution is worrying a lot of people, as you know very well, sir. This was a very divided election. You know, you had practically half and half voting for President Morsi and half voting for, frankly, a much more secular opposition.
People are worried about the new constitution and whether it puts the law in the hands of God, in the hands of the clerics. And let me read you why, because there is a line that says, "Scholars of Al-Aqsa" -- which is the big mosque -- "should be consulted in all matters relating to sharia law." That is an addition.
So what does that mean to people who are afraid that this is, you know, a masquerade for Islamism to rule Egypt?
KANDIL: Well, I think -- I think this constitution gives -- it's a balance in one and it's nothing -- it is not putting the law, the power of the law in the hands of God, as you are saying. And the -- what you're referring to is talk -- the clause that you're referring to is talking about consultation of interpretation of the sharia law.
It is not compulsory that the legislators will abide to what the Al- Aqsa will mention to them. It's a consultative role. It is -- it's in the power of people. The people will vote for this constitution.
They will vote for their own new constitution that they wrote, the representatives, the elected representatives prepared this for them and now it is time for them to study, read, make a decision -- educated one, I hope -- and then go for the referendum in 12 days.
AMANPOUR: OK. You said that you were worried about what's going on in the streets. You're worried for the safety of people. But I mean, are you not worried precisely about the interpretation? That's what people are worried about. What does that mean, the interpretation? What does that mean, consultative role for the clerics?
What does this additional new proposal mean in real life? You're saying it's not binding, but as you know very well, interpretation has always been the devil in the details.
KANDIL: Well, I'm worrying about many things, I tell you, not just the people in the street nor the interpretation of the constitution. I worry about the implementation because really action is what counts, not just the words.
And I worry about development and I worry about women. I worry about the poverty. I worry about the economic growth. And I think the constitution as it is provides a good framework for development. It provides, you know, guidelines for us about what to focus in the future. And I think it's good enough for us to proceed. This is my view.
We have a text that is not -- is no way a perfect text. It is not difficult. It's impossible to have a perfect text that everybody agreed to. But, you know, there's what are called -- there's a consensus and there is what is called a majority consensus.
So for this constitution, I think there's a majority consensus to move forward with a referendum. Now in two weeks, we'll find out what that Egyptian people think of this constitution.
AMANPOUR: And again, not just -- not to keep hammering a point, but as you know, so many people resigned from the constitutional assembly, women, Christians, et cetera.
And you mentioned women; and I want to play you something that President Morsi said before he was president and he actually departed from his customary Arabic to make his point.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORSI: Yes, loud and clearly, all Egyptian womans have the same rights like the men. They are all my sisters, my daughters, my wife and my mother. They are all Egyptians. It is no differences whatsoever among the people in Egypt, the people of Egypt. There is not anything like belief or the sex or whatever you call or you name.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So let's focus on the women.
The constitution hasn't changed a huge amount regarding women since the previous one, but nor are there any specific guarantees for universal women's rights.
Are you sure that they will be respected?
KANDIL: Well, I mean, again, let me address first the first issue that people -- that withdrew out of the -- of the constitution assembly the last minute. I mean, withdrawing out of the assembly in the last minute does not mean that they left out with the text they put. I mean, or the suggestion that they put in the constitution.
So whatever they suggested and during that discussion, there was an agreement to put in the constitution; it stayed there. So people left, but the text they agreed upon was there. So this is important to note. So unfortunately, regrettably, I would have loved to have everybody in the celebration of handing out the constitution to the president.
But you know, it's almost impossible to get what you want all the time. But in terms of women, if you read the preamble, I'm not sure whether they're quoting President Morsi or they listened to this quote somewhere else, but, really, this is exactly what they were saying at the preamble, that the women and men are equal and they have the same rights and obligations.
And if you read the various clauses in the constitution itself, it doesn't talk about men; it's talks about Egyptian people, including men and women. So -- and there's expansion in the rights and -- of the people and the protection of their freedom, of the Egyptian people in this constitution from the previous one. And, again, implementation and action on the ground is the most important one.
AMANPOUR: I just have to ask you one final question, and it's obviously about the Palestinians and the Israelis. Following this U.N. vote, the Israeli government has said that they will order and commence building new settlements in a particularly sensitive issue of Jerusalem.
Briefly, will that cause you to review your agreement, your peace deal with Egypt? What is your -- with Israel? What's your reaction?
KANDIL: No, no; definitely we're against the settlement in the occupied territories. This is something that we have always opposed. And I guess the rest of the world is also have the same -- the same view because you cannot -- you can never negotiate on a piece of land while one party is changing the facts on the ground.
So this is obviously we're against that; we're condemning this. We're communicating with all sides because peace, having peace in the region is in the interest of both parties, but it's also in the interest of the Egyptian and the Arab world. And my visit to Gaza during, you know, the Israeli aggression on the sector was an evidence that how Egypt is committed to bringing peace to the region.
AMANPOUR: Prime Minister, thank you very much indeed for joining me.
And when we come back, we will have a final note.
AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, it's the announcement half the world has been waiting for and the other half is pretending not to care about. Kate Middleton and Prince William are expecting their first child.
Oddsmakers in Britain are betting on whether it's a boy or a girl, whether it'll be called Charles or Diana, as the smart money says right now, or whether it will have hair or not and what color, if so.
But one thing is for sure: this latest Royal baby will fit right into a Royal family album that dates back centuries. Just consider the great- grandparents, the current Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. Then there's Prince Charles, the soon-to-be grandfather, who was a pretty cute baby himself; as was the late Princess Diana, who would have been one of the world's most glamorous grandmothers.
Then there are Mom and Dad, whose style and charm have revitalized the monarchy. But there is one big and important change: by happy coincidence, says Britain's deputy prime minister,
Her Majesty's government is right now putting the finishing touches to legislation that will update the line of succession, which means that even if it is a girl, even if she has younger brothers, this first Royal baby will be Queen.
That's it for tonight's program. Thanks for watching and goodbye from New York.