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CONNECT THE WORLD

French Foreign Minister Calls Kurdish Women Killings Assassinations; Interview with Venezuelan Ambassador Samuel Moncada

Aired January 10, 2013 - 16:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Murder in Paris: tonight on Connect the World, co-founder of the Kurdish militant group the PKK is shot dead. The French interior minister says she was executed, but by whom remains a mystery.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN London, this is Connect the World with Becky Anderson.

ANDERSON: Well, the killing follows fresh talks between Turkey and the nationalist rebels. Tonight, we'll look at whether this was an attempt to derail the peace process.

Also this hour, the Venezuelans take to the streets to show their support to their ailing president. We're going to ask, Venezuela's ambassador to London what's the future for his rudderless country?

And with Syrian refugees forced to burn plastic just to stay warm, a Turkish government spokesman tells me why the international community needs to do more to help.

A very good evening.

Kurdish activists are calling it a political assassination. We begin tonight with the killing of three Kurdish women in the heart of Paris. Jim Bittermann explains why many believe it's an attempt to derail secretive peace talks thousands of kilometers away.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The three women were each shot in the head. And the French interior minister did not hesitate to call it an execution. They were Kurdish activists who Wednesday afternoon were at work in the offices of the Kurdish information center near the Gare du Nord train station. Most well known among them, Sakine Cansiz, one of the founding members of the PKK, the Kurdish Worker's Party.

Friends of the three grew suspicious when they were not heard from. And shortly before 2:00 Thursday morning, police broke down the door of the information center to discover the grisly crime scene. Within hours, the French interior minister was on the scene.

MANUEL VALLS, FRENCH INTERIOR MINISTER (through translator): This is unacceptable. The investigation is only starting under the authority of the secretary's office. And the (inaudible) forces are involved to (inaudible) all possible light on this unacceptable act.

BITTERMANN: Also at the scene within hours were hundreds of demonstrators from France's 150,000 member Kurdish community who blame the French government for not giving enough protection to the activists, and Turkey which has long battled the Kurds. But Turkish government condemned the killings. And investigators are not so quick to make assumptions.

Authorities are being very cautious about casting suspicion for the assassination for any particular group or cause and are not ruling anything out, including an internal dispute within the Kurdish community itself.

One expert here noted that the killings came amid ongoing peace negotiations between the Turkish government and an imprisoned PKK leader.

DOROTHEE SCHMID, FRENCH INTITUTE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: On the contents of this agreement has been leaked to the Turkish press yesterday. And then the next day you get this very spectacular assassination taking place in Paris, which might be a signal from one section, one faction of the Kurdish movement to another.

BITTERMANN: Almost unanimously, though, the experts were saying that whoever carried out the killings was intent on influencing the course of the peace negotiations. But even before the killers are known, the Kurdish community here is calling for mass demonstrations to show solidarity with the slain activists.

Jim Bittermann, CNN, Paris.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: All right. For clarity's sake, then, let's just take a moment to look at the group that one of the victims, Sakine Cansiz, helped found. It's the Kurdistan Worker's Party, better known as the PKK. The group has been around since the 1970s with a goal of an independent Kurdistan.

Now mostly they battled Turkey, about 40,000 people, sadly, have lost their lives in the conflict over the past three decades. Both the U.S. and the European Union have branded the PKK a terrorist organization. The group's founder, Abdullah Ocalan, is serving a life sentence in a Turkish prison.

It's estimated that there are about 8,000 people fighting for the PKK, most of them based in the mountains of northern Iraq. And the violence, well it's increased lately. Over the past year-and-a-half, the fighting between Turkish forces and the PKK has hit the highest levels in more than a decade.

Well, many Kurds immediately blamed Turkish agents for the murders in Paris. Let's get more reaction from Turkey. Ivan Watson is live for you tonight in Istanbul. And Ivan, a spokesman for Turkey's ruling party suggests it may have been an internal, quote, settling of scores. Does that resonate with you? and what does he mean by that?

IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the PKK is known for having killed dissidents within the Kurdish movements and opponents within the Kurdish movement throughout its decades of existence. And this was an argument that the Turkish prime minister himself repeated. Take a listen to what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TAYYIP ERDOGAN, TURKISH PRIME MINISTER (through translator): This killing might be an internal affair of the PKK. On the other hand, we are currently engaged in a struggle against terrorism. We want to make progress, but there are people who do not want this. So this could be a provocative undertaking by these people. Because of this, I think it would be very beneficial to be patient and wait for things to become clear.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATSON: I can't understate the response, though, from Kurdish political circles in Turkey and across the border in the mountains of northern Iraq where the PKK leadership is headquartered. I spoke with a spokesman for the PKK leadership who denounced this as an act of terrorism against the Kurdish people.

Meanwhile, leaders of the pro-Kurdish political party here in Turkey that has more than 30 members in parliament, the Peace and Democracy Party, they said Becky, quote, "we bow before the memory of these three valuable Kurdish women politicians who dedicated their lives to the future of their people so that the assassins of our friends who were also soldiers of women's freedom cannot hide, so that the murder cannot be covered up. We call on our people to rise in protest wherever they are to condemn this massacre."

And we do know that the Kurdish movement is very effective at mobilizing people. I've seen an entire city in southeastern Turkey brought to a halt by Kurdish protests against the Turkish government. We can probably expect some large demonstrations in the days ahead even though nobody knows who truly carried out this murder of these three Kurdish activists in Paris -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Yeah. All right. For the time being, thank you for that. Ivan Watson on the story in Turkey for you.

Kurds are the biggest ethnic minority group in Turkey and have sizable numbers on other countries as well. Have a look at this. In fact, they're one of the largest ethnic groups in the world without a state of their own. Most live in a region they call Kurdistan, though of course that entity is not internationally recognized. You see the map on the -- the region here on our map in red spanning parts of Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran, and Armenia. There are also high concentrations in Kurds in part of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan.

Other Kurds have left the region altogether. There's a substantial Kurdish diaspora in Europe, including here in Britain.

We're joined now by Akif Rizgar Wan, who is the British representative of a diaspora group called the Kurdistan National Congress, or KNK. He personally knew one of the women murdered in Paris. And our thoughts are with you and her family, of course, tonight.

This is Fidane Dogon (ph). What was she doing there? And what do you believe the motive for these assassinations was?

AKIF RIZGAR WAN, UK REPRESENTATIVE OF KURDISTAN NATIONAL CONGRESS: First of all, the (inaudible) motive of the assassination and we do, we do as (inaudible) condemn this political assassination whoever done. And also I pass my condolences to the close family and Kurdish people wherever they are.

What (inaudible) to us to do whatever we be doing as KNK, because we are doing democracy political way, (inaudible) question.

Now...

(CROSSTALK)

WAN: ...I understand, because our side we are doing whatever we need to do. Must be someone who has no interest in peaceful resolution.

ANDERSON: Who would that be?

WAN: Could be Turkey state (inaudible).

ANDERSON: Could be the Turkish state you are saying. I know your voice is a little weak tonight, so I'm just repeating what you say. What you're saying is, you're alleging that you think that this was the -- or instruments of the Kurdish state who assassinated these women?

WAN: Turkish state.

ANDERSON: Turkish state.

WAN: Turkish state, which is as what I understand, see the vision of Turkish state. One is president -- government -- Erdogan's government, one is (inaudible) who is in America and is known by everyone. Also, there is a different state, MIT, et cetera.

ANDERSON: The intelligence service.

WAN: Intelligence.

Whoever done, I believe, or I hope, that the French government's responsibility to do whatever they can, bring out alarm, also hopefully this is going to be last one in Europe...

ANDERSON: Let me stop you there for one moment, because you are on CNN tonight. The Allegations that you make are serious ones. And there is no evidence at present from the French authorities to suggest any motive, nor any evidence to suggest who may have carried out these assassinations. So it's coming from you tonight that you make these allegations.

Let me just get you some sound from what the prime minister -- what a spokesman for the Turkish foreign ministry said to me just a little earlier on today about the Kurdish issue as a whole. The Turkish conundrum.

This is what comes from the Turkish government. Have a listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SELCUK UNAL, TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN: There have been a process ongoing on the -- on a new constitution. And I think there will be many issues to be addressed in that case. Turkey will continue to defend its rights to have its territorial integrity like every country does. And we'll continue our policies on that regard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: That sound was in response to me asking him to identify where these peace negotiations lay and whether he felt there was a future for peace negotiations.

Can you explain just how close the Kurdish population and the Turks are to peace at this point, and the red lines in the sand for your community.

WAN: First of all, ordinary Turkish people, ordinary mother who lost their loved one as well as the Kurdish sides who have lost their loved one every day, they have common ground. They would like to end this war -- they want the war to finish. But, the government level, the one I just mentioned, Erdogan as well as MIT as well as (inaudible) because they have gained a lot of money, continued this dirty war. That's why they're against...

ANDERSON: So you do not believe the Turkish government wants peace in the end. Is that what you're saying?

WAN: They will -- they will win, but not now. Because as I'm sure you and whoever is listening to this channel are aware there were three years lost the process. The Turkish side who did not do their bit, they who went out on the field.

Now 3rd of January this year, (inaudible), Peace and Democracy Party, (inaudible) who went (inaudible) seemed (inaudible) in prison he were very optimistic, mais oui (ph), whatever reason Turkish state or government is willing to restart the negotiations. But this morning (inaudible) receive this information, very sad information. I was disappointed. And now we are asking why -- who are these trying to provoke or whatever they're trying to prevent peaceful solution.

ANDERSON: My sense is that this is a pessimistic message from you tonight. Do come back. Let's hope your voice gets a little stronger and better next time you're on and we can talk more about this issue as we move forward. Thank you for joining us this evening.

WAN: Thank you. Thank you.

ANDERSON: You're watching Connect the World live from London. Still to come tonight. We'll hear more from the Turkish foreign ministry and why they are struggling to help those on the other side of their border with Syria.

Plus, rallying to Hugo Chavez as Venezuela's leader fights cancer. His supporters fight for his presidency. Venezuela's ambassador to the UK joining me here live next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Well, tonight, it's all about rallies and reassurance in Venezuela. Thousands took to the streets of Caracas today to show their support for their president Hugo Chavez. He's in Cuba, of course, battling cancer, which means he missed his swearing in today for his new term. But Venezuelan's top court says delaying the inauguration is OK.

Well, that's a victory for supporters of the ailing leader, but opposition officials aren't pleased. Amid the huge rallies, they've got one big question, who really is running one of the world's biggest oil producers?

You're watching CNN. This is Connect the World. I'm Becky Anderson for you. So, who is in charge of Venezuela? And could political tensions over that very question boil over?

Well, right now, I'm joined here in London by Venezuela's ambassador to the UK Samuel Moncada. We'll be talking to an opposition candidate straight after this, but first to you, Samuel. How long will Chavez be in Cuba for treatment?

SAMUEL MONCADA, VENEZUELAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UK: We don't know, that's an important thing.

By the way, who is in charge of Venezuela right now? Chavez. And...

ANDERSON: How can he be in charge? We don't even know how ill he is at the moment.

(CROSSTALK)

ANDERSON: We've been doing this story for two or three days.

(CROSSTALK)

MONCADA: No, no, it's a practical question. It's a legal question. It's not just a rhetorical question.

ANDERSON: All right, legally he's in charge.

MONCADA: He's in charge. And that was approved by the national assembly unanimously in December. So they know that legally the man in charge is Chavez.

ANDERSON: But he is in a dire medical condition at present, that's what we believe unless you can tell me different.

MONCADA: No. No. He's in trouble, but we don't know how bad or how good.

ANDERSON: How are you that you don't know? You're his ambassador.

MONCADA: No, no, no. I'm not political. There had been more than 28 medical reports, official reports. And the last one says that he's stable, meaning that his condition hasn't changed.

But is he dead, as very many people said? No, of course not.

Is he improving? Well, we don't know, but the point is we need the humanity to wait. And what I see in the position of Venezuela. And many other sections of international opinion is the lack of humanity. They are pushing the man they want the man dead, or they want the man back tonight instead of waiting.

ANDERSON: I think what a lot of people want to find out is how he is.

MONCADA: Well, look, we have to trust the man. And that's an important thing. The country -- there is nothing wrong with the country at the moment. The country is being run constitutionally. There is a government in place. There is no crisis in Venezuela. Everything is going without crisis as they are, try to say, the army is doing this, the army is doing that. The army is abiding by the constitution. Everybody's following the constitution, what's the problem with that?

ANDERSON: Today, listen, we don't know how Chavez is. You can't tell me how he is. We don't know how long he's going to be in Cuba. Will -- what will be no doubt a simmering political tension boil over in his absence?

MONCADA: I don't think any single tension at all. The only tension I see is at the head of the opposition who lost the election in October. And they want their way back to a back door to power. They are manufacturing a crisis. There is no crisis in Venezuela. The one thing, we are waiting. What's the problem with waiting? I don't see any problem.

ANDERSON: This is one of the world's biggest oil economies. And an economy, which quite frankly, has had its potential capped to, in many people's eyes, for many years. What's its future at the moment?

MONCADA: The future of Venezuela is bright, because we are sitting on the largest oil reserves of the world. So these people are not talking about an economic crisis in Venezuela. They don't know that we have more oil than Saudi Arabia. So what's the problem with that?

ANDERSON: This is the vice president speaking live as we are here on air on CNN. It will be up to this man and/or the house speaker, as far as I understand the constitution, to run the country in Chavez's absence right?

MONCADA: No, the house speaker has nothing to do here in the -- according to the constitution right now the man in charge is Chavez and the Venezuelan (inaudible) thing is president -- Vice President Maduro...

ANDERSON: The man we're looking at on air now.

MONCADA: Exactly. And the speaker of the house is just the speaker of the house. It's interesting to see that the opposition is pushing to turn the speaker of the house into the president of Venezuela when that is the man they take most of the Chavez (ph), that's ridiculous.

ANDERSON: Who is this man we're looking at and listening to now? I mean, it's not a name that the international community will know well. Where is his base of support from?

MONCADA: His base of support comes from the majority of Venezuela who voted for Chavez and who trusted him as -- he's a true Chavez supporter. He's a billionaire...

(CROSSTALK)

MONCADA: No, he's the follower of the (inaudible) ideas that Chavez and the majority of the Venezuelan people believe in as a way to fight for social justice in Venezuela as I do as well.

ANDERSON: We thank you for coming in.

You're listening to the vice president of -- well, you were -- you were listening to the ambassador of Venezuela in London and also seeing and hearing from the vice president holding a rally at present as we speak in Caracas this evening. Sir, we thank you for coming in.

Mr. Chavez hasn't been seen in public since December 10th, exactly one month ago. And that's got some people asking questions.

Carlos Vecchio is a Venezuelan political and social activist, also a member of the country's opposition. And he joins me now live from the Venezuelan capital in Caracas.

You've heard the ambassador to London speak. Tonight you are as an opposition manufacturing a crisis in the country. What's your response?

CARLOS VECCHIO, VENEZUELAN OPPOSITION MEMBER: Well, I would say that the country is having, you know, an insurgency of who is governing Venezuela. The ambassador said that it's Chavez. And that's what they pretend. But I mean, Chavez is not in the country. Chavez is in Cuba. Nobody has seen Chavez for a month. And we haven't heard about any doctor who has treated Chavez in order to know his real conditions.

So that is not true. He's not governing the country.

We recognize Chavez as the president. We recognize Chavez as an elected president, but we want to know who is ruling the country right now.

(CROSSTALK)

ANDERSON: Well, let me put this to you -- hang on a minute, sir. Hang on a minute, sir. Let me put this to you, because if you, as you say, recognize Chavez, and you indeed have to according to the constitution it is legitimate that he is the president of Venezuela, then surely you would further recognize the vice president, who as we speak is holding a rally tonight, recognize that he in Chavez's place can run de facto government.

VECCHIO: Yes. In the real practical -- yes. But we have to say that the vice president ends his period today, because today ends this presidential term and begins a new one, but has to be reappointed by the president who has not taken the oath of office. So, vice president is a person who has not been elected by the popular vote, so he can be in power with a limited period of time, which is, you know, against the democratic principles. And that's something that we need to be clear...

ANDERSON: But this was an election -- hang on, this was an election won by President Chavez through popular support, wasn't it? I think you'll have to agree with me on that? Isn't the will of the majority important here? I mean, you're absolutely right to suggest that there may have to be an election going forward, but it was Chavez and his party that won this election. So isn't it time to concede that. And for whatever it takes, maybe the next 90 days, work with his government?

VECCHIO: But we have to say something, I mean, people voted for Chavez, not for Nicolas Maduro.

But let's say that Nicolas Maduro can, you know, run the country. But the country is for how long? For how long? Because he has not been elected by the popular vote. While we want -- what's the limit time for that? Because he can remain not only for one month, two months, even for six years because the decision that we had yesterday from the supreme court doesn't say anything about did -- to limit the period of the vice president. That's the big question.

And the other thing is, what's the real condition of Chavez? Will he be able to take power? Because we don't know. You asked the ambassador and he couldn't respond to that question, because he doesn't have that information. And Venezuelans here don't have that information as well. So that's the worst part of this (inaudible) we are facing in Venezuela right now.

ANDERSON: And we understand your concerns. Sir, we thank you for joining us.

Your experts on Venezuela tonight here on Connect the World on CNN. I'm Becky Anderson.

Coming up, Chelsea won't be defending their Champion's League title. And their hopes for another trophy, well, they have also taken a big step back. That, after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Chelsea's Premier League hopes took a big hit with a shock home loss to QPR last week. And now another home defeat could leave the European champions with an empty feeling this season. Oh, woe are they.

Pedro is in the house for us this evening.

I mean, this is a team who I can't believe they won the Champion's League last year -- but anyway, because I'm not a fan. I think tremendous season last year. They are just melting down. What's happened tonight?

PEDRO PINTO, CNN SPORTS CORREPSONDENT: Well, the issue is, Becky, that when you change managers in the middle of the season sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. And when Rafa Benitez game in to replace Roberto Di Matteo there was an initial positive reaction, but the team is now out of two competitions, Champion's League, out. And they now in the League Cup, which is one of the few trophies they could win this season. They suffered a home loss in the first leg of the semifinals to Swansea at home on Wednesday. And that leaves their hopes of winning this trophy in tatters really.

Swansea is a good team, but Chelsea really played with their strongest side at home. They should have really walked over Michael Laudrup's side. They didn't. And now they're facing the possibility of ending the season empty handed, because we know the Premier League title is pretty much between Manchester United and Manchester City unless they can make some kind of miraculous recovery.

So life isn't good at Stamford Bridge. and I just wonder how many mangers are going to have to come in over the next few seasons to get them back to...

ANDERSON: Well, the really odd thing was that this Rafa came in as -- and they were -- everybody's been calling him a temporary manager, anyway, it was only really for an interim period while they can sort of hang on for somebody better.

Who is that somebody better? that's the big question isn't it?

PINTO: That is the big question. I mean, Roman Ibramovic is spending quite a few millions of pounds in trying to convince Pep Guardiola to come over to London. I don't think that will happen. I think Pep Guardiola will eventually go to Manchester City next season, because there's a couple of directors there formally with Barcelona who are trying very much to persuade him to go. And he doesn't like the kind of trigger happy style of Roman Ibramovic of hiring and firing managers. That's not something he wants to be associated with.

That's the man he wants. The man he'll get, it depends on who will take the millions and who will take the risk as well.

ANDERSON: Jose?

PINTO: I think that's not a bad bet at all. I think Mourinho could go back to Chelsea.

ANDERSON: Jose Mourinho, right?

PINTO: They're still very much in touch. So it could happen.

ANDERSON: Heard it first here.

The latest world news headlines. Pedro is back for our viewers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa in about an hour's time.

World news headlines up next. Plus, Turkey insists it hasn't closed the door on Syrian refugees despite tens of thousands waiting to get in. My interview with the foreign ministry is coming up.

And are the movies in the running for Oscars running too long? We looked at what feature length means in 2013.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: I'm Becky Anderson, these are the latest world news headlines from CNN.

The death toll is still rising after a series of bomb blasts in Quetta in Pakistan. Police say at least 93 people were killed in four explosions. At least 169 others were injured. The first bomb that went off was planted near a security checkpoint, which is believed to have been the target.

French authorities are investigating the killing of three Kurdish women in Paris, calling it an execution. All three were political activists. One was the co-founder of a Kurdish rebel group that has been fighting the Turkish government for decades.

Supporters of ailing president Hugo Chavez took to the streets of Venezuela on Thursday. He would've been sworn in today, but another term - - sorry, for another term, but he's in Cuba for cancer treatment. Venezuela's top court says his inauguration, though it's not clear for how long.

And there's been another school shooting in the United States, this one at a high school in Taft in California. Police say the shooter entered a classroom and fired a shotgun. One student was wounded and is in a critical condition. The suspect then fired at a second student, but missed.

All this week, we are highlighting the plight of Syrian refugees, men, women, and kids, remember, hundreds of thousands of whom have left everything behind to escape the war. They may no longer be on the front lines of battle, but their suffering continues.

Today's report focuses on the youngest victims. CNN photojournalist Joe Duran visited a camp near the Turkish border and brings us this heartbreaking story of an eight-year-old living in constant fear.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SALEH EKAIDI, SYRIAN REFUGE: My name is Saleh. I'm from Aleppo. I am living in Kilis Camp. Actually, my life story is an amazing story. When the revolution started, my father started learning us who's the wrong and who's the right, and it's a peace revolution.

Here on my right, the camp. I have been there eight months. And maybe you can see there, it's Oncupinar Crossing Center, you can go to Syria.

JOE DURAN, CNN PHOTOJOURNALIST: You are in a safe place, you're in Turkey. You still feel the war.

EKAIDI: Yes. I think it's not too safe because maybe you heard that maybe from four months ago or more, there is two people killed in this camp, and ten got hurt by -- and they were in the camp by al-Assad army.

I have two big brothers. They were making protests in Aleppo University. They didn't come to the house more than three months, and we didn't see them. This is my brother. And this is my -- my cousin.

My biggest brother decided to carry the gun and start fighting, and he decided to join to Free Syrian Army. He believed that this system will not go by -- peace. And my other brother joined to Free Syrian Army after two months. In Syria, if someone wanted, all the family will be wanted. So, we decided to come to Turkey.

Two months ago, the phone rang, and it was that my biggest brother dead. And my other brother is still fighting now in Aleppo.

I have my family, just in my family, 15 -- were in the Free Syrian Army, and they killed -- they got the martyrdom when they were fighting. And all of them, my cousins, and one of them my brother.

Every day, I have the scaredest moment when the phone rings.

DURAN: What do you remember about your brother, your oldest brother?

EKAIDI: Great man.

DURAN: What was he like?

EKAIDI: Tall, very tall. Little eyes. Dead.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: One thing to note: that young man in that piece was 13 years old, not 8, as I mistakenly first said.

Well today, more than 150,000 Syrian refugees like that young boy, are living in Turkey. That is about five times as many than just six months ago, and the United Nations expects the number to double by June. Let's bring in CNN's Ivan Watson in Istanbul for us, who spent many a week in these refugee camps, sadly.

The situation, Ivan, just so desperate. What more can the government do to help these people, especially these kids, carrying these immense scars of war?

IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well Becky, the 150,000 residents in camps in Turkey are pretty well taken care of. These camps have been described by Western diplomats as Cadillac camps, and they're pretty well supplied.

The problem is the people who are not living in the camps, who have opted to try to rent homes. Their savings drying up and their conditions increasingly getting worse. And then, the people inside Syria, just along the borders, a number of camps have sprouted up.

The Turks are not letting some 40,000 people into Turkey. They say their camps are full. And there, the conditions are horrendous. I talked to a Syrian man who lived in Houston, Texas, today. He's become the de facto organizer of one of these camps in the Syrian border village of Atma.

He described how five children died last week because a camp candle set fire to the tent, which was not flame retardant, and it killed five kids. A sixth kid, he said, today died of his wounds from that. He says the conditions are horrendous, freezing, no heaters for these people.

And new camps are sprouting up along the border, where the conditions have no sanitation, people are sick with dysentery, diarrhea. It's really a dramatic situation for these people.

And the camp director went on to say that none of this aid that Western governments especially have promised seems to be reaching into these swelling, growing communities just across the border. They've gotten some blankets.

Most of the assistance they're getting is either coming from the Turkish government, which says it has spent more than half a billion dollars taking care of the refugees inside Turkey, or from Syrians who are making their own donations to try to help this displaced population.

The question many of these refugees are asking, Western governments promised help, the UN promised help, where is it?

ANDERSON: Yes, all right. Well, that is a question I put to the Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman I spoke to earlier on -- Ivan, thank you. As Ivan was saying, tens of thousands of people are just on that Syrian side of the Turkish border living in makeshift camps as they await entry into Turkey.

I spoke to the Foreign Ministry earlier, and I began by asking that spokesman, firstly, because we are seeing what effectively looks like a closed-door policy on the border, is that what they're running? Is their open-door policy now closed? This is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SELCUK UNAL, SPOKESMAN, TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTRY: No, I don't think it's really true. It's not like that. Turkey's open-door policy is continuing, that's why there are currently 153,000 people who are in Turkey in 14 camps. And there are still people coming in.

But the thing is, our -- resources are limited, and these people who are waiting on the other side of the border, they know that there is no space now, as we speak, in those camps. It's not Turkey is not allowing these people.

On the contrary, with the NGOs, with the Turkish presence, we are sending humanitarian assistance to those people who are on the other side of the people -- on the border at the zero point. And so far we have not - -

(CROSSTALK)

ANDERSON: But let me just -- let me just interrupt you. Let me interrupt you here. Lebanon is a much smaller country than Turkey and has equally as many if not more Syrian refugees. I understand that everybody's resources are tight, but can't more be done for those Syrian refugees who are sitting directly on your border?

UNAL: Well, there is a -- counter estimate there are more than 40,000 people waiting on the other side of the border. And this is not because of Turkey, it's because of Syria's violent policies. And we understand there are one or two camps established -- or being established on the other side of the border by the Syrians.

That's why we are sending the humanitarian assistance, in cooperation with the Turkish and some international NGOs at the zero point. And so far, I can also say that we didn't receive that much assistance from the international community.

ANDERSON: And that was the question I wanted to put to you. Why are you not getting the help that you think you need from the United Nations and others?

UNAL: Well, we have asked for international assistance quite some time ago, and so far, we have spent on our own resources more than $650 million. On the contrary, on the other side, what we have received from the international community is barely coming to $5 million US.

I don't know why we are not receiving more than this or why we are not receiving enough. I think you have to ask this question to the international community itself. Of course, we are cooperating with the UN, UN organizations, and they are doing their best.

ANDERSON: The Syrian government accuses Turkey of arming Syrian rebels. Our own reporters have witnessed guns being smuggled across the border to Syrian fighters under the noses of Turkish border guards. Isn't Turkey contributing to the bloodshed that arming one side -- hang on -- one side of the factions in this conflict?

UNAL: No, that's not correct. I think the Syrian regime has a problem with itself. They are still denying the basic rights to their own people. They're still continuing their wild policies against their students.

So far, a counter -- conservative estimate by the UN, 60,000 people have been killed. I think it's fair to say that almost 2 million people have been uprooted. This is not, I think, thanks to any other government, but thanks to the Syrian regime itself.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: A Foreign Ministry spokesman speaking to me earlier. And join us, please, tomorrow. We're going to hear from Antonio Guterres. He's the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. As the number of people fleeing Syria continues to soar, I'm going to ask him what more the UN could and should be doing to help these innocent victims of war.

You may feel -- and I've said this every night this week -- that you are removed from the Syrian crisis, but please don't feel that you are. There are numerous ways that you can help out. One of them is to go to our cnn.com site where you'll find this site, Impact Your World.

You'll find a list of organizations there helping Syrian refugees, and there are a number of ways that you can contribute to those efforts through that site. Don't feel like a stranger from this, and do remember the weather is so inclement in that region that these men, women, and kids who are stuck as a result of this civil war are in really bad shape.

Live from London, you're watching CNN, this is CONNECT THE WORLD. And the award season is almost upon us. Wednesday saw BAFTA nominations, and today Hollywood announced its list of nominees for the most famous awards, the Oscars. We'll have the details after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Well, the nominations are in for this year's Oscars. The nominees were announced by writer Seth MacFarlane and actress Emma Stone. MacFarlane will present the awards next month.

"Les Mis" and "Life of Pi" came out on top with the most Academy Award nominations, and in an Oscar first, the youngest person to be nominated in the Best Actress category is up against the oldest.

One film that's being heavily tipped for greatness is Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln." It stars Daniel Day Lewis as the president, and it's been nominated for 12 Oscars. Despite its success, some historians, at least, are warning against taking the movie adaptation as factually correct. Have a look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANIEL DAY LEWIS AS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, "LINCOLN": This fight is for the United States of America.

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" offers a window back in time to the weeks preceding the end of the Civil War and passage of the 13th amendment abolishing slavery.

LEE PACE AS FERNANDO WOOD, "LINCOLN": Congress must never declare equal those who God created unequal!

TURNER: But for some critics, the movie's limited snapshot of Abraham Lincoln's presidency paints an incomplete picture of history.

ERIC FONER, HISOTIAN AND AUTHOR: As cinema, it's very, very good. As history -- I'm a historian -- it leaves something to be desired.

TURNER: Eric Foner, whose book "The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery" won the Pulitzer Prize for history, says the film's narrow focus exaggerates the president's role in ending slavery.

LEWIS AS LINCOLN: This settles the fate for all coming time.

FONER: The emancipation of the slaves is a long, complicated historical process. It's not the work of one man, no matter how great he was.

LEWIS AS LINCOLN: Blood's been spilled to afford us this moment! Now! Now! Now!

FONER: It was not Lincoln who originated the 13th amendment. It was the abolitionist movement. It's only in the middle of 1864 that Lincoln changes his mind and decides he's in favor of this amendment.

TURNER: Acclaimed screenwriter Tony Kushner based the movie script in part on Doris Kearns Goodwin's best-selling book, "Team of Rivals."

TONY KUSHNER, SCREENWRITER, "LINCOLN": We were enormously accurate. Steven and I both cared a lot. We worked with Doris, we worked with a couple of other Lincoln historians. What we're describing absolutely happened.

FONER: It's not a question of being wrong, it's just inadequate. It gives you the impression that the ratification of the 13th amendment is the end of slavery. Slavery is already dying at that moment.

TURNER: In fact, he says, if the 13th amendment had not passed in January 1865, Lincoln had pledged to call Congress into special session in March.

FONER: And there, the Republicans had a two-thirds majority and would ratify in a minute. It is not this giant crisis in the sense that the film is portraying it.

LEWIS AS LINCOLN: Shall we stop this bleeding?

TURNER: One aspect of this film that is not being questioned is Daniel Day Lewis's masterful depiction of the 16th president.

STEVEN SPIELBERG, DIRECTOR, "LINCOLN": The most important thing was, get "Lincoln" done right.

FONER: Daniel Day Lewis, I think, presents a very plausible Lincoln. I would recommend that people see it and then read a book about Lincoln.

TURNER: Because while it's based on real events, "Lincoln" the movie is not a documentary, and a full understanding of history doesn't happen in 2 hours and 29 minutes.

Nischelle Turner, CNN, Hollywood.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: She's making a really good point at the end of that package. It wouldn't be the Oscars, though, without some drama. There were some upsets, some snubs, and some surprise nominations.

Let's go through some of all of that stuff with our buff, tonight, our awards buff, Tom O'Neil, of GoldDerby.com. Tom, "Lincoln" certainly amongst my favorites. Does it get the nod from you?

TOM O'NEIL, EDITOR, GOLDDERBY.COM: Yes. It was one of my favorites, too, and obviously Oscar voters really, really liked this movie because the 12 nominations is quiet staggering if you think about it. That's just two short of the all-time record set by "All About Eve" and "Titanic." So, "Lincoln" really is the movie to beat on February 24th.

ANDERSON: What else do you fancy?

O'NEIL: Well, I personally like "Life of Pi" and "Beast of the Southern Wild," and they both were very strong today. Both of these movies came from nowhere and got director nominations and script nominations, and you need all of that in order to win Best Picture.

But I think the big news today is the fact that "Argo" and "Zero Dark Thirty" did not get nominated for Best Director, and that changes the race entirely, because without that, they can't win.

So, you have to wonder, what was that snub of Kathryn Bigelow all about? That's what everyone's asking in Hollywood right now, and does it have to do with the backlash against the movie and its depiction of US military's torture of suspected terrorists. And quite frankly, it probably does.

Now, it could also be that it's a little case of been there, done that, because she won three years ago for "The Hurt Locker." But I think there's a little bit of international politics in the Oscar nominations today.

ANDERSON: Interesting. We like a bit of drama. Listen, a few years -- a few of this year's films, sorry, do require, Tom, some comfy seating as they seem to get longer and longer. Musical blockbuster, of course, "Les Mis" has a total running time of 157 minutes, that's just over two and a half hours.

Kathryn Bigelow's story of the search for OBL runs at a long 160 minutes. The longest film and the winner, though, nominated for Best Picture is "Django Unchained." That runs to an enormous three hours. Are you surprised that with the new world of attention deficit disorder that many of us have that movie-makers are prepared to chuck us something that is this long, two and a half, three hours?

I've got to say, I've sat through all of these movies, and the only one that really made me feel slightly uneasy towards the end was "Lincoln," probably, because I was getting a little bit bored. But it was a fantastic movie. These are long movies, aren't they?

O'NEIL: They are. But you know, historically, if you run the data, the longest movie usually wins, so that tells us size matters in Hollywood, right.

(LAUGHTER)

O'NEIL: No big surprise. But I'm fascinated that you brought this up because, if you think about it, the pressures in movie theaters is to have more showings of more movies all the time so you can sell more tickets, right?

So, only the big, iconic directors like Quentin Tarantino or Steven Spielberg can get away with a movie that's beyond 2 hours and, say, 10 or 15 minutes. And so what's happening is, these really marquis directors are being indulged by Hollywood to go longer at the expense of our comfort.

ANDERSON: Tom, always a pleasure. We've been having that debate with you and here as well in London, so I'm going to move on. We're trying to work out whether we are prepared or not to sit through three-hour movies, even if that movie might be Oscar nominated. We headed onto the streets of London to find out what people here thought.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I think so. I think, you just lose your attention span, you just lose it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It depends on how interesting it is and how much it takes your attention. I've watched "Gone With the Wind" many, many times, and one of the longest films ever made. Some films deserve to be short.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I go to the film and watch a film that's only just above an hour long, I'm thinking how I've just been robbed. Whereas if I go and watch something like "Lord of the Rings," where you feel like you get your money's worth, then I'm happier. So --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- I'd say don't stray away from the long films. If you want to make them long, directors, do your thing. But obviously, don't go towards -- four hours is too long.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like long films because I really enjoy sitting and enjoying films for a long time, because I'm a film buff. So, the longer the better for me, anyway. If it's a good film. If it's not a good film, I'm not watching it.

(END VIDEO CILP)

ANDERSON: All right, fair enough. I tweeted about this today, and these are some of your responses. Fitba Fan-atics says, "Definitely, anything over two hours is too long, in my opinion."

Keira says, "It's all about the story. One can be engrossed in a good, lengthy film and bored to death on a short 90 minute film." Less is more, sometimes, she says. "'Les Mis' is perfect."

And a member of parliament here in the UK, Kevin Brennan, reckons that "Pop songs should be no more than 2.59 seconds, novels no more than 299 pages, and films no more than 89 minutes would be a good rule in 95 percent of cases." Good point, Kev.

You can tweet me anytime @BeckyCNN, your thoughts @BeckyCNN. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson. Up next, hats off to Monopoly fans who've got a big decision to make.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Your Parting Shots this evening here on CONNECT THE WORLD. The fate of Monopoly's Scottie dog is in your hands, along with seven other iconic tokens. One of them won't be passing Go except to go into exile.

That is because Hasbro is giving its classic board game a bit of an update, and it's leaving the decision up to you. Will the shoe outpace the race car? Will fans be pressed if the iron is removed? We could do this all night, couldn't we?

But better yet, you can vote every day at facebook.com/monopoly through February the 5th and you can tweet me @BeckyCNN.

That was CONNECT THE WORLD, this is CNN. A very good evening from the team here in London, thanks for watching. See you tomorrow.

END