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Interview with President of Rwanda; Interview with British Prime Minister

Aired January 25, 2013 - 15:00:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone, I'm Christiane Amanpour, and welcome to the special weekend edition of our program. And we'll bring you interviews with two world leaders. In a moment, my conversation with Britain's prime minister, David Cameron, who's trying to shake up his country's future in the European Union.

But first, to Rwanda's president, Paul Kagame. He's been a darling of the West ever since he led his country out of the territory 1994 genocide that left up to a million people dead.

Kagame brought stability as well as economic and social progress to Rwanda and that was fueled largely by the foreign aid that's flowing in from an international community that still feels guilty for not intervening to stop the genocide.

Under Kagame's leadership, Rwanda has made stunning advances in education, health care, women's rights and security. Rwanda is also now ranked one of the least corrupt countries in Africa.

But the country's economic lifeline is now in jeopardy as Kagame is accused by the United Nations of backing rebels, such as the M23 group in neighboring Congo, who want to overthrow the democratically elected government of Joseph Kabila.

And now Kagame, who's been consistently hailed by world leaders, finds himself being increasingly criticized for that war in Congo and for the growing authoritarian streak at home.

Paul Kagame joins me from the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Mr. President, welcome back to the program.

PAUL KAGAME, PRESIDENT OF RWANDA: It's a pleasure. Thank you.

AMANPOUR: Let me start off by asking you what will it take to get Rwanda to stop supporting the M23 militia in Congo? What will it take?

KAGAME: The solution is for us to come together as two countries, as a region and be forward looking and find solutions. Rwanda is very active in this and we want a positive solution out of that.

AMANPOUR: So I hear you, basically accepting what the U.N. has said, that your country is responsible for creating and helping create this M23 rebellion. And you have had a call from the United States; you've had a call from President Obama, who has underscored that this must stop, that you must stop and permanently end all support for that.

Did you accept President Obama's insistence on that?

KAGAME: Well, first of all, Christiane, I have to be clear; it's a big no on the issue of saying that I am accepting this kind of responsibility. But what I am accepting is that people can work together to find a solution to this problem that affects Rwanda, that also affects the Congo and the region. This is really what you are talking about.

I don't want to (inaudible) of saying this one is to blame. The blame game doesn't help anyone and in any case some of the blame's placed wrongly. They are inaccurate. They are not -- they don't make -- so I'm just forward looking. I'm talking about finding a solution.

And I think what the President of the United States was saying, or others, it's about finding a solution to problems that are complex if not (inaudible). It's not just an issue of (inaudible) M23 or one other problem. It's a number of problems that are together that we need to sort out and move on.

AMANPOUR: Well, that is true. And the president has called for diplomatic or kind of a negotiated process, a political process to solve this. But Mr. President, you deny the U.N. report; you deny helping these militias.

But despite your denial, it's costing you and your country very dearly. Some of your major donors are now withholding money, withholding projects. Your own finance minister is revising down the projected growth in your country by more than a percentage point.

You obviously see that this is costing you, right? Do you agree that it's costing you?

KAGAME: It's -- yes. But you see it's not a issue of denying, just denying. It's an issue of saying what people are saying happened, it did not happen. But of course, whether that has led to another problem, that is the truth.

It has led to a problem where there is this discomfort we are in, we found ourselves in, that affects the progress of my country and also, of course, creates other problems within the region. That is true. But whether it is best on false grounds or not, that's not the issue I'm talking about. I think we already have a problem.

AMANPOUR: You're saying it's true that whatever is happening in the Congo is costing your country? You have about nearly half of your budget comes from international aid. If that is threatened, how will you continue this success that you've had, whether in education, in the general economy, health, in all those indicators, do you admit that it is a threat?

KAGAME: Christiane, I don't understand the importance of this question other than you are saying, yes, we have that problem. We need to address it. We need to address it in two ways. One, we need to understand whether what we are saying is correct or whether the way we are approaching the problem gives us a solution. That's very important.

Now as to how we deal with the consequences of all this, whether it is wrong or right, we will have to deal with those consequences. We will (inaudible) our budget is affected. There's no question about it.

So what do we do about it? What we do about it is to try and make do with what we have and what we don't have, we don't have. What can we do with what we don't have? So it remains a lot of (inaudible) estimates, a lot of suffering.

I mean -- and here you are trying to put it in -- maybe nicely that -- or if it doesn't matter whether what has caused this had, you know, got a basis or not, but it has had these consequences. How do you want me to answer that?

AMANPOUR: What do you plan to do? How do you plan to rescue your country at this precise time?

KAGAME: What we are -- what we are planning to do is to try and work with our partners in the region, including the (inaudible) where the problem is, to see whether we can find a solution for all of us, including therefore that one that we will get out of this place where it has been pushed.

Now, again, I'm not going back to explain whether the problem had a basis or not, or it relates to Rwanda in a real way or not. I think that is an argument that has been going on for so long and maybe will continue. I focus on whether we can find a solution. We want a solution for all of us. Yes.

AMANPOUR: Are you afraid that this tarnishes your legacy, this as well as criticisms of growing authorization streak at home?

KAGAME: You know, honestly, I wish you would find time and interact with Rwandans and ask them what they think. There have been stories of all kind of things. But the story, the true story about Rwanda, Rwanda has made progress. We have registered economic growth 8 percent year in year out for almost last 10 years.

We have seen women empowered like nowhere else. We have seen our children go to school. We have seen health care improve on (inaudible) everyone. We have seen for the security (inaudible). We have seen investments in information technology.

We've -- all of these investments have been possible because Rwandans need them and have worked hard to achieve them. So it's the same Rwanda that somebody wants to depict in a different light. I don't know what is being talked about.

AMANPOUR: All right. Final question, will you step down in 2017?

KAGAME: Again, don't worry about that. We have the constitution in place. We have always tried to do our best to satisfy the needs of our people and expectations of our people. So I think -- why do people create doubts about whether, come 2017, this or that is going to happen? Why -- what is the basis?

AMANPOUR: Is that a yes?

KAGAME: No, it is a broad answer to say you don't need to worry about anything.

AMANPOUR: President Kagame, thank you for joining me from Davos.

KAGAME: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: And tens of millions of dollars of aid from Britain is at risk, and Britain is Rwanda's second biggest donor, after the United States.

This week in Davos, British prime minister David Cameron shook up the international community there after he had called for a national referendum on whether his country should remain in the European Union. Will the Chunnel beneath the Channel become a one-way street? My interview with David Cameron when we come back.




AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. And turning now to Britain and the European Union, on Tuesday, Prime Minister David Cameron shook the foundations of the E.U. project. He gave a major speech, calling for a yes-or-no vote in five years' time on whether Britain will remain inside the union.

Cameron challenged Europe to reinvent the union in a way that preserves peace and prosperity while giving individual countries more control of their own destiny. It's a risky move. Worried leaders fear that if every country tries to renegotiate the agreement, it could lead to the unraveling of the whole union, the world's largest economy.

I spoke with David Cameron on Thursday, one day after that dramatic euro speech.


AMANPOUR: Prime Minister Cameron, welcome. Thanks for joining me from Davos.

CAMERON: Pleasure.

AMANPOUR: So it's the morning after, Mr. Prime Minister. Any regrets?

CAMERON: No, not at all. I think it's really important that we've set out a plan for how we get change in Europe that will benefit all of Europe, making it more open, more competitive, more flexible, and how we secure Britain's place within that.

And I think it's a very important step forward and I'm pleased with the reception that the speech has got from the business community, from the public and also some positive responses from some of my European colleagues in government, too.

AMANPOUR: Well, let me ask you, because actually there are a couple of positive responses about the idea of talking about these things, but there are a lot of negative responses as well.

Look, I fully get it, I understand the frustration of many Britons over what you say is a sclerotic, you know, bureaucratic one-size-fits-all policy. But many are saying while the logic may be great, it's a grand gamble as well.

How are you going to convince your European partners that they will work with you? They're already saying you can't cherry-pick what you want to keep and what you want to ditch.

CAMERON: Well, first of all, I'd say that I think the greatest gamble for Britain would be to sit back and do nothing. The fact is, the European Union is changing, because over half the members have the single currency and just under half, including us, aren't members of the euro. We're not going to join the euro -- this change is underway.

And the debate about Britain's place in Europe is also underway. Much better, in my view, to step forward, to shape that debate, to shape the future in Europe, rather than to sit back with the danger that then Britain could drift towards the exit. So I think that's the first thing I would say.

Second of all, Britain is a very positive player in the European Union. We're the ones who helped secure the largest single market anywhere in the world. We're the ones who, with others, pushed for the oil embargo on Iran and very tough sanctions on Syria.

You know, Britain is not isolationist; we are the ones, often, who step forward and take solidarity action with European partners. Take what the French are doing in Mali. Who's their strongest supporter? Who's supplying them with transport planes, logistics, and help? It's we, the British.

So we're very positive players. Of course there will be tough negotiations ahead, but I don't doubt that, with goodwill, we can improve the European Union for everybody.

AMANPOUR: So do you believe after all that, after all that you said, do you believe that you will get your European partners to renegotiate the treaty to your satisfaction?

CAMERON: Well, I think there is a renegotiation coming anyway because of what's happening in the euro. When you have a common currency, a euro amongst some of the members of the European Union, you need to make changes. You have to have a banking union. You have to have elements of a fiscal union.

You know, if you think of all the things that the American states have had to do together because you share the same currency, the dollar; you think of all the things that England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have to do together because we have the pound, you need some of those things, at least, to happen in Europe. And that's why there's going to be change, anyway.

What I'm doing is saying, while we make changes to suit the euro, let's also make changes to make the whole of the European Union more flexible, more open, more competitive. Let's make sure that powers can flow backwards towards nation states as well as forward to the center.

It's those sorts of changes that I think will bring the European Union closer to its people.

AMANPOUR: And what are those powers, specifically, that you want to flow back, for instance, to Britain?

CAMERON: Well, what we've said is we think there's a whole range of areas where the European Union has legislated too often and gone too far, covering areas like social and employment legislation, environmental legislation, a whole series of areas.

I mean, just one example, the hours that hospital doctors work in Britain is, you know, that's dictated sometimes by rules passed in Brussels. Now, you know, that really isn't necessary in an open, flexible, competitive Europe.

We're not putting a list of demands on the table and saying we'll storm off if we don't get them. What we're saying is we should in Europe have changes that will benefit all of the countries of the European Union, but which, at the same time, will, I think, make Britain more comfortable with her place in the European Union.

AMANPOUR: Prime Minister, you say you're not going to storm out of the union, necessarily, but you have raised this issue of the referendum. And many people were hoping that you wouldn't bring that up in your speech.

You've deferred it for several years, but is that the slow roll towards the exit?

And what if you do not get what you want in the intervening years? How will you campaign in this issue of the referendum, to stay in or to stay out?

CAMERON: Well, I think the referendum is vital, because, in the end, we should have the consent of the people for what we do. We should trust the people. Now, I believe we'll secure the changes that we need and I will be able to recommend to the British people that we vote to stay in the European Union. That is what I want to do. That's the fight that I want to have.

But I think we have to rewind a little and ask ourselves why we're in this position. And the fact is, the development of Europe over the previous years and decades, we have had treaty after treaty, often when the British people were offered a referendum, and then it never actually happened.

And this is one of the things that's led to the disaffection about Europe. So I think the act of holding of a referendum after we've had this renegotiation is the right thing to do.

In the end, you need the consent for your people for the path you want to take your country in.

AMANPOUR: A lot of your speech, certainly the last third of it, was acknowledging the risk and saying that, you know, the question we have to ask ourselves is is this the very best future for our country, getting out of the E.U.?

You spoke about Britain's weight on the international stage. You talked about how the British have become used to business and employment and the sort of connections with the rest of the world.

Is that not all at risk if you come out of the E.U., if the referendum doesn't pass?

CAMERON: Well, I think Britain would be better off in a reformed European Union, but I think the right approach is to seek that reform and then hold that referendum. Look, I think we should have, as I've said, an honest debate. People shouldn't overestimate the arguments on either side.

But clearly there are important benefits from belonging to a single market, the freedom to travel and to live in different parts of Europe. These are all benefits.

But we've also got to address some of the downsides that have grown up in recent years: too much cost, too much rigidity, too much of the European Union interfering into parts of national life where it really shouldn't go.

Now, if we can address those issues, and I believe that we can, I think the British people will be much more comfortable with their position in the European Union.

But that -- as I said, I think the biggest risk for Britain would be to sit back and do nothing, do nothing when Europe is changing, when the euro is driving this change and when there is already a public debate. Better to lead that change, lead that debate and get the right outcome, frankly, not just for Britain, but the right outcome for Europe as well.

AMANPOUR: As you know, Prime Minister, your best and staunchest friends here in the United States, some of your best neighboring friends, for instance, in Ireland, are very, very worried. Even the head of the CBI, the Confederation of British Industries, are worried about the impact in all sorts of -- in all sorts of ways.

Your -- one of your predecessors, Prime Minister Tony Blair, the former prime minister, said today it reminds him of the "Blazing Saddles" Mel Brooks comedy, in which the sheriff put the gun to his head, and said, "If you don't do what I want, I'll blow my brains out." You're just going to have to watch out, he said, that one of the 26 doesn't say, "Well, go ahead."

Do you acknowledge this huge risk and this gamble that you're taking?

CAMERON: Well, as I say, I think the risk lies in doing nothing. And what I'd say to Tony Blair, of course, who was prime minister for 10 years in Britain -- part of the problem is that we have the Amsterdam Treaty, the Nice Treaty, then the Lisbon Treaty.

And at no stage was the British public consulted in a referendum, even though in other countries on occasion there were referenda. And Tony Blair made it worse in many ways by promising a referendum on the European Constitution, that then became the Lisbon Treaty, and then withdrawing that promise while he was in government.

So one of the reasons we have, if you like, a consent deficit, a democratic deficit, amongst the British people when it comes to our place in Europe, is because the way they've been treated, frankly, over the last 10 years or more. I want to put that right.

In the end, I think Britain is better off in a reformed European Union. I think we can achieve those reforms that I then want to see the British people's consent. And I think it's only fair that they are asked for that consent because, frankly, the club that they joined, that Britain joined back in the 1970s, that club has changed remarkably.

And the euro is driving change in the organization to which we belong even more radically. So let's be a part of that change, make sure it's positive change and then let's have a referendum over it.

AMANPOUR: And finally, Prime Minister, do you think you'll be remembered as the prime minister who led Britain out of the E.U. or who managed to keep it in the E.U.?

CAMERON: Well, it's for other people to write your history, to write your legacies --

AMANPOUR: Well, if you were a betting man.

CAMERON: -- I mean, I hope I'll be remembered -- well, I hope I'll be remembered as someone who did everything they could to get the British economy back on track, to strengthen Britain's society and Britain's place in the world, and to secure Britain's place in a reformed European Union.

I think that is what I want to achieve. There are obviously a huge amount of work in the years ahead, but I feel very confident and positive that, having set out a plan, I think explain to the world, to our European partners, to the British people, to British business, everyone can see there is a plan to change Europe for the better and to secure Britain's place in it.

And to those who disagree, I would just say, you know, you can't attack a plan if you've got nothing to attack it with. This is the right way forward for Britain. It's in our national interest; it's also in Europe's interest, too.

AMANPOUR: Prime Minister David Cameron, thank you so much for joining me.

CAMERON: Thank you.


AMANPOUR: And we'll have a final note after a break. It's about a home movie that's up for an Oscar, a portrait of life and death in the shadow of Israel's West Bank settlements, "Five Broken Cameras," and the story they tell when we come back.




AMANPOUR: And finally, there was an election in Israel this week, and the surprising result dealt a blow for the party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and at the same time marked an increased presence for the center Left.

As we wait to see if a new coalition will improve the prospects for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, imagine a home movie that documents that bitter conflict and is now a nominee for this year's Academy Award.


AMANPOUR (voice-over): It's called "Five Broken Cameras," and it takes place over a period of five years in a small Palestinian village on the occupied West Bank. Emad Burnat, a farmer's son, got his first video camera to record the birth of his son.

But when Israeli put up a fence in the shadow of ever-expanding settlements, Burnat used his camera to record the protests and the inevitable military crackdown. As he became more involved in the struggle to bring down that fence, a struggle that nearly cost him his life, each of his five cameras was broken. It's a story of simple family joys and of daily acts of resistance. Take a look


EMAD BURNAT, VIDEOGRAPHER (from captions): I forget the wounds that rule my life. Forgotten wounds can't be healed. So I film (inaudible).


AMANPOUR: Burnat's resistance was using his camera and perhaps most remarkable of all, he partnered with an Israeli filmmaker, Guy Davidi, to bring this documentary to the screen.

That's it for the weekend edition of our program. Thanks for watching. Goodbye from New York. And you can always follow us at