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Discussing Egypt's Situation; Catching Up with Carla Bruni

Aired June 27, 2013 - 15:00:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour.

As Egypt braces for the first anniversary of President Mohammed Morsi's election, the country is once again on the brink of crisis with supporters and opponents planning to take to the streets in force. Who would have imagined this a year ago?

I was in Egypt during the historic election last year. It was a free, fair and democratic election. It offered hope after the popular revolution that had swept away the Mubarak era. And the world looked to Egypt as a model for the Arab Spring countries.

Just before the presidential vote this Muslim Brotherhood leader had told me that he would be a unifying president for all.


MOHAMMED MORSI, PRESIDENT OF EGYPT (through translator): I see it being called the presidency of the Muslim Brotherhood. But it is the presidency of Egypt. The president of Egypt in the next period will be chosen and elected by Egyptians. So if they pick the head of the Freedom and Justice Party, he will represent all Egyptians.


AMANPOUR: But one year later, he's perceived as anything but. And the country is divided and basic government functions have broken down. There are daily power outages and critical shortages of gasoline and bread.

Foreign reserves are dwindling and despite extensive support from form governments, investors are staying away in droves and crime has spiked. And the president has just taken to the airwaves to admit making mistakes and to try to reassure Egyptians.


MORSI (through translator): The people of Egypt, the Egyptian revolution will remain alive, will achieve its goals through the ballot box and participating in development and rebuilding. The revolution doesn't give carte blanche to anybody, not even to the president.


AMANPOUR: But what's really troubling right now is that Egypt's military threatens to intervene to stop chaos, it says, in the event of violent mass demonstrations this weekend. The opposition has all but called on the army to topple Morsi who is, in fact, as we said, Egypt's first democratically elected president.

Khaled al-Qazzaz is senior aide to the president on foreign affairs, and he joins me right now from Cairo.

Mr. al-Qazzaz, thank you very much for being with me. How could things have gotten so bad, from 70 percent approval last year, to below 30 percent right now. What mistakes is Mr. Morsi talking about when he admits having made some?

Well, that is the problem with live television. We have most -- we have lost our signal for a moment. But actually, we're back.

Mr. al-Qazzaz, can you hear me?



AL-QAZZAZ: Yes, I can hear you.

AMANPOUR: Did you hear my question?

AL-QAZZAZ: Thank you for this -- yes, I did. Thank you for this interest in Egypt and we want you to come down here to see actually the -- and feel the real sentiment down in Egypt.

And as Egyptians have give the world a very good example in the -- and a peaceful revolution and in a peaceful way to change the matters in an era of corruption and dictatorship (inaudible) consistently, through five democratic instances, a clear path to a very clear democratic process.

And since then, as democracy entails always differences, differing in the ways to go forward.


AL-QAZZAZ: And this is the situation that we're in. It's not an unusual situation.


AL-QAZZAZ: And Egyptians, we bet on the Egyptians in the way that they would consistently and continuously maintain this peacefulness and peaceful nature and in expressing the views and their opinions and sticking to these democratic principles and ways.

AMANPOUR: All right. Well, let me ask you then, I asked you what mistakes you think the president has made, because he admitted it. And you've got to admit that this is a very polarized nation right now. There are people who believe that the president, far from doing what he told me, that he would be a leader for all, has been a leader for his party and the adherents to that.

So what do you think he should be doing differently going ahead?

AL-QAZZAZ: The president said it very clearly in the speech yesterday, that he chose -- he made very difficult choices during this past year and of course, with the first elected president, civilian president in the history of Egypt, these choices and this situation is quite -- is quite difficult.

And he clearly outlined things that we bet -- we did bet on or choose the political parties as representatives of the Egyptian population. And it seems that this was not the right -- the only way to do because it ignored significant portions of people who've participated in the revolution and wanted this kind of change.

And he made a very clear commitment that he is planning to include more sectors of the Egyptian population in the coming phase with concrete and definite mechanisms to do so (ph) and specifically he focused on the youth who are -- who were the fuel of this revolution. And hopefully the hope for the future.

AMANPOUR: So are you concerned, then, that the army has sent out basic warnings that if there's any chaos or violence over the weekend it's going to intervene? And that the opposition is all but calling on the army to topple the president? Does that worry you?

AL-QAZZAZ: The first part, the army has a very clearly defined role in the new constitution of Egypt.

And the president held several meeting with the defense council and with the national security council and clearly outlined ways for protecting the right of civilians for peaceful protests and to -- distributed the roles of different government agencies and government bodies to make sure that Egyptian lives are preserved and protected as well as public and private properties.

And the army highlighted these things. And that they have a national role in protecting the lives of Egyptians. And this is in sync with what the president and the national defense council and national security council has outlined.

AMANPOUR: Are you concerned that they'll --


AL-QAZZAZ: Calling for -- calling for a coup --

AMANPOUR: Go ahead, go ahead.

AL-QAZZAZ: -- calling for a coup or calling for an undemocratic way for toppling the government, I don't think is the mainstream that the Egyptian national opposition wants and even it's not the sentiment. Egyptians have fought clearly during the revolution, the military rule of Egypt for the past 60 years.

And they definitely want the civilian rule for this country. And this is what the choice of the Egyptians has consistently been on. And we believe that the opposition, the national, the loyal opposition would never want to go back to an era that is more dictatorship and more corruption.

So we don't think that this is the choice. We think that they are for democracy and for proper representation of Egyptians.

AMANPOUR: So you say loyal opposition and that would be the normal state of affairs in a democracy. But there seems to be a feeling amongst the opposition that the president hasn't done enough to bring all sides -- I know you say he's going to.

But they point a lot of them to, you know, being called traitors whenever they criticize or being called haters of their religions whenever they say something against the presidency. So there does seem to be, you know, a state of affairs that's been directed from the presidency itself.

AL-QAZZAZ: I'm glad you asked this question, actually, because it -- the president made this distinction very clearly. The loyal opposition is a way that participated in the democratic process as is working towards, as you said, a good and a proper democracy. And this is the role that we want to enrich.

And we want more people to participate in because no single faction in Egypt can rule Egypt alone. And the president admitted very clearly in across the ways (ph) but in any revolution, in any way there are always forces who do not want this democratic transition.

The corrupt remnants of the previous regime and the corruption that is prevailing in many sectors in Egypt is resisting this kind of change. And this is what the president has called clearly that wanted to lobby (ph) all Egyptians against corruption and against this hindering of this democratic process.

So there are two -- we're talking about two groups, two groups who are opposing and unfortunately in this kind of atmosphere, they seem to come a little bit closer. And we ask everybody, basically, to stick to the democratic principles and to continue along this path that all Egyptians have -- a majority of Egyptians have voted for in free democratic choice.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you a couple of things that those of us looking from the inside just can't figure out why these decisions are made.

The president, controversially, named as a governor to Luxor an individual who had belonged to a hardline Islamic group which as you all remember killed dozens of tourists in Egypt back in 1997. Now this man under the protests that were created has since resigned.

But why on Earth would the president name such a person to such a position of responsibility and governance?

AL-QAZZAZ: That's also a very legitimate concern that was subject of discussion in Egypt. And in Egypt, actually, we're working on a model to include everybody, a model to basically -- to end the terrorism and end violence.

And in that move, the presidency and Egyptians actually chose to include all those -- to include all those parties or groups who have worked in different ways earlier and give them a chance through democracy and through democratic means and through proper political participation to be part of the political scene.

And this in a very good way actually managed to reduce violence and to reduce the violence of these specific groups.

And they have clearly denounced violence and presented a candidate and wanted to contribute, presented a candidate who have a good track record and who is loyal enough to Egypt and to protect tourism, et cetera. It's - - he himself actually, when he realized this reaction, a step down and we welcome this and accepted this move by this governor (ph).

AMANPOUR: All right. Well, let me ask you about the press then. Obviously there's no question that the press is freer and more able to talk and criticize than it was before.

However, there are these rulings that have come down, which honestly, honestly I'm scratching my head. There is a very distinguished Egyptian journalist who's been sentenced to two years in prison at hard labor. I mean, that's like something that came out of the Soviet Union in the gulag days. How can this be today's Egypt?

AL-QAZZAZ: I have to make two very clear points.

The first one is the president's position towards freedom of press and freedom of expression, that the president's first right -- used his first - - his right to legislate when legislation was in his hands (ph) to issue a clear legislation that basically prevents the detention of -- the detention of journalists in general.

And his line and his speech and everything he mentions is that he is for free press and for freedom of expression. And even in different legal cases that the presidency was involved in, he retracted all cases when it came to his.

AMANPOUR: OK, Mr. Khaled AL-QAZZAZ, I am really sorry but our link has gone down again. In any event, thank you for being with us.

And let me ask now, how do you know if democracy is alive and well? One key marker is a government's ability to weather a few laughs at its own expense.

Last week in Cairo, "The Daily Show," Jon Stewart made a surprise appearance on the popular TV show of his Egyptian counterpart, Bassem Youssef who, of course, has been a frequent guest of this program and whose satire has gotten him into trouble with President Morsi. Jon Stewart offered up these words of wisdom.


JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW": If your regime is not strong enough to handle a joke, then you don't have a regime."


STEWART: Because it is not -- you have to be able to handle anything, a joke is a joke. You may say that is an insult and I say, you know, there's an expression -- I don't know if you have it -- adding insult to injury. Yes, maybe it is an insult, but it is not an injury. A joke has never ridden a motorcycle into a crowd with a baton. A joke has never shot tear gas to a group of people in a park. It's just talk.



AMANPOUR: And after a break, is there life after leaving the presidential palace? No, we're not talking about Egypt; we are talking about France. In the case of Carla Bruni, the wife of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy and an artist in her own right, the answer is an emphatic, "Mais oui." She joins us with her guitar when we come back.




AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. Now you've seen her on the catwalk as a supermodel. You've seen her on the arm of some of the world's most famous rock stars. You've seen on her state visits as the first lady of France. And now a side of Carla Bruni that you may not have seen recently, the singer and artist.

Since leaving the Elysee Palace last year, Bruni has released a new album. It's called "Little French Songs." And I spoke to her earlier as she sings her way back into civilian life.


AMANPOUR: Carla Bruni, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: Good to see you.

Tell me how relieved you are to no longer be first lady and be back in your own comfort zone.

BRUNI: Well, I wouldn't say relieved. I mean, it's very peaceful and very nice not to have so much pressure. But I wasn't having the pressure. It was my husband. Yes, I am relieved in a personal way, you know, because you're always afraid someone might get so tired or he'll, you know, from this kind of position --


AMANPOUR: And to be able to perform again.

BRUNI: -- and -- yes. That's, you know, be able to perform live, be able to go on tour. That's really nice.

AMANPOUR: So you're here promoting your new album, "Little French Songs," and I wonder if you'll play just a little bit of any of the songs that you want for us.

BRUNI: Yes. With pleasure.

So I'll play you a little minute of -- you know, the album is called "Little French Songs," and it's full of little French songs. And this one is called "Little French Song."

AMANPOUR: Appropriately named.

BRUNI: It's not French. It's not English. It's Frenglish.

AMANPOUR: Frenglish. Go for it.

BRUNI: Right, yes.


BRUNI: So, you know, it means when you -- when life is not so easy, try for a little France song, of course (inaudible), dancing, you know, they're not -- but they're nostalgic.

AMANPOUR: Sort of folk.

BRUNI: -- and they bring you to Paris.

AMANPOUR: Well, there you go.

Let me ask you because, obviously, everybody knows that you had friendships with a lot of top musicians, people like Mick Jagger, people like Eric Clapton, all these -- who are your influences? Did they encourage you to sing? What -- how did you start singing?

BRUNI: No, I started singing on my own, you know, but you know, as a child really. But my greatest influence would be folk singers, you know, songwriters, classic songwriters, you know, like Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, you know --


BRUNI: -- you know, or also the old jazz women, you know, like Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald. Those are the people that made me want to sing.

AMANPOUR: The sort of intimate folk songs.


BRUNI: Yes, intimate and simple, yes.

AMANPOUR: Your life was anything but simple when you became first lady. You went from superstar model, very famous, but into a whole different sort of fish tank when you became the wife of a president. You got married -- your first marriage --


BRUNI: Late marriage.

AMANPOUR: -- late marriage and your first marriage, even though you had a son before.

But describe the marriage and why you did it just before you went to England and you met the Queen.

And that was an amazing trip.

BRUNI: It was an amazing trip. It was more comfortable for us to be married. But we would have been married anyway.

You know, of course we were -- while this was a French republic, so you know, being like a non-official position, I was coming from show business, you know. And I just wanted to reassure the people and show them that I wasn't just hanging out and dating the president, you know.

So we got married. But to tell you the truth, I would have married that man in any situation. And just at first as we did it anyway.

AMANPOUR: Well, let me ask you about that because you know, people know the public persona of Nicolas Sarkozy. He's rather brash. He's not very friendly to the press.


AMANPOUR: Maybe you can change that for us.

People didn't think it was a -- well, there were a lot of people who thought that this wasn't going to last, that it wouldn't last the end of the presidency, that you'd bolt afterwards or he'd bolt afterwards. You two are very different. And yet you've defined the odds and you're together and you have a young daughter.

What is it about the relationship?

BRUNI: Oh, well, we're -- formally (ph) in love at the first minute and it's very hard when you have a public life to -- it's very hard for the person that sees you from outside and doesn't know you to know what you really are and what really happens. So you know, in between us, we're very similar, you know. We're like the song, you know, he says potato and I say potato; he says tomato and I say tomato.

So we're matching and we're very lucky that we meet one another, because that's his third marriage. And my first marriage, but you know, I was 40 when I met him and so how can I say -- I think at that time of life, you wouldn't let such a love pass by without catching it.

AMANPOUR: You describe a very warm husband, somebody who's very attentive.

So what do you make of the fact that he's being called, you know, elderly abuse, this whole case with Liliane Bettencourt, that he's accused of sort of trying to prey on her for campaign funds?

BRUNI: But I don't know how I would describe, but I'm sure that everything about the truth will come out soon.

AMANPOUR: Fair enough.


AMANPOUR: And you became a slightly older mother; you were 43 when you were pregnant.


BRUNI: Definitely not a young --

AMANPOUR: What was that like?

BRUNI: Tiring.


BRUNI: But lovely. Like a miracle, you know, kind of a miracle and having a healthy little girl, such luck.

Well, you know, motherhood is tiring even for a young woman. You know, but when you're older, of course, it's like.

And but maybe appreciated more. Maybe you give it more.

AMANPOUR: And you say a miracle. I just want to go right back into some of the people who you met as first lady. And one of them, of course, was the miracle of South Africa with Nelson Mandela, who as we know, is ailing in hospital.

What was it like meeting him, you and your husband did. What did you get out of that? What was that moment like?

BRUNI: It was one of the most incredible moments of my life, I must say. We were on a South African state visit and we went to visit his prison before we went to meet him. And when I saw Nelson Mandela, Nelson Mandela is a very grand and tall and, you know, sort of a very, very important (ph) man, you know.

And when I saw him, sitting in that chair, I couldn't believe he had spent the 20 years in that small, tiny prison, because you know, we saw the prison before we saw him. And I was wondering when I was sitting in front of him how he could actually lay down. He probably never laid down, not even once. He could never sleep laying down on the floor.

There was no room, hardly enough room for me to lay down.

And so I was wondering -- sometimes, you meet some sort of people -- he came out after 20 years of jail forgiving the people that put him in jail, feeling sorry for them. That's what he said.

So sometimes in life, you get to meet this kind of person very rarely that makes worth life.

AMANPOUR: Do you think you will ever go back into that kind of public life? Do you think your husband will run again for the presidency?

BRUNI: Oh, I don't know. It's really not very much depending on me.

AMANPOUR: Can you imagine being first lady again?

BRUNI: Well, I don't imagine many things, you know. I don't project myself so far. That's his situation, his story. That's his life, not mine.

But he's so supporting with me, that's supportive, that I am going to sing with him.

AMANPOUR: You're going to stand by because we're come back after a break with a special song for a very special person, Nelson Mandela.

And also President Obama, as we know, is in Africa. He's in Senegal today. He paid his own tribute to South Africa's first black president and he'll be there tomorrow. We'll be right back with Carla Bruni.



AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a world where a first lady sings to a heroic president. That is exactly what Carla Bruni did here in New York back in 2009 on Mandela Day. It was Nelson Mandela's 91st birthday and it's an annual call to action and public service.

Right now, outside his hospital in Pretoria, South Africans are gathering. They're singing. They're dancing. They're praying and it is joyous. And so we thought that we'd ask Carla Bruni to end our program tonight with the song that she sang for Nelson Mandela four years ago.

What song are you going to sing and why have you chosen this?

BRUNI: With my friend, Dave Stewart, we're choosing to sing "Blowing in the Wind," because of course, it's a song about freedom. It's a song about -- yes, it's a song about freedom. It's probably the most beautiful song about freedom that was ever written, by Bob Dylan.

Shall I sing it to, a little piece?



AMANPOUR: Beautiful.

BRUNI: (Inaudible), thank you.