Return to Transcripts main page


Russia Targets "Terrorists" in Syria with Airstrikes; Syria's Forgotten Crisis, the Internally Displaced; Monica Bellucci on Work and Life; Imagine a World. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired October 23, 2015 - 14:00   ET




FRED PLEITGEN, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight: an emboldened Syrian president visits an emboldened Russian leader as their militaries work

together in the skies and on the ground. Our exclusive interview with Russia's ambassador to the European Union, Vladimir Chizhov.

And a chilling testimony from under the jets in Aleppo.

Also tonight, some much need escapism.


MONICA BELLUCCI, ACTOR, " LUCIA SCIARRA": If you don't leave now, we'll die together.

DANIEL CRAIG, ACTOR, "JAMES BOND": I can think of worse ways to go.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): Monica Bellucci tells me about the difference between being a "Bond girl" and a "Bond woman".


PLEITGEN: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the special weekend edition of the program. I'm Fred Pleitgen, in for Christiane.

Well, there was a surprise meeting this week of new brothers in arms. Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad visited his Russian benefactor, Vladimir

Putin, on Tuesday, as Russia's military continues to transform Syria's civil war.

It's thought to be President Assad's first trip abroad since the uprising began in 2011, which is perhaps why news of the visit only emerged a day

later. Putin's intervention has allowed Assad to launch a major offensive in

various areas of Syria but the fighting is forcing tens of thousands of people out of their homes, particularly in and around Aleppo. And we'll

hear from an eyewitness in a moment.

On Wednesday I spoke exclusively to the Russian ambassador to the E.U., Vladimir Chizhov, as the view of Assad's bold visit from Moscow was



PLEITGEN: Ambassador, welcome to the program. Thank you for joining us.


PLEITGEN: First of all, let me get your take on how things are going on the battlefield in this military campaign for Russia.

And also, how important is the focus on ISIS itself and how important are other rebel groups?

CHIZHOV: Well, so far, since the 13th of September, when the Russian air campaign was launched, I think it has been quite effective. A number of

headquarters, arms depots, training centers and other installations of both ISIS and also other terrorist groups like Jabhat al-Nusra have been


PLEITGEN: What is the main thrust at this point?

Is Russia trying to help stabilize the Assad government and then move on towards fighting ISIS?

CHIZHOV: That is not the correct sequence of action.

The first goal is, of course, to destroy ISIS and other terrorist groups and proceed to a political solution in Syria because the conflict will only

be settled when there is a political solution. I think this is something on which both Russia and its Western partners agree quite well.

PLEITGEN: What do you say to criticisms when, for instance, the --


PLEITGEN: -- U.S. says that groups that it backs are also being hit by these airstrikes?

CHIZHOV: Well, you know, since the beginning, when those criticisms were raised, a few days after the campaign started, actually, we asked, OK, if

you know where such groups are, tell us where they are so we would be very carefully avoiding hitting them.

"No, that's confidential," was the answer.

And we said, OK, if that's confidential, give us information on the whereabouts of ISIS and related terrorist groups so we would concentrate on


Again that was claimed confidential so no information was shared with us, which I think is a pity.

PLEITGEN: Sir, when a country undertakes an endeavor like yours has right now, it has to have a point where it says it will disengage.

At what point would you say that Russia will have achieved its military goals?

CHIZHOV: We will be able to pronounce the famous words, "mission accomplished," when ISIS and related terrorist groups are destroyed and can

no longer influence the situation in Syria.

Some people say that Russian involvement can only prolong the civil war in Syria, which has been raging for four years.

Paradoxically, they may be right because, had there not been Russian intervention, the civil war perhaps would have ended earlier with the

destruction of the Syrian army and the government and total control of ISIS over the whole territory, there wouldn't be a civil war then.

PLEITGEN: Sir, are you saying then, am I understanding correctly, that the Assad government was on the brink and its armed forces on the brink of

collapse and that's why you went in?

CHIZHOV: No, actually, not on the brink of collapse, by no means. But the situation was quite dramatic because the ISIS, in spite of all the bombings

for over a year by the United States and their allies, ISIS was far from being defeated.

Actually, they were concentrating more and more people and arms and spreading in both Iraq and Syria and beyond; even in faraway places like

Libya, there are signs of ISIS appearing.

PLEITGEN: Are you, as obviously a very important factor in this offensive, telling your Syrian counterparts and others that human rights abuses will

not be tolerated and that they cannot use things like barrel bombs, for instance, in urban areas?

Is that something that you're making clear?

Because it is your reputation that's on the line as well, isn't it?

CHIZHOV: In conflicts like this, there are no angels. That's for sure.

But it is up to the Syrian people and only the Syrian people to take decisions on the political future of their country, whether they want to

see the current president, Assad, or somebody else leading the country, what they want to see as the structure, the parliament, the armed forces

and so on.

But in order for them to do that, the involvement of international terrorism should be terminated. That's why we're there.

PLEITGEN: Vladimir Chizhov, thank you very much for joining us today, live there in Brussels.


PLEITGEN: The fighting on the ground has forced tens of thousands of people out of their homes. Zaidoun al- Zoabi with the Union of Syrian

Medical Relief Organizations has seen that exodus first-hand. He joined me from Gaziantep in Turkey, having just left Aleppo.


PLEITGEN: Zaidoun, thank you for joining the program. And first of all, tell me what you've seen as you were in Aleppo and in the countryside.

ZAIDOUN AL-ZOABI, UNION OF SYRIAN MEDICAL RELIEF ORGANIZATIONS: I could see one thing only, that this is a new stage in this war. I guess this is

the worst ever.

We had people who are just in the field, in the open, everywhere, walking, carrying whatever they can carry, small mattresses, something you would

have thrown away just like 10 years ago, anything to cover themselves or to sleep on.

Villages were empty, empty. No one is there. Villages were empty. And whatever you see is just scared faces. People are scared to death. Anger,

people not -- do not know what to do --


AL-ZOABI: -- where to go. It's just like walking.

When I asked people, where are you going to? They said, we don't know.

PLEITGEN: How precise are these airstrikes that are going on?

AL-ZOABI: Well, first of all, in the last three or four days, I know that three hospitals were targeted. One is in al-Hader, one of the villages I

visited, and the other is el-Eis. Al-Hader Hospital was hit directly at the building, I mean very precise, very accurate targeting.

And the sky was full of jetfighters, helicopters. And this is making people exactly, exactly with no hope.

PLEITGEN: What is your organization able to do?

What can you guys still do on the ground there?

I know you guys are trying to set up medical facilities; you say two medical facilities have been bombed.

What is it like to work there right now?

Is it still possible to provide help?

AL-ZOABI: See, Frederik, for -- in the seven -- in the first seven months of this year, we recorded 151 attacks on hospitals. From now on, we will

not build any hospital. This is nonsense. We will not build any hospital.

We will do only one thing. We will try to move mobile clinics to move with the displaced people themselves. We're trying to provide them with


We cannot protect ourselves. We cannot protect our hospitals. And although we have sent these reports many times to you and -- but nothing is

going on, we're just -- we're just asking to protect only hospitals from airstrikes, only hospitals.

Is this too much?

Only hospitals. We will try to move with them with task forces to provide them now with food, water, with whatever scarce resources we have.

Until now, I didn't see real action from the international community. I have now, you have -- guys in the world, for God's sake, you have hundreds

of thousands of people being displaced.

I mean, whose duty is this?

We can't do it alone. We are about to collapse. We were just talking yesterday, shall we just seize operations? Because this is beyond our

capacity. You know, just let us go on.

Of course we will have to go on. But we can't do this alone. We can't provide enough food. We can't provide enough medicine. We can't provide

shelter. Even if we do so for a small portion, we can't, we can't take it alone.

You just see our faces. We haven't slept in days now. It's beyond our capacity. For God's sake, we can't take it anymore. No one of us slept

for the past four days. We don't know what to do. Helpless, we are helpless, hopeless.

I don't want to lose hope. I still have to live with hope.

But how can I do so?

Enough for us. Please end this war. Do something to end this war.

I mean, what wrong have we done to endure such a bloody stupid war?

It is enough for us, for God's sake. I mean, we can't take it anymore. We can't. We can't. So tired, so helpless.

I'm sorry but I can't -- I can't stop. We don't know what to do, for God's sake. Swear to God, we are just about to collapse, all of us.

PLEITGEN: Zaidoun.

AL-ZOABI: I'm sorry for --

PLEITGEN: It's all right. It's all right. I understand. I fully understand the frustration --


PLEITGEN: I fully understand the frustration of what's been going on, especially for the aid groups. You guys are doing amazing work. We know

that. We know so many people are putting themselves at risk to help people. And it is a -- really a frustrating situation.

I want to thank you for coming on the program today. Thank you very much. Zaidoun there in Gaziantep, in Southern Turkey.


PLEITGEN: Zaidoun al-Zoabi with the Union of Syrian Medical Relief Organizations, there speaking on Tuesday. AMANPOUR continues after a



PLEITGEN: Welcome back to the program.

Italian actress Monica Bellucci is shaking and stirring things up in the new James Bond film.

"Spectre" is the latest movie to be released in the action-packed franchise and sees Daniel Craig return as the British spy.

007's love interests have always been somewhat younger than him but at 51 years old, Monica Bellucci is throwing out that stereotype as the oldest

"Bond girl" or, rather, "Bond woman" ever cast.


"SCIARRA" All I can say is that I don't trust you.

"BOND" Well, then you have impeccable instincts.

"SCIARRA": If you don't leave now, we'll die together.

"BOND": I can think of worse ways to go.

"SCIARRA": Then you're obviously crazy, Mr. .

"BOND": Bond, James Bond.


PLEITGEN: And I spoke to Monica Bellucci here in London ahead of the film's release.


PLEITGEN: Monica Bellucci, thank you so much for joining the program.

BELLUCCI: Thank you.

PLEITGEN: You said that you consider yourself to be a "Bond woman" rather than a "Bond girl".

Why is that?

Why is that important?

BELLUCCI: Because Lucia Sciarra, my character, she's a mature woman and when I met Sam Mendes at the beginning I was surprised because I said, what

am I going to do at 50 years old in James Bond?

PLEITGEN: You thought he had a different role in mind, right?

BELLUCCI: No. This is quite funny, but as I say, I had to replace Judi Dench, but no. Actually Judi Dench is my favorite actress, I love her. So

it really just a funny thing to say.

But, actually, yes, when my agent call me and I said, what am I going to do at 50 years old?

And actually Sam Mendes was looking for a woman that, in the film she's 50 and has to look 50. She doesn't have to look younger.

Also because we need to feel that she feels lonely, desperate and she wants to escape from this world, where men have the only power. And through

Bond, she can find the freedom.


PLEITGEN: Does she want to escape a world where men have the only power, is that -- ?


PLEITGEN: You can feel that she is quite desperate.

BELLUCCI: Yes, because she's a woman that is in a world of violence. And what is beautiful in the movie, that there are two different kind of

femininity, Lucia that represents some way the past, this woman that want to escape but she doesn't know how.

And Madeline, Madeline, she represents the future.

PLEITGEN: In the movie industry, how is the role of women today?


BELLUCCI: I think so many things are changing, even the choice that Sam Mendes give it, it prove it because, if we think about the past during the

'40s, the '50s, actresses, even though they were very talented, after a certain age they wouldn't work any more.

And I'm not part of the Hollywood system as I say all the time. And all the American movies I've done, I've done through Europe. But so I don't

know really how it is over there. But I live in Paris. And in Paris there are so many good French actresses like Catherine Deneuve (ph), Isabelle

Huppert (ph), Nathalie Baye --

PLEITGEN: They had very long careers and who also are very feminine also later in their careers.

BELLUCCI: Very -- and to talk about Judi Dench, you know, for example, she's incredible and all those actresses have the possibilities to play in

such good roles. So maybe what's going on right now, there is a new way to look at women and to look at actresses.


PLEITGEN: What is that new way and why do you think it's important?

Because it's important, obviously, to look at women in a new way but I think it's also very important for that to happen in a Bond movie because

"Bond girls" for such a long time have been almost objectified.


BELLUCCI: I think that the "Bond girls" all have something, all of them, in common, there's a strong femininity, a strong femininity used for to

play a bad girl like I say always Famke Janssen because I think she was great playing them, the bad girl.

And then all those incredible actresses, like Eva Green or Rosamund Pike (ph), then we have the iconic images like Ursula Andress, coming out from

the water.

But in this Bond, it's just that we represent a femininity that is -- in my character; our femininity is the only way she has to protect herself. She

protect herself through her femininity, which means that she doesn't believe Bond at first but then when she realizes that she has some feminine

power on him and that friction between them takes place, then she realizes that she can be safe.

PLEITGEN: How did you bring that to the screen then?

BELLUCCI: Daniel was easy. It's always strange when you have to get intimate with someone that you don't know. But Daniel is such a gentleman,

not just as a James Bond but as a person. And Sam Mendes, he knows exactly what he wants.

So I really felt protected as an actress. And also together they created such a modern James Bond, because it's a James Bond that's not just some

predictable, mysterious gentleman, a killer, but he has this dark side, this instinct of death that makes him so human.

PLEITGEN: There's so many roles that women, especially as they get a little older, that they are pressed into. They are expected to be as thin

as possible, to exercise eight hours a day even if they have kids.

But you go about it a different way, don't you?

BELLUCCI: No, for this role, a 50-years-old woman, she has to look 50. And so I wanted to be a bit more skinny, more nervous.

And but then, for me, my role sometimes saves me because I like to eat and so sometimes when I work, I know that I have to be more in control and so I

have more discipline because I have to work.

But in my day life, I'm not someone that -- I don't have regularity in nothing because I travel.

PLEITGEN: You obviously stay very young and energetic.

BELLUCCI: When you have children you have to stay in shape because you need to and you have to stay alive and also I'm an actress. But I have the

problem that every woman have, to work and take care of the kids, be a mother, be a woman of today, traveling around.

At the same time, it's good that, as women, we keep alive our instinct, our passion and because, sometimes when you have a family and kids, which are

so important for us, but sometimes we can lose ourselves.

PLEITGEN: You said it's very important for you to also represent a strong woman and to improve, you know, the standing of women not just in film but

in society.

Do you think that women are appreciated enough also in the cinema industry?

Because there was the whole talk about Jennifer Lawrence, about equal pay, things like that.

Do you think that they are appreciated enough?

BELLUCCI: I think that we still need to fight, that we had all those women during the '70s that did so much for to be equal to men.

And today we still need to do so many things. But at the same time, it's complicated because men need women and women need men, so we just have to

find a good way to relate to each other and it's not easy.

PLEITGEN: Monica Bellucci, thank you very much for joining us.


PLEITGEN: And when we come back, from a fictional superstar spy to a new superstar premier, the world seems to be wowed by Canada's new Liberal

prime minister, Justin Trudeau, and his star quality. But you may be surprised by who predicted his rise. Find out more next.





PLEITGEN: And finally tonight, imagine a world foretold by Richard Nixon. That's right. It might be a terrifying prospect for some. But for

Canada's new prime minister-elect, Justin Trudeau, it has become a triumphant reality.

Yes, the man often called Tricky Dick may not have been famed for his honesty but he does seem to have had some talent predicting the future.

In a 1972 state visit to Justin Trudeau's revered father, then-Canadian prime minister, Pierre Trudeau, Nixon said, and I quote, "I'd like to toast

the future prime minister of Canada. Here's to Justin Pierre Trudeau."

Now Justin was only about 4 months old at the time. And he has now been elected.

But even Nixon wouldn't have been able to foretell his somewhat bizarre route to the highest office in Canada.

Trudeau was a teacher, an engineer, an actor, a night club bouncer, a bungee jumping coach and he took part in a celebrity boxing match. Finally

became a member of parliament in 2008.

And while many politicians aspire to be close to those they represent, very few can genuinely say they've walked in so many of their people's shoes.

Well, that's it for our program tonight. Remember you can always see all our interviews online at and follow me on Facebook and

Twitter. Thank you for watching. Goodbye from London.