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Turkish PM Answers Critics; First Open Elections in Myanmar in 25 Years; Imagine a World. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired November 13, 2015 - 14:00   ET




CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight: as Turkey hosts this weekend's G20 summit, my exclusive interview with the prime minister, his

first since the ruling AK Party's stunning election comeback.

Was that a victory for democracy or a shift toward autocracy?


AHMET DAVUTOGLU, PRIME MINISTER OF TURKEY: What we need to have is a new political mentality, a new political culture, a new political rhetoric, a

new political approach. And this is what we call New Turkey.


AMANPOUR (voice-over): Also ahead, what a week for democracy in one of the world's most isolated nations. After nearly 50 years of military rule,

victory for the opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, after she has spent decades under house arrest.


AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the special weekend edition of our program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

This weekend Turkey hosts the G20 summit, with a refugee crisis hitting Europe and the war in Syria will definitely top the agenda. Turkey will

host President Obama and Putin and major world leaders and it will be riding high after last week's election. We saw the ruling AK Party win

back its majority. And in his first interview since that vote, the Turkish prime minister called for ground troops to fight ISIS and safe havens for

Syrian civilians.

I also asked him whether his party thinks the recent elections is a green light for reform or for further oppression.


AMANPOUR: Prime Minister, welcome back to the program.

Lots to talk about: the AK's stunning comeback and victory in the last election and also obviously the rise of ISIS threat.

Can I start by asking you the presumed now bombing of the Russian jetliner in Sharm el-Sheikh, is that a game-changer in ISIS' capability?

DAVUTOGLU: Of course, this big crime against humanity, this is not an attack against a Russian plane, this is an attack against all of us. So

therefore, it shows that if a crisis is not being solved in a particular country or a region, it is difficult to contain it in other countries as

well. Therefore it is the right time to act together.

AMANPOUR: With all of the talk about more and more nations beefing up their response to ISIS, is Turkey, would Turkey, under the right

conditions, agree to be a ground force?

DAVUTOGLU: Ground force is something which we have to talk together and share, as I told you in our last interview, there's a need of an integrated

strategy, including air campaign and ground troops.

But Turkey alone cannot take all this burden; if there's a coalition and a very well designed integrated --


DAVUTOGLU: -- strategy, Turkey is ready to take part of in all sense.


AMANPOUR: Including on the ground?

DAVUTOGLU: Yes. Of course. There is a need of a integrated strategy.

Otherwise, just to make a ground attack against ISIS but continue to have a power acumen on the ground, instead of ISIS. another terrorist group may

emerge. We have to solve Syrian crisis in a comprehensive manner.

AMANPOUR: So I understand what you're saying, is that a condition for Turkey to be more involved would be an agreement by a coalition to also go

against Assad.

Is that correct?

DAVUTOGLU: Yes, and against all groups and regimes creating this problem to us. And every day or this many days in a week, we are making --

conducting air campaigns against ISIS in the coalition.

But it is not enough. We are observing this. Now, we are suggesting to our allies, for many months, and now we are suggesting again to have a safe

haven and to push ISIL far away from our borders.


So what do you make then of the United States, of Europe and especially of Russia, saying that Assad must and can stay for a period of time?

DAVUTOGLU: I don't think that U.S. and our allies are saying this, that --


AMANPOUR: Well, yes, they are.

DAVUTOGLU: No. I don't --

AMANPOUR: Can stay.

DAVUTOGLU: -- no. The question is --

AMANPOUR: As part of the transition, Mr. Prime Minister. That's what they're saying.

DAVUTOGLU: Yes. There's a part. So the question is not how long Assad will stay. The question is when and how Assad will go, what is the


The solution is very clear answer. When one day morning millions of Syrian refugees decide to go back to Syria, assuming that there's a peace in Syria

and this solution and if Assad stays in power in Damascus, I don't think any refugee will go back.

There is a need of a, yes, state-by-state strategy.

But what is the end game?

What is the light at the end of the tunnel?

That's more important for the refugees and people of Syria.

AMANPOUR: Why is the Turkish government making it difficult for the U.S. government to arm and train and equip and use Kurdish fighters as their

ground troops?

We hear that it's very diplomatically sensitive because you just don't like that. You don't want to empower Kurds. You are worried about an

independence movement.

Is that correct?

DAVUTOGLU: First, let us clarify, not Kurds. PYD as the wing of PKK.

If --

AMANPOUR: What about the Kurds --


DAVUTOGLU: Kurds, OK, for example --

AMANPOUR: -- up until now, the only ones willing to do it.

DAVUTOGLU: No. No. This is not true. Free Syrian Army is fighting against ISIL. And we can arm Free Syrian Army.


AMANPOUR: But aren't the Russians bombing the Free Syrian Army?

DAVUTOGLU: Yes. Russians are bombing but there's another Kurdish group, Peshmergas. We want Peshmergas to go through Turkey to Kobani in order to

help Kobani to be freed.

If U.S. wants to arm Kurdish fighters on the ground against ISIS, we are ready. But not Kurdish terrorists, the terrorists of PKK. If they want to

arm and help Barzani or Peshmerga who have seen Iraq and help them to go to Syria to fight against ISIL, we are ready to help.

But everybody must understand, today PKK is attacking Turkish denizens, civilians, soldiers and they are affecting our cities. They are attacking

our villages, they are attacking our Syrians.

We will not and we cannot and we will not tolerate any help to any PKK- related groups in Syria or in Iraq. If that happens, Turkey will take all of the measures to stop this.

AMANPOUR: Let's turn to the domestic elections.

Why do you think your party won so many more points this time than it did last time?

Obviously, they wanted stability.

Is it just the violence, do you think, that brought them out?

Were you surprised?

DAVUTOGLU: We fought against terrorism. We took economic measures, we prepared a new declaration of electoral campaign and all these things have

changed the mind of the people. The key word here is sincerity, moderation and stability.

AMANPOUR: OK. Moderation and stability.

What do you make of this list of descriptions that people inside and outside use to describe President Erdogan and the AK Party: authoritarian,

intolerant, imperious, autocratic, divisive, pugnacious and paranoid?

DAVUTOGLU: These are --


DAVUTOGLU: -- of course. Everybody can criticize us. But this does not reflect the reality.


First of all, the most important result of this election is voter turnout is 85 percent. And almost half of them, 49 persons, 49.4 persons voted for

our party. It means there cannot be any questioning of democratic legitimacy of our party, first.

Secondly, coming to the, let's say, authoritarianism, around 20 political parties run in this election. Everybody made their own position in

politics. Nobody wants prevented to say anything.

AMANPOUR: Obviously, the press is a matter of great concern outside this country and inside this country. There have been some 100 people over the

last year, press, NGOs, ordinary civilians, who have been cracked down upon for charges such as insulting the president or other such things.

Are you not worried about what people say?

DAVUTOGLU: No, no, we are worried. First of all, I was a columnist in 1990s when I was in academic life. So freedom of press and intellectual

freedom is a red line for me. If there's an attack on any intellectual or columnist or a journalist, I will be the advocate of that. I can assure

you this.

But, for example, one of the journalists, it was not just related to the insulting president or anyone, published a newspaper, the headline, a

magazine. The headline was that 2nd of November, Syria war will start.

Is this a journalistic activity or is this a provocation?

AMANPOUR: But I really want to ask you this because even the co-founder of the party, former president Abdullah Gul, co-founded the party along with

Mr. Erdogan and you, I expect, has said that there's a need to upgrade our democracy.

What do you think he means by that?

DAVUTOGLU: Of course. We need to do more. And my first agenda will be tomorrow, I will have meetings of our executive board. Will be new

reforms, political and economics reforms, which I will be declaring in the next two weeks.

AMANPOUR: Practically the day of the election, the day the results came through, you said that there's a need to keep moving towards getting enough

votes to change the constitution and to increase the powers of the president, a sort of an American, executive style presidency, maybe even

more powers. That's what the president just said anyway.

Why does he need more powers?

DAVUTOGLU: First of all, we never said more powers. I never said more powers --


DAVUTOGLU: First, we have to be very clear in this manner.

Today, we don't have enough votes in the parliament to change the constitution. I will be meeting with all the political leaders in the

parliament for a new constitution.

AMANPOUR: I just want to sum up, why does the president need more powers?


AMANPOUR: Why does the constitution need to be changed?

DAVUTOGLU: Christiane, this is the wrong question. We want to have a much more clear political system. The existing system is not functioning

well, because it was a product of a military coup d'etat.

I, as the chairman of the governing party, will be meeting with all the opposition leaders for a constitution, based on individual rights, freedom,

a balance between freedom and security, a pluralism, separation of power and --

AMANPOUR: Separation of power?

DAVUTOGLU: -- of course, of course.

And if American or presidential system is not authoritarian, Turkish presidential system might -- may not be authoritarian.

If a chairman parliamentarian system is not authoritarian, Turkish parliamentarian system may not be authoritarian as well.

The problem here is not system itself. The problem is mentality. What we need to have is a new political mentality, a new political culture, a new

political rhetoric, a new political approach. And this is what we call New Turkey.

AMANPOUR: Everybody will be watching.

DAVUTOGLU: Of course. Everybody has the right to watch. We will act, you will watch.

AMANPOUR: On that note, Mr. Prime Minister, thank you very much indeed.

DAVUTOGLU: Thank you. Thank you.


AMANPOUR: So this week one spotlight on Turkey and another, 6,000 miles away in Myanmar. This week after nearly 50 years of military rule, a new

dawn for democracy there with Aung San Suu Kyi's overwhelming victory.

But how much change will the military allow? That's up next.





AMANPOUR: Welcome back to our weekend program and what a week it has been for Myanmar. After nearly 50 years of military rule, the dawn of a new era

as results so far give a landslide victory to the woman affectionately known as The Lady, Aung San Suu Kyi.

Her fierce fight for freedom through many years of house arrest drew support around her country and around the world.

The country's president has congratulated her and she has called for immediate negotiations with the military on the way forward. Right now,

the constitution bars her from becoming president.

So what next?

I spoke about the hope and the challenges ahead as the results started to come in with historian and author Thant Myint-U in Yangon.


AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: So how exciting, the first really freely contested elections in recent Myanmar-Burma history.

What is the state of play right now?

How much has Aung San Suu Kyi's party won?

MYINT-U: The official election results are coming out very slowly, so officially only the results of a couple of dozen different constituencies

have been given.

But unofficially I think the predictions are all towards a landslide NLD victory, victory for Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy,

perhaps approaching or even exceeding 400 seats altogether, which is far more than anyone might have predicted even just a few days ago.

AMANPOUR: And Thant, is that more or enough of a two-thirds majority that she needs in order to be able to alter the constitution and name the next


MYINT-U: It's very complicated. I mean, if the NLD does, as now is being predicted, and wins 400 or even more seats, they will have a majority in

parliament, despite the fact that the army will automatically appoint 25 percent of that same parliament.

Then we enter into a very complicated process to choose the next president. Parliament will sit for the first time in January. It will appoint an

electoral college, which will choose three vice presidents. And only then one of those vice presidents will be chosen as the new president.

And then that president will in turn have to choose most of the cabinet.

That will then result at the end of March or early April in a new government that will be a form of cohabitation between the government of

that new --


MYINT-U: -- president, of the ministers, the president, and the army- appointed cabinet ministers, and an army-appointed vice president as well.

AMANPOUR: Well, isn't that exactly the issue here?

Because many people have said, well, actually, will it really bring us democracy?

Because the army will still have a major say in the way the place is run while, on the other hand, Aung San Suu Kyi has said, if she has the

majority, she will be above the president.

How is that going to work itself out?

MYINT-U: I think we have to be very clear. I mean, this is not a democratic constitution; this is a constitution that was framed by the army

actually 20 years ago. It was approved under the army regime a few years ago. The political transition began under this constitution, which is a

quasi-democratic, quasi-civilian constitution.

The army has a number of red lines that are entrenched within this constitution. It has the 25 percent of seats in parliament; it has an

effective veto over future constitutional reform.

But looking at it another way, this was the constitution with those red lines entrenched that allowed this country to begin to move away from a

pure military dictatorship to this sort of mixed or hybrid system we have today.

The big question is whether this mixed or hybrid system, especially with this election result, is going to be the first step towards a move perhaps

over the coming months, perhaps only over many years, towards a genuine democracy, or whether it's going to remain in this sort of mixed or hybrid

state for the time being.

AMANPOUR: Let's just talk about it from a U.S. perspective, a Western perspective. Obviously the U.S. had a huge amount of impact and really has

seemed to have won the country away from more Chinese influence towards a more Western engagement.

Is that how you see it?

How excited are people in Burma right now because of this democratic exercise?

MYINT-U: I think people are tremendously excited. I mean, we've seen, by all indications, a huge turnout at the polls.

Yesterday, people -- I'm in Rangoon right now -- people all around the city were voting in their thousands. I think people are very hopeful that these

polls may lead to not just democracy but a better future in general for themselves and their children.

I think, from a Western or international perspective, I think it's true that the encouragement, perhaps some of the pressure and persuasion that

was put on the military regime five years ago, helped in starting this democratic transition.

But I think we can't overestimate the extent of international influence on the transition.

I think the transition began first and foremost because, even within the military, there was a growing awareness of the extent to which the country

had fallen behind all of its neighbors, the extent to which the country was becoming increasingly impoverished and a deep desire, I think, across the

political spectrum to try to catch up with the rest of the region and break free of the past and move towards a very different future.

I think the initial moves that the Obama administration and some other Western governments made in 2011 to embrace the initial limited change that

took place was very important.

But I think we have to put that in context of a country that was very much ready for change and even a military elite, I think, that was trying, in

its own way, to move in a different direction.

AMANPOUR: Heady days indeed, this unbelievable transition in one of the last holdouts from military dictatorship to taking a major step towards


Thant Myint-U from Rangoon, thank you so much for joining us.

MYINT-U: Thank you very much, Christiane.


AMANPOUR: And after a break, imagine a world of drinking diplomacy. That caught our eye this week. Next, clinking glasses and clashing cultures.





AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, a quick nightcap or not?

Imagine a world gone stark raven sober. It is ooh, la, la, in Paris, as the French cancel a state dinner for the visiting Iranian president, Hassan

Rouhani, after his office asked the Elysee Palace for no wine on the table in accordance with his Islamic faith.

But President Francois Hollande said no and, as one newspaper puts it, no wining, no dining. So now it will just be a nonalcoholic working meeting

with no meals and no toasts.

Beer is the bugaboo in China these days, where there's a run on the British ale Green King, ever since the Chinese President Xi Jinping hoisted a pint

with the British Prime Minister David Cameron during his recent state visit here.

Meantime, a storm in a beer can is brewing across the pond as well, as Republican presidential candidate, Marco Rubio, named his dream drinking

partner and scored a double whammy by saying that it would be the Nobel peace laureate, Mala Yousafzai, who just happens to be Muslim and only 18

years old, which, in the USA, would still make her underage. By the way, she's also an activist for education. Just saying.

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

Thanks for watching. We leave you here in London with commemorations on Veterans Day around the world.