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Iran Opens for Business; Italian Foreign Minister Eyes Iran Trade Bonanza; Turkey's Role in Syria Peace Talks; Imagine a World. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired January 25, 2016 - 14:00:00   ET




CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight: open for business. Iran's president makes his first visit to Europe, just days

after sanctions were lifted, to talk trade and diplomacy. Italy's foreign minister joins me from Rome.

Plus: Syria peace talks reset for the end of this week now. I speak to Turkey's prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu.


AHMET DAVUTOGLU, TURKISH PRIME MINISTER: Our Syrian will go back if Assad see -- continue to see it in Damascus. This is the career territory

of peacefulness. And he's not being at all.



AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

Europe is jockeying for position to get back into Iran and drum up business deals. Iran's president is tonight dining with the Italian prime

minister in Rome. Free now from the burden of draconian sanctions, he's on a mission to drum up trade and investment for his country.

Hassan Rouhani was greeted by the Italian president, Sergio Mattarella, earlier today. He's accompanied by more than 100 business

leaders and ministers and he's said to seal more than $17 billion in deals in Italy alone.

Rome is the first stop on a four-day European tour. He'll meet the pope at the Vatican before heading on to Paris.

Now Iran has been shut out of Western markets long enough to make its passenger planes among the most unsafe in the world. Now there are plans

underway to buy a whole new fleet, 114 from Airbus and more from Boeing, possibly the first of many such contracts.

In a moment, I'll ask the Italian foreign minister, what's in it for them?

But first, Fred Pleitgen in Tehran on what Irans wants from this new deal.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, Christiane, there's been so much reporting about this trip that

Hassan Rouhani is conducting to Italy and France and there certainly are a lot of hopes associated with it as well.

I was at Iranian parliament earlier today and I came across a group of young people and they came from the north of Iran and they said, look,

we're absolutely thrilled about this nuclear agreement. We're thrilled that ties between Iran and the West seem to be getting better.

But at the same time, we really haven't seen any of the benefits yet. They want to see more jobs here in this country. They want to see economic

development in this country. They want to be able to fulfill the full potential that they believe that they do have because, of course, this is a

country with a very young population and a very well-educated population.

That certainly seems to be something that politicians here are seeing as well. Hassan Rouhani, of course, is going on this trip, barely a week

after a sanctions relief came into place. He's taking a high-level, very large delegation with him. The tourism minister is a part of it, the

foreign minister is a part of it. The economy minister, the transport minister is a part of it, as well.

So, clearly, they want to make deals very quickly and show the Iranian population that things are moving forward because, at the same time, many

Iranians also, when they look at the local TV channels here, for instance, they do still see that there is that friction here, between the U.S. and


So people here do have a lot of hope at this point but still are very concerned and hope that the momentum that they currently see will continue

to go on -- Christiane.


AMANPOUR: Fred Pleitgen in Tehran, where there are high hopes and a lot of challenges ahead.

And Italy's foreign minister, Paolo Gentiloni, joined the Italian president in welcoming President Rouhani to Rome and I spoke to him after

the first of several meetings about what Italy hopes and those hopes for a trade bonanza.


AMANPOUR: Foreign Minister, welcome to the program.

You officially received the president.

How important is it for Italy and Iran, this visit?

PAOLO GENTILONI, ITALIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Well, I think it's very important because it's the first visit of President Rouhani in a Western

country. And it is a visit just a few days after the so-called Implementation Day that made possible the lifting on sanctions -- of

sanctions on Iran.

So there is, I think, a great opportunity for economical relations between the Western countries, and Europe and Italy in particular, and

Iran, a very relevant market of 80 million people, opening right now.


GENTILONI: So the Italian business community is very interested but there is not only a -- obviously an economical sense of the visit but also

a political one.

AMANPOUR: Let me take the economic first.

It's reported that Italian business would like to and is prepared to sign something like $17 billion of deals already while President Rouhani is

in Italy.

GENTILONI: Yes. We will sign this very evening eight or nine agreements in several sectors, from railways to energy. It's not easy to

make such calculations. But for sure there is an opening of a new era in economical relations.

AMANPOUR: And we hear that he's -- President Rouhani is going to order dozens and dozens of new aircraft, from the French Airbus and also

from Boeing.

But how difficult will it be for Italy, France, other countries to restart economic relations after more than a decade of sanctions?

Logistically, the actual infrastructure of integration?

GENTILONI: Well, we will have difficulties for sure because in this period of sanctions, other countries -- and especially, for example, China

-- consolidated their economical relation with Iran.

But as far as Italy is concerned, I have to say that we have very, very ancient relations becoming on the '50s of the 19th century and I think

we will be able very rapidly to reestablish such relations.

I visited twice Iran last year and I saw great expectation in their society and also it's some special feeling towards Italy.

AMANPOUR: Now what about the meeting between President Rouhani and the pope, two major religious figures?

How important is that?

What do you expect that to focus on?

GENTILONI: Well, I think it's very important, maybe that one of the issue will be the potentiality of a Iranian contribution to some regional

crisis, especially in Syria, that are very interesting for the Holy See because of the situation of the Christians in Syria.

But, in general, I think that the meeting of President Rouhani with the pope is one of the signal of the fact that, after the nuclear deal, we

have a possibility to a relevant involvement of Iran in a regional and global framework.

AMANPOUR: So let's talk about Syria because the U.N. has just said that these Syria talks will start in Geneva late but on Friday. And, as

you know, Iran is one of the main backers of President Assad.

You said the visit of Rouhani is very important politically.

In what way?

GENTILONI: Because it is an opportunity for us and for the Western countries, especially the ones that he will be visiting, Italy and France,

to stress the importance that a new role in the region from Iran could have.

I think that diplomacy made a little miracle with the nuclear deal; we need now perhaps a second one, helping these negotiation on January the

29th to begin. And I think that Iran should be involved in supporting the U.N. envoy, Staffan de Mistura, in what he's trying to do.

I am not sure that they are already prepared with transition that will send out of power Bashar al-Assad. But they are ready to support a

transition. And this is the beginning of a process.

AMANPOUR: As we see, one of the worst crises for Europe right now is the migrants but also the refugees, obviously, from Syria and elsewhere.

Now Turkey is being asked to help a lot to stop the flow before it gets to Western Europe. But the Turkish prime minister has said that the

promised $3 billion a year by Europe for the Syrian refugees simply hasn't materialized. And I know that Italy is quite key in holding that up.

E.U. chief, Foreign Policy Chief Mogherini has again said today that those funds will go to Turkey.


AMANPOUR: Are you ready to free up those funds so Turkey gets them?

GENTILONI: Well, I'm pretty sure that the problem will be solved. We are discussing in Europe how much of this fund will be based on the union

budget and how much on member states. But I think that this discussion will be closed and finished in a few days.

Obviously , we are risking a lot on this migration issue. And as Italy is saying, since many, many months, the fact that we are defending

rules, as the Dublin rules, that are saying that all the migrants should remain in the countries of first arrival, this fact is putting at risk all

the Schengen agreement and the freedom of circulation in Europe.

So we need to share the burden of migration because if we continue only to blame Greece or the country of first arrival, we -- our only result

would be no more Schengen. And no more Schengen would be very dangerous for Europe.

AMANPOUR: On that note, Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni, thank you so much for joining me from Rome.

GENTILONI: Thank you. Thank you.


AMANPOUR: And we'll have more on refugees and the Syria peace talks in a moment.

But first, with Iran, a Muslim nation of 80 million mostly young people, now back in the international fold, we remember five years since

the Arab Spring gave rise to the hope of millions of young all across the Middle East.

January 25th, 2011, Egypt's Tahrir Square was filled with tens of thousands of protesters demanding a better future. Those hopes seem so far

away, as authorities ensure there are no anniversary celebrations or protests in an empty Tahrir Square today.

And after a break, it's been five years since the Arab Spring sideswiped Syria into a terrible civil war. Next, as new Syria peace talks

were announced, I speak to Turkey's prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu.




AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

Today was supposed to see the start of the new Syria peace talks. But it's been delayed by posturing and arguments over who would represent the

opposition. Invitations didn't go out. Now Friday is the start day, says the U.N. envoy, Staffan de Mistura, emphasizing the talks will last about

six months and hopefully succeed where the last two attempts failed.


STAFFAN DE MISTURA, U.N. SPECIAL ENVOY TO SYRIA: This is not Geneva 3. This is leading to what we hope will be a Geneva success story, if we

are able to push it forward.


AMANPOUR: And Turkey, a key player that bears the brunt of the refugee crisis, will surely be pleased with what the Italian prime minister

just told me earlier on the program, that they'll finally start seeing the annual $3 billion euros that were pledged for refugees by the E.U.

The U.S. vice president, Joe Biden, gave additional support, by Ankara's long --


AMANPOUR: -- by calling Ankara's long-time foes, the Kurdish PKK, terrorists, as officials in Europe complain that Turkey is focusing more on

them than on daish. I put all that to Prime Minister Davutoglu when I spoke to him in Davos.


AMANPOUR: Prime minister, welcome to the program.

DAVUTOGLU: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: Iran seems to have gained a great victory in the nuclear deal.

How does that make you feel?

How does that make Turkey feel?

DAVUTOGLU: I am happy that now we reached an agreement on the nuclear program of Iran and of -- end of sanction is also good for -- not only for

Iran but for all the economy.

AMANPOUR: Do you see Iran as a rival, as a regional rival?

DAVUTOGLU: We don't see Iran as a rival. We are neighbors, historic neighbors. Throughout history, we have, we had a good and bad terms of our

relations but at this moment, in the last 12 years, our relation has been a relation of good neighborhood. But we have difference of opinion in Syria,

in Iraq.

AMANPOUR: I have asked you many times and I've interviewed many of the key players about how we're going to end the Syria war.

What do you say, though, about the Syrian Kurds, who occupy a certain part, who live in a certain part of Syria and who have been pretty much the

only credible ground force against Assad and against ISIS?

Will you accept them sitting at the table?

DAVUTOGLU: We want Syrian Kurds around the table, without Syrian Kurds, (INAUDIBLE) cannot be concrete.

Why we are against this YPG?

YPG is an extension of PKK, a terrorist organization, recognized as a terrorist organization not only by Turkey, by E.U., by U.S.

AMANPOUR: But again, you might call them terrorists and the E.U. might call them terrorists but the U.S. has been working with them. They

are the ground force.

So is it time to recognize reality?

DAVUTOGLU: Those who are recognizing them as a legitimate partner, they do not work -- they do not live in the reality of the region. Nobody

can convince us that these people are for peace.

AMANPOUR: What do you make of the Russian action?

There's umpteen reports that Russian has, in its 3.5-month bombing campaign, significantly or at least enough bolstered President Assad's

position, so that he could come to the negotiating table with a lot more bargaining chips he had 3.5 months ago.

DAVUTOGLU: For many years, Russia was against any foreign intervention to Syria. But now Russia itself is intervening in a very

negative manner, in fact, occupying Syria. And all the Russians' operations until now, 90 percent are against civilians and moderate

opposition Idlib, Aleppo as does Latakia. And against the schools, hospitals.

We know this, because all those who were injured by Russian bombardment are escaping to Turkey.

Only 10 percent of Russian airstrikes are against daish. But as P5, member of P5, of course, Russia, like others, can contribute to this -- to

the peaceful -- to the peace process but we expect Russia to respect Syrian civilians and we expect Russia not to push Syrian civilians towards Turkish


AMANPOUR: Your mantra and your mantra, Mr. Prime Minister, even as foreign minister, when this war started, was that Assad must go. There's

no negotiating, there's no transition with him. There's nothing, you keep saying, Assad must go.

But Assad thinks he is winning right now, because he has the Russian air force and he has Iranian and Hezbollah ground force. And your lot

don't have much.

Is he winning?

DAVUTOGLU: No, he's not winning. No Syrian will go back if Assad sit -- continues to sit in Damascus. This is the criteria of peacefulness.

And he's not winning at all.

AMANPOUR: Your country has been attacked twice in the last several months, at least, by ISIS. You blame ISIS and hundreds of people have been

killed, in Ankara and recently in the heart of Istanbul's tourist district.

The president, when he spoke live to the nation about it, blamed ISIS, stayed on it for a couple of minutes and then spent the rest of his half-

hour speech on the PKK. There are people who don't understand why Turkey today feels that the PKK is more of a threat than ISIS.

DAVUTOGLU: Well, it is same --

AMANPOUR: It's not being treated as the same. The president and the prime minister and the government harp on the PKK all the time.

DAVUTOGLU: No, you cannot compare two evils. Evils are evils. PKK - -

AMANPOUR: But which is a bigger danger right now?

DAVUTOGLU: Both are dangers to Turkey. Both are ideological threats against democracy.

AMANPOUR: You know, there are a lot of people who think that your government simply doesn't like criticism. They don't think it, they know

it. Because, it is --


AMANPOUR: -- really difficult to criticize. And you're a democracy. You have journalists still in jail. You have editors on trial. You have,

you know, academics who have written just a letter, criticizing the campaign against the Kurds, civilians and others, as they've written, who

were threatened and accused of being treasonous and traitors.

And people are trying to figure out, what is it with Turkey today?

This was a robust democracy when the AKP came to power in 2002 --

DAVUTOGLU: And today it's a robust democracy.

AMANPOUR: Well, people are saying, is it going a little Putinista?

DAVUTOGLU: Those who are criticizing us from this perspective, they should know one simple reality. We had two elections last year, fair,

objective elections, and there has been all type of criticism against the government in both of the elections.

And many of the newspapers, TV channels, were against the -- our party. These statements recently by (INAUDIBLE) academician. If there is

anything against freedom of expression, either with the first one, to fight against this type of imitation, here the case is not freedom of expression.

The case is incitement of terror.

AMANPOUR: These academics are believed to have criticized an --

DAVUTOGLU: They can criticize any issue --

AMANPOUR: -- and you conflate them with supporting terror. That is a tactic that's been used, you know, by many, many governments who are

fighting --

DAVUTOGLU: Christiane --

AMANPOUR: -- no, but seriously, U.S. ambassador to Turkey, Mr. Bass, has said and, of course, they know that the PKK is designated a terrorist


Nonetheless, quote, "We are concerned about the pressure having a chilling effect on legitimate political discourse."

This is about the academicians.

"Expressions of concern about violence do not equal support for terrorism. Criticism of a government does not equal treason."

E.U. spokesman, "It's all extremely worrying."

DAVUTOGLU: It shows that there is freedom of expressions in Turkey --

AMANPOUR: Well, no --


DAVUTOGLU: -- even foreign diplomats can criticize us and we are not saying anything --

AMANPOUR: That's foreign diplomats, that's not Turks.

DAVUTOGLU: -- no, no, any academician can criticize us. But I call academicians to have ethical responsibility, to see the reality on the


AMANPOUR: Why does President Erdogan need to try to get the constitution changed?

Why does the constitution need to be changed in order to prolong the power of an individual?


DAVUTOGLU: This is not any of debate. After this constitution was adopted in early 1980s by a military junta, that has been the agenda of


Now there is the need of a new constitution, based on individual freedoms, right and freedoms, checks and balances, separation of power.

The substance, the spirit of the constitution is important.

And if we can achieve to such a constitution, a civilian constitution, made by a civilian parliament, that will be the greatest reform we can


AMANPOUR: Prime minister, thank you very much for joining us.

DAVUTOGLU: Thank you very much. Thank you.


AMANPOUR: And while the politicians debate, the artists create. The anonymous British graffiti artist known as Banksy is once again letting the

walls do the talking, this time taking on the refugee crisis and depicting Cosette from Victor Hugo's "Les Miserables," weeping and trapped in a cloud

of tear gas.

It's spray painted across the road from the French embassy here in London. And it's Banksy's art attack on the Calais police and their

aggressive clearing of the refugee camps.

When we come back, we imagine a world of some other British pioneers, the women who rowed across our planet's largest ocean in a tiny four-person

boat. That's next.





AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, the world is bidding farewell to one of its greatest adventurers. The explorer, Henry Worsley, who, after

walking across most of the Antarctic alone, succumbed to dehydration and exhaustion just 50 kilometers from finishing his epic journey, a tragic end

to his trek.

But imagine now a world of crossing the equally inhospitable high seas. Today, a group of British women created their own legacy of

endurance, breaking two world records by rowing from San Francisco to the Australian city of Cairns, in a 29-foot boat named Doris.

They became the first female team as well as the first team on a four- person boat to row across the Pacific Ocean.

Beginning back in April last year, it's taken 257 days for the team to make the 15,000-kilometer crossing, rowing continuously, day and night,

working in two-hour shifts. Upon arrival in Australia, they celebrated their finish with a beer. How else?

And they toasted as well the $50,000 they've raised for charity.

And that's it for our program tonight. Remember, you can now also listen to our podcast, see us online at and follow me on

Facebook and Twitter. Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.