Return to Transcripts main page
Moment of Truth for Talks to Avoid Brexit; Finding the Promised Land; Imagine a World. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired February 18, 2016 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight: the battle for Britain. Prime Minister David Cameron in make-or-break talks on staying in
But will Brussels back his reforms?
Germany's deputy finance minister Jens Spahn joins me live from Berlin.
Plus: the asylum seekers trapped in a modern-day no-man's land, we take you back to the Grande-Synthe Refugee Camp in Northern France.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOHAMMED (PH), MIGRANT (from captions): It's not like a prison, it's not like a camp. It's not like the garden. The park, it's hell.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR (voice-over): I'm joined like by top British diplomat and former ambassador Peter Westmacott.
AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
And the moment of truth has come. By the end of this week, the British prime minister, David Cameron, should know whether demands for
reforms of the E.U. have been met.
He joins the first gathering of all 28 European leaders, right now meeting in Brussels to weigh those demands. He wants to stay in but with
his own a la carte menu for membership, with which he hopes to convince British citizens, many increasingly eurosceptic, to vote with him in an in-
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID CAMERON, PRIME MINISTER, GREAT BRITAIN: If we can get a good deal, I'll take that deal but I will not take a deal that doesn't meet what
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Well, for European leaders, the feeling is mutual, desperate to keep a key member but not at the cost of the union's
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TUSK, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COUNCIL: One thing is clear to me, though: this is a make-or-break summit. I have no doubt.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want to get out of the negotiations but not at any price.
FRANCOIS HOLLANDE, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): It's the European Union that's at stake, not simply one country of the European
ANGELA MERKEL, CHANCELLOR OF GERMANY (through translator): In general, I'm going into this debate with the approach that we would like to
do everything to make sure Great Britain can remain part of the European Union.
That is important from a German perspective. Of course, at the end of the day, it is up to the citizens of Great Britain to decide.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So two issues are key and unresolved. Prime Minister Cameron wants to opt out of a founding E.U. principle to form an ever
closer union. And he wants to limit benefits for other Europeans who move here to the U.K..
He's getting a lot of support, especially from Berlin, Europe's de facto leader -- but not at any cost.
And joining me from Berlin is Jens Spahn, the German deputy finance minister.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program. Thank you so much for joining us, as this meeting in Brussels is going on. Now Angela Merkel has said, the
chancellor, that Britain's demands are, you know, comprehensible and justified, that Cameron's negotiating position is such as she describes.
So do you think he's going to walk away with a deal that he can accept?
JENS SPAHN, GERMAN DEPUTY FINANCE MINISTER: Good evening to London. And yes, I do think so, because everyone knows the European Union without a
United Kingdom would be a different one, a Brexit might even be worse than a Grexit ever could be because it's the second largest economy in the
European Union, it's a strong promoter for free trade and for the internal market. And we do need this voice.
And on the other hand, the United Kingdom outside the European Union might be a different one as well economically, when it comes to the
financial and the service sector as well when it comes to its role in the world. So I hope it can give good reasons for the British people to vote
for remaining in.
AMANPOUR: So your position is very strong but you heard what President Hollande of France said, this is Europe; it's not one country,
does what wants. And you heard what the Polish prime minister said, not at any cost.
Are they going to say yes, for instance, on this idea of a break on migrant benefits?
SPAHN: Well, I mean, it's a normal procedure that we have to find a compromise for all of the 28 member states. But, for example, when it
comes to social welfare for our E.U. citizens that haven't worked yet in a member state, it's an issue for the German politics as well as it is France
or for the United Kingdom that we find a solution for this.
And we might find a solution that is OK as well for Poland or Hungary. I understand their position.
But on the end, I think what is on the table is a good compromise, that you have to have worked in the country before you get social benefits
is a quite normal procedure.
AMANPOUR: So, again, there are a lot of people who are cross with Britain for --
AMANPOUR: -- some have accused Britain of blackmail, using Brexit as a blackmail, that's a quote by one MEP. Others have said if there's a
Brexit there may be a Frexit, we know that the National Front, the right- wing party in France, wants no part of Europe.
Are you concerned that there could be a contagion if this situation is not resolved to Britain's liking?
SPAHN: Well, of course, there is this risk. What we actually do need is a common understanding that we are all, all member states, better off
within the European Union.
You see, in the European Union, we are just 8 percent of the population of the world. We have 25 percent of the worldwide GDP and we
have 50 percent of the worldwide social warfare expenditures. And so I guess we only are -- we all are better off when we are together. Then we
have a strong voice in the world.
Otherwise, we might fall apart. Everyone gets what he wants but, at the end, we are not strong anymore. And so I do hope that we find a
compromise tonight and we do find and we should find someone that is helpful for everyone, because, as I said, for example, the migration
question, social welfare for E.U. citizens, that's an issue not just in Great Britain.
AMANPOUR: We understand that there is a bevy of lawyers, sitting around the table, you know, parsing every single legal aspect, as you say,
trying to get something for everyone.
But you know, this is happening in the midst of this massive refugee crisis. And look, even the strongest E.U. nations such as yours -- a
recent poll showed only 34 percent of Germans view the union favorably this past November, compared to 45 percent last May.
So you're all having problems and one of them, perhaps the main one right now, is this, you know, what's viewed as an uncontrolled influx of
Do you think your chancellor overstepped the bounds of practicality by her generous invitation to the refugees last summer?
SPAHN: Well, actually, what we do want and what the German people did, many of them, many, many, was unseen willingness for helping people or
refugees and migrants and unseen compassion with those who were coming.
And you see, 2 million refugees and migrants or 500 million people in the European Union, that should be manageable. If it is 2 million, that's
within two or three countries, especially within Germany, then it becomes a problem because then it becomes stressful for the society.
We do want to help. But we can't do it alone. And that is what the discussion is about.
AMANPOUR: And obviously, you know, you're the deputy finance minister, all ministers are really concerned about the impact now on your
own country. But the chancellor made this incredibly compassionate, generous invitation without asking anybody else and then asks now everybody
else for help.
Did she put herself in an untenable position?
SPAHN: Well, just to call it an invitation, I think that's a bit too simple. You have to see we have the crisis, the civil war in Syria, which
has been going on for years now and begs the question is, did we do enough to help people in the region there, where there was hunger, there was not
enough for food?
And on the other side, there's Africa; every second one in Africa is younger than 20. Nigeria will be bigger, larger, more population than the
whole of the European Union within the next 30, 40 years. If we don't find a common solution for it, a good common neighborhood policy, a development
policy, a common border protection, then this is only the beginning.
And that's just not the invitation of someone. This is a European problem and something we have to deal with in our neighborhood. And I
think who says that's just a German problem, I heard -- hear this voice every now and then as well in -- from London. This is a bit too simple, I
AMANPOUR: So tell me, then, what is going to happen to make a common solution?
Because Europe's been talking about this for nearly a year now, perhaps more than a year and there is no common solution yet.
What will, you know, trigger a solution?
SPAHN: Well, most important, from my point, is that we regain the control of our European border, which means especially in the Aegean Sea
between Turkey and Greece, which has started finally.
We have a NATO mission now there and we need to give the sign to the refugees and to migrants, don't do this hard way, don't bring your life
under stress trying to get over there, because you will be brought anyway back to Turkey.
Don't pay the smugglers. We want to have contingencies to help you, we want to help you in your home region and that's for example would be an
important sign. We could send together and that's something we are talking about now in Brussels.
AMANPOUR: Minister Jens Spahn, thank you so much indeed for joining us. And we'll be watching very closely. Thanks so much.
AMANPOUR: And after a break, we move away from the halls of power and --
AMANPOUR: -- we get our feet muddy back on the ground -- well, at least refugees do in the final part of the investigation into the Dunkirk's
makeshift refugee camp. The British citizens living in squalor there but hoping to reunite with their families here -- that's next.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR (voice-over): This picture has just won World Press Photo of the Year, in one stark frame, telling the whole story of Europe's refugee
crisis, the savage war raging in Syria and its people's profound tragedy.
It shows two men passing a baby through a barbed wire fence at the Serbia-Hungary border. It was taken by photographer Warren Richardson, who
calls it "Hope for a New Life."
Britain is where many refugees hope they will find that new life and, as we found, some already have a British connection.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): For the occupants of the Grande-Synthe refugee camp in Northern France, it is clear where the promised land is. It's in
the not-so-subtle street signs, the British mobile SIM cards on sale here and it's in the slogans and the artwork dotted throughout the squalor.
This is Ruand (ph) and his son, Oscar, an English name for a boy whose father hopes will grow up in England. Ruand (ph) is from Kurdistan but he
sought asylum in the U.K. over a decade ago and he's now a British citizen.
And, if he wanted to, he could travel back to Britain perfectly legally. But he's chosen to live here with his wife and 8-month-old son,
who have been denied entry to the country he so loves.
RUAND (PH), BRITISH CITIZEN (from captions): Why would I not be proud that Oscar is an English name?
I'm always proud of him and proud of the name. Always proud of Britain, the United Kingdom, because they saved me and I have a passport
and now I'm safe.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Ruand (ph) has been told that his family must first apply for asylum in France. He wants to bring them to the U.K. and
believes the Kurdish Peshmerga's stand against ISIS should count for something, perhaps even a change of policy.
RUAND (PH) (from captions): Kurdish people are one of the most peaceful people in the world and now are victims of terrorism, even as we
are fighting terrorism.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Alongside Ruand's (ph) tent, a new family, also with a British connection, prepares for life here.
MOHAMMED (PH): We want to start a new life. That's all we want.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Mohammed (ph), his mother, Gulawez (ph), and his sister, Siwa (ph), have just arrived after a long trek from Iraq. They
are still in shock.
MOHAMMED (PH) (from captions): It's not like a prison, it's not like a camp. It's not like the garden. The park, it's hell.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Volunteers give the family a tent and help them set up. On this day, they're battling the wind, the rain and all this
Mohammed's (ph) father lives in Birmingham and he got British citizenship two years ago and he's trying to get his family across the
channel. But so far, no luck. And crossing illegally is not an option. Still, Mohammed (ph) gives them hope (ph).
MOHAMMED (PH) (from captions): My dream is to be a professor or teacher at college about novels, drama, poetry or literature --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): -- literature, teacher in university, I want it. But I don't know, my dream go lost now. So now we
need to just hope to pass border to Britain. That is the only choice that we have until now.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): His promised land is a short stretch of water away but it seems like a thousand miles from the mud of the Grande-Synthe.
AMANPOUR: And as we just saw, many of the families escaping to that camp are Kurds from Northern Iraq, which is where Turkey carried out
airstrikes overnight in retaliation for a suicide bombing in Ankara, which the government blames on the PKK Kurdish terrorist group.
So will this lead to all-out war in the region and even more refugees?
Joining me now is Sir Peter Westmacott, who was Britain's ambassador to France and Turkey and, most recently, Washington, D.C. He is now a
fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School.
Welcome to the program, Sir Peter.
SIR PETER WESTMACOTT, FORMER BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO FRANCE AND TURKEY: Thank you, Christiane. Good to be with you.
AMANPOUR: So let me just first ask you to comment on the sad, sad story of people who are helping Britain and America and the allies fighting
on the ground for -- against ISIS -- British citizen, this guy Ruand (ph), and cannot come here to bring his family.
Do you think that there's any possibility of this country making any exceptions in these exceptional times?
WESTMACOTT: Well, it was a heartbreaking story that we just heard, Christiane, on the program. I'm several thousand miles away from France
and Calais, where I used to go in a previous role, when there were these difficulties in Northern France as people desperately tried to get across
The United Kingdom is doing what it can to try to help with the consequences of the dreadful civil war in Syria. We are taking tens of
thousands of additional refugees.
But the policy we have adopted until now has been one of taking the most urgent cases and to take them from the refugee camps, the established
camps, in the contiguous countries, in Lebanon and Jordan and Turkey and Northern Iraq, where many of the refugees have gone.
And we don't feel it is helpful to encourage people to come and take their luck in this area, if you like, unregulated and disorganized and
clearly not very pleasant area around the ports in Northern France.
So I can't say whether policy's going to change. The story is obviously a very sad one. One member of the family who does have British
citizenship and right of abode and other members of family who don't.
But each case will obviously be looked at on its merits and that's how we do things. But as a matter of policy we are, at the moment, trying to
focus on those most on need in the refugee camps, where people are making a living nearer the scene of where troubles are in Syria.
AMANPOUR: Well, let me ask you about further troubles because you've been watching closely, no doubt, what's going on between Russia and Turkey;
you've seen that Turkey has now started airstrikes against positions in Northern Iraq after this suicide bombing in Ankara.
And the Turkish prime minister said that Russia condemned yesterday's attack but it's not enough. All those who intend to use terrorist
organizations as proxies should know that this game of terror will turn around like a boomerang and hit them first.
How do you read that?
To me it sounds like a massive escalation, certainly of rhetoric, and perhaps even of military confrontation between a NATO member, Turkey, and
WESTMACOTT: Well, poor Turkey has been caught in the middle, in the sense of all this and none of the foreign fighters going to Syria and
joining ISIL were going through Turkey. Turkey's now been the victim of at least three very large terrorist bombs inside its territory.
The ones in the past we understand were done by ISIL. This one I heard what Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish prime minister, was saying, maybe
caused by Kurdish groups in Northern Syria, we don't know. I would hope it is not the case. They have said that it's not them, that Turkey's not
And of course those Syrian Kurdish groups, along with a number of the Kurdish groups in Northern Iraq have been America's and our and the broader
coalition's strongest and most effective allies in fighting back against ISIL.
So Turkey's in a very difficult and a painful situation, combined with the fact that since that unfortunate episode when a Russian aircraft
strayed into Turkish airspace and was shot down, seems to be an escalation of a war of words and difficulty between Moscow and Ankara, which is also
regrettable because until not very long ago, that relationship was pretty strong. And it's very strong economic and other links between Russia and
I hope very much this is not a game that's being played in Moscow to try to weaken ally and solidarity. But Turkey's obviously in a difficult
position and the single most important thing, I think, particularly given - -
WESTMACOTT: -- the fact you've got something like 15 million Kurds, who live in Turkey who are themselves Turkish subjects, is to try to calm
the tensions and the emotion between Kurdish groups, Kurdish minorities and the Turkish authorities and the people of Turkey, who are the victims of
these terrible outrages.
AMANPOUR: Well, let me ask you, who you think might be sort of an honest broker/mediator in this because everybody's on different sides. You
know, Turkey, the U.S., Russia, the U.K., I mean there's a big melange of interests going on right now.
Who can actually try to step in and mediate a de-escalation, not in Syria but between Russia and Turkey right now?
WESTMACOTT: Well, Russia and Turkey have got some common interests in the sense that ISIL is clearly a common enemy to every civilized country,
you could imagine. Russia, however, is backing the regime of Bashar al- Assad, as is Iran, and that is absolutely not Turkish policy nor is it the policy of the broader U.S.-led coalition, of which Turkey is a member. So
that is a problem.
But you know, there are, unfortunately, many different countries with most different objectives and priorities in this. It has not stopped us
coming together around the table to try to get a political solution to the war in Syria.
John Kerry has done heroic work in bringing together different factions, different groups, different opposition groups within Syria. But
also sovereign governments, which were barely talking to each other about what was happening in Syria.
Hasn't done very well, that diplomatic track, the political track in the last few weeks. But that must be the single, most important thing to
try to move that forward so that we can get some cease-fire, so that we can get a political solution, so we can start to rein back the terrible
humanitarian crisis and the migration crisis which is causing such pressures within the European Union, so we can get all that back under
control. But I think --
WESTMACOTT: -- it's about every government realizing that the present situation is not doing their own national interests any good at all and
that requires political will.
AMANPOUR: Indeed and it's in short supply, it appears, regarding the Syria solution.
But what about -- well, you just mentioned, in terms of Europe, Britain, as we've been saying throughout this show, is with the other 27
members of the E.U., deciding on whether Britain will get the reforms and Prime Minister Cameron will get the reforms he wants to be able to go to a
referendum successfully in his regard.
So what do you think?
Do you think that, from all that you know about this, that he's going to get enough to make a difference with the rising number of eurosceptics
here in Britain?
WESTMACOTT: Christiane, I hope so. I am agreed with the deputy minister from Germany, who you had on the show just now. I do think we're
better together. I actually happen to think that the United Kingdom is more prosperous, more secure, more influential inside the European Union.
But it's also clear that the European Union has to reform itself, a number of improvements are necessary. So I'm very much hoping that there
will be an agreement at the European Council, the prime minister will feel able to come home with a package that he can commend obviously to his
colleagues and to the British people and that he will be able to campaign for a, "yes, we'll stay" vote, when the referendum takes place.
But it's not up to me; it's up to, first of all, him and the other heads of government and then the British people.
AMANPOUR: Well, we'll see and apparently we'll know within 24 or 36 hours. This is a two-day summit in Brussels.
Sir Peter Westmacott, thank you very much indeed for joining me.
AMANPOUR: And from protecting the vulnerable to attacking them, Donald Trump has lambasted almost everyone, from refugees to women to
Mexicans. Well, leave it to Pope Francis to call a spade a spade.
Speaking from the papal plane about Trump's ideas on immigration, the pontiff, coming back from Mexico, said, quote, "A person who thinks only
about building walls, whether they -- whatever they may be, and not of building bridges is not Christian. This is not in the Gospel."
But instead of showing some Christian humility, Trump couldn't resist flinging insults at the pope. Firing back at the leader of 1 billion Roman
Catholics, Trump called his comments, quote, "disgraceful."
And we wonder whether there's a thin skin test for President of the United States of America.
After a break, we imagine a world building bridges through photography. A new take on the old family portrait. That's next.
AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, we imagine a world defined by what remains or, perhaps, by what's missing.
Forced to flee their homes in Syria and all too often to leave their families behind, that is the story told by these pictures.
At first glance, this campaign by the British Catholic charity CAFOD, taken in a Lebanese refugee camp, may not look very striking. But then you
see the empty chairs and you realize how many are missing from these family portraits.
For instance, here, Razir (ph) is actually a mother of five but she's pictured with three of her children and three empty chairs, one for her
husband, who was killed; two for her daughters, aged 11 and 14, who she was forced to leave behind in Syria. And she's had no news of them since they
were separated seven months ago.
And this, Hualeh (ph), who also fled Syria, pictured here with three of her children and an empty chair for her youngest. She says the fighting
made it too dangerous for that child to make the journey into exile. And her youngest child had to stay behind with her grandmother.
These are just two of the countless tragic stories. And as we say goodbye tonight, we leave you with more evidence of what remains and what's
missing from Syria's endless war.
Thank you for watching and good night from London.