Return to Transcripts main page


Refugees in Europe with Nowhere to Go; Imagine a World. Aired 2- 2:30p ET

Aired March 3, 2016 - 14:00   ET




CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight: refugees streaming into Europe with nowhere to go. Greece says we can't cope. And Europe

issues a strong and desperate warning.


DONALD TUSK, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COUNCIL: I want to appeal to all potential illegal economic migrants, wherever you are from: do not come to



AMANPOUR: But will they listen?

I ask the president of Estonia, live here in the studio.

Also ahead -- in the United States the last Republican nominee turns on the man who would be the next one.


MITT ROMNEY, FORMER GOVERNOR OF MASSACHUSETTS: Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University.


AMANPOUR: I'll ask the former U.S. Defense Secretary, William Cohen, to weigh in on right kind of American leadership for the world.


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

As Europe buckles under the weight of an unstoppable crisis, European Council President Donald Tusk added the stark warning we just heard.


TUSK: Do not believe the smugglers. Do not risk your lives and your money. It is all for nothing. Greece or any other European country will

no longer be a transit country.


AMANPOUR: Now Europe has failed the refugee unity test for the past year and today another boatload arrived in Athens from Turkey, just a few

hundred of the 110,000 who have crossed into Europe this year alone.

But far from finding safety and security, they face tear gas, barbed wire and violence now. In disturbing scenes from Calais, France, asylum seekers

sewed up their mouths to protest the closure of the jungle he refugee camp where they live. In just a moment, I'll speak to Estonia's president about

Europe's failure to tackle this crisis.

But first, correspondent Jonathan Rudman (ph) saw this unhappy desperation for himself at the Greek-Macedonia border.


JONATHAN RUDMAN (PH), CORRESPONDENT: A steady stream of people heading through Northern Greece this morning to the Macedonian border. No matter

that this border is closed. If you've survived airstrikes or jihadist terror or the strugglers' boats, if you've traveled this far, if you are as

determined from this woman from Aleppo in Syria clearly is or this exhausted family from Damascus, then why stop now?

RUDMAN (PH): Do you still keep going?


RUDMAN (PH): You're still smiling?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. It's the only way where we are going.

RUDMAN (PH) (voice-over): The wheelchair heads across the fields of an E.U. country as if this were perfectly normal. And here, of course, it is,

though the U.N. says this group of mostly Syrians and Iraqis is heading into a looming humanitarian crisis.

It's looming here at Idomeni; over 10,000 people now and more arriving all the time, where we find eight Tajiks from Afghanistan living beneath a

blanket balanced across the railway buffers, economic migrants, say the Macedonians on the other side.

And so this for them, the end of the line, in more ways than one.

It takes two to three hours to queue for a meal. The wait is so long that people have passed out and there aren't enough latrines or tents, either.

The U.N. says 1,500 have been sleeping out in the open, as these new arrivals now are.

Ismi Amada (ph), a Kurd from Kobani in Syria, has no tent and no blanket for his family, either. He looks bewildered and tired from carrying his

children so far.

Today, the sun shone. But when it rains, their clothes are soaking wet and the nights are cold. On the ground, fierce determination and the kindness

of strangers mattering so much more than Europe's squabbling tonight.


AMANPOUR: And that was Channel 4's Jonathan Rudman (ph) at the closed Greek-Macedonian border.

Joining me now to discuss this and other threats to Europe is the Estonian president, Toomas Hendrik Ilves.

Mr. President, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: When you see that -- and you have written about Europe's failure -- what is it that has made Europe unable to cope with this crisis --


AMANPOUR: -- that threatens to tear it apart now?

ILVES: I think there are a number of factors. One is that this should have been foreseen and if you actually looked at the situation with the

collapse of authoritarian regimes all across the Middle East, that -- I mean we could have -- we should have already many years ago decided to

improve dramatically our external border controls.

But now that this is taking place, Europe and different countries in Europe do need to show far more solidarity. And of course I have a somewhat

different perspective because I'm the child of refugees and, I mean, from what I know, it was not easy for them.

And last thing I would say is that what we really need to do is commit a lot of funds. This was done after World War II and there were huge sums.

AMANPOUR: Do you think, like the worst-case scenarios, that this is going to be this final test that causes the E.U.'s founding principle to shatter,

including open borders or most especially open borders?

ILVES: Well, I think the Schengen agreement, allowing free travel across borders, is in danger. We see it temporarily shut down. But this could

turn into a permanent situation.

The lack of solidarity among different member states, I think, will lead to a greater -- greater fissures within it and I -- what I see is the next

step is that those countries that have absolutely refused to take in and participate will face a reaction from the net payers in E.U., who say,

well, why should we be paying for structural funds, agricultural funds, for you people if you are not showing us solidarity and helping us out?

AMANPOUR: And the Brexit debate here in Great Britain, how is that contributing, if at all, to this volatile European situation right now?

ILVES: Well, I don't think it's contributing right now but it is another mark of a potential breakup of the union or at least of a weakening of the

union. We in Estonia very highly value the U.K.'s contribution -- I mean, also in terms of general world view on how the E.U. should run -- and I

think Britain can play a far greater role within the European Union than outside of it.

AMANPOUR: What do you make, for instance -- we've mentioned Calais and The Jungle, the French, the finance minister has said openly that if Britain

pulls out, they will open the floodgates and all those people in Calais will come over to Britain.

What is the fallout for that, can you imagine, if that actually takes place?

ILVES: Well, I think that's unfortunate because I think it only increases anti-European feeling in the U.K., in fact, will probably be used for -- I

mean, those kinds of threats never work well in --

AMANPOUR: So let me ask you this then, the NATO Supreme Commander, General Breedlove, has again warned that Russia and Assad, particularly Russia, has

been weaponizing this refugee crisis -- those were his words -- they believe trying to undermine and break down European structures and tear

down European resolve.

How do you read that?

You are a front-line state when it comes to Russia.

ILVES: Well, certainly, I mean, we have not seen that direct fallout. Finland has but we have not. Clearly, it feeds into nativist, anti-

European attitudes on the part of individual members of E.U. I mean I think that -- I wouldn't say weaponized but I would certainly say that it's


AMANPOUR: But what do you make of Russia's expansionism still?

Or do you?

How do you analyze what Russia is up to right now?

There's been criticism, for instance, of, for instance, the departing -- by the departing French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, and now more, who

are saying President Obama's 2013 decision not to implement his own red line emboldened Russia and have seen the expansion of Russia, the

annexation of Crimea.

Can you tell me how you view that, particularly being in Estonia, where you've had all sorts of incursions and provocations by Russia?

ILVES: Well, my main concerns that -- underlying principles of European security after World War II, which is you don't invade other European

countries, has been undermined. And it's one reason why we remain strong proponents of keeping sanctions until this -- which is basically a repeat

of the Anschluss of Austria in 1938.

If this is not rolled back, then there's no reason to lift sanctions and especially with a breakdown in the fundamentals of European security.

Mr. President, stand by. CNN has been waiting for Donald Trump, the front- runner in the Republican race, to make a speech. He's now in Portland, Maine, and he is talking, presumably going to be responding to what the

last Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, said earlier today.