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Madeleine Albright on Women's Rights Today; Migrant Crisis Polarizing European Societies; Imagine a World. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired March 8, 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: on International Women's Day, two heavy hitters. The first female U.S. secretary of state,
Madeleine Albright, on the refugee crisis wracking Europe.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: The thing that really drives me crazy is watching these people that have crossed, carrying their
children or one worldly good across deserts and then being in boats, where they're afraid of drowning and then being treated like dogs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Also ahead, Sweden's culture minister on why even liberal Scandinavia is turning its back on refugees as it hangs a hard
And later, the 14-year-old rock star climbing all the way to the very top.
AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
And this news just in: Slovenia and Serbia say that they are going to control and close down their borders to refugees starting tonight.
Now the new refugee deal that the E.U. has been discussing with Turkey is not even done yet. But already the United Nations says it is deeply
concerned about possible illegal plans to stop about 2,000 refugees coming to Europe every day.
The final details are still being hammered out but they are said to include an agreement by Turkey to take back any new migrants who make it across to
And in exchange, Europe would admit an equal number of Syrian refugees from Turkey.
Now if this sounds fair, the question is whether it's even practical. As one E.U. leader says, the refugees are outrunning the E.U.'s decision-
making. The United States, in the midst of a fierce election campaign refugee debate and has barely taken any in, which shocks the former
secretary of state, Madeleine Albright.
AMANPOUR: Secretary Albright, welcome to the program.
ALBRIGHT: Great to be with you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Here we are, in the midst of a gigantic refugee crisis in Europe, and the latest is sort of a one-for-one resettling of refugees
between Turkey and Europe.
From what you know about it, is it even workable?
What has gone so wrong with the refugee situation here?
ALBRIGHT: I think it is the major tragedy of our time, in terms of the worst humanitarian crisis since the end of World War II. And I think that
the system, in many ways, was not prepared for this, the international system, the U.N. refugee operation, as well as the European one. And it's
just kind of been overwhelming.
AMANPOUR: What should they have done?
ALBRIGHT: Well, I think -- first of all, I do think that they should -- could have and should have mounted ways of processing better, so people
weren't just standing there and then setting up tent cities or something that really show that they were ready for this.
I know that it's a huge amount of people. But the thing that really drives me crazy is watching these people that have crossed, carrying their
children or one worldly good across deserts and then being in boats, where they're afraid of drowning and then being treated like dogs.
And by the way, I've said, American dogs are treated better than what is happening with the refugees.
AMANPOUR: Do you think people like Angela Merkel, who are the de facto -- she is the de facto leader of Europe -- and had a very moral policy, a
welcoming policy, did she bite off more than she could chew?
What went wrong there?
ALBRIGHT: I actually think that she was terrific and very brave and was somebody from her own background, I think, of understanding, what had gone
on in Central and Eastern Europe and I think she's been great.
And I do think that -- and I obviously can't speak for her because I think she expected the other countries in Europe to step up and be generous and
remember how much other countries have done for Europeans in the past.
AMANPOUR: Now Europe has to depend on Turkey. And Turkey is saying, in return for its help, sending them back to Greece, for instance, it wants to
fast-track E.U. negotiations.
And a lot of Europeans are saying, that's blackmail, especially as Turkey takes on more authoritarian bent, just takes over the largest newspaper in
What do you think?
ALBRIGHT: Well, I do think that -- I have thought for a long time that Turkey should have been in the E.U. and it was certainly something that I
advocated when we were in office. I do think that Turkey is in a position where they can be more helpful and should be more helpful --
ALBRIGHT: -- but I can't quite sort out how this is going to work. And one needs to make sure that it doesn't make things worse, in terms of
sending people back and then this one-for-one and deciding who comes and who goes.
I do think that need to -- that some pressure, obviously, has to be put on them in terms of how they behave internally. But they are, in fact, in the
catbird seat, in many ways.
AMANPOUR: What about the other person whose hands we are in; according to many Western leaders, we're in Putin's hands when it comes to resolving
Syria. And he is really calling the shots on the ground.
How dangerous is that?
How much is that against U.S. and Western interests, in your view?
ALBRIGHT: Christiane, I have to say, I've never seen anything quite as complicated as all of this, because I have believed that the Russians, to
some extent, have been involved in Syria, because they want to distract our attention from Ukraine, where they were, illegally seized Crimea.
And what they want to really do among other things is regain influence in the Middle East.
And then also, I do think, undermine the alliance, NATO and the E.U., in terms of setting one country against another. Some people have called it
the militarization of the refugees.
And so the tragedy here is that these poor people -- and people don't want to leave the country where they were born -- are really pawns in a much
larger -- and I hate to say game -- but pawns in something that is fairly cynical in terms of the way they are being used. And it's a tragedy.
And I do wish, frankly, that the United States would take more. It's very hard for us to tell other countries what to do if we are not generous.
I'm a refugee. I don't have a terrible story but I'm so grateful to America. And America's a big country and refugees really work hard and
want to be a part of the diversity of America.
AMANPOUR: So this failure to deal with the refugee crisis has fed into the extreme, the far, the hard right, all over Europe.
What does that say to you?
How dangerous is that?
ALBRIGHT: I think it's very dangerous. And I have to tell you, what I'm really troubled by, Europe, in the 20th century, was wracked by identity
and hypernationalism. The beauty of creating the European Union was trying to find countries, borderless countries and an exchange of understanding.
And what is happening now is kind of going back to kind of atavistic nationalism, in terms of I only want to be with my own kind.
And it's fine to have an identity but if your identity hates another one, then it leads to terrible problems.
AMANPOUR: You've been traveling around the world nonstop. You go to the Middle East, Europe, all over the place.
What are people telling you about what's going on in the United States in this presidential election, not just the tone but what it means for
American leadership, for foreign policy?
What are they asking you?
ALBRIGHT: I think people are confused. I think --
AMANPOUR: That's putting it gently.
ALBRIGHT: -- one of the weirded political campaigns. And what I get asked is, what is going on here in terms of, doesn't America need to play a major
I obviously do. I have thought always that things are better when the United States is engaged, not alone, but is engaged. And I think people
are troubled by that either we want to bring walls or keep out all Muslims or carpet bomb and that there are no answers that make sense to people that
are following this very carefully.
AMANPOUR: You have said that people, you know, ask you if the United States has lost its mind. You've described the Republican candidates as
schoolchildren in the schoolyard, the way they're behaving.
What would a Trump presidency do for America in the world, do you think?
ALBRIGHT: I have no clue. I think that it would be -- I personally believe that it's dangerous. I think we have no idea what Trump believes
in, except himself. And I think that it is a major problem in terms of how we lay out what America's options are.
I think the American people really want to hear more about what is going on, trying to explain the complexity of it and not just give simplistic
answers that are dangerous.
I am very concerned. And I hope that, as this campaign goes on, that there's the opportunity, with the help of the media, frankly, Christiane,
is to be able to explain the stakes, what America's role can and should be, how we behave as what I used to call the indispensable nation.
And by the way, as I keep saying, there is nothing in the word indispensable that says alone. It just means we need to be engaged and not
make threats or think that we're going to isolate ourselves from everything.
AMANPOUR: So you're obviously supporting Hillary Clinton. It's also International Women's Day today. And you know, you got yourself into a bit
of a media flap; actually, a social media flap, about whether women should vote for Hillary or not.
What did it --
AMANPOUR: -- say to you about feminism today, about where things stand today, regarding women's rights?
ALBRIGHT: I think a little complicated, in terms of -- and I called for an intergenerational discussion. I know that people kind of get tired of
stories about how it took some of us a long time to develop our voice. But I do think that we need to have a discussion about it.
I should not have said what I said in terms of voting. People need to decide --
AMANPOUR: What you said was, there's a special place in hell for women who don't help other women.
Now many people would agree with that statement.
ALBRIGHT: Well, I do believe that. But I should not -- voting is a different thing and people need to make up their own minds, especially
women. I do think that I am concerned about the fact that things could go backward, that a lot of the things that you and I and others have worked
for all our lives, that they're in danger of going backward.
And on International Women's Day, it isn't just us; it's internationally in terms of women that are threatened, violence against women, literal
violence or murder but then also kind of keeping women from being involved politically, kind of constantly questioning what our role is.
And, by the way, when most societies, women, are more than half the population, it is a loss of a valuable resource if women are not
politically and economically empowered. So I'm glad to be able to talk about it.
AMANPOUR: And just finally, you know, there has not been a female president in the United States but there have been several female
secretaries of state. You were the first, you broke that barrier. And you say something funny about your granddaughter, that for her, it's the norm.
ALBRIGHT: Well, it was -- seven years ago, she said, "So what's the big deal about Grandma Maddy being secretary of state? Only girls are
secretary of state."
And I do know now there are a lot of little boys that are very encouraged by John Kerry.
AMANPOUR: All right, secretary of state, former secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, thank you very much for joining me.
ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Now after a break, Scandinavia has always been ahead of the rest when it comes to women in powerful places. Next, Sweden's minister for
culture and democracy on the refugee crisis and the struggle for the soul of her nation.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.
And as news comes in that more countries like Serbia and Slovenia are closing their borders tonight, we should remember that when refugees began
pouring into Europe last year, it was Sweden that opened its doors the widest, taking in the most per capita.
But now even this most welcoming country is cracking down, tightening borders and preparing to deport up to half of last year's asylum seekers.
And what about Denmark's controversial new law to seize refugee assets in order to pay for their stay?
The crisis has polarized society and it threatens Europe's liberal democratic values. Joining me to talk all about this, Sweden's minister
for culture and democracy, Alice Bah Kuhnke.
Minister, welcome to the program.
ALICE BAH KUHNKE, SWEDISH MINISTER FOR CULTURE AND DEMOCRACY: Thank you for inviting me.
AMANPOUR: This is such a crisis and I just wanted you to respond --
AMANPOUR: -- to what you heard from the former secretary of state, Madeleine Albright. She said a couple of things, namely that Europe -- I
mean I hate to say this to you -- but is treating refugees worse than dogs are treated in the United States.
What is your response to that?
KUHNKE: Of course, it's very hard words and sad, is a sad statement from Ms. Albright.
But what I think that we need to focus on is how to help the refugees.
What can we do now?
Now there are several processes going on with Turkey and to help Greece to handle what they are doing right now for Europe. And we must be more
countries in Europe taking responsibilities to help the refugees.
AMANPOUR: What happened to your country?
Because as I said, you did take the most in per capita. Obviously, Germany has taken the most in terms of raw numbers.
But what happened?
What was the turning point?
What turned people against it that forced you, like so many other countries, to start cracking down?
KUHNKE: I wouldn't say that it was people that turned against the refugees. It was the system. The capacity in the refugee reception
systems wasn't enough.
We need thousands of social workers. We need thousands of teachers. We need housing. People were leaving in tents.
So now we have this loss for a period, for three years and, during this time, we will build up capacity again to be able to help people, more
refugees to come to our country.
AMANPOUR: You must have been talking to your colleagues and the prime minister and everybody else. We have seen major refugee crises and tent
cities are put up faster than you can say boo.
But this didn't really happen in Europe. It happened along some of the border front line states around Syria.
Was that a mistake?
Was there a lack of pre-preparation or were you all caught by surprise?
KUHNKE: We were caught by surprise but, of course, the situation wasn't something that we could foresee.
So of course, we need to see and be very self-critical about what could we do better. And this is what we're doing right now. We are building the
system up now, in a speed that never have been done before.
So we are creating new jobs, thousands of new jobs, to be able to help refugees. So, hopefully, if more countries like Germany and like Sweden
are prepared to take responsibility, we can help so many more people now fleeing from the war.
AMANPOUR: Your country, Sweden in particular and others in the Scandinavia bloc, were really receptive and did such a great job taking in Bosnian
refugees, the last time there was this massive influx into Europe.
Now though, you're seeing in Sweden and other places, you know, arson attacks on immigrant housing. You've foiled some in Sweden and protected
What is happening to core values, to the liberal democracy?
KUHNKE: Since the last influx of refugees to our country, you talked about Bosnia, things have changed in our country. We are now a more polarized
country, a more polarized Sweden and it's not due to the refugees, it was here before the refugees came.
But the refugees are coming to a situation that are polarizing, so we need to do so much more to get people to come together. We need to educate. We
need to create meeting places. We need to do more culture, so that people see --
AMANPOUR: More integration.
KUHNKE: -- more integration, so much more integration. We need places and we need culture.
AMANPOUR: I wonder, can you -- you know, I mentioned the European leader who said, you know, every time we try to come up with something, the
refugee speed with which they're coming sort of obliterates all our decisions.
Now there's a new decision, this potential deal with Turkey, where you have a sort of one-for-one swap. Turkey, you know, keeps one that's coming from
somewhere else, in return for sending one to Europe.
But at the same time, Turkey is asking for fast-tracking of the E.U. accession, for all those kinds of things. And at the same time, Turkey is
becoming more authoritarian and especially cracking down on the press.
People are saying that Turkey is kind of forcing you to turn a blind eye. It's calling the shots and you're not even going to talk about its
crackdown on those democratic principles.
KUHNKE: Turkey are so important for the refugees and for Europe. So, of course, we need to have this process with Turkey. But that doesn't mean
that we can put democratic processes on hold.
And we've been very clear. Sweden have been very clear when it comes to democratic processes and the freedom of expression and the freedom of the
AMANPOUR: And actually, you do stand out in terms of sort of a human rights-based foreign policy. I spoke to your foreign minister a while ago
and, of course, there's, you know, discussions about your relations with Saudi Arabia, based on how they treat women and how they treat members of
the press, bloggers and all the rest of it.
Why is it that you --
AMANPOUR: -- put such emphasis on human rights in foreign policy?
KUHNKE: We are a feminist government. That's something that we've been very clear about, the prime minister and the foreign minister and everybody
who is part of the government. And that is not only words. To be a feminist government, it means that we have a perspective.
And when we do politics, in every political area, we need to see how it affects women and men and boys and girls.
AMANPOUR: Give me some examples. I've never heard anybody say that we're a feminist government, I think you said, yes?
KUHNKE: For example, when I'm looking to do politics within the areas of culture and democracy, all the resources that I put in, I also must show
for our finance minister in which way the money that I put into culture is -- benefits both women and men.
So we put figures on everything. And this is really something. it's a learning process, we learn a lot. But it also makes things very clear on
where we put money and if it's the man or the female that will benefit from the resources we put in.
AMANPOUR: And is there any backlash?
Might Sweden pay for that kind of principled foreign policy?
KUHNKE: This is a win-win. And we know it's a win-win. We have a concrete example for our own country and the development that we've been
through for 200, 150 years and how we can see that politics, and when money goes with politics and power, that we really create new working spaces; we
create wealth in all different kinds of perspectives.
AMANPOUR: And how do you explain, very briefly, that, you know, Scandinavia, Sweden, has been way far ahead of the rest of Europe,
certainly America, on putting women in high places?
I mean, it is International Women's Day, after all.
KUHNKE: Yes, it is, it's absolutely International Women's Day. I think it's important to note that this is not something that will happen, not
doing nothing. You must really be brave. And you must do politics about it.
And when it comes to family politics, when it comes to resource politics and when it comes to power, we've been very clear that these shouldn't be
areas where only men benefit. We must also make sure that there are politics that benefit women.
AMANPOUR: Really interesting. Minister Alice Bah Kuhnke, thank you very much indeed for joining us.
KUHNKE: Oh, thank you for joining me.
AMANPOUR: Thank you.
And after a break, we turn to another young woman breaking boundaries, the 14-year-old climbing prodigy putting sexism in her sport between a rock and
a hard place. That's next.
AMANPOUR: And finally tonight on International Women's Day, imagine a world where women climb to ever-new heights, literally.
At 14 years old, Ashima Shiraishi, whose parents came to the U.S. as immigrants from Japan, has pushed the world of rock climbing to its
vertical limit. With her strength of body and mind, she's surpassed many professional adult climbers, women and men. We dropped in on a training
session in Queens, New York.
ASHIMA SHIRAISHI, ROCK CLIMBER: Climbing is definitely almost like a puzzle, because you have to think about which holes you're going to use and
how you're going to get to them.
You definitely have to be smart and have a high climbing IQ.
I am Ashima Shiraishi and I'm 14 years old.
When I'm climbing, I try not to think too much or else I'm going to fall.
Climbing has taught me to just keep on fighting and not give up.
HISATOSHI SHIRAISHI, ASHIMA'S FATHER (through translator): She goes through pain and frustration but she endures the pain and frustrations,
because she knows the joy of accomplishment.
ASHIMA SHIRAISHI: For a rock climber, getting to the top of a climb is your ultimate goal, so when you actually achieve that, it's the happiest
feeling that I ever feel and that's why I climb.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ashima is a very good rock climber. She's outperforming most adults and she's still a child. It's pretty crazy.
ASHIMA SHIRAISHI: I definitely have been doubted because of my gender and because of my age. I mean, I'm only 14.
It motivates me to keep on doing what I'm doing and to, you know, make them realize that it's not a fluke.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And she's probably the best female climber in the country.
ASHIMA SHIRAISHI: Girls and climbing have been pushing the sport for so long and I feel like, eventually, the girls will become maybe as good as
the guys or even better. So I think my dream is to keep on pushing that.
AMANPOUR: And that was one of America's main male champs vouching for her.
And that is it for our program tonight. Remember, you can listen to our podcast, see us online at amanpour.com and follow me on Facebook and
Twitter. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.