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Putin Orders Forces to Begin Syria Withdrawal; Far Right Party Makes Gains in Germany; Imagine a World. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired March 14, 2016 - 15:00   ET




CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight: as Syria's peace talks start up again, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, drops another

bombshell, now saying that he's ordering, quote, "the main part of his forces" to begin withdrawing from Syria.

What does it really mean?

Also ahead, a stinging rebuke to Angela Merkel. The first time people vote on her refugee policy, a hard right anti-immigration party rises in state



ANGELA MERKEL, CHANCELLOR OF GERMANY (through translator): We have taken a lot of steps in the right direction but we still don't have a sustainable



AMANPOUR (voice-over): And we meet Syria's queen of the kitchen, now in her new home in Germany and winning hearts and minds using food, that

universal language of love.


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

And breaking news tonight: Russian president Vladimir Putin has just ordered his forces to begin withdrawing from Syria.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): I believe that the goal set out to the ministry of defense and the armed forces has

overall been fulfilled and that's why I order the minister of defense, as of tomorrow, to start the pullout of the main part of our military grouping

from the Syrian Arab Republic.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Now the Kremlin also says that President Putin told President Bashar al-Assad earlier today and released this photo of the

president meeting with his foreign and defense ministers.

Details on what all this means are scarce and questions, of course, are many. But most significantly, whether Russian will continue its heavy

campaign of airstrikes. President Putin says the air and naval bases there inside Syria will continue to operate routinely.


But it does come on the day that U.N.-brokered peace talks, long delayed and disrupted, once again get underway in Geneva and just one day before

the five-year anniversary of the Syrian War.

Joining me now from Moscow is senior CNN international correspondent Matthew Chance to try to figure out what's going on.

Matthew, as far as you can tell, what actually will this mean in terms of military action by the Russians in Syria?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it's going to mean a further drawdown, Christiane, of the Russian activity

inside Syria. It doesn't mean they are going to get rid of all their troops there or their military installations there.

In fact, that was one of the reasons the Russians went in to back the Syrian government in the first place, they wanted to keep that military

foothold inside Syria, the naval base at Tartus on the Mediterranean and the airbase near Latakia. They will still be operational.

But it seems that the main part, according to Vladimir Putin, of the Russian military intervention in Syria will come to an end. Now obviously

it comes at a time when, as you mentioned, those peace talks are getting underway again in Geneva.

And it comes at a time when the Russians can say, look, we've achieved our main military objectives. We have effectively brought a cessation of

hostilities into force in Syria, for the most part bringing most of the various parties to the negotiating table.

We have supported our ally in the Arab world, Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president. We've bolstered our reputation in the Middle East and on the

global stage in general. And we've done that at a relatively small cost in terms of Russian life. They have lost two servicemen, remember, since

September when they intervened.

And so I think you get the sense that Vladimir Putin is declaring victory and pulling out before it gets really messy.

AMANPOUR: Well, Matthew, thanks for giving that from Moscow.

We are going to turn now and get more from the former Russian member of parliament, Sergei Markov, who joins me now from Moscow.

Mr. Markov, thank you. Welcome back to the program.

What do you take as President Putin's message from this announcement?

And what will it really mean on the ground?

SERGEI MARKOV, FORMER RUSSIAN MP: This decision was surprised about the time. But it was no surprise about general Russian plans because it was

more or less clear that Russia helped Damascus to survive because half a year ago Islamic State was really very close to take control over Damascus

and Aleppo as well.

And now Syrian government --


MARKOV: -- attacking Islamic State. Now the main military and economic infrastructure of Islamic State has been crushed by Russian aviation strike

and as a result, will suppose that in a couple of weeks Syrian government troops will take control again over the Palmyra and then probably, I

suppose that even without Russian aviation support, Syrian government troops will crush Islamic State in the middle of this year.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you first, because the Russian -- rather -- sorry, the Syrian opposition have also sent out a message, saying that, if there

is a withdrawal, that would be a positive step.

Now the Syrian opposition has complained long and hard that actually your forces, the Russian forces, have been really going after, you know, the

opposition to Assad and not as much against ISIS.

So do you think that perhaps President Putin feels that he has gained enough for Assad to be very dominant at the peace talks?

Is there something to that, do you think?

MARKOV: Of course it's propaganda that Russia is targeting against Syrian non-terrorist opposition. Russia main target was exactly terrorist from

Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State. And Russia created very good conditions for the peaceful peace talks by helping Syrian government because before

Russia helped, Syrian oppositionists specifically, Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra wanted to crush Syrian government by force. Now they are not able

to do it.

AMANPOUR: OK. You say --


MARKOV: Now Russia provide better conditions because Russia withdraw its troops, it's create a much more better atmosphere for the peaceful talks in


AMANPOUR: Well, look, you say it's propaganda but there are so many objective eyewitnesses to what the Russian forces did there. We are

talking schools, we're talking hospitals, we're talking civic society. And we have our own correspondent who has done exclusive reports from there and

the U.N. has said it as well. So I want to know, what do you think, do you believe that Russia has

sufficiently destroyed the opposition, that there will be no reason for them to come back and help Assad when he gets into trouble again, if he


Because without Russia he was in deep trouble.

MARKOV: Of course. without Russia, Bashar al-Assad didn't not only in trouble, probably Damascus already have been totally under the control of

the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra. And I want to repeat again and again the fact that Russian strike destroyed hospitals, schools and other

peaceful objects, of course, it's pure propaganda.

Of course, in the war, there could be some different casualties. It's happened with both American and Russian strikes.

But, nevertheless, Russia targeted their support against terror for Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra. And because Russia targeting them, of course

Bashar al-Assad got some more opportunity to push some troops against his opponent from Syrian position.

But what kind of a position?

Liberal position. You know, I know a lot of liberals, who want to be in the position to Bashar al-Assad in for his book.


MARKOV: No liberals would taken Kalashnikov and go to the desert.


AMANPOUR: Mr. Markov, Mr. Markov, you know very well tomorrow is the anniversary of those very same ordinary Syrians, who started simply asking

for reform. And you know very well that that is what's led to all of this.

But what I want to ask you is this, without Russia's military help, what does Bashar al-Assad and Russia now expect from the negotiations?

Does Russia except Bashar to stay where he is?

Are there going to be elections?

We have already heard from the Syrians that it is a red line for them, no talk about any kind of political dynamic that would eventually would see

Bashar al-Assad either voted out or basically leave power.

MARKOV: Basically, Syrian opposition who is not ultra radical jihadists should accept that everybody should take part in the election. And Syrian



MARKOV: -- people should have the right to decide, is it Bashar al-Assad or not.

If they decide this, if they agreed to go to the peace in Syria, to give Bashar al-Assad, the peace will come.

If they will continue to insist that Bashar al-Assad, who is still quite popular among Syrian people, should go, of course, it will be difficult to

reach some compromise.

And also even we are talking that it was just reward of the Syrians, who want democratization; it's not. You know the Syrian opposition wants to

support Saudi Arabia --


AMANPOUR: It didn't start like that.

Mr. Markov, it didn't start like that. So I cannot let you end this discussion like that.

Thank you for giving us the viewpoint of -- from Russia as to why this withdrawal may be happening. And we hope that there is some hope for

peace. Thank you very much indeed.

MARKOV: My pleasure.

AMANPOUR: After a break, the German chancellor Angela Merkel's generous refugee policy gets her a bloody nose at the polls. We speak to a member

of the AFD, the hard-right anti-immigration party, making gains in state elections this weekend.




AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

For the first time, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has heard what voters think of her generous refugee policy at the ballot box. A far right party

lands a big blow in three German states.


MERKEL (through translator): Yesterday was a tough day for the CDU. And that is how we discussed it. The all-dominating topics were the refugees

and refugee policy. And the fact that, in the eyes of the voters, this issue has not yet been dealt with to satisfaction, is what strongly

determined the elections.


AMANPOUR: Now behind the upset is this woman, 40-year-old Frauke Petry, and her Alternative for Germany, promising to secure borders and to stop

the asylum chaos, as they put it. The AFD is tapping into the anger and fear that's being expressed right across the continent and, of course, in

the United States as well.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): These are tears of joy because finally there is a new start in Germany, because people had the courage to

face those parties that aren't doing anything for them anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It was beyond all expectations. We can be proud this and of our good campaign, too.


AMANPOUR: Now it comes as Europe, led by Chancellor Merkel, tries desperately to seal a deal with Turkey to, once and for all, get a handle

on the refugee crisis.

Despite being sucker punched at the polls, she has pledged today to stay her course.


AMANPOUR: So I'm joined now by Marcus Pretzel of the AFD. He is the partner in and out of work of the party leader, Frauke Petry, and is also a

member of the European parliament. Mr. Pretzel joins me from Brussels.

Mr. Pretzel, welcome to the program.

MARCUS PRETZEL, AFD: Good evening.

AMANPOUR: So let me start by asking you, your partner, Frauke Petry, has suggested that one way of dealing with the refugees is to authorize border

guards to shoot them. So of course she said that would be a last resort.

But really, sir?


AMANPOUR: Shoot the refugees?

Is that the policy that got you elected?

PRETZEL: No. No. No, that was not what she said.

AMANPOUR: No, no, she did.

PRETZEL: That one comment.

AMANPOUR: She did. I'll read it to you. She did.

"We must prevent illegal border crossings and even use firearms if necessary."

Then she went on to say armed force is the last resort.

PRETZEL: No, I'm sorry. I'm sorry, but that's not what she said. And let me make one comment. You said AFD was a far right anti-migration party in

Germany. But the actual British policy on migration is more anti-migration than the AFD policy, the actual political program is.

So calling us far right anti-migration party is not -- is not really the truth.

AMANPOUR: So what is the truth then?

I mean, you obviously oppose what Angela Merkel has done.

What is an AFD policy, as you see it?

And by the way, I need to tell you again that this is what she said as quoted by the newspaper.

So you know, I don't know what to tell you. You haven't sued them. You haven't disavowed it.

PRETZEL: No, I'm sorry to tell you but this is not what she said. She was -- what AFD is -- stands for is that Angela Merkel has let more than 1

million migrants in 2016 crossing German borders without even controlling them. And this is not the end because families will add on these numbers.

So it's millions every year if we continue with this policy. And only the people that came to Germany -- the migrants that came to Germany in 2015 --

means it will cost us 50 billion euros every single year.

AMANPOUR: What do you propose --

PRETZEL: -- is strong still but not able to bear this.

AMANPOUR: What do you propose?

Because obviously there is a lot of anxiety all over the Europe.

What do you propose?

Because she has already made adjustments. And we're being told that, from a height of 10,000 refugees per day, now it's a thousand. So it's dropped

significantly over the past few months.


AMANPOUR: What do you propose as the solution?

PRETZEL: First of all, it's not because of her policy. But the other countries on the Balkan stopped the migration flow into Germany.

So it's not Angela Merkel's policy. She's not changed her policy. And that's what she says in Germany. She doesn't want to change it even. So

she is quite isolated within the European Union.

What we stand for is a European solution. But Angela Merkel has to accept that she has isolated every other single European country doesn't want to

continue the way that Angela Merkel handled this crisis.

AMANPOUR: What do you say -- you know, you take issue with the description "hard right." That's not my description. I mean, everybody writing about

your party calls it that.

And you have "Der Spiegel," the German magazine, calling your partner, Frau Petry, "the preacher of hate."

You have Sigmar Gabriel, the leader of the German Social Democrats, saying that all of these right-wing populists are not only a threat to peace and

social cohesion but also to economic development.

And I think he means all of your similar kinds of parties that are rising in Europe right now: Marine Le Pen's National Front, the parties in the

Netherlands and elsewhere.

What is your response to what Sigmar Gabriel says?

PRETZEL: But do you think it's a good idea to ask a head of another German party about what he thinks about AFD?

You probably will become an image that doesn't really match AFD because I wouldn't -- I wouldn't tell you nice things about Sigmar Gabriel, as you

might imagine.

AMANPOUR: But he is not just saying not nice things. He is calling you a threat to peace and social cohesion and also to economic development.

Presumably it is the economic issue that has made many of your voters afraid.

And I guess I need you to answer this question -- people are horrified, Mr. Pretzel. They see Germany, you know, for the first time since the war,

1945, this hard right populist party making these gains; they see a Germany that has a monstrous past and that has tried so hard and succeeded in

becoming strong, tolerant, democratic and a strong state with a strong economy.

And they see you as a threat. So this is why people like "Der Spiegel" write, "preacher of hate" and --


AMANPOUR: -- show your partner on the cover.

PRETZEL: Well, yes. But if you -- no, people in Germany are not afraid because of AFD. People in Germany are afraid because of this migration


It is a monstrous threat if you let in more than 1 million migrants without even controlling your borders. The German government doesn't even know how

many migrants there are in Germany right now. So this is an impossible situation.

And it is illegal. The German -- the German law says that you can't cross German borders when you come from a secure third state. And 99 percent of

the people coming to Germany, the migrants coming to Germany, come from Austria. And Austria is a secure third state so it is illegal by German


AMANPOUR: Mr. Pretzel. I know. I hear what you are saying. And obviously, this was a big issue in the summer, the whole Dublin accord, as

you say, was suspended in order to deal with this crisis.

But I guess I'm still trying to find out what your party proposes and how to deal with the refugees.

I mean, is it going to be a Trumpian proposal?

Do you gather everybody up and deport them forcibly?

PRETZEL: Oh, no.

AMANPOUR: Do you put barbed wire at the German borders?

So what do you do?

PRETZEL: No, no, no. These would be ridiculous solutions. No, no, no. Nobody in AFD proposes these kinds of solutions.

What we suppose is a European solution. We want to go back to the Schengen and Dublin agreement on a European level. And it was Angela Merkel who

stopped these agreements. She didn't care about it.

And I mean, look at -- look all over Europe now. Britain is not following Angela Merkel's policy. France isn't. Even Sweden, Denmark, are not

following this kind of policy, not to mention Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary and all the other states all across Europe.

Angela Merkel is isolated within the European Union. So what we suppose is a European solution. And that means control of the European borders on the

Turkish and Greek border.


AMANPOUR: So you agree with that, then?

You agree with that, the sort of repatriation back to Turkey?

And as you know, the Balkan route has been closed down.

Do you agree with the Turkish solution?

PRETZEL: No. No. That is an illegal solution under German law as well because Turkey is not a secure country. You can call for asylum in Germany

when you come from Turkey. So it's impossible to send people back to Turkey and under German asylum law. It is illegal.

AMANPOUR: Marcus Pretzel, thank you very much indeed for joining us tonight from Brussels.

Thank you. Thank you for being with us.

PRETZEL: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: And after a break, Europe's refugees from a different perspective as we break bread with Syria's "Queen of the Kitchen" in

Germany -- next.





AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a divided world that comes together around the dinner table.

Once a famous TV chef in Syria, now a refugee in Berlin, Malakeh Jazmati is bringing a taste of home to her new home in Germany.



ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A dusting of flour, a splash of oil. One year ago, this is how Malakeh

Jazmati was welcomed into Syrian homes. As the smiling face of "Queen of the Kitchen," a Syrian cooking show, whose mission was much more than a

tasty recipe.

"Today when people hear Syria," she told us, "they think only of killing, destruction, bombs. And I'm working to change that. When people hear

Syria, I want them to remember our delicious food, our smiles and that we are honest, good people. I try to make them forget about all that death

and destruction."

Today Malakeh is a refugee in Berlin. Her husband fled here more than a year ago and she joined him in December. Now she knows the German name of

every herb and vegetable on sale.

"I am starting back at zero again," she says, "maybe less than zero. But I'm aiming for more than 10," she says.

On the day we visit, Malakeh cooks us a light meal, somewhere between lunch and dinner, in the kitchen that she shares with a dozen other residents

here. Mohammed (ph), her husband, is given garlic duty.

MOHAMMAD ALGHAMIAN, MALAKEH'S HUSBAND: The only thing I did before was the fried eggs. So it's not big deal.


SHUBERT: Oh, I see. So it's not chopped up.

JAZMATI: You can eat it with rice or with Arabic bread.

SHUBERT (voice-over): On the menu, malukia, a pungent, spinach-like leaf she pan fries with plenty garlic and coriander, a Damascus specialty, and

batersh, a dish from Hama City, roasted aubergine, topped with a savory tomato and beef sauce: food from home.

Malakeh's cooking often becomes a community event. Ramah (ph), another Syrian who's just moved in, and Adria (ph), a German volunteer living next

door, chop the parsley and coriander. Malakeh is studying German now and she has already started on a cookbook, small steps to her ultimate goal of

a cooking show.

"I think of things differently now," she says. "There is a saying: you can tear down a branch but not the whole tree. Now that I'm living in a

shared house for refugees, I have the benefit of living with people who encourage me. And I'm stronger for it," she says.

When we sit down to eat, the table has grown to include an Afghan, two German volunteers, four Syrians and one very lucky CNN crew.

Outside, snow falls and the kitchen is warm with the sound of laughter and cooking, which is exactly how Malakeh, queen of the kitchen, likes it --

Atika Shubert, CNN, Berlin.


AMANPOUR: Lucky Atika indeed. And that is it for our program tonight. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.