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Europe's Changing Politics; Aleppo Residents Await Urgent and Deliver; Paul Krugman Reflects on Greek Financial Crisis; The Liberal Conscience of Paul Krugman; Living in Limbo

Aired September 15, 2016 - 14:00:00   ET


[14:00:00] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight our special program from Athens in Greece. Birthplace of democracy, epicenter of Europe's refugee

crisis and home to an ongoing financial crisis.

The Greek president tells me the biggest challenge of all is inequality.


PROKOPIS PAVLOPOULOS, GREECE PRESIDENT (through translator): Our culture, our land, our civilization, our democracy have to stand up for people.


AMANPOUR: Also ahead, the world-renowned Nobel laureate, the economist Paul Krugman. And half of all refugees arriving in Greece this year are

from Syria. We go live to war-torn Aleppo as a cease-fire deal hangs in the balance.

And we catch up with a young man who fled here from Syria over the mountains in his wheelchair.

Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in Greece, birthplace of democracy. And this week, the capital

Athens with the magnificent acropolis behind me is hosting an important debate on the challenges facing liberal democracy, which is being

threatened by the rise of populist parties, especially here in Europe.

Amid growing concerns about the influx of refugees and economic hardship, Greece has been on the front line of this crisis. The first port of call

for hundreds of thousands of refugees arriving mostly from Syria and Iraq.

Coming up, my exclusive interview with the president of Greece on how to hold the line.

But first, to Syria, where a fragile cease-fire has been in effect since Monday. But will it stem this human tide?

And CNN's Fred Pleitgen is there, and he joins me directly from the city of Aleppo.

Fred, has humanitarian aid got through to Aleppo yet?

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It hasn't, Christiane. They've been waiting all day and so far none of the aid trucks have been able to get


And it appears as though there are two hold-ups that are still really getting things to not be on track just yet.

What's going on is on the one hand, the Syrian government apparently has not given that formal permission to the United Nations to bring that aid in

yet. Because as we know, that despite the fact that of course the rebels hold a lot of territory, according to the U.N., the Syrian government is

still, the official government of this country.

And so therefore, they have to give their OK for these aid trucks to come in. That has not happened yet.

And then there's also a very complicated negotiations between the United Nations and a lot of these rebel groups. Because they also have to insure

safe passage of these aid trucks.

Now what is happening, and what does appear to be happening, and what I saw today is that on the Castello Road, which is of course the main road that's

supposed to be used for aid to get into Aleppo. It seems as though there are preparation there to try and allow those trucks to go through.

What needs to happen there is that the Syrian government forces need to withdraw from that area and also rebel forces need to withdraw from an

other area on that road and then that road needs to be secure.

It seems as though the Russians are going to play some sort of role in doing that. It's really unclear how that's going to happen at this point.

But it seems as though at least there are preparations in place.

Impossible to say at this point when aid is going to start rolling in. But what we're hearing from all sides is they're trying to make this work as

fast as possible from the U.N.'s perspective. Still very much a waiting game, a negotiating game and it's always very complicated, because they're

dealing with so many players on the ground.


AMANPOUR: Indeed, Fred, thank you so much from there in Aleppo.

The first we've heard from Fred since the cease-fire has gone in in the Aleppo area.

And, of course, getting humanitarian aid actually in there is a vital next step towards the rest of the ceasefire deal.

But let's turn back to Greece where more than 165,000 people have arrived by sea this year. Most of them Syrians. It my exclusive interview with

the country's president, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, he tells me Europe should have acted faster to stem the migrant flow. And that the EU needs to hold

on to its core values now more than ever.


AMANPOUR: Mr. President, welcome to the program.

PAVLOPOULOS (through translator): Thank you very much. It's a pleasure for me to be here. This is a great opportunity. Rest assured, it's a

great opportunity for me because I personally watch your program. And this is a great opportunity for Greece as well.

AMANPOUR: We are here where democracy was born. Millennia ago. And yet this is a time when democracy is under threat by all sorts of anti-

establishment parties, by a wave of populism.

What is it that is the biggest challenge?

[14:05:00] PAVLOPOULOS (through translator): The biggest challenge as I speak, according to my estimates and not just for Greece, but the world, is

dealing with inequalities. This is a major challenge.

We are experiencing policies that are doing away with the social and welfare states. So you see these are prerequisites for the forthcoming

collapse of the social fabric.

This is what facilitates the rise of populist powers. These are quite against democracy, but there's another reason why this is happening.

You see there is warfare. Wars are creating refugees, and that are also racist phenomena. And there are some who allege that because of the

crisis, or through the crisis on top of everything, we are having this as well.

So our culture, our land, our civilization, our democracy have to stand up for people, do away with inequalities or deal with them. And then again we

have to stand up for people in the face of refugees. Most certainly, we have to take measures to combat terrorism. But we have to distinguish

between terrorism and what brings it along and it's another thing to protect people.

AMANPOUR: Do you believe that Europe has failed to come up with a joint project, in order to deal with the refugees? This is a continent that is

rich, that has 500 million people.

Can it not deal with a million refugees?

PAVLOPOULOS (through translator): I think Europe should not have been taken by surprise because we have been receiving some indications. There

had been early signs.

Remember, we had back if 2008, an aide, a European covenant on migration and refugees so clearly we could see that coming. Moreover, Europe should

have intervened faster to put an end to the war in Syria. It is really saddening.

The fact that we had to have the United States of America intervene and then Russia, another late stage Europe intervened. It was the business of

Europe to interfere first. Already I've been telling my peers so much. I told them. Unfortunately, we were late. Europe was late. And late, was

taken by surprise by the refugee crisis as well.

Moreover, I'm not going to tell who they fought, but some people in Europe showed that they lack European education, vis-a-vis human beings, because

we share the same European values. We are not joining Europe just to protect ourselves from the fear of the past. We are members of one single

Europe, because we share the same ideas and values.

No matter what the cost may be. We, the Greeks, are paying our huge toll financially, economically, socially. But still we're telling Europe and we

are standing up for it. And we will stay there.

Unfortunately, the peers of us, or the members of the EU lack this mentality. They have to acquire it.

AMANPOUR: Here we are at the Athens Democracy Forum.

Paul Krugman, the Nobel-prize-winning economist, who we're going to be talking to also on this program has said that Greece, he said it yesterday,

would be better off outside the eurozone.

What do you think after all this pain of keeping Greece inside the eurozone?

PAVLOPOULOS (through translator): Let me underline first that I highly esteemed Paul Krugman, because of my academic capacity as well and my

capacity as a professor. I've read all his books. I don't agree with him on everything.

We agree, him and I, as concerns the extremities of neo-liberalism. We agree on the need to raise an order for rules to be established. So when

it comes to the markets and the credit rating agencies. But we do disagree on the following.

First, I think Greece outside of the eurozone would have been faced with huge economic problems. Once you join the eurozone, you have to go along

those lines, you have to work in the context and have a common institutional framework.

If you opt out, if you get out of the eurozone under these circumstances, Europe will be worse off. I'm going to say something that is not an

indication of Greek arrogance. Please don't misunderstand me.

You see the Greek people are really interested in Europe. With all the sacrifices we made, we want and care about Europe.

You know what, those who thought that maybe eurozone would have been left unscathed after Greece left it, they're wrong.

Take a look at the wider picture of Europe.

What is the problem in Europe because of Brexit?

I believe that the UK is also losing part of its charm. Unfortunately, Europe is losing part of its own charm as well. So Europe is built and

meant to grow.

So Greece getting out of the eurozone would have been disastrous for everyone, especially in today's circumstances.

AMANPOUR: Greece has had several bailouts since 2010. I think three bailouts. The last one last year was $86 billion bailout. And it required

very serious precise economic reforms.

[14:10:00] Unfortunately, say your partners, Greece has only enacted two of the 15 reforms required to release the next trash of bailout money which is

about 2.8 billion euros.

Why is Greece falling so way behind on its schedule, on its commitments?

PAVLOPOULOS (through translator): I'm not downplaying our mistakes. We've made errors ourselves. We have avowed so much. And, of course, you know,

they've happened through time.

Let me nonetheless reiterate what I normally tell my peers, and I'm very straightforward. Some reforms increased were enforced -- imposed really

fast. I'm not going to suggest they were violently imposed, but they happened very fast.

And when it comes to the first and the second bailout program, the reforms, the respective reforms were not always in the right direction. Just

remember the report that was drafted by the IMF acknowledged the fact that some of the instructions given were in the wrong direction, especially some

impacted on the Greek economy in a negative way. They led to further downturn.

So I have to insist on this. I am personally committing ourselves to completing these reforms but we need more time in order for the Greek

society to be able to breathe.

We are really on the margin of having the social fabric ruptured. We are agonizing over Europe, us Greeks more than other people that have never

been tried so much as we were.

AMANPOUR: Mr. President, thank you very much for joining us.

PAVLOPOULOS (through translator): Thank you. And I look forward to seeing you again in Greece. This is a hospitable country. Hopefully you can come

back next summer. And after all, the people, the Greek people are always appreciative of those who care about them.


AMANPOUR: A very hospitable Greek president.

For many of the refugees and having his hospitality, those who are here probably closely watching the news from home as a ceasefire comes into

effect around Aleppo.

Take a look at what a few days of quiet can do for the besieged and bombarded city.

The streets of Aleppo have quickly become a place for outdoor playgrounds. Al Fresco cafes and there's even a makeshift zoo as people enjoy the peace,

while it lasts.

And when we come back, what will a new U.S. president mean for the world? As the election gets ever closer, the race itself gets even tighter. I

speak to the "New York Times" Paul Krugman about the U.S. and its political pandemonium. That's after this.


AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program, where we are reporting tonight from Athens.

You just heard the president talking about Paul Krugman. And he is in fact joining me here.

Nobel economist, "New York Times" columnist, thank you very much indeed for being here.


AMANPOUR: So you did tell the Athens Democracy Forum that Greece would be better had it got out of the eurozone. The president disagrees.

KRUGMAN: Well, I look at it and said that Greece is going through something that is actually worse than the Great Depression in the United


With no real sign of exit in the foreseeable future, and it all comes down to the constraints placed upon Greece by the membership in the Euro. It

turns out that the Euro is a very dysfunctional thing.

Now I have very little hope of persuading the Greek political system to make that decision. If they weren't going to do it when we had the crisis

here, then they're not going to do it until something else comes along.

But I think the economics are straightforward. But, unfortunately, the politics are impossible.

[14:15:00] AMANPOUR: Do you think that a Grexit would have been more likely given the economics than a Brexit should have been

KRUGMAN: Oh, sure. I mean, Greece has very real reasons to say, this -- you know, major, major reasons.

Brexit, there was some case. But by in large, Britain has made richer or was made richer by being part of the EU. Greece is at this point immensely

impoverished by being part of the Euro. And it would have made sense. But it didn't happen.

AMANPOUR: It didn't happen.

KRUGMAN: So let me ask you this, because you were an early prophet of stimulus versus austerity. And now we're seeing world leaders start

talking in your language, basically, about civilizing capitalism. That was at the G-20.

Draghi here in Europe. Christine Lagarde. They're all saying we cannot leave too many people, too far out of the richness loop so to speak.

KRUGMAN: You know, there has been a sea change in what you might call a lead to opinion, conventional wisdom, what everyone calls it. Five years

ago, it was all deficits debt. That's the problem. Now it's, oh my, we need some boost here. We need some fiscal stimulus.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure that it translates into anything real. You know, there are two fundamental roadblocks if you look at the advanced

world. One of them is Germany. And the Germans are not part of this change consensus and the other is the U.S. Republican Party, which is an

intellectual universe of its own as well.

So the U.S. is not going to get stimulus even with the Clinton presidency. Europe is not going to get stimulus without a German acquiescence, which I

don't see happening. So I'm gratified to see that people -- you know, that the conventional wisdom 2016 kind of sounds like me in 2011. But I don't

know if it's actually going to matter.

AMANPOUR: So let me ask you this then.

Donald Trump, you mentioned the Republican Party. He is the Republican nominee. He has just given a speech which CNN has carried, talking about

his economic plan saying that he would promise 4 percent or at least 3.5 percent growth per year. 25 million jobs in a decade.

KRUGMAN: Yes. So this is, it's interesting. Because it's of course, it's insane and criminally irresponsible. But it's insane and criminally

irresponsible in a very conventional Republican way.

This is essentially Jeb Bush's economic plan. This is where we, where we started with the establishment Republicans.

I think part of what this is telling us is that Trump is in many ways not that much of an outlier. When it comes to economic policy, he actually is

not making sense, but he's talking the nonsense that is very much been taken over his party over the years.

So this is nothing new in a way, you know, to talk about it seriously. There's nothing -- he has no way. No one knows how to produce 4 percent

growth and for sure, he doesn't. But this is, this is not unusual.

AMANPOUR: In this election. And in elections and promises around Europe.

KRUGMAN: It's not really that different, you know, from Romney in 2012.


KRUGMAN: He's talking a lot of economic nonsense. And in Europe, no actually in Europe, there are other things going on. I don't actually,

this kind of well disconnect from economic reality unfortunately is all too common now.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you about the story telling and why people believe this in such dire straits. You saw the new figures obviously this week

that came out of the United States. That median average household incomes were quote-unquote "surging." That the color was not all black in terms of

what was going on. And yet people -- apparently, enough people are so distressed by their personal situation that they will go for Donald Trump.

KRUGMAN: I've actually been doing some work on that. You ask people about their personal situation. They are relatively optimistic. People --

declared personal well-being, people who say that they're thriving has gone up sharply under Obama.

But if you ask people about the country, many of them say what they've heard on "Fox News." They say things are terrible for the country. I'm

doing fine. But the country is in terrible shape. So, you know, really the politics has become disconnected from the economic reality. This is

not in fact about economic anxiety. There are plenty of problems with the economy, but that's not what's behind Trump.

AMANPOUR: What is it about then? What is behind it?

KRUGMAN: I mean, ultimately, it's about race. I mean, you cannot understand anything that's happening in this election in U.S. politics

without seeing it as a certain -- unfortunately, a fairly large fraction of Americans who don't like the fact that we're becoming a multiracial,

multicultural country.

AMANPOUR: Because they think that eats into their economic opportunity?

KRUGMAN: No. It eats into their identity. It's really not about economics. You can see that.

Look, we had a far right candidate almost within Austria, which has thrived in the crisis, right? They have an excellent economy, but they feel under

threat in terms of their identity.

So, you know, all the economic anxiety, among people I talk to, economic anxiety has become a kind of a joke slogan.

AMANPOUR: That is fascinating.


AMANPOUR: That is fascinating because everybody is talking, the conventional wisdom is that it is all about economic hardship and you're

saying no.

KRUGMAN: I mean, there is real economic hardship. West Virginia is not a happy place. But mostly, it wouldn't translate this way. We wouldn't be

so resistant to good news if it weren't really about something else. It's really mostly about race.

[14:20:09] AMANPOUR: Because you've written columns. I mean, you really taken press and others to task and the candidates to task. But you said

America, for instance, is not the hellhole that Trump portrays it to be. And you said that there hasn't been enough sort of critical reporting.

KRUGMAN: That's right. If you take, how can a candidate in 2016, with crime a little bit up, murders up a little bit from last year, but -- at

historically low levels, how can it be running on a platform that says basically it's all turned into "Escape from New York." And it's because

it's all about other things. These are all symbols for what is really racial, cultural, identity anxiety.

AMANPOUR: And what do you think? If you look ahead, you talk about the Austrian, and they're going to rerun that race. But what about France?

What about some of the others? We've seen in Germany, for instance. Angela Merkel came third in her own local election hometown.

KRUGMAN: I hope that we all turn into California. If you think, California actually had this crisis. This crisis of identity, desperate

anti-immigrant politics. Back in the mid 1990s, and it got through it. And in the end, people, the California political scene has become one that

is tolerant of the diversity of people in the state. And I hope that the whole western world goes that way. But it's not assured by any means.

AMANPOUR: Fascinating. Paul Krugman, thank you so much.

We could listen on and on.

KRUGMAN: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: Always fascinating.

And coming up, we imagine a world of struggle and survival right here in Greece. I caught up with a family that we all met on this program last

week. Managed to make it to Greece while confined to wheelchairs. We check in on them, next.


AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a world in limbo. Imagine being stuck here in Greece waiting for a slip of paper and hopefully a passport

to a whole new life.

Remember this family of Syrian refugees we told you about last week? Well, we caught up with Allen (ph) and Guyen (ph) at the Ritsona Refugee Camp not

far from the capital to see how they're doing.


AMANPOUR (voice-over): Their journey from war-torn Syria to here in Europe took them over mountains and across the sea in wheelchairs. Now home is

the Ritsona Refugee Camp, an old military base near Athens.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We think it's very difficult because you don't have any ideas about what will be the next step for you. Just waiting, waiting,


AMANPOUR: The family, like tens of thousands of others in Greece, are in limbo. They want to join their father and sister in Germany under the EU's

Family Reunification Program.

Now after months waiting for an appointment with Greek authorities, they have a date for an interview. The 26th of September. And that means hope.

[14:25:12] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now I feel I have chance to be with my father, my sister in Germany. Maybe it will take a few months more. But

still have the chance.

AMANPOUR: Last week, his father finally received his refugee papers in Germany, which allows him to stay there for three years. It's a glimmer of

hope that people here long for. More than 500 are stuck in this camp, nearly all of them have fled the war in Syria.

This week they celebrate the festival of Eid. But the children's smiles hide a grim reality. Some have spent years out of formal education.

Others have never even been to school. So Allen is teaching them the English that he's learned.

Ahmed (ph) is 15 years old. His family fled Syria three years ago. And they, too, are stuck here, hoping to join relatives in Germany. Ahmed (ph)

has a rare spinal condition and so does his baby sister.

Born in a Greek hospital just six months ago, she has a severe case of spina bifida. One day she might have no memory of this hot camp, but she

may keep its name, her nickname Ritsona.


AMANPOUR: And hope, of course, always springs eternal. That is it for our program tonight.

Remember, you can always listen to our podcast and see us online at Always follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for watching and good-bye from this beautiful spot right here in Athens.