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A Blow for Populist in the Netherlands; Relief in Europe at Dutch Election Result; The Push to Defeat ISIS in Western Mosul; Old Man River

Aired March 16, 2017 - 15:00   ET



[15:00:10] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, did Dutch voters start a whole new game of political dominos? Will their blow to the far-right

populist cause others to fall? Will coalition talks underway? One of the big winners of the night, Green Left Party leader Jesse Klaver joins us.

Also ahead, it's France and Germany next, and Chancellor Merkel visits President Trump with this victory for European moderates. Former

ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger is live.

And veteran war correspondent Martin Bell on the resilience and spirit of Syrian refugees as Trump's second travel ban suffers a defeat.

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

And the Netherlands said, whoa, to the wrong kind of populism. That was how the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte celebrated Wednesday's election

results, giving his center-right party a clear victory.

While the far-right, anti-immigrant, anti-EU candidate, Geert Wilders, did worse than expected and leaders sent a collective sigh of relief around


The Dutch vote was this year's first test of populism and anti- establishment sentiment. And one of the big winners was the Green Left Party, which went from 4 to 14 seats. Its 13-year-old leader Jesse Klaver

and his policies had been compared to Canada's Justin Trudeau.

So does he buy that one? He's joining me now from The Hague.

Welcome, Mr. Klaver and congratulations. You did make a huge jump in your seats there.

In a word or a two, what is your message? What did the Dutch and your party say to the world?

JESSE KLAVER, GREEN LEFT PARTY LEADER: Good evening. My message to the world would be, we stop populism here in the Netherlands. And that's the

good news, because of the upcoming elections in France and in Germany, the upcoming year.

AMANPOUR: It is a fractured landscape, though, isn't it? And we've seen that, you know, there are quite a lot of parties that are going to have to

go into a coalition.

Do you think that that will be fairly easy to cobble together or is it going to be difficult?

KLAVER: I think it will be very difficult. The landscape is totally -- there are a lot of parties. One is elections. And I think you need four,

maybe five, maybe six parties to make a coalition. So, I think it will be a very difficult process for the upcoming months. But I'm very glad that

the populists have not won. So the actually, it's easier than I had thought.

AMANPOUR: As we look at a graph that we have up there, who's won what seats? We see that Mark Rutte's party is the clear victor. But second is

the far-right populist, Geert Wilders and today he said, you know, the prime minister won't be able to get rid of me that quickly.

Is that xenophobic, anti-immigrant, anti-Islam, anti-EU spirit still something that you're all going to have to reckon with?

KLAVER: No. You know, I've talked to a lot of voters this campaign. I've also talked to a lot of voters who are voting for Geert Wilders. And when

you talk to them, the conversation always starts with Islam or migration or refugees.

But within a couple of minutes, the conversation will turn and it's about housing, it's about income inequality, it's about the health care bills

they can't afford. So I think what we need is a policy that that's not looking for scapegoats, but is looking for answers for the problem of real

people in a real society.

So I think this new government has to make sure that all the social economic problems will get solved. And I think that's the way to beat

Geert Wilders, definitely.

AMANPOUR: So that leads to the next question. What is the sort of clear road map for the future, then? Because, obviously, a victory for Europe, a

victory for an open Netherlands, rather than a closed Netherlands, and as I said, sending a sigh of relief around much of Europe. But having faced off

this challenge from the far-right, how do you present politics that reenergizes people and gives them something to believe in? Because it

can't just be business as usual, can it?

KLAVER: No, it can't be. I think Geert Wilders is so popular, because a lot of people don't trust the center, the politics in the center anymore.

I think you saw the same in the UK with Brexit and the same with Donald Trump in the United States. So, what the Green Left has done is there is

an alternative for the center parties, but this alternative is not built on fear and anger, but built on hope and empathy and a true belief in the


[15:05:00] So I think this is the way to go ahead for the left-wing parties in Europe. We had -- we are pro-European, we are pro-refugee, we are pro-

civil society. Just with an honest message to all the people. Just a message we truly believe in.

I think a lot of Dutch voters -- that's the reason why a lot of Dutch voters trusted us.

AMANPOUR: And let me just ask you a personal question because, obviously, Geert Wilders and the other populists and whether it's in Britain or in

America or in parts of Europe, it's about immigration, it's about identity. You, yourself, are of Moroccan and Indonesian descent and you did very


What is the message in that regard?

KLAVER: That the Netherlands is still a tolerant country and we are still a country of freedom. And that everybody with a dream and a passion can

become what he wants to be here in the Netherlands. And the message have to send to all those children living in the Netherlands with a migrant

background, step up for yourself. Don't let anyone tell you that you can't do and can't achieve things you want to do in your life. Have trust in

yourself, have faith in yourself and let's fight together for a better society.

AMANPOUR: It's a great message. Jesse Klaver of the Green Left Party, thank you so much for joining us tonight. So the result, as I said, was a

huge relief for the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, as well, who now takes this win for pro-EU moderates to Washington on her first meeting with

President Donald Trump.

Notably, he is being frosty on the idea of Europe. As former German ambassador to the U.K. and the U.S. and now head of the Munich Security

Conference, Wolfgang Ischinger plays a center role in the strategic relationship between Europe and the United States and knows full well the

stakes for Merkel when she goes to the White House tomorrow.

He's joining me now live from Berlin.

Ambassador Ischinger, welcome.

You just heard the optimism in the voice of the leader of the Netherlands' Green Left Party.

Do you share that optimism as we wait for elections in France and in your own country, Germany?

WOLFGANG ISCHINGER, HEAD, MUNICH SECURITY CONFERENCE: Well, Christiane, let me first say, congratulations to those in the Netherlands who have

actually demonstrated, as was just said, that democracy works, that the Dutch adhere to the idea of freedom and democracy and the rule of law and

reject the notion of populist policies. That's great news. I think that Europe is alive and kicking, contrary to what we've been hearing for a long


The result, recently, in Austria was a result against populism. And I bet you, I was just listening half an hour ago to Emmanuel Macron, the French

candidate, who was in Berlin today, speaking to students and meeting with Angela Merkel before she left for Washington. And this is also a French

leader who promises to inject a new degree of optimism into the European debate.

So I think Chancellor Merkel will be meeting in Washington tomorrow with a new sense of European self-confidence and, you know, moving forward and

with a positive message.

AMANPOUR: And just -- I do not want to rain on your parade, but obviously, people like you and many, many people are relieved by what happened in

Austria, what's happened just now in the Netherlands.

Is there a sense, though, that, you know, you don't want to be resting on your laurels? That this is not going to be business as usual, as Mr.

Klaver said. There must be a renewed effort by the EU to respond to everybody's needs and aspirations and hopes, so particularly their needs.

ISCHINGER: Oh, absolutely, Christiane. No doubt about it. There's no way we can continue, as you say, doing business as usual. We need a strong

message of European determination to move forward, in a number of areas including, in particular, in the area of foreign policy, security, and


You know, Europeans, like Americans, like to be proud of the country or of the institution or in this case, of the European unit to which they belong.

Can we be proud of what Europe has been able to do to end the war in Syria, for example? I think we cannot be proud. We have played, at best, a

marginal role so far. So, we need to strengthen our ability to act together. We need to speak with one voice. That's been said for many

years. But the time is now to move forward. And I think, personally, that after the French and the German elections, both of which will have

mainstream outcomes.

[15:10:00] I don't believe for a minute there will be a populist Le Pen victory in France. And we will have a mainstream outcome of the German


That is a new opportunity for these two central countries of the European Union. France and Germany, to take things into their hands and come up

with initiatives. So, I look forward to, let's say, the end of the year, and then we'll take the European forward into a new chapter.

AMANPOUR: Let's look forward tomorrow.

What, do you think, the reception will be in the White House to Angela Merkel? I mean, on the one hand, you know, I could almost say, is she

looking forward to this meeting?

I mean, there has been notably frosty relations between Donald Trump and Chancellor Merkel. He has accused Germany of treating the EU like a

vehicle for German domination. He's called her refugee politics sort of insane and a catastrophe. And when he was elected, she was the only world

leader who actually laid down a values-based commitment to join ties.

What do you think the conversation will be tomorrow?

ISCHINGER: Well, Christiane, let me put it this way. I accompanied Angela Merkel to her very first meeting after her first election to being

chancellor of Germany, to meet with then president of the United States, George W. Bush, in January of 2006, 11 years ago. And that wasn't an easy


We had just had this fallout over the Iraq war, et cetera, et cetera. So that wasn't an easy beginning, at all. If there is one leader around, who

I think can deal, can handle the new American president, I think it's got to be Angela Merkel.

She is calm, she is, she doesn't get excited. She doesn't start shouting at people. She is a good listener. She will try to convince Donald Trump

that Europe is actually for the United States of America an asset and not a liability or a burden or a problem.

That we are America's best partners in the world. We have been best partners. We will continue to be these good partners. And if he wants to,

you know, make America a better place, make America move forward, both economically and politically, he can't do it without good and reliable



AMANPOUR: But ambassador --

ISCHINGER: These partners are represented by Angela Merkel.

AMANPOUR: You have called Donald Trump a stress test for Europe. And how do you, how do you envision, then -- you know, he's anti-EU, he believes

like Steve Bannon, his chief strategist, that the EU was about to break up and they support that and welcome more sort of Brexit kind of votes.

If it's a stress test for Europe, how does the stress get released from this balloon?

ISCHINGER: Well, I think exactly by what's going to happen tomorrow, by talking to him directly. Donald Trump is not yet quite frankly, quite

obviously, an experienced international leader. He's just been in this job for two months or even less.

In other words, he needs to be talked to by his peers. Not only by advisers from here and there. And this is a great opportunity for him to

deal with one of the world's most experienced leaders. Angela Merkel has now been around for 11 years in this job. She knows what she's talking

about. She knows how to deal with, you know, for example, Vladimir Putin. She knows what our business relationship with America is. She will be able

to tell him that Germany has invested the 200 billion euros in the U.S. economy.

And that we have created, we, Germans alone, leave aside the other Europeans, many hundreds of thousands of jobs in the United States.

Is the White House aware of that? Well, after tomorrow's meeting, it will be. And I think that's good.

AMANPOUR: OK. And indeed, Donald Trump understands dollars and cents. Ambassador Ischinger, thank you so much for joining us from Berlin tonight.

And when we come back, little by little, the self-declared ISIS caliphate is shrinking. A battlefield report, next, on civilians escaping Mosul.

And the journalist turned UNICEF ambassador Martin Bell joins us. He's just back from Syrian refugee camps in Lebanon.


[15:16:33] AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

Another Muslim nation travel ban, another defeat for Donald Trump, as now two federal judges have blocked it. One saying the ban in effect announced

religious discrimination.

Iraq was taken off, this ban 2.0 and draconian restrictions on Syrian refugees were soften.

First, our Ben Wedeman, on the final push to defeat ISIS in Western Mosul, where people who have lost their homes to violence and bloodshed continue

to look for somewhere, someone to welcome them.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They keep on coming. However, with whatever they could take. Happy to have

made it out of Mosul alive.

"The shelling was violent," says Jassen (ph). "I haven't slept in two days."

"It was hard," says Suria (ph). "We stayed inside without anything, not even bread."

Their city now a bleak landscape of violence, destruction, and death. Hadija Hussein (ph) still has four walls and a roof, but her home is a

charred shell. ISIS fighters ordered her family to leave. She refused, so they doused it with gasoline and set it on fire.

"My children survived, thank God," she says. "But why did they do this?"

(on-camera): We're just two kilometers or just over a mile from the Grand Nuri Mosque. That's that leaning minaret over there, where on the 4th of

July, 2014, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the so-called caliph of the Islamic State made his first public appearance.

(voice-over): Struggling through the mud with his mother's wheelchair, Sufian (ph) is going for good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We lost everything. Our hearts, our beliefs, our belongings. We don't belong here anymore. We want peace.

WEDEMAN (on-camera): Will you come back?


WEDEMAN: Why not?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't, no more. I can't. I'm so scared. They will kill us.


AMANPOUR: Ben Wedeman bringing us the desperate voices of Iraqi refugees, fleeing what's left of Baghdadi's Islamic State.

In neighboring Syria, more than a million refugees have fled across the border into Lebanon. One in four people in that country are refugees. The

renowned war reporter, Martin Bell, has just witnessed the crisis there firsthand as an ambassador for the children's charity, UNICEF.

2016 has been the worst for children in six years of war. Hundreds have been killed. Bell described a whole lost generation when he joined me here

in the studio to talk about it a little earlier.


AMANPOUR: Martin Bell, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: It's really quite moving, because we've just seen all the refugees or the civilians trying to get out of Mosul as the U.S. and others

fight against ISIS.

Here you've got people escaping ISIS from Syria into Lebanon. And particularly you sat down with a family, the mother was telling you about

how the father was killed.

How are they coping? What -- I mean, how long have they been there? How are they coping?

[15:20:00] BELL: This family have been there just six months. They were bombarded in their home in Raqqah, which is caused by ISIS sentence,

because there is one.

They were all hurt. The father was then taken away and killed by ISIS. So this mother and her six kids are trying to make do in a hut. And the two

eldest go out in the field to work there for $3 to $4 a day to make ends meet. And the answer is that they -- but the inspiring thing is the spirit

of these people.

I mean, this war is now in its seventh year.

AMANPOUR: It's truly unbelievable. I want to play a little something, because you talk about their spirit. And there's a really lovely moment

when you visited them. They are trying to talk to you and sing in English. Let's play it.


UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN (SINGING): Hello, hello, how are you? how are you today? Fine, fine, thank you. And how are you today?

BELL: Bravo!



AMANPOUR: I mean, it is adorable. How do they keep this resilience?

BELL: There's something naturally about them. And compared to what's happening in (INAUDIBLE), the besiege community in Syria now, these are

actually relatively privileged ones.

AMANPOUR: And yet, I mean, they're in Lebanon. I think it's something like a quarter of Lebanon's population are refugees. And they don't really

have the wherewithal to help them. And they're not formal camps, are they? And they're not allowed work permits.

BELL: No. They are informal settlements. Lebanon doesn't do refugee camps anymore. They're welcome to come. And the Lebanese have been

incredibly hospitable.

I mean, more kids, more refugees there than have been taken anywhere in Europe. But the understanding is that they'll eventually go back. And

that's the deal.

AMANPOUR: You know, that's interesting, because that's probably Lebanon's understanding. When I was in Jordan, in the refugee camps for Syrians in

Jordan, I went with my son. And we heard refugee after refugee, just saying they want to go home.

They're not dying to come over to Germany or Britain or France or whatever. They want to go home.

Is that what you heard?

BELL: They absolutely dream of going home. And of course, for the younger children, it's a home they've never seen or can't remember. You've got to

be -- the over 6s might, the younger ones don't. And you find kids 8 or 9 who are completely illiterate because they have been taken out of school.

AMANPOUR: You used to be an MP. You went from being a reporter. You're an elected MP here in Britain.

What do you make of the politicians and the ruling parties and the ruling class today who have literally just slammed the door on these people?

BELL: It upsets me. I can honestly tell you, Christiane, that being a member of the House of Commons for four years was the most shocking

experience of my life. More than you expect to be shocked in the war zone.

But to sit in that Westminster bubble and realize how unrealistic a lot of that is. Though to be fair, there are MPs who care and there are

government agencies and bless them, U.N. agencies who do stuff which have to be done.

AMANPOUR: What next, do you think? I mean, what do you get out of being a UNICEF ambassador, going to these places? What is it that you want to tell

the world?

It's really what I did when you and I worked together. It's a matter of bearing witness. We live in this incredible inter-connected world where we

can't just pull out the drawbridge.

That war we covered in Syria, one of its unintended consequences was it fuelled the present Jihadism that we're suffering from. So there were no

freestanding events anymore.

They were -- when I remind you that two of the 9/11 hijackers in their martyrdom videos gave the Bosnian wars their reason for signing on,

everything has consequences.

AMANPOUR: Well, that's a very good reminder because Bosnia did create blowback. People who believed the world let down the Muslims of Bosnia,

you know, were inspired by that. And Syria, surely, is going to have blowback, massively more.

They're going to -- a whole generation has grown up on six years of war that nobody's tried to stop.

BELL: I think it's a very good point. And what's happening now -- I happen to think we're living in the most dangerous time since 1945. You

know, we have these never-ending wars, where there's a limited appetite to intervene. I don't find that security councillors are as strong as I would

like it to be. And we have the rise of nationalism and keep the foreigners out.

Well, you cannot be where I have been and where you have been and sign on to this xenophobia. We were all on the same planet. We have to help these

people. For our good as well as theirs.

AMANPOUR: Let's hope that that is a message that's heard.

Martin Bell, thank you very much, indeed.


AMANPOUR: And when we come back, a river runs through it and into history. Imagining the Maori waters that are being given life and elevated the human

legal status by New Zealand's government. That's next.


AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine the natural world standing up and having its own day in court. In New Zealand, the Whanganui River known as

Te Awa Tupua to the indigenous Maori people is now recognized as a living entity with legal rights equal to those of human beings.

The 320-kilometer-long river flows from mountain peaks into the Pacific Ocean. Centuries before Europeans arrive from distant shoes, the Maori of

New Zealand used the treasured river to travel, to fish and to build villages on its banks.

As the first-ever river with such recognition, it will be legally represented by two guardians, one Maori and one from the New Zealand

government, who will speak up for the body of water's best interests. And that's in all of our best interests.

And that's it for our program tonight. Remember, you can always listen to our podcast, see us online and follow me on Facebook and

Twitter. Thanks for watching and good-bye from London.