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Far Right Party Enters Parliament; UK Opposition Leader on North Korea War of Words; Trump Spars with NBA, NFL Over Anthem Protests

Aired September 25, 2017 - 14:00   ET



[14:00:00] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, a tough day after for the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She enters the champion of super

winners but her fourth term tarnished by the rise of the hard right.


URSULA VON DER LEYEN, GERMAN DEFENSE MINISTER: This is not a good result but it's a result which gives us a mandate to act.


AMANPOUR: Also ahead, bookies bet on UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as the next prime minister. He joins me with his hard left policies on NATO and

nuclear disarmament in the face of a menacing crisis.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un have been using sirens to talk to each other and the language is getting worse and worse, and the

threats are getting worse and worse.


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

The center holds in Germany but just barely. Angela Merkel often considered these days the leader of the western world has won a landmark

fourth term as chancellor. Only two others have done this and she of course is the first female and the first from East Germany to do so.

But her party lost nine percentage points and the hard right, alternative for Germany won almost 13 percent. And they entered parliament for the

first time since World War II.

This in Germany. The AfD leader Alexander Gauland let the chancellor know that the heat is now on.


ALEXANDER GAULAND, ALTERNATIVE FOR GERMANY PARTY LEADER (through translator): We will hunt them. We will hunt Mrs. Merkel or whoever, and

we will take our country and our people back again.


AMANPOUR: But the chancellor vows to win back those protest votes which were mostly over her immigration policy. But, first, she has to stitch

together an unreal coalition of parties with stark differences on the economy, Europe and the environment.

Earlier, I reached one of Merkel's key allies, Defense Minister Ursula Von Der Leyen. She's at the party headquarters and we talked about the

election results.


AMANPOUR: Minister Von Der Leyen, thank you so much for joining us.

You're right there at your party headquarters in Berlin. So I would like you to react to the vote that Chancellor Merkel won, but with a very, very

strong and unexpected challenge from up until now unacceptable group of politicians.

VON DER LEYEN: Yes, this was of course a -- we have a clear mandate. And it's a mandate to government to have a fourth term. But, of course, we

lost voters without any question. So this is not a good result, but it's a result which gives us a mandate to act. And that's what we're doing at the

moment, being trying to figure out with whom we could lead a coalition and the first talks will start soon I guess.

AMANPOUR: Well, let me ask you. Even though the social Democrats have pulled themselves out and said that they would be opposition, some of the

Christian -- for instance the Christian Social Union, CSU, is urging Mrs. Merkel to ask the Christian Democrats to join the coalition.

Is that something you think should happen?

VON DER LEYEN: Well, we have an open door for everybody, every Democratic Party we would like to have a coalition with. This excludes the extreme,

the far right and the extremes of far left.

You're right. The social Democrats excluded themselves. I think this is something you cannot do if you've been -- you've got votes in the height of

20 percent as the social democrats had. You cannot just exclude immediately to go into any kind of government. We have an open door and of

course we will have talks to the greens. Of course, we'll go talk to the liberals so we will see what is going on.

AMANPOUR: Minister, I need to ask you about the elephant in the room. It is extraordinary that in Germany, of all countries, a far right, extreme

right party gains 13 percent of the vote and is as they say we're going to hunt Merkel in parliament.

What do you expect the tone to be? What do you expect, you know, the reality of governing is going to be in the years coming?

VON DER LEYEN: Well, of course we have to see that right-wing populism has arrived in Germany, in the German Bundestag without any question. And part

of that that is interesting is that in the Bundestag, then the parliament, we will have the opportunity to have debates finally because what we saw in

the last weeks of the far -- the extreme right was yelling at us. That was all.

[14:05:00] They have no concept, for example, for the pension fund. They have no concept for the labour markets. They were simply yelling at us.

So now we will have the opportunity to really have concrete debates with arguments, and I think people will see that populism has easy answers

before an election, but it's getting very difficult with them because there are no real answers after an election.

There's a second point I would like to stress. We, of course, Christian Democrats, we lost about 1 million voters to the extreme right. But we

also lost about 1.3 million voters to the liberals. In other words, I want not to lose the focus on the center of the society. That's where the

dynamic is. That's where we have to focus on.

These are families. The are hard-working people. And therefore, right now, it is important not only to focus on 13 percent, but to concentrate on

87 percent who voted for something else.

AMANPOUR: Minister, I see you putting the best face on it and I hear what you're saying. But they are very anti-EU. You've just said that you want

a healthy debate with them. I'm talking about the AfD. And they are very anti-immigration.

So when Chancellor Merkel says that we hear the stress and distress of the voters and we're going to try to win them over from the AfD, what does she

mean? Is she going to get tougher on the EU? Is she going to get tough on refugees? What -- how is she going to win them over?

VON DER LEYEN: We will stick to our concepts because if you look at the motives of the AfD voters, the vast majority said they didn't vote for the

AfD because of context, because of argument. They voted because they wanted to give us the other parties a lesson to be learned to take more


And I think it is a strong value to be steadfast. Never ever to leave the focus on how much we benefit from a united Europe to convince people.

This is the most important. You should not try to copycat the extreme right, but to convince people of our own position and this is what we're

going to do.

AMANPOUR: You're also very concerned with cyber security and cyber warfare that's going on. One of the things that the Russians as we all know have

been doing is interfering in elections.

Now do you believe they interfered in the German election? We read about these bots, automated bots that deliver very significant anti-Merkel and

anti-immigration comments on social media throughout the election campaign.

VON DER LEYEN: Well, we saw an intense campaigning machinery in the social media without any question, but we do not have a smoking gun to be very

clear about that.

We have been talking a lot about the mechanisms of trolls and the mechanisms of bots and fake news. We have dismantled fake news and put

them out to the public so that they see what the pattern is and this helped a lot. It's a media competence that is rising.

AMANPOUR: Chancellor Merkel has had a fairly rocky relationship with President Putin and President Trump. The fact that she lost nine points in

her election this time, is that going to make her stronger in her discussions with Russia and the United States or do you think that's going

to make her a bit weaker?

VON DER LEYEN: The most important point now is to form a stable government. And the moment this is -- this has happened, then I think we

will see the strong chancellor we've always had.

You know her. You know her competence in solving problems and crisis and taking people along with that solution. This is so important to have the

ability not to lose anybody but to take people along. And therefore, first of all, we need a stable government and then we keep on going with the

things that have to be done.

AMANPOUR: Can I just cast your net a little bit wider. You heard the very volatile statements coming from President Trump at the U.N. regarding North


You can see these wars of words going on right now. Plus, President Trump almost hinting that he may try to renegotiate or ditch the Iran deal.

What is Germany's position?

[14:10:00] VON DER LEYEN: Well, we are convinced that the Iran deal is a proper one. We should stick to as long as Iran does meet all the

conditions that put upon Iran.

And what North Korea is concern, we are absolutely clear that there is no military solution to that but there needs to be a solution at the

negotiation table. Therefore, the topic of sanctions and I'm happy that we have in the Security Council a clear position in four sanctions.

The topic of sanctions is so important to show North Korea that it cannot act and dissuade. In the context of sanctions, of course, China's role is

mostly important because China is the country that has the most -- if any country has the most influence on North Korea. And therefore once again,

no military solution but strong pressure on the other field which is the negotiation table.

AMANPOUR: Minister Ursula Von Der Leyen, thank you so much for joining us today.

VON DER LEYEN: All right. You're welcome.


AMANPOUR: That cautionary note on the same day that the North Korean Foreign Minister said that the war of words between the United States and

North Korea means U.S. has declared war.

Now as we watched this, a view on global leadership qualities from Africa's eldest stateswoman.

Actually, she is it's only stateswoman. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is stepping down next month after two terms in office. And I did a quick lightning

round with her at the United Nations.


AMANPOUR: You've been president since 2006 and you've seen a lot of world leaders.

Can I just throw out a couple of names and have you describe the first thing that comes to your mind.

President Trump.


AMANPOUR: President Macron of France.

SIRLEAF: Impressive. Perhaps vying for filling the leadership vacuum that exists.

AMANPOUR: Chancellor Merkel.

SIRLEAF: Great lady.


AMANPOUR: And when we come back, is the UK'S prime minister in waiting?

The smart money today is on Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, and he joins me from his party's conference next.


AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

Brexit talks resumed in Brussels today and the EU's chief negotiator hailed Prime Minister May's constructive speech in Florence which she called for a

two-year transition.

But he said the U.K. must first settle its divorce bill before there can be anymore constructive talks.

Meantime opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn is already being dubbed prime minister in waiting after a stunning showing in June's U.K. general

election. Corbyn is mobbed wherever he goes these days. His politics stem from a lifetime of classic left-wing issues on everything from capitalism

and globalization to nuclear disarmament and NATO.

Corbyn joined me from the annual party conference and I began by asking him about the far right strong showing in Germany.


JEREMY CORBYN, BRITISH LABOUR PARTY LEADER: Very, very disappointed. When I was following the news as the results came through and a very interesting

interview with a young woman on the streets of Berlin who was protesting about the results saying she wanted to live in the Germany that understood

and faced up to its past, not one that tried to bury it.

And she said she was very shocked at the AfD gaining so much support and so many seats in the Bundestag. It is part of a pattern of some countries

where there's been a quite high right wing vote or far right vote, but it's not universal across Europe.

[14:15:12] AMANPOUR: Can I now get to your party conference. You know, all sorts of words have been used to describe the change in you and your

party's fortune over the last year.

I mean, some have been saying that, you know, last year the conference was held in a sort of a funereal atmosphere. Today, according to accounts, the

bookies have you as the favorite to win the next general election here.

What do you think is going on. I mean, you see the protests vote in Germany for the far right.

What is going on here in Britain that has brought you to this point do you think?

CORBYN: We've had a very interesting political journey over the past two years. The experts all wrote us off. We went out there with a very strong

message of ending austerity, of raising taxation for the very wealthiest in order to fund services for the rest and have an investment-led economy.

We gained 3 million votes over the previous election of 2015. And indeed in England, we have the highest vote for labour since 1970 and we had a big

increase in labour and peace. We didn't win the election. That's my sadness. But we're in a very strong position. And party membership is now

the biggest it's ever been in my lifetime. The conference is in a very jubilant joyous mood and now working very hard.

AMANPOUR: You know that you were criticized yourself for saying you're a remainder, but not going wholeheartedly, you know, really campaigning to

get in because of your own skepticism about your EU and globalization.

So I guess the question is do you believe this should be another vote of some sort when the deal is brought back to the people? And do you believe

that after a transition, there should be an ability to stay inside the single market?

CORBYN: Well, there will be a transition. I think that is becoming fairly clear. Indeed, we proposed the transition in the first place because it's

quite obvious to me that you cannot go up to March 2019 and then have what's called cliff edge where everyone falls off and we suddenly lose all

access to Europe and indeed many manufacturing industries in Britain and indeed a smaller number but significant number in France and Germany and

the Netherlands.

Also, we rely on what happens in this country. So we've set a transition which will include during the transition access to the single market and

the customs union.

Our position is have the transition work through negotiations with Europe. Work through relationship with Europe which is terror-free trade access.

And we don't sort of try and rival Europe on the shores of it and we unilaterally guarantee the rights of European union, citizens to remain

living in Britain and rights of their families to come and join them.

And so it is, I know, a very intense debate. In part it's an emotional debate. I want to live in a world in which people do relate to each other.

People do trade with each other and who talk to each other. And the democratic governments do come together in the face to challenge of the

over winning power, of global corporations.

AMANPOUR: Jeremy Corbyn government. As Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister. We are right now facing a really, really big crisis. The foreign minister

of North Korea has just said in New York that Donald Trump has quote, "declared war."

So everybody is very worried about what might happen out of the North Korean nuclear program.

There is also word going around the conference that the plan for day one for you would be to appoint a cabinet minister with responsibility to

disarm the UK's nuclear capabilities.

I know that you -- we all know your view on the nuclear deterrent.

Is that something that you would want to do, unilateral disarmament, given where we are right now?

CORBYN: I think the tragedy in all this is that Donald Trump and Kim Jong- un have been using sirens to talk to each other and the language is getting worse and worse, and the threats are getting worse and worse.

I think it's wholly wrong that North Korea develops nuclear weapons. I think there has to be rapidly a return to six-party talks essentially led

by China. There has to be pressure to achieve that.

And I would hope that the U.N. would ask for a cessation of the verbal hostilities and ask the general secretary to speak directly to Trump,

directly to Kim Jung-un and try and wind down the rhetoric.

Because if anybody, anybody fires off any weapon of mass destruction, a nuclear weapon against anybody, it won't stop at national borders.

[14:20:00] Listen, I want to live in a world free of nuclear weapons. I support multilateral disarmament. But it's got to be now, it's going to be

urgent and it's got to be I think through the U.N.

AMANPOUR: You just said you're pro-multilateral disarmament, but I specifically asked you about, you know, on day one, it would be a cabinet

minister with responsibility to disarm the UK. Just clarify for us.

CORBYN: It is the policy of the Labour Party to seek multilateral disarmament and that is what the government would try to do. But we do it

with real determination. And I would absolutely be totally on the case because I've spent my life working for a nuclear-free world.

AMANPOUR: Would you unilaterally disarm?

CORBYN: That is not what's in our manifesto. Our manifesto said work for a nuclear-free world.

AMANPOUR: I know it's not in your manifesto. I'm just wondering whether that's something you might pursue if you became prime minister.

CORBYN: Well, we haven't written a manifesto for the next election yet, but that was what was in the manifesto in which we just gained nearly 13

million votes.

But we're very clear, very, very clear that nuclear weapons really must be negotiated away as quickly as possible.

Look at the danger now with very small scale nuclear weapons in North Korea and obviously incredibly powerful nuclear weapons held by the United

States. We have to wind down the rhetoric quickly and now. And as a member of the Security Council, Britain obviously has a contribution and a

part to play in that.

AMANPOUR: About NATO, can you just tell me and clarify your position given the crisis we're in right now.

Would you, you know, support? Would you defend a NATO ally under attack from Russia?

CORBYN: The NATO chancellor asks for acts of solidarity and support. It is not necessarily military. It can be diplomatic. It can be economic.

It can be a lot of things.

What I want is dialogue between NATO and Russia. What I want is to de- intensify the stress that's on the borders between NATO and Russia and deal with Russia in that way because we cannot go back to Europe being divided

and isolated by a cold war any more than we can go on with the kind of rhetoric that's going on between the USA and Korea. We only live on one

planet and one world. And we cannot afford another war.

AMANPOUR: Jeremy Corbyn, thank you very much for joining us.

CORBYN: Thank you.


AMANPOUR: Next, culture wars. Imagine respecting while rebelling. FIFA now says British footballers will no longer be fine for wearing red poppies

on the field, ruling these memorials for British war dead are not political.

But an almighty rally has broken out stateside between the president and American football players. Imagine that, next.


[14:00:00] AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a world kneeling while taking a stand. It could qualify as a movement even after President Trump

weighed in this weekend.

It started as a civil rights action, but Trump is now calling for any sports figure kneeling during the national anthem to be fired. The

blowback has been fast and furious as our Joe Johns reports.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it's very disrespectful to our country. I certainly think the owners should do

something about it.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump exacerbating a culture war with this unexpected rant Friday night.

TRUMP: Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, just say, "Get that son of a bitch off the field

right now. Out. He's fired"?

JOHNS: Despite a day of widespread backlash, the president calling again for an NFL boycott and for players who kneel during the national anthem to

be fired or suspended.

MICHAEL THOMAS, DOLPHINS SAFETY: You're the leader of the free world. This is what you -- this is what you're talking about?

LESEAN MCCOY, BUFFALO BILLS RUNNING BACK: Our leader of this country is -- is acting like a jerk.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just think it's very unbecoming of the office of the president of the United States to talk like that, to degrade people like


JOHNS: Dozens of NFL players taking a knee or sitting during the national anthem Sunday. Other teammates and coaches standing shoulder to shoulder

on the sideline, interlocking arms.

Even prominent Trump backers finding it hard to defend the president.

REX RYAN, FORMER BUFFALO BILLS AND NEW YORK JETS COACH: I'm pissed off. I'll be honest with you. You know, because I supported Donald Trump. I'm

reading these comments, and it's appalling to me.

JOHNS: President Trump adding fuel to the fire by publicly rescinding a White House invitation to the NBA champion Golden State Warrior Steph Curry

after he said he would not go.

JOHNS: Curry's long-time rival, LeBron James, criticizing the president's response.

JAMES: He doesn't understand how many kids, no matter the race, look up to the president of the United States for guidance, for leadership, for words

of encouragement. He doesn't understand that.


AMANPOUR: Especially in these times of real global crisis. And just a note, Martin Luther king's last surviving daughter says kneeling and

sitting is how her father's civil rights movement started.

And that is it for our program tonight. And remember, you can always listen to our podcast, see us online at and follow me on

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