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Interview with French President Emmanuel Macron. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired January 3, 2018 - 14:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, a special program. Look who's filling America's leadership shoes as President Trump steps away from some
key global posts, French President, Emmanuel Macron. Tonight, my conversation with the most dynamic, English speaking French leader since
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AMANPOUR: Good Evening everyone and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London with the world view. Tonight, the French
President, Emmanuel Macron. This young leader is quickly emerging as Europe's most important ideological counterweight to President Donald
Not only bucking the populous trend with a victory over his own extreme right wing rival but carrying through on policy. Where the climate change
or wholesale economic reform at home. He's picked up some of the diplomatic slack traditionally led by the United States.
And in September, Macron visited New York and I sat down with him for his very first interview as president. I found that he wants to work with
President Trump where he can but if necessary, he'll stick to hard one global priorities such as the Iran nuclear deal which Trump considers the
worst deal ever and will soon have to decide once again whether to stick with it.
I started by asking President Macron whether he feared that President Trump might abandon the deal all together.
EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE: I hope no and I think it would be a big mistake. I think if President Trump - I don't say that this Iran deal
- this nuclear deal with Iran is the (INAUDIBLE) of everything about how to deal with Iran. If President Trump considers it's not sufficient, I do
agree with that.
We have this deal, I think the outcome of this deal is that now we have the monitoring process with international agencies following the situation and
I think that it's better than nothing. Why? Because if we stop with this bill - if we just stop within our agreement, so we will enter into a
situation very similar to the North Korean situation before what happens this summer.
I think it would be a big mistake. Now, this deal has to be complete and probably, I will try to convince president Trump that the best way to
address his concerns regarding Iran is to work into that direction. First, we have to work in order to have a monitoring process on ballistic missiles
and ballistic activity of Iran.
That's a concern - a concern for the whole region, we have to work on it and we need a new agreement. And we can work on sanctions and agreements
on this ballistic side. And second, we have to complete the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran for the period close 2025 because this agreement just
covers till 2025 situation.
AMANPOUR: But on balance, it makes the world a safer place to have this nuclear deal?
MARCON: Deffinately. You have to be some governance, not compliance with international groups in trying to get nuclear weapons. That's it, that's
the sutuation we have with North Korea and that's the situation we have with some other countries.
MACRON: Because the more you contain the situation, the more you monitor, the more you put international agencies and you follow the situation very
carefully, the more you can intervene and contain sanctions. I want to follow this line and I think if we just talk with the deal because it was a
deal negotiated by Mr. President Obama. I mean, it's not a good reason to stop with the 2015 deal.
AMANPOUR: And what about President Trump at this moment of maximum global crisis over North Korea calling him at the U.N. rocket man, talking about
destroying the capabilities, that's very, very provocative language.
MACRON: Look, I think what we have to do and what we need is to be efficient. I think that North Korean president is probably not very
sensitive to what happened to the U.N. He's not a great client of the city and the Untied Nations. The guy is in his own world. My point is not to
increase pressure and worlds against worlds.
What we have to do is to find the appropriate answer to decrease sanction and protect people. People in the region and I want to think of North
Korean people living in (inaudible). I want to see them all -
AMANPOUR: Japanese -
MACRON: The all region and our Japanese friends and I will see Prime Minister is (inaudible) or not. And I think that hurts the whole world
because we speak about a global threat today.
So, for me it's how to decrease the tension, how to contain North Korean situation and how to increase the pressure to de-escalate.
AMANPOUR: Do you think there's a military solution? I mean sometimes the President seems to indicate that there's a military solution to North
MACRON: Look at the map. If you see the regime made a reservation you speak about a lot of victims. I do believe in naturalism because I do
believe in legislation. I do believe in how to control, I do believe in building peace. And I think that's exactly what we have to do in this
AMANPOUR: The President told United Nations in his speech that he wants a tougher, better deal. He's very concerned also about North Korea. I spoke
to the Iranian President who said the U.S. will pay if they pull out of this deal. What is your view on that, and what have you said to Mr. Trump?
I know you discussed it last night.
MACRON: Sure, and I discussed (successory) with President Trump and President Rouhani about this issue. It's also for our main (entity) today
regarding nuclear weapon is about North Korea and this situation is still being handled very carefully. We have to avoid military answer. We have
to increase pressure on North Korea, especially coming from China and Russia because North Korea is really dependant on these two countries.
And we have to decrease the pressure and stabilize the situation, but North Korea is a very good illustration of the what if scenario from nuclear deal
with Iran, why? Because we stopped everything with North Korea years and years ago, we stopped anyone entering, and need discussions with them and
want a result. They will (totally) get nuclear weapons.
So, my position for Iran via the Presidents request to say look at the situation on North Korea. I don't want to replicate the situation with
AMANPOUR: Let me ask you about how you deal with President Trump because he says some things - in person he says some things. On Twitter his
ministers say other things. How do you deal with the leader of the free world in this kind of situation? Some have described it as kind of
chaotic; some say they don't quite know who to listen to. What does President Macron use to deal with the President of The United States?
MACRON: I have thorough direct discussions with President Trump, I do appreciate him. We have a very good personal relationship and I have very
direct discussions with him. I don't think the fear in domestic pulses and what you describe as indifferences or discrepancies between different
For me there is one voice. Your President, you elect your President and this is a voice I consider and the man I speak with and it's always the
same thing. We share our views, he's very direct. And I think he listens to what I propose.
AMANPOUR: What are the main areas of disagreement right now?
MACRON: I think the very first visit, his argument is very well know it's about climate. And as President Trump decided to leave Paris Agreement, I
mean that's his choice and I have to respect his choice and he was elected on the basis of such a defeat that I do regret those decisions. And I do
want the conversation to come back to the (segrement) because for me, that's a core agreement for climate.
And I do believe that - especially after these hurricanes. We just had both in the U.S. and in France. We do see the direct consequences of CO2
emissions and of this climate change. We have to fight against this climate change and we need the global modernization for that. So, we have
a disagreement on this issue, but I will keep pushing.
We have direct discussion; we will implement Paris Agreement on our own, at the French level, but the European level as well. We have a strong
agreement with the Chinese and the other (force) and I think important to preserve this (notion) that are our parts. And now that's an issue for the
U.S. itself. To see what they want to do and what President Trump wants to do with climate, but we have to deal with that.
AMANPOUR: The President says this is a bad deal we can get a better deal. It's bad for the economy, it's bad for the climate, it's bad for The United
States. What do you say when he says that to you?
MACRON: I mean, first of all it's not bad for the climate and the environment definitely. And especially if he decides to leave it will be
worse because the U.S. is a very great contributor in terms of CO2 emissions.
So, that's an issue and if you don't fix the situation in the U.S. you are not credible to tell the others what they have to do. And you have the
consequences of the situation. So, no this agreement is not bad for climate, it's wrong. Even on the short, mid and long run that's a good
agreement for the U.S. and for all of us, why? Because it's true that in order to deal with climate change you will have to change a lot of things
in our economies.
I mean you will have to stop certain activities regarding fossil fuels, regarding classical industrial activities because we know that they pollute
a lot; that you will create new jobs to reduce emissions. It means more innovation, more jobs in cleaner sectors.
And we have make the switch from an economy point of view, it's totally critical. So, I think it could be a good deal for jobs, but it depends on
our ability to invest in the right sectors and it depends on speed and commitments coming from our governments.
So, its point is to say I want to preserve classical industrial jobs. I do respect that and I perfectly understand the - I mean how anxious some of
your people could be and my people could be about climate change decisions and what we want to implement, that that's a necessity; and as a part of
climate we will have to change this model due to these consequences.
AMANPOUR: Which brings me then to the very major philosophical point that you're making which is continue the historical relationship, continue
multilateralism, be really part of the world. You know, President Trump has said make America great again. He sort of shifts between being part of
the world and being protectionists and isolationists, what gave you the courage to go against that trend during your election campaign?
I remember before the election you said this is a great moment for France to go in the opposite direction of the prevailing trends. Take on anti-
globalization, take on populism. What make you do that and believe that you could win doing that?
MACRON: Because I know the outcome of this trend, it's wrong. I do know the outcome of this trend. Nationalism is all about war. We experienced
that 80 years ago in Europe. So at the end of the day if you believe that there is nothing to change these trends and we have to accept anti-
globalization, anti-materialism to nationalism, (inaudible) and so on.
It's all about - at the end of the day it's all about how to fight against each other and it's all about war.
AMANPOUR: Why do you somebody like Hillary Clinton who believed in all these things you've said and somebody like David Cameron who was at heart a
(remainer). Why do you think they didn't put up a big enough fight or why do you think they lost?
MACRON: I mean, I'm not - I'm probably not the best inviter to comment elections in other countries, so I want be very humble. I think for Miss
Clinton's that I - all my due respect is probably due to the fact that the perception of your people was that she was less middle class as candidate
than Mr. Trump which is a big issue.
And as I told you, it was pictured - I'm not saying it's true, but she was pictured as a candidate of the elite. And I think if you don't put
yourself with an answer to better regulate this globalization and to give more power to new advances, it's impossible to convince in current
democracy. And I think it's more or less the same issue with (inaudible).
First of all David Cameron didn't (inaudible) this answer yes and then remain. It was a remain (bet) and he already lost at the very beginning
when he was not clear about its wrong (willingness). Because when you all this no in front of you, you have to be a strong believer, not an ambiguous
believer of European idea but, at the end of the day it's interpretation of the (inaudible) is the fact that for the U.K. middle classes, they didn't
that their parts of the current evolution of the E.U.
And for a lot of middle classes in the U.K. they saw that the city was a great winner of the current situation, but that the situation was more in
multi cycles. And for me that's one of the key cannons of my country. I do believe that the interest of French is to be part of Europe. We need a
stronger Europe and we have to express our voice into (inaudible) our approach.
But, I need a strong Democracy for my middle-classes and my people. I have to pass reforms to be more efficient, to create more jobs, to be more
innovative, but I need more regulation for my middle-classes because at the end of the day, there is not market success without actual (ph) political
success and your political success is about your country and your middle- class is to find a place (ph). And that's a big issue for modern Democracies when you look at the situation during the past years.
You have an increase of the liberal democracies; you have a big drop (ph) in the western side, why? Because of our failure to give a place and a
progress story to our middle-classes.
AMANPOUR: So you brought up your reforms, you were elected on a platform of reforms and you have already started labor reforms. We've also seen
already demonstrations in the street; we've also seen your very high popularity fall. How do you square that circle? What do you do, how
threatening are the protests? And really you're like other French presidents I've asked; essentially back off if the protests get too strong.
MACRON: No, I will deliver. Why? Because I was very clear during my campaign about the reforms. I explained these reforms, I presented this
reform during weeks and weeks and I was elected on those reforms. I do believe in Democracy and Democracy's not in the street, they revolted (ph).
So I'm very quiet in that and I think that at the very beginning of the mandates (ph), you have a political capital, you have to use it, I don't
mind to be very high in terms of popularity and so on, my country has to be reformed. I have 10 percent unemployment rate, I have almost 25 percent of
my young people being unemployed. It's useless to have political capital and to stay in such a situation. So I'm passing reforms on labor markets,
on vocational training, on education, on investment, on training and education, a series of reforms, some of them on real estate and so on
because I have to deal with a lot of friends in this country, a lot of dysfunction situation that say France is sort of my equilibrium (ph) I
So you face the resistance, you face unhappy people, I'm fine. I know that and you know what, if it were so easy to deliver reforms, probably critical
(ph) politicians would have been elected to do so. So it was probably last few weeks, months in such a situation I will progressively bear (ph) those
reforms with the government, I will explain --
AMANPOUR: You mean protests will last a few weeks, months?
MACRON: The situation of reforms --
AMANPOUR: I see.
MACRON: -- reforms. I'm absorbed (ph) enough in the situation to say you will have big demonstrations or not, but what I know is that I do respect
those who demonstrate. But I do respect French voters and they vote for change and I think what's important is to do what you announced; to do it
very quietly and to explain and to explain that it's impossible to have a fair system if you don't implement this reform because it's impossible to
redistribute if you don't produce. It's impossible to have a strong France if you don't have a strong economy, it's impossible to have a fair system
for your middle-classes if you don't have strong innovation in the current environment so I have to pass these reforms first and rebuild a complete
But that's not just a reform agenda, that's a transformation agenda because that's a huge shift in terms of mindset, in terms of current organization,
the main difference with my predecessors is that 20 years ago, one of my predecessors tried to pass reforms with big demonstrations and it was
blocked. But he didn't explain his reforms during his campaign; he was not elected on this reform, I am.
AMANPOUR: Let me talk about Russia because that is the big elephant in the room. You said very clearly before the election, I am not Russia's
MACRON: Yes I confirm that.
AMANPOUR: You did say that and --
MACRON: I'm French candidate.
AMANPOUR: yes, exactly; Marine Le Pen seemed to be very much in Russia's back pocket. You took them on head on when they tried to interfere in your
election, when they tried to sully your reputation and the facts around yourself. How -- again why did you decide to take that stand after you saw
what happened here in the United States, nobody stood and publicized what Russia was doing even though it was kind of clear before the election. And
how does one deal with a revanchist Vladimir Putin?
MACRON: Look, I think Russia interfered in a lot of campaigns. Why? Because their strategy is to promote liberals in a lot of democracies. Is
that fair? It's well know. That's -- I prefer to be very clear and I made a statement loud and clear during this campaign.
I had very direct (inaudible) about this issue and I was very clear with some of propagandas of the Russian situation in my country about the
situations and our journalists, they are making propaganda, which is totally different.
I think through that, Russia is a (inaudible). We have to work with Russia. It's impossible to fix the Syrian situation without Russia. It's
very hard to fix the North Korean situation without Russia and Russia has to be respected given it's place, it's history and our relationship.
It's member of the P5, so if you want to make the global environment functioning you have to deal with Russia. And I think in Syria, we can act
together. That's important, on Syria, if you look at the situation.
AMANPOUR: Well the Iranians think they've won. They think that they've won and that.
MACRON: A few of them think they've won and, and, and.
AMANPOUR: And that (inaudible) one military.
MACRON: .the situation is that our very top priority in Syria was and still is to win against Jihadist and terrorists with the coalition and the
leadership of the U.S. we will win, I believe. So that's very important and that's my first objective in Syria.
The second objective is to preserve the integrity of the country, to have a government and inclusive political solution for Syria. I don't believe one
second Bashar is the solution. Bashar has to leave and Bashar is a criminal, we know that.
And he has to respond on his crimes about international courts, in front of international courts -- that's -- what I decided to do is to
disnegotiate(ph) with Turkey, with Russia, with Iran about this situation. Because today when you look at the Syrian situation, the unique active
process is the aftermath(ph) process and you don't have the U.S. around the table, you don't have Europe around the table. You just have Turkey,
Russia and Iran.
That's a huge defeat for all of us. So this process which is just mere(ph) around(ph) the escalation process has to be completed by an actual
political process in order to build these inclusive solutions and build the conditions for future elections in Syria.
As for North Korea, we need this cushion(ph) with Putin. Why? Because he is one of the two main players in the situation to have a actual embargo on
North Korea and push them to be more compliant with our rules. And it is a global situation. And today, we need Russia much more committed to the
North Korean situation.
And the end, as for the Ukrainian situation, we have this normal format with change of a miracle and Mr. Poroshenko and we have several of these
cushions(ph) as its format and I want us to progress into the direction.
So, you have to discuss with Russia. I do respect Vladamir Putin as a partner, but I refuse to accept any indifference in democracies because I
don't interfere in Russian elections.
AMANPOUR: Petty issues indeed, but I wanted to end the conversation with a subject under the global microscope. Not war or peace or Russia or climate
change, but his marriage to Brigitte who is 24 years older than him and had once been his teacher. I discovered the relationship works and powers the
Presidents every endeavor.
I would like to ask you, if I say to you love, what does love mean to you. The world is actually obsessed right now with your marriage and your
relationship with your wife. Tell us about it.
MACRON: Look, it's always hard to speak about that because it's part of the intimacy. Love is part of my life and my balance and I do believe that
don't build something great and don't behave properly, if you don't -- if you are not balanced and have a strong couple. I have been with my wife
for decades now and she is part of me. So.
AMANPOUR: Is it important for world leader to have that part of their life?
MACRON: Marriage(ph) for me is very important. For me it's very important. For my personal balance to have somebody at home telling you
the truth everyday because access to truth is one of the main channels.
And somebody with her deep convictions and knowing you for what you are and loving you for what are, not for what you represent and your role, or your
(inaudible) and something very specific at the point of time. So, we know I chose her and we're together, as I told you, decades and that's very
important to me because that's my anchor at the end of the day.
AMANPOUR: Your anchor?
AMANPOUR: President Macron, thank you very indeed for joining us.
MACRON: Thank you very much.
AMANPOUR: And that is it for our program tonight. Remember you can listen to our podcast at anytime and see us online at amanpour.com and follow me
on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for watching and good bye from London.