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Ukraine Decides: What Next?; Egypt: Back to the Future?; Imagine a World

Aired May 26, 2014 - 14:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour.

Ukraine has a new president, but now what? Petro Poroshenko, a pro- Europe billionaire business man, comfortably won Sunday's election and 60 percent of voters turned out. Even Russian President Vladimir Putin says he'll respect the people's choice, though pro-Russian separatists did prevent people from voting in large parts of Donetsk and Luhansk Eastern Ukraine. Now Poroshenko says that he'll immediately travel there to try to broker peace and Ukrainian unity.

When I spoke to him during the campaign just as Moscow had annexed Crimea two months ago, he told me that it was time to reboot the world's entire security structure.


PETRO POROSHENKO, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT-ELECT: This last act of aggression has ruined the global architecture of the security. And we don't have any more, any system working. And we now should think about that, to create a new mechanism of the security, not to allow to repeat once again anywhere in the world, including Europe.


AMANPOUR: Western leaders from German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the President of the United States have welcome Poroshenko's election and my next guest, Sweden's foreign minister, Carl Bildt, calls it good for Ukraine and for Europe. And he joins me now from Stockholm.


AMANPOUR: Foreign Minister, welcome back to the program. Thanks for joining me from Stockholm.


AMANPOUR: OK. So Petro Poroshenko, pro-European, business man, has won. Isn't this going to be starting up the whole problem all over again?

He says European integration is number one priority.

Why isn't that going to freak the Russians out all over again?

BILDT: I think Russia will have to accept the reality that the people of Ukraine, an overwhelming majority of them, have made their choice. I don't think the Russians were particularly happy about this particular election, but it has taken place. But it has created a very or produced a very clear verdict.

And obviously the people of Ukraine want Petro Poroshenko as their president. And he wants to take the country closer to the European Union. That has to be accompanied by Russia as well.

AMANPOUR: Now Russia, President Putin and today their foreign minister, indicated that they would accept the results; the Ukraine's choice. But obviously you've seen, we've all seen there were major problems in the east.

What does this now mean? Petro Poroshenko says that he is off to the east to try to unite the country.

Is that going to be possible?

BILDT: That remains to be seen. Very much is going to be dependent on how Moscow in reality acts. I think it's good that we have had some statements coming out of Moscow, indicating that they will not sort of totally reject the election result. They sort of accept the fact of his election having taken place.

At the same time, the activities that are happening in the extreme east of Ukraine are extremely disturbing. And yesterday we saw sort of some armed groupings coming in, Chechen armed groupings coming in from Russia, into Ukraine and we've seen armed action being taken by these and other groups today against the airport in Donetsk. Clearly Russia must be able to play a constructive role to close down this destabilizing armed activities going on in the east.

AMANPOUR: Now that this election has happened, can Mr. Poroshenko, can the Europeans, can people insist with Vladimir Putin that he actually actively calls off these separatists?

BILDT: That's clearly what we're going to do. We're going to watch very carefully how Russia reacts to this. And we will demand that Russia plays its role in bringing stability back to Ukraine. And there are things that Russia can do.

If you look at Russian state television, the propaganda that they are beaming into Ukraine, which are fueling fear and hatred, I think that has to stop. There has to be some sort of objective information coming out of Moscow as well.

So that is a clear thing they can do. They ought to be able to stop people on the border, on people going into Ukraine. We've seen that happening the last few days. And they need to engage with Mr. Poroshenko when it comes to constructive, also economic and political relationship.

It is very much in the interest of Russia itself, long-term.

AMANPOUR: Do you see a new round of sanctions being imposed on Russia? Did their actions in this election give them a, you know, a pass on sanctions or not?

BILDT: Well, we'll see. I think Russia has taken a significant beating, less from the sanctions and more from the activities or actions of Mr. Putin himself. And the uncertainty that that has -- is stalled in every sort of assessment of where Russia is heading.

Now the heads of state and government of the European Union are going to meet for dinner in Brussels tomorrow evening. And among other things that are going to be on the agenda is an assessment of do we need to take further steps in terms of sanctions? Or do we need to send further stronger signals to Russia?

And I don't want to sort of go ahead of that particular discussion that will be done tomorrow evening.

AMANPOUR: What about inside Ukraine? The people want stability, obviously; but they also want economic improvement, good governance and an end to the unbelievable corruption that has -- that has wrecked that system.

What will Europe do to make sure that the next president and the next parliament actually meets those demands for good, clear, transparent governance?

BILDT: Well, we'll do whatever we can in order to help. And Mr. Poroshenko is very determined, as well as the government, to do exactly that.

One of the early decisions that the president will have to take and when he's installed is whether to go for new parliamentary elections in order to get a parliamentary Rada that might be more sort of willing to work along with that particular agenda.

Then we have the big IMF programs, supported by the European Union, supported by the United States. And the anti-corruption thought is ability central to the success of that particular program. Then we will give advice in different ways from different European governments and how you can operate these particular things and get rid of corruption.

The economic issues are going to be at the forefront, apart from the issues in the east in terms of turning Ukraine around. It's not going to be easy; it's not going to be without pain. But I'm convinced that the potential of the country, also in economic terms, is quite substantial in the years to come.

AMANPOUR: Can I turn to the European elections that took place this weekend? A massive boost for the far right parties. They hold about 17 percent or so now of the MEPs, the European parliamentarians.

What effect will that have, not just on this issue of Ukraine and Russia, but in general? Europe is turning far right.

BILDT: I'm not quite certain it's going to have that much of an effect upon the policies of the European Union, but it's going to have substantial effect inside the different countries where this has happened. And it's certainly not a uniform development, particularly disturbing, I would say, is France, needless to say. The U.K. has a somewhat different phenomenon. We've seen it in some other countries, Greece. But it's not a uniform phenomenon across the board. We have smaller parties like that in Sweden as well, by the way. But nothing that is going to really affect the broad outlines of policy but might destabilize individual countries in terms of their European policies. And that is, of course, disturbing and worrying in itself.

AMANPOUR: You, President Obama, everybody around the world, practically, said that the annexation of Crimea cannot stand. After these elections, is that still your point of view? Are Western leaders going to try to get President Putin to roll back that annexation?

BILDT: Well, we are certainly going to try that. I don't think we're going to succeed with it in the short period. I mean, that's fairly obvious. I mean it does militarily control Crimea and I think they're fairly determined to remain in control.

But what we will do from the E.U. side is that we will consider this to be occupied, illegally occupied territory.

AMANPOUR: Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, thank you for joining me from Stockholm.

BILDT: Thank you.


AMANPOUR: And from the crucial results in Ukraine, we'll turn to the next election in Egypt. Former General al-Sisi, the likely winner, was out there pressing the flesh, looking every inch the populist politician and not the leader of an autocratic military regime that deposed Egypt's first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsy, who himself remains in jail.

Amr Moussa was foreign minister under another former general turned president, Hosni Mubarak. Now he's advising Sisi and I'll ask him, will exchanging the uniform for a business suit mean a new day on the Nile? Or a return to business as usual?




AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

Surrounded by supporters, the former Egyptian military chief, Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has voted in today's election, all but certain to be the next president. Al-Sisi and the military deposed the country's first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsy, 11 months ago and banned the Muslim Brotherhood.

Their members are boycotting this election and Egypt remains deeply divided. A new Pew poll shows that 54 percent of Egyptians have a positive view of al-Sisi, while 45 percent have an unfavorable view.

So has Egypt come full circle back to military rule three years after the Tahrir Square revolution ousted Hosni Mubarak?

I asked Amr Moussa, the former Egyptian foreign minister, who now advises al-Sisi.


AMANPOUR: Amr Moussa, welcome back to our program. Thanks for joining me from Cairo.


AMANPOUR: Let me get straight to the nitty-gritty. It is clear because of the way things have been going that General Sisi is likely to be Egypt's next president.

But what do you say to this fact that the country is so deeply divided with 54 percent favorable towards him and 45 percent unfavorable towards him?

What does he have to do to unite the country?

MOUSSA: We feel that now we have to start rebuilding Egypt. We have to reforming -- to reform the administration, the economy, the social situation, so many things.

The country and the people here are yearning for stability and progress, not for chaos and bad government.

The major thing we need in Egypt is good governance. The good governance is the key to the future and to success in the future.


MOUSSA: We believe -- and I am among those Egyptians who believe that Mr. Sisi will provide us with good governance.

AMANPOUR: All right. Let's take some specifics.

He is a military leader and therefore he probably knows how to run a good regiment; but when it comes to running a country, how is it going to work?

He's been incredibly vague on specifics. Let's take the economy, which is clearly what most Egyptians really want to see improved. Your economy right now is on life support by friendly Arab nations.

How long is that going to be able to last?

And will Mr. al-Sisi as president do things that are very unpopular yet necessary, like get rid of these energy subsidies, maybe even get the military out of 60 percent of the Egyptian economy that it governs?

MOUSSA: Well, I don't think this -- those figures are correct, Christiane. But let me tell you the following: I believe, according to discussions with General al-Sisi that he has a plan.

He has listened carefully, studied carefully the economic situation and considered several suggestions, either by -- both by Egyptian economists and by international economists also.

He is getting ready to deal with this problem, which is the economy, based on a solid basis of good planning and knowing the needs of the country and how to open the country for investment, Egyptian investment, Arab investment, international investment.

And it is not a secret; that's not something that other countries have never tried.

We tried that and we know what went wrong and we have to correct it.


MOUSSA: I have trust that Field Marshal Sisi is in the know when it comes to this economy and the lack of good administration.

AMANPOUR: What about democracy? Let's face it; what General al-Sisi has ushered in has been a crackdown; whichever way you want to describe, there's a crackdown on freedom of expression. There's a crackdown on the freedom to congregate. There's a crackdown on protests.

General al-Sisi gave an interview in which he behaved and spoke very much like the former military turned president that Egypt has basically had over the last 30 years, in which he simply asked the country to trust him, that I know best and I'll do what's best.

So what is going to happen in that field?

Is he going to allow, for instance, journalists to actually --


MOUSSA: OK, I believe --

AMANPOUR: -- or just toe the line?

MOUSSA: -- I believe you ignore the situation in Egypt. We are under threat of terrorism, of violence, of chaos, of a lot of actions that go beyond the law, that violate the laws and create a lot of instability in the country.

This situation in Egypt needs a special attention, special action. We cannot let the country go down the drain in the name of anything except security for our people and firm stand against terrorism and those who perpetrate -- perpetuate violence.

Christiane, until now, Mr. al-Sisi is not the head of state, is not the prime minister. He is not responsible for what is going on in the country.

But once he's elected, he will be the one responsible for all actions and to administer the rule of the country, a country that today and for a long time already under a lot of threats.

The -- our people are tired. They want stability. They want security. They want life to go in the right direction, not to be threatened by chaos here and there.


MOUSSA: So I want you, when you consider the situation in Egypt, take into consideration the security situation, the attack, the threats before talking only on the demonstrations or certain expressions of opinion.

AMANPOUR: OK, sir; with due respect, I have covered many presidential elections in many countries in which they say everything bad is terrorists and I'm here to fight the terrorism.

Let me play you a sound bite of an interview I did with the only other person in this race, and that is Hamdeen Sabahi. He's unlikely to get very far, but this is what he said about the demonstration law and the imprisonment without due process.


HAMDEEN SABAHI, EGYPTIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translator): The demonstration law is unconstitutional. And I will cancel it as a matter of fact I'm elected president. I will release all the innocent people who were convicted according to this unconstitutional law.


MOUSSA: He said I am going to release all innocent people, meaning that he's not going to release the non-innocent people.

And who determined that? Only the courts can determine that. But anyway, I believe when General al-Sisi, if elected, he will act properly with the people in prison.

AMANPOUR: He also said that the demonstration law is unconstitutional and I will cancel it as soon as I'm elected president.

MOUSSA: Well, I will not challenge any comment on this issue, because a parliament is going to be elected soon. And the parliament has -- will have the authority to reconsider whatever laws he -- the parliament will consider worthy of revisiting.

It is not in the -- we are not going to elect a dictator. We are going to elect a president under a -- the stipulations of a constitution.

What Mr. Sabahi has mentioned -- and I -- he is my friend and I have a lot of respect for him -- but the president should not say I am going to do this, when it comes to the law. He should say I'm going to discuss that with the parliament.

AMANPOUR: One of the pillars of democracy, as you know, is a free and independent press. Many members of the press are in jail --

MOUSSA: Absolutely.

AMANPOUR: -- including our colleagues from Al Jazeera.

MOUSSA: Well, yes, indeed.

AMANPOUR: They have been in prison for nearly five months without due process.

Will President al-Sisi, as the former --


AMANPOUR: -- promised, release these people?

MOUSSA: Well, I agree with you and I believe that there are certain things that have to be corrected. And let us leave that to the new administration, the new president and the new government and also the new republic in Egypt.

Yes, indeed, I cannot say that everything was all right, everything was correct. But let us also hope for a different future with a fair (ph) republic being installed in a few days.

AMANPOUR: You're adviser to General al-Sisi, soon to be President al- Sisi.

Would you advise him to make the peace with the press, release these journalists, get that monkey off the back of Egypt?

Because this is wrong, what's going on.

MOUSSA: I believe, Christiane, that we will have a different atmosphere altogether. That's what I hope for and I hope that this will be the case.

We will have to address so many problems, so many problems that the country is suffering from today and since several years.

So let us hope for the best and hope for a democratic rule for a constitution that will be respected and for the laws that will be fully and properly implemented.

That's what we Egyptians hope for.

AMANPOUR: Amr Moussa, thank you very much indeed for joining me.

MOUSSA: Thank you, Christiane.


AMANPOUR: And Egypt's new president will have to address not only security at home but also on the border with Israel, where a cold peace has existed for over three decades.

And while the latest Israeli-Palestinian peace process has collapsed, Pope Francis has taken up the cause and gone the extra mile.

On Sunday, this groundbreaking pope took the unprecedented step of flying directly from Amman, Jordan, to Bethlehem on the occupied West Bank without first stopping in Israel. There he embraced Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas and established another first, referring to the State of Palestine before he made a surprise visit to offer a prayer at the concrete security barrier created by the Israelis and despised by the Palestinians.

The pope later flew by helicopter to Tel Aviv, where he was greeted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres.

And today before heading back home to Rome, he paid an emotional visit to the Yad Vashem Memorial and Museum, where he kissed the hands of Holocaust survivors.

While a very different message was delivered this weekend in still another election, neo-Nazis in the house? As European parliament tilts far right, that story when we come back.




AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, we've talked of elections in Ukraine and in Egypt, even a papal election that's still reverberating. But imagine a world that's seen a whole continent tilt a little further to the far right.

A political earthquake has rumbled in red across the map of Europe this weekend, from here in Britain to France, Denmark, Austria, Sweden, Greece and Germany. Euro skeptic parties still don't make up a majority, though, of the new European parliament. But again, imagine Germany's NPD, dubbed a neo-Nazi party, sitting in Brussels and vowing to keep Europe, quote, "a continent of white people."

For the first time the far right National Front won the most European seats in France and just ahead of the poll its fiery leader, Marine le Pen, told me that likeminded parties would gang up for their cause.


MARINE LE PEN, LEADER, FRANCE'S FRONT NATIONAL (through translator): After all, we don't know how others who will find an interest in making up the broadest possible front to oppose the deeply harmful and damaging policies that the European Union is imposing on our continent, on our respective peoples, with catastrophic consequences in terms of growth, unemployment, carelessness (ph), mass immigration and the rise in insecurity.


AMANPOUR: So is this vote at this time a short-lived protest against an era of crisis and austerity? Or is it a seismic shift that will permanently alter the political landscape?

That's it for our program tonight. Remember you can always contact us at our website,, and follow me on Twitter and Facebook. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.