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The Voice of Istanbul; Exclusive Interview: Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan; Update on Algerie Flight: Mariela Castro Not Onboard; Parting Shots: Reflections on Week in Turkey

Aired July 24, 2014 - 11:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: All right, and this is CNN International. I'm Becky Anderson in Turkey for you.

We're going to break away from that story, a very bad story there in Gaza. And we'll do more on that as we get information on it. Certainly

the IDF saying that they have nothing to do with shells that hit a UN facility there.

More on that as we get it, of course viewers.

There's been another troubling development in Ukraine. A journalist working as a freelancer for CNN remains missing two days after he was

kidnapped by pro-Russian separatists. More on that in a moment.

First, though, Ukraine's prime minister and cabinet, we are hearing, has literally just resigned in the past few minutes. Both of those stories

now with our senior international correspondent Ivan Watson who joins us from Donetsk.

Firstly, what do we know about this full cabinet resignation, Ivan?

IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this appears to have just been announced by the Ukrainian prime minister Aseniy Yatsenyuk.

It appears that his governing coalition in parliament collapsed and he has announced his resignation as well as the resignation of his cabinet.

This as I'm told by people who very much know the Ukrainian political system will pave the way for parliamentary elections, presumably in several

months time. And it was expected within some political circles in Kiev. It is believed that Arseniy Yatsenyuk would continue to serve as in interim

prime minister until those elections take place.

Now this is taking place, of course, against the backdrop of a civil war in Ukraine, one that the Ukrainian government says has claimed the

lives of at least 432 people just in the region of Donetsk that I'm in right now, which is controlled by the separatists. We've just moments ago

heard the rumble of artillery not very far away, Becky. Among those people killed included 36 women and six children. It comes as the Ukrainian

parliament this week called for more military reserves to be called up for the battle against the separatists. And it comes as the U.S. government

and the Ukrainian government have warned of a troop buildup of Russian troops just across the border in nearby Russia along the border.

So, a political development coming amid the backdrop of a deadly civil war -- Becky.

ANDERSON: And to the story -- the news of the Ukrainian journalist working as a freelancer for this network still missing two days after he

was kidnapped. What do we know at this point?

WATSON: Well, this took place about 48 hours ago, Becky. A young Ukrainian freeland journalist who had been working for CNN as a translator

and guide for all of one day at the site of the Malaysian Airline disaster. When the TV crew returned to this hotel where I am, there were a group of

separatist gunmen led by a senior official from the self-declared Donestk People's Republic who were waiting for him. They accused him of being a

terrorist and basically led him to a waiting car and took him away.

He has been detained now for roughly 48 hours. A number of press freedoms groups and human rights groups, including Reporters Without

Borders, the United Nations, have called for his release.

He is but one of a number of journalists who have been detained or simply abducted within the last week, according to the Committee to Protect

Journalists. At least 10 foreign correspondents have been held by separatists for periods and then released since the Malaysian Air plane

went down.

A Russia Today reporter named Graham Philips (ph) has been missing since Tuesday night. He was reportedly covering fighting on the outskirts

of Donetsk along with a cameraman from ANNA who has also gone missing. Russian Today saying that the Ukrainian military has taken them.

And all of this underscores the very deteriorating situation for journalists in the wake of the increase, the escalation of the hostilities

here. The Committee to Protect Journalists saying that, quote, "the abductions and detentions of journalists is happening at dizzying speeds in

eastern Ukraine" -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Ivan Watson reporting from Ukraine.

We are going to take a very short break. This is Connect the World with me, Becky Anderson out of Turkey for you.

Coming up in this hour, an interview with the prime minister here and his words on much of what is going on in this region and around the world.

That coming up this hour. Short break. Back after this.


ANDERSON: This is Connect the World with me, Becky Anderson.

Right now, more coffins carrying victims of the Malaysia Airlines flight 17 have arrived in the Netherlands. In the last hour, transport

planes touched down at Eindhoven Airport. They've just been flown in from Ukraine.

Like yesterday, they'll be taken to a facility where experts will try to identify the bodies.

Well, CNN's Saima Mohsin joins us now live from Eindhoven -- Saima.

SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Becky, what an extraordinary sight once again. We're closer now to those planes today.

I'm going to step aside and let you take a look at what we have behind us.

Right now you see the military, the officers here bringing out the coffins one by one from each of those two military planes, Australian and

Dutch military planes, C-130 and C-17.

An incredible honor, an incredible burden, as many of them have described it to me today, not what they expected to be doing today.

It's a week to the day since MH17 took off from Schiphol Airport.

And it's an incredible sight here Becky as they are unloading 74 coffins. Now yesterday as you'll know they -- 40 coffins landed here in

the Netherlands, that brings the total to 114 so far.

We were told by officials that this could be completed by Friday. Now they're saying they're not sure how long it will take to get the remainder

of the remains from the crash site to those trains, to that long journey back to the Netherlands.

Becky, also just to tell you to the left of our picture, to the left of these planes, there are dignitaries here. yesterday we had the king,

queen and prime minister. Today, we have the health minister and minister for education amongst other ambassadors and representatives from those

countries of all the passengers on board MH17.

The flags flying, Becky, are all representing the nations of those passengers on board MH17. And there's actually a large partition to

respect the privacy of what we're told is now 200 family members and loved ones who have come here to in effect receive these people, welcome them

home, not the welcome home they were hoping for, of course. But that is actually a hashtag that's been being used across the Netherlands over the

last couple of days, welcome home.

And the papers this morning headlines like "Together," one word which said it all. And that's what they're doing here, they're trying to reunite

those passengers on MH17 with their loved ones.

The funeral cars will leave here shortly. They leave in a long motorcade. It really is an incredible sight. And as they leave here, they

head to Hilversum Base as you mentioned, another military base here in the Netherlands where they will finally be identified, finally be given names

and then reunited with their family members -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Saima Mohsin from the Netherlands for you.

To a breaking story that we've been following now out of North Africa. And a missing Air Algerie plane with 116 people on board has apparently

crashed in Mali, that is according to the airline's Twitter feed.

Now the flight dropped off radar 50 minutes before -- or sorry, after takeoff from Burkina Faso's capital. It was an overnight flight to Algiers

that would normally take about four hours. We are told that the passenger and crew are from 10 different countries.

More on that, of course, as we get it. The latest world news headlines are at the bottom of the hour. Let's take a very short break.

Back after this.


ANDERSON: This is Connect the World with me Becky Anderson. Back to one of our top stories today.

And there are still major gaps in what we know about what brought down the Malaysian jetliner MH17. Even as new information emerges daily to help

us break down the very latest intelligence and where that investigation stands.

Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr has more.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sounding the call known as the last post, a centuries old military tradition that a

fallen soldier's duty is over, now rest in peace. As if they fell on a battle field, the Dutch rendering full military honors, saluting the

civilian victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

Lining the roads, the people of the Netherlands making clear respect will be paid. Even the smallest citizens laying flowers.

As the solemn tribute continued, the accusations did not stop. The Ukrainian counterintelligence chief telling CNN's Kyung Lah he has no doubt

the rebels knew they were firing at a passenger jet.

VITALY NAYDA, UKRAINE'S DIRECTOR OF INFORMATIONAL SECURITY: If they possess this kind of military weapons, like Buk-M1 automatic missile

launcher, they should know that the plane is not a military plane. It's a big target. They should analyze and they should know that it was a civilian


STARR: The United States laying the blame on Russia.

MARIE HARF, STATE DEPARTMENT DEPUTY SPOKESWOMAN: Responsibility lays at the feet of President Putin, not just for this, but for every incident

that we have seen throughout this conflict.

STARR: Vladimir Putin's intentions on Ukraine's eastern border with Russia are unclear, as U.S. officials question moves by the rebels and

their backers in Moscow.

U.S. intelligence is looking at whether these two Ukrainian Su-25s, shot down Wednesday, could have been brought down by surface to air missile

fire from the Russian side of the border.

CNN has learned the latest U.S. intelligence indicates, in fact, some Russian troops have moved right to the border, giving them the ability to

attack into Ukraine without entering the country, even as they continue to send tanks and artillery across into rebel-held territory. Intelligence

also indicates some rebels have fled from their Ukrainian strongholds and gone back into Russia.

The U.S. calculates the missile that hit flight 17 flew perhaps for less than 10 seconds. If the Russians are indeed now moving closer to the

border as the U.S. believes they are, that puts their artillery, their howitzers, their tanks, all of their heavy weapons really within range of

rebel-held territory in Ukraine. It puts the region on a hair trigger.

Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.


ANDERSON: You're watching CNN. The top stories will be at the bottom of this hour, of course. Stay with us.


ANDERSON: Your headlines for you this hour. Two more planes carrying the remains of as many as 74 victims of Flight MH17 have arrived in the

Netherlands. Uncertainty remains about how many bodies have been recovered from the crash site. All 298 people onboard were killed when the plane was

shot down last Thursday.

In North Africa, an Air Algerie plane -- passenger plane went missing, has apparently crashed in Mali. According to the airline, 116 people were

onboard that flight from Burkina Faso to Algiers. The passengers and crew were told -- we are told, were from 10 different countries. The airport

where the plane took off said on its Facebook page that Cuban president Raul Castro's daughter, Mariela Castro, was onboard, but CNN has not

independently confirmed that.

The Iraqi parliament took the second step towards forming an new government today, electing a president. He's the veteran Kurdish

politician Fouad Masoum. Parliament just choose a new prime minister next.

A UN school in Gaza has been caught in the crossfire between Israel and Hamas. There are reportedly scores of casualties, including multiple

deaths. A UN spokesman has blamed an Israeli airstrike, but the Israeli military has issued a statement saying Hamas was firing rockets into the

area where the school is located. Israel says it is currently reviewing the incident.

Let me step back for a moment here. We are in Turkey. You are just above the Bosphorus, the Bosphorus Strait just behind me and the Marmara

Sea out back there.

The novelist Orhan Pamuk once said about Istanbul that "life can't be all that bad. Whatever happens, I can always take a long walk along the

Bosphorus." It's a fitting tribute from one of the city's greatest voices and the only Turk in history to win a Nobel prize.


ANDERSON (voice-over): Orhan Pamuk was born in 1952 to a wealthy Istanbul family. He grew up in the city's European side and spent most of

his adolescence training to be first an artist, then an architect. But by the time he turned 23, Pamuk knew his true passion lay in writing. He

published his first novel, "Cevdet Bey and His Sons" in 1985, and from then onwards, the writing never stopped.

"The New Life" was published in 1994 and became the fastest-selling novel in Turkey's history. Then came the internationally acclaimed, "My

Name is Red" in 1998. In 2002, Pamuk published what he says is his first and last political novel, "Snow."

Outspoken and controversial, Pamuk touched upon taboo topics in Turkey, like the alleged Armenian genocide in the 1900s and the massacre of

Kurdish separatists. That led the government in 2005 to sue him under Article 301 of the constitution for defaming the Turkish state.

The charges were soon dropped, but Pamuk had solidified his position as a controversial literary figure within the Turkish psyche. In 2006, he

became the first Turk ever to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature.

And two years later, he published "The Museum of Innocence." The book follows a wealthy businessman, Kemal, as he chases a young woman, Fusun,

and attempts to build a museum housing the objects associated with his infatuation. And in 2012, he opened the actual museum itself in Istanbul,

once again blurring the lines between fiction and reality.

ANDERSON (on camera): How autobiographical is "The Museum of Innocence," and what should we learn about you and love from it?

ORHAN PAMUK, AUTHOR: "Museum of Innocence" treats love as a general thing. It's something that happens to all of us, or most of us. But on

the other hand, our clans, our history, our religion, our culture, our situation, our sexuality, gender, all forms, various ways where we enjoy

love or suffer from love.

ANDERSON: In your novel "Istanbul," you talk about huzun, bittersweet melancholy. Is that how you think Istanbul should be reflected today?

PAMUK: The Istanbul I wrote about in my memoir, "Istanbul," is the Istanbul between 1950s and mid-1970s. That Istanbul, which I associate

with huzun, a sort of Turkish melancholy, which is also a Sufi -- reflects Sufi philosophy of resignation, not demanding too much from the city.

And I associate that feeling with the landscapes of Istanbul, black and white, sad feeling of decay, decay of modernity, which I experienced a

lot, especially in my childhood, when I was living around the rooms of Ottoman modernity.

ANDERSON: Do you understand people's concerns? You've always written in the past about the deep-rooted tensions between the two and between East

and West. Do you sympathize with those who feel that Turkey has its issues?

PAMUK: If you're asking me if Turkey is getting modernized, my answer is, what is modernity? If it means industrial revolution, economic growth,

affluence, Turkey is managing that in the last one and a half decade, last 15, 20 years.

While if modernity also means secularism, liberalism, democracy, respect for the dignity of the individual, I am not sure whether we are

getting modern or not.

ANDERSON: Who do you blame for that?

PAMUK: I, of course, now, blame the ruling party. But the previous parties, the previous secularist parties and the army, was also as ruthless

as this government. Free speech is troubled in Turkey. We have a good electoral democracy, but not a full democracy in the sense that free speech

is respected, rights of the minorities are respected, journalistic writing respected. We don't have that.

ANDERSON: Do you have concerns about the upcoming presidential election and the power that any incoming president may have under the new


PAMUK: It's obvious that the polls, which are very respectable, are telling us that Erdogan, I'm sure, will win the elections, and he will be

president of Turkey. But I'm not scared because of that, because he will lose his executive powers. He will be in a more symbolic, less-executive

place. And his powers of manipulation of media, high courts, will be less.

ANDERSON: You've run the gauntlet of the justice system here in the past. That is well-documented. Given your great love for Turkey, how did

that affect you?

PAMUK: I thank God that I'm alive, continue to write my books, and can raise my voice and criticize the government. Who wants more?

ANDERSON: Where do you think Turkish writing, Turkish film, Turkish melodramas are today?

PAMUK: There is an immense creativity pool in and out of Turkey. Turkish things are getting them big prices in festival. Turkish writers

are producing a lot. And I have seen the last decade the Turkish book industry boom and boom and boom.

I am -- though I'm very critical and angry to the government, I am also optimistic about the future of the country. In fact, in the end -- in

fact, government we are critical had also produced this immense economic growth.

ANDERSON: So, what is your message to the government?

PAMUK: Please respect for the division of powers. Please don't manipulate the high courts. Please don't pressure the newspapers and

journalists. They're not involved in literature anyway.

I am not a political writer, but then, it's a matter of dignity for me when I'm pressured, when the country is living some dramatic times, make my

comments. But I make my comments the time I want to make them, not when the public demands I make a comment.


ANDERSON: Orhan Pamuk. Well, coming up right ahead, my exclusive interview with this country's prime minister. His position on Israel,

Syria, and even himself. That is after this short break, do stay with us.


ANDERSON: All right, welcome back. We are in Turkey, where the prime minister has told me that what Israel is doing in Gaza has gone further

than what Hitler did to the Jews. Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the situation there is genocide and added that Israel should stick to the

cease-fire of 2012 if it is truly serious about agreeing to one. He also denies allegations from Egypt that he has gotten in the way of a peace


In a wide-ranging discussion, Mr. Erdogan also addressed issues including the war in Syria, and his current presidential campaign. CNN's

exclusive interview with the Turkish prime minister for CONNECT THE WORLD.


ANDERSON: Merhaba, Mr. Erdogan, and Ramadan Kareem.


ANDERSON: I know you're incredibly busy, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us on what is an unscheduled stop on your presidential campaign

tour. I'd like to address your vision for the presidency shortly.

But first, given the increasingly depressing situation on the ground in the conflict between Israel and Gaza, I want to get your sense of the

situation on the ground. So, your assessment, if you will, of the Israel- Gaza situation.

ERDOGAN (through translator): When I met Sharon in Tel Aviv, he used an expression, saying "The most enjoyable moments of my life are those when

I was on top of tanks in Palestine." I can never forget this. Of course, it clearly displays the viewpoint of one human toward another.

At the moment, Israel's position in Palestine is apparent. When we meet and discuss with our American friends, whether it's Mr. Bush or Mr.

Obama, they always refer to a two-state structure in the region in the form of Israel-Palestine, and we kept working on this with Palestine all the

time, meaning you accept Israel, and that Israel accepts you.

And facing such a picture, it's beyond comprehension that Israel is still defended by the West, and the world is silent about it. Therefore,

we cannot remain silent, and we will not be silent.

ANDERSON: You have invoked Hitler in accusing them of their actions in Gaza. You've talked about genocide. Do you stand by those comments?

ERDOGAN (through translator): I completely stand by my comments, because Nazism, the Fascism that was applied by Hitler, if you put all

these on the table just like that, you can see that what Israel does to Palestine, to Gaza right now, has surpassed what Hitler did to them.

We don't approve. We don't accept what Hitler did either, but right now, we do not accept this persecution, the massacre, the genocide by

Israel. Hamas and Fatah are unified in respect of this two-state structure, and they've formed a national consensus government. Israel does

not want this government to make progress, they want to break it up.

And, in fact, I told this to Mr. Abbas. Mr. Abbas says,"This is the pressure that is applied on me," and he told us this very clearly and

openly. Israel is disturbed of a unification here. This is what primarily lies under the problem behind these current attacks.

ANDERSON: You have been incredibly involved in trying to broker some sort of cease-fire initiative. You've hosted Palestinian leaders here.

You are in contact with Hamas, alongside Qatar. What are your contacts, Hamas, telling you, and how close, if at all, are they to any discussion at

this stage about cease-fire?

ERDOGAN (through translator): If Israel is really genuine about the cease-fire, they should first adhere to the 2012 cease-fire. Look, within

framework of 2012, first of all, at the moment, Hamas is prepared for everything in order to achieve a cease-fire. Again, Palestine, Mr. Abbas,

is prepared, too.

But Israel is not even approaching such a thing and spitting death, spitting blood. I told Mr. Ban Ki-moon at the meeting we held with him

yesterday that if the Israeli side is genuine about this matter, then we could convince the Hamas side.

But they, of course, rightfully say if an unconditional cease-fire agreement is requested, this wouldn't be fair in the first place. Why

unconditional? Can you bring the same proposal to Israel, an unconditional cease-fire? Can there be such a thing? Everything, the conditions would

be set, the conditions would be discussed.

But in the meantime, a temporary cease-fire, for example, a week cease-fire could be made, and immediately after this cease-fire, these

terms could be proposed.

ANDERSON: You have called the Egyptian president a tyrant in his efforts to broker peace. And in turn, Egypt has accused you of getting in

the way of a deal. What's your response?

ERDOGAN (through translator): First of all, Egypt at this moment does not have a sincere approach to the Palestine issue. But if Egypt really is

to have a leading role in the cease-fire and peace process, we don't have a persistent effort to have Turkey to be leading on this. We don't have a

problem with the vineyard owner, we just want to eat the grapes.

Now, what do we mean by grapes here? It's to contribute to peace in the Middle East. If Palestine can't achieve peace in this peace matter

here, if Israel can't achieve peace in this peace environment, the unrest in the Middle East will keep disturbing the whole world. Therefore, the

agreement between Israel and Palestine has an historical importance.

But if the aim is for Israel to wholly occupy the lands Palestine has got at the moment, and for Israel to enter into those lands, of course,

Turkey should stand against this. Of course, Egypt needs to stand against this.

Egypt does not mean just Sisi right at the moment. Egypt has a people. What counts for us is the way the people approach this, and we

never fell out with the people. But I don't see Sisi as a democrat. He's not a democrat.

ANDERSON: Is he a tyrant?

ERDOGAN (through translator): Well, he is right now a tyrant, I don't have any doubts about that.

ANDERSON: The Israeli president has criticized what he called Qatar's funding of terrorism, alluding to sending money for rockets and tunnel-

building. Now, it is between Qatar and Turkey that there is this effort to build some sort of initiative that will be good for both Israel and Hamas's


ERDOGAN (through translator): Look, let me respond to this comment of Israel with one thing in particular. One, who finances Israel? Two,

Israel is a terror state. They're creating a wave of terror with what they're doing now.

Qatar is standing by the persecuted and the victims with humanitarian aid. Qatar's cooperation with Turkey has always been to be on the side of

the persecuted and the victims and to support them through humanitarian aid. This is what's being done. To cast a different role to Qatar or to

cast a different role to Turkey first of all shows how bad the intention of those casting the roles.

ANDERSON: Mr. Prime Minister, what keeps you awake at night?

ERDOGAN (through translator): There is, of course, this state of constant alertness for me at nighttime, firstly about whether any news of

any fatalities from anywhere will come regarding the struggle against this separatist, terrorist organization within my country.

If you ask about the current situation, though, at the moment, I'm all concerned about Palestine, Palestine, Palestine. Because this massacre is

seriously disturbing me and making me feel anxious, especially in the last ten days. If you say why, well, this incident erupted at the time when we

thought we were entering a process of normalization with Israel.

ANDERSON: You are on the presidential campaign with an election upcoming. Have you not had enough of politics in Turkey?

ERDOGAN (through translator): Well, of course, I was born into politics. Are you fed up of journalism? Do you have such intentions?


ERDOGAN (through translator): So, our life has always been politics, and right now, I am at a dynamic state, to be honest. I'm at a productive

state in politics. In terms of serving my country, I will continue serving my nation and my motherland until no more leaves are left in the calendar.


ANDERSON: That's the prime minister of Turkey, and that interview will be online after this hour.

I want to get you some new information on the apparent crash of the Air Algerie flight in North Africa. CNN told you a little earlier on how

the airport in Burkina Faso, where the flight originated, said on its Facebook page that Cuban president Raul Castro's daughter, Mariela Castro,

was among the 116 people onboard.

That report is not accurate. A charity she works with says that it is not true, and a CNN team has seen her personally today in Havana. We'll

bring you more information about exactly what happened to that flight, its crew, and its passengers, which has apparently crashed in Mali, according

to the airline, as soon as we get it. We'll be back right after this.


ANDERSON: All right. The interview that you saw before the hour was my interview with the Turkish prime minister, and that will be on our blog,

online at

We also want your insights into life in Istanbul, so do get in touch, You can always have your say. It's a global

conversation, your show, not ours. You can tweet me @BeckyCNN. I'm also on Instagram, just search for Becky CNN.

All right. Let's just step back for a moment. This has been CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson, live from Istanbul. This city, the

beating heart of a nation of 80 million people, a nation in transition, and a nation with a summer choice to make.

August sees Turkey's first direct presidential election, and the man expected to win is a man who needs no introduction. Recep Tayyip Erdogan

has led this country as prime minister for more than a decade. He's influenced this entire region, and he is not giving up that influence

without a fight.

We've heard about his connections, his critics, and his campaign for the presidency. An interesting time for Turkey, indeed.

Next week, we move on to another city in this region, Beirut. It's a modern metropolis that some believe is being hindered by the threat from

Hezbollah in the south and overwhelmed by an influx of refugees from Syria to the east. But there's much more to Beirut than that. Join me at this

time on Sunday to find out what.

I'm Becky Anderson, that was CONNECT THE WORLD from a very warm evening here in Istanbul. Thank you for watching. Your world news

headlines are just ahead.