Return to Transcripts main page


Turkish PM Answers Critics; Ballots Being Counted after Historic Burmese Vote; First Open Elections in Myanmar in 25 Years; Moving Forward after Turkey's Trauma; Imagine a World. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired November 9, 2015 - 14:00:00   ET




CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight: live from Ankara, Turkey, a vital U.S. ally in the fight against ISIS, my exclusive

interview with the Turkish prime minister, his first since the ruling AK Party's stunning election comeback, answering the critics.


AHMET DAVUTOGLU, PRIME MINISTER OF TURKEY: What we need to have is a new political mentality, a new political culture, a new political rhetoric,

a new political approach. And this is what we call New Turkey.



AMANPOUR (voice-over): Also ahead, a new Myanmar, a landslide for democracy in one of the world's most isolated nations, early results spell

victory for Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi, after decades of house arrest and strong support from President Obama.



AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour, live tonight from the Turkish prime minister's office

in the capital, Ankara.

No stranger to terror, this vital U.S. ally couldn't be more important in the fight against ISIS. It's been detaining 38 suspected militants

today and it is clear that the ISIS terrorizing tentacles are spreading, now that the U.S. and many other countries are almost certain a bomb did in

fact bring down the Russian passenger plane over Egypt last week.

How to defeat ISIS and end the war in Syria will be top of the agenda, when President Obama comes here next week for the G20 summit with other

world leaders.

Now, in his first interview since the ruling AK Party stormed back to power in last Sunday's election, I asked Prime Minister Davutoglu about

that and about charges that President Erdogan is leading this country further away from democracy and further towards autocracy.


AMANPOUR: Prime Minister, welcome back to the program.

Lots to talk about: the AK's stunning comeback and victory in the last election and also obviously the rise of ISIS threat.

Can I start by asking you the presumed now bombing of the Russian jetliner in Sharm el-Sheikh, is that a game-changer in ISIS' capability?

DAVUTOGLU: Of course, this big crime against humanity, this is not an attack against a Russian plane, this is an attack against all of us. So

therefore, it shows that if a crisis is not being solved in a particular country or a region, it is difficult to contain it in other countries as

well. Therefore it is the right time to act together.

AMANPOUR: With all of the talk about more and more nations beefing up their response to ISIS, is Turkey, would Turkey, under the right

conditions, agree to be a ground force?

DAVUTOGLU: Ground force is something which we have to talk together and share, as I told you in our last interview, there's a need of an

integrated strategy, including air campaign and ground troops.

But Turkey alone cannot take all this burden; if there's a coalition and a very well designed integrated strategy, Turkey is ready to take part

of in all sense.


AMANPOUR: Including on the ground?

DAVUTOGLU: Yes. Of course. There is a need of a integrated strategy.

Otherwise, just to make a ground attack against ISIS but continue to have a power acumen on the ground, instead of ISIS. another terrorist group

may emerge. We have to solve Syrian crisis in a comprehensive manner.

AMANPOUR: So I understand what you're saying, is that a condition for Turkey to be more involved would be an agreement by a coalition to also go

against Assad.

Is that correct?

DAVUTOGLU: Yes, and against all groups and regimes creating this problem to us. And every day or this many days in a week, we are making --

conducting air campaigns against ISIS in the coalition.

But it is not enough. We are observing this. Now, we are suggesting to our allies, for many months, and now we are suggesting again to have a

safe haven and to push ISIL far away from our borders.


So what do you make then of the United States, of Europe and especially of Russia, saying that Assad must and can stay for a period of


DAVUTOGLU: I don't think that U.S. and our allies are saying this, that --



AMANPOUR: Well, yes, they are.

DAVUTOGLU: No. I don't --

AMANPOUR: Can stay.

DAVUTOGLU: -- no. The question is --

AMANPOUR: As part of the transition, Mr. Prime Minister. That's what they're saying.

DAVUTOGLU: Yes. There's a part. So the question is not how long Assad will stay. The question is when and how Assad will go, what is the

solution. The solution is very clear answer. When one day morning millions of Syrian refugees decide to go back to Syria, assuming that

there's a peace in Syria and this solution and if Assad stays in power in Damascus, I don't think any refugee will go back.

There is a need of a, yes, state-by-state strategy.

But what is the end game?

What is the light at the end of the tunnel?

That's more important for the refugees and people of Syria.

AMANPOUR: Why is the Turkish government making it difficult for the U.S. government to arm and train and equip and use Kurdish fighters as

their ground troops?

We hear that it's very diplomatically sensitive because you just don't like that. You don't want to empower Kurds. You are worried about an

independence movement.

Is that correct?

DAVUTOGLU: First, let us clarify, not Kurds. PYD as the wing of PKK.

If --

AMANPOUR: What about the Kurds --


DAVUTOGLU: Kurds, OK, for example --

AMANPOUR: -- up until now, the only ones willing to do it.

DAVUTOGLU: No. No. This is not true. Free Syrian Army is fighting against ISIL. And we can arm Free Syrian Army.


AMANPOUR: But aren't the Russians bombing the Free Syrian Army?

DAVUTOGLU: Yes. Russians are bombing but there's another Kurdish group, Peshmergas. We want Peshmergas to go through Turkey to Kobani in

order to help Kobani to be freed.

If U.S. wants to arm Kurdish fighters on the ground against ISIS, we are ready. But not Kurdish terrorists, the terrorists of PKK. If they

want to arm and help Barzani or Peshmerga who have seen Iraq and help them to go to Syria to fight against ISIL, we are ready to help.

But everybody must understand, today PKK is attacking Turkish denizens, civilians, soldiers and they are affecting our cities. They are

attacking our villages, they are attacking our Syrians.

We will not and we cannot and we will not tolerate any help to any PKK-related groups in Syria or in Iraq. If that happens, Turkey will take

all of the measures to stop this.

AMANPOUR: Let's turn to the domestic elections.

Why do you think your party won so many more points this time than it did last time?

Obviously, they wanted stability.

Is it just the violence, do you think, that brought them out?

Were you surprised?

DAVUTOGLU: We fought against terrorism. We took economic measures, we prepared a new declaration of electoral campaign and all these things

have changed the mind of the people. The key word here is sincerity, moderation and stability.

AMANPOUR: OK. Moderation and stability.

What do you make of this list of descriptions that people inside and outside use to describe President Erdogan and the AK Party: authoritarian,

intolerant, imperious, autocratic, divisive, pugnacious and paranoid?

DAVUTOGLU: These are -- of course. Everybody can criticize us. But this does not reflect the reality.


First of all, the most important result of this election is voter turnout is 85 percent. And almost half of them, 49 persons, 49.4 persons

voted for our party. It means there cannot be any questioning of democratic legitimacy of our party, first.

Secondly, coming to the, let's say, authoritarianism, around 20 political parties run in this election. Everybody made their own position

in politics. Nobody wants prevented to say anything.

AMANPOUR: Obviously, the press is a matter of great concern outside this country and inside this country. There have been some 100 people over

the last year, press, NGOs, ordinary civilians, who have been cracked down upon for charges such as insulting the president or other such things.

Are you not worried about what people say?

DAVUTOGLU: No, no, we are worried. First of all, I was a columnist in 1990s when I was in academic life. So freedom of press and intellectual

freedom is a redline for me. If there's an attack on any intellectual or columnist or a journalist --


DAVUTOGLU: -- I will be the advocate of that. I can assure you this.

But, for example, one of the journalists, it was not just related to the insulting president or anyone, published a newspaper, the headline, a

magazine. The headline was that 2nd of November, Syria war will start.

Is this a journalistic activity or is this a provocation?

AMANPOUR: But I really want to ask you this because even the co- founder of the party, former president Abdullah Gul, co-founded the party along with Mr. Erdogan and you, I expect, has said that there's a need to

upgrade our democracy.

What do you think he means by that?

DAVUTOGLU: Of course. We need to do more. And my first agenda will be tomorrow, I will have meetings of our executive board. Will be new

reforms, political and economics reforms, which I will be declaring in the next two weeks.

AMANPOUR: Practically the day of the election, the day the results came through, you said that there's a need to keep moving towards getting

enough votes to change the constitution and to increase the powers of the president, a sort of an American, executive style presidency, maybe even

more powers. That's what the president just said anyway.

Why does he need more powers?

DAVUTOGLU: First of all, we never said more powers. I never said more powers --


DAVUTOGLU: First, we have to be very clear in this manner.

Today, we don't have enough votes in the parliament to change the constitution. I will be meeting with all the political leaders in the

parliament for a new constitution.

AMANPOUR: I just want to sum up, why does the president need more powers?


AMANPOUR: Why does the constitution need to be changed?

DAVUTOGLU: Christiane, this is the wrong question. We want to have a much more clear political system. The existing system is not functioning

well, because it was a product of a military coup d'etat. I, as the chairman of the governing party, will be meeting with all the opposition

leaders for a constitution, based on individual rights, freedom, a balance between freedom and security, a pluralism, separation of power and --

AMANPOUR: Separation of power?

DAVUTOGLU: -- of course, of course.

And if American or presidential system is not authoritarian, Turkish presidential system might -- may not be authoritarian.

If a chairman parliamentarian system is not authoritarian, Turkish parliamentarian system may not be authoritarian as well.

The problem here is not system itself. The problem is mentality. What we need to have is a new political mentality, a new political culture,

a new political rhetoric, a new political approach. And this is what we call New Turkey.

AMANPOUR: Everybody will be watching.

DAVUTOGLU: Of course. Everybody has the right to watch. We will act, you will watch.

AMANPOUR: On that note, Mr. Prime Minister, thank you very much indeed.

DAVUTOGLU: Thank you. Thank you.


AMANPOUR: Now, there's old adage that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. But Burma or Myanmar's champion of democracy

puts a different spin on it. Aung San Suu Kyi says it's the fear of losing power that corrupts even more.

Next, we go to Myanmar, where the ruling military may be on the verge of losing their power in the nation's first real democratic election.





AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program, live from Turkey tonight.

And not too far from here, history is being made in Burma or Myanmar, as results pour in from yesterday's first freely contested elections.

Early results show a strong lead for the woman affectionately known as The Lady, Aung San Suu Kyi, whose fierce fight for freedom through many years

of house arrest, through support around her country and around the world especially President Obama, who's visited that tiny nation twice.

In 2012, he was the first-ever U.S. president to go to Myanmar, the bid to push the country towards democracy and away from military rule a

pillar of his foreign policy. Ivan Watson is there and has our report on the heady and historic days for that nation, emerging from isolation into

the democratic fold.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The people are singing and dancing in the streets, celebrating as Myanmar's

largest opposition party claims to have won a landslide victory in Sunday's parliamentary elections.

The official results are still just trickling in but the military- backed Ruling Party has conceded defeat and, for once, people here feel like their voices have been heard.

They lined up before dawn on Sunday, hours before polling stations opened, committed to casting their ballots.

Critics say there are serious structural flaws in Sunday's parliamentary election. And yet it's still being promoted as the closest

thing Myanmar has seen to a democratic national election in 25 years.

WATSON: The atmosphere in these polling stations is hushed and solemn. For many people, this is the first time they've ever voted in a

general election.

WATSON (voice-over): Among the new voters, Hiaing Myint (ph) and his wife, Tari Yah (ph). For them, this election has been hard work. They

waited in line for five hours to cast their ballots. He says it was worth the wait.

HIAING MYINT (PH), BURMESE VOTER: This is the only way we can -- we hope that we can change the things in the future, our future. Our baby,

my baby, our daughter, I have one daughter, 9 years old. So for their future, we have to vote.

WATSON (voice-over): Some here hope this election will help bring an end to decades of military rule. And many have pinned those hopes on this

woman, Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and leader of the country's largest opposition party, the National League for Democracy.

The last time her party competed in a national election was in 1990. The party won but then the military annulled the results and arrested Aung

San Suu Kyi and many of her colleagues.

This time, Myanmar's president, himself a former military commander, vows that the election results will be respected. It could still take days

before final results are officially announced. But that hasn't stopped these people from daring to believe that their country may be on the verge

of an historic change -- Ivan Watson, CNN, Yangon.


AMANPOUR: And just a short while ago, I spoke about that change, the hope and the challenges ahead, to historian and author Thant Myint-U from



AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: So how exciting, the first really freely contested elections in recent Myanmar-Burma history.

What is the state of play right now?

How much has Aung San Suu Kyi's party won?

MYINT-U: The official election results are coming out very slowly, so officially only the results of a couple of dozen different constituencies

have been given. But unofficially I think the predictions are all towards a landslide NLD victory, victory for Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for

Democracy, perhaps approaching or even exceeding 400 seats altogether, which is far more than anyone might have predicted even just a few days


AMANPOUR: And Thant, is that more or enough of a two-thirds majority that she needs in order to be able to alter the constitution and name the

next president?

MYINT-U: It's very complicated. I mean, if the NLD does, as now is being predicted, and wins 400 or even more seats, they will have a majority

in parliament, despite the fact that the army will automatically appoint --


MYINT-U: -- 25 percent of that same parliament.

Then we enter into a very complicated process to choose the next president. Parliament will sit for the first time in January. It will

appoint an electoral college, which will choose three vice presidents. And only then one of those vice presidents will be chosen as the new president.

And then that president will in turn have to choose most of the cabinet.

That will then result at the end of March or early April in a new government that will be a form of cohabitation between the government of

that new president, of the ministers, the president, and the army-appointed cabinet ministers, and an army-appointed vice president as well.

AMANPOUR: Well, isn't that exactly the issue here?

Because many people have said, well, actually, will it really bring us democracy?

Because the army will still have a major say in the way the place is run while, on the other hand, Aung San Suu Kyi has said, if she has the

majority, she will be above the president.

How is that going to work itself out?

MYINT-U: I think we have to be very clear. I mean, this is not a democratic constitution; this is a constitution that was framed by the army

actually 20 years ago. It was approved under the army regime a few years ago. The political transition began under this constitution, which is a

quasi-democratic, quasi-civilian constitution.

The army has a number of red lines that are entrenched within this constitution. It has the 25 percent of seats in parliament; it has an

effective veto over future constitutional reform.

But looking at it another way, this was the constitution with those red lines entrenched that allow this country to begin to move away from a

pure military dictatorship to this sort of mixed or hybrid system we have today.

The big question is whether this mixed or hybrid system, especially with this election result, is going to be the first step towards a move

perhaps over the coming months, perhaps only over many years, towards a genuine democracy, or whether it's going to remain in this sort of mixed or

hybrid state for the time being.

AMANPOUR: Let's just talk about it from a U.S. perspective, a Western perspective. Obviously the U.S. had a huge amount of impact and really has

seemed to have won the country away from more Chinese influence towards a more Western engagement.

Is that how you see it?

How excited are people in Burma right now because of this democratic exercise?

MYINT-U: I think people are tremendously excited. I mean, we've seen by all indications a huge turnout at the polls.

Yesterday, people -- I'm in Rangoon right now -- people all around the city were voting in their thousands. I think people are very hopeful that

these polls may lead to not just democracy but a better future in general for themselves and their children.

I think, from a Western or international perspective, I think it's true that the encouragement, perhaps some of the pressure and persuasion

that was put on the military regime five years ago, helped in starting this democratic transition.

But I think we can't overestimate the extent of international influence on the transition. I think the transition began first and

foremost because, even within the military, there was a growing awareness of the extent to which the country had fallen behind all of its neighbors,

the extent to which the country was becoming increasingly impoverished and a deep desire, I think, across the political spectrum to try to catch up

with the rest of the region and break free of the past and move towards a very different future.

I think the initial moves that the Obama administration and some other Western governments made in 2011 to embrace the initial limited change that

took place was very important.

But I think we have to put that in context of a country that was very much ready for change and even a military elite, I think, that was trying,

in its own way, to move in a different direction.

AMANPOUR: Heady days indeed, this unbelievable transition in one of the last holdouts from military dictatorship to taking a major step towards


Thant Myint-U from Rangoon, thank you so much for joining us.

MYINT-U: Thank you very much, Christiane.


AMANPOUR: And after a break, we return here to Turkey, because some of the worst terrorism in this country's history happened in the run-up to

the election.

And next, we imagine a country that believes it casts a vote for peace and stability.





AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine having faith that a vote you cast for security will mean just that as the Turkish people try to come to

terms with the worst terror attack in their history.


AMANPOUR (voice-over): Last month this capital was rocked by suicide bombers at a pre-election rally for democracy and peace. More than 120

people were killed and many hundreds more were injured. This memorial still stands outside Ankara's central train station, where the bombs went


The government blamed ISIS while many people blamed the government for not properly securing the mart. The country and all those affected are

still reeling, still struggling to come to terms with the horrors of that day when they were just trying to send a clear message with their rally

before it was so violently disrupted.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hope that it will be heard because the struggle for peace, for democracy will never end and it's just been

continuing for hundreds of years, thousands of years, in all countries.

And, yes. It will be heard. I hope so.


AMANPOUR: And she, too, will be watching the prime minister's pledge to usher in a New Turkey after these latest elections.

And that's it for our program tonight. Remember, you can always see all our interviews at and follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for watching and goodbye from Turkey.