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Old Airport Home to Refugees in Athens; Russia Trying to Divide NATO Alliance; Austrian Minister on Refugee Crisis; Imagine a World. Aired 2- 2:30p ET

Aired March 7, 2016 - 14:00:00   ET




CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight: a special report on the refugees forced to live in an abandoned airport in Athens, an old

departure lounge now their only home.

Also ahead, as Europe's leaders meet yet again on the crisis, the NATO secretary general on deploying warships to stop the people traffickers.

And Austria's interior minister on slamming shut the door.


JOHANNA MIKL-LEITNER, INTERIOR MINISTER, AUSTRIA (through translator): We cannot take in infinite numbers of people. We do not approve of waving

refugees through to travel on to other countries.



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

Yet another last-ditch, desperate emergency meeting on refugees in Europe. Those are all the descriptions each time European leaders meet on this


But are they any closer to a resolution in Brussels tonight?

NATO is today deploying more warships to the Aegean Sea to stop people smugglers. Temporary border closures have already created a bottleneck,

causing scenes like these at the fence between Northern Greece and Macedonia, where thousands are trapped, like this Syrian refugee who fled

the war zone in Aleppo.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just wait. I'm here from 15 days, 15 days, yes. Just wait, wait, wait, wait. I can't do anything. I can't talk. Just

sleep. Sleep.


AMANPOUR: And now reports that the E.U. may decide to close this main Balkan route entirely, the pathway stretching through Macedonia, Serbia,

Croatia and Slovenia.

As governments struggle to cope, ad hoc shelters are cropping up all over Europe. The heavily burdened Greek government is forced to house refugees

wherever it can, as our Atika Shubert found in Athens.


ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jet planes left to rust on a runway in Athens. A former airport, this vast

space was converted into an Olympic park more than a decade ago. Now it is home to thousands of refugees stranded in Athens.

Laundry lines the entrance to the terminal. Most here are from Afghanistan but also Pakistan, Iran and Morocco, banned from crossing the border,

because they are considered to be from a safe country.

While they wait in limbo, this is where the Greek government has placed them, until they can find more permanent shelter.

SHUBERT: I want you to take a look at this. It's almost as though they've preserved it, as a kind of a museum or a time capsule.

And if you can see up here, they still have some of the signs up. Paris now boarding, London on time. There's something very surreal about having

them camped out at an abandoned airport.

Every hour, planes used to leave here for Paris, for London and now, all of those refugees want to get to those exact destinations but they can't. So

there's nothing for them to do but to wait.

SHUBERT (voice-over): At the former stadium, where Olympians once competed for gold, Afghan kids now play with a deflated ball. Residents invited us

in to see how an estimated 3,000 people are living here.

SHUBERT: This is a pretty extraordinary scene. There are families sleeping out here in these abandoned buildings; children, mothers.

SHUBERT (voice-over): Inside, a sea of gray U.N. blankets supplemented with thin padded sleeping mats. There are no beds, only the occasional


It took one month for Mustafa Saedi (ph) to get here from Kabul with his wife and two daughters, smuggled in by car and boat.

Like so many here, he has only one destination in mind.


SHUBERT: Why Germany?

SAEDI (PH): (Speaking foreign language).

SHUBERT (voice-over): But the borders are closed now.

SAEDI (PH): (Speaking foreign language).

SHUBERT (voice-over): This is the warehouse of souls the prime minister of Greece warned his country would become. Not a refuge but a --


SHUBERT (voice-over): -- purgatory of fading hopes and broken dreams -- Atika Shubert, CNN, at Ellinikon Airport in Athens, Greece.


AMANPOUR: So far, nothing has managed to stem the crisis.

So will a beefed-up NATO mission make any difference?

I asked the secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, who joined me from Brussels just a short while ago.


AMANPOUR: Secretary General Stoltenberg, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: So from here we hear that the British are sending a naval ship to join the NATO navy patrol off Greece and Turkey.

What exactly are you accomplishing?

This was announced several weeks ago in Munich.

What have you accomplished with this naval presence?

STOLTENBERG: We are helping the Turkish, the Greek coast guard but also the European Union border agency Frontex to do their job in the Aegean Sea.

And what we decided now was to step up our efforts and our help to them by expanding the area of our operation into the territorial waters of Greece

and Turkey and to increase the number of ships.

And I welcome very much the announcement by U.K. but also by France, to send more ships and also by establishing much closer cooperation with

Frontex, so we can share real-time information with them.

AMANPOUR: Is it working?

Are you turning people back?

Are you catching people smugglers?

What's going on?

STOLTENBERG: The countries, Turkey and Greece, they asked for this help because they told us that this was of great importance for them.

And I met with the Prime Minister Davutoglu and I also met with the Greek defense minister and they much underlined the importance of NATO, helping

them providing real-time and monitoring information about the smugglers, about the smugglers' activity and the networks and, thereby, helping them

to cut the lines of the illegal migration and human trafficking in the Aegean Sea.

AMANPOUR: Right now we're reading and hearing that there's a huge explosion in the number of people traffickers. And we've also heard, for

instance, Austria has blamed Europe for enabling human trafficking, essentially, by not getting a grip on this refugee crisis.

Is NATO the answer?

What is the answer to stopping people?

And you've seen the terrible, terrible scenes between Macedonia and Greece.

STOLTENBERG: So NATO is part of a comprehensive international response and we need, of course, much more than just NATO providing help to local coast

guards and the European Union.

And I welcome the efforts by the European Union and Turkey to try to cooperate more closely, to discourage illegal and dangerous migration and

to encourage more regulated and legal migration and, also, of course, to help Turkey, being the NATO ally most affected by the migrant crisis,

hosting more than 2.5 million refugees.

AMANPOUR: I mean, obviously, so much of this emanates from Syria. And without that war being solved and having some kind of reasonable solution,

this is going to continue.

But I want to ask you specifically about your analysis of what Russia is doing because there are NATO analysts who say they have found evidence of

an information war, et cetera, that the Russian president wants NATO overwhelmed, wants Europe and the European structures overwhelmed. Tell me

about that.

STOLTENBERG: What we have seen over long time is a more assertive Russia, using many different means to try to intimidate its neighbors and to try to

also divide the NATO alliance. But we have responded to that by a strong unity in the NATO alliance but also by adapting our military alliance to a

new security environment

When it comes to Syria, we are, of course, concerned about the significant Russian military buildup with air forces, with ground troops and also with

a naval presence in the Eastern Mediterranean.

We are also responding to that, with assurance measures, increased military presence in Turkey but also with increased NATO military presence in the

eastern part of the Mediterranean.

AMANPOUR: Just let me get back to Russia because your military counterpart, SACEUR General Breedlove, has spoken about the Russian threat.

And again, you have a director of the Strategic Communications Center for Excellence, a NATO official, who has said that Russia, of course, has a

track record of funding extremist forces in Europe and that he believes that there's now evidence of Russia agitating in Germany --


AMANPOUR: -- against Chancellor Merkel; in other words, that Russia is using this crisis to get back at Europe, which has been punishing Russia

for the annexation of Crimea, for the intervention in Ukraine, et cetera.

Are you seeing that?

STOLTENBERG: What we have seen is a more assertive Russia. And we are seeing a Russia which is trying to divide the NATO alliance. But they are

not successful, because we are responding in a very unified way, adapting our military posture, increasing our military presence in the eastern part

of the alliance and increasing the readiness of our forces.

Moreover, the European Union is also responding with economic sanctions and the international community is also responding, with the United States and

many other countries being part of the economic sanctions imposed against Russia.

So Russia has not succeed in the efforts to divide the NATO alliance. Actually, we are more united and we are responding in a very firm way to

the behavior of Russia, both in the east but also now in the south.

AMANPOUR: And finally, Turkey is a member of NATO; this meeting is going on between Turkey and the E.U.

Can I ask you to comment?

I mean, you're a former prime minister. You're the secretary general of NATO. And one of your countries there is doing a major crackdown on the

press. Turkey has taken over the biggest newspaper and is now under state control. The French foreign minister has condemned this and others have.

What is your response to a NATO country cracking down on, you know, one of these bastions of the democratic principle?

STOLTENBERG: So NATO is based on some fundamental values: democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law. And this is -- these are very

important values because our unity is based on those values. And I expect all allies to adhere to these values, because they are so important for the

whole alliance.

AMANPOUR: So are you disappointed?

Do you condemn what Turkey's doing?

STOLTENBERG: What I'm saying is that these values -- democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law -- are fundamental values for NATO. And I

attach great importance to them. And they are important for the unity of the alliance and, therefore, it is important that all allies adhere to

those values.

AMANPOUR: And we hope your NATO partner, Turkey, is listening to your words now on television.

Secretary general Jens Stoltenberg, thank you very much indeed for joining me.



AMANPOUR: So as just we've been discussing, Germany isn't making anything easier for Europe as it considers $3 billion or euros to help Turkey in the

refugee crisis.

You know, we've just talked about its draconian new media crackdown and the biggest newspaper there, "Zaman," now being under state control. So the

front pages are changing, as you can imagine, from Saturday, somberly decrying the government suspended the constitution, to Sunday's top story,

which was a smiling President Erdogan opening a bridge. Now that is front page news the president can live with.


AMANPOUR (voice-over): Coming up, Austria dubbed the bad boy of Europe for starting the border clampdowns. I talk to the interior minister, next.





AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

My next guest says slashing the number of refugees is a question of survival for the European Union. She's Austria's interior minister,

Johanna Mikl-Leitner.

Early last year, Austria rolled out the welcome mat for arriving refugees and now it is rolling it up again after taking in nearly 90,000 asylum

seekers. It's under fire from the rest of Europe for capping the number that it will grant asylum to and for capping the number of refugees who can

even enter the country every day.


AMANPOUR: Minister, welcome to the program.

MIKL-LEITNER (through translator): Good afternoon.

AMANPOUR: Minister, what is the solution to the crisis?

You have said in the past that if we don't get a hold of it, it will threaten the survival of Europe.

What is the solution to this?

MIKL-LEITNER (through translator): We have a worldwide migration crisis and everybody is looking to Europe. Europe has already done a lot in the

last year. Europe has taken in more than 1 million refugees. And in Austria we took in 90,000 people.

So I ask myself, what is the rest of the world doing?

The rest of the world can also help and provide humanitarian help, for example.

AMANPOUR: But what is the solution; as you discuss right now, as they discussing in Brussels right now, it is closing the borders?

Is it stopping Schengen?

Is it trying to figure out how to divide the refugees equally amongst other countries in Europe?

MIKL-LEITNER (through translator): We need to secure our external borders. So we need a temporary step. So we need to work on the joint action plan

with Turkey and we need to implement this joint action plan. So we have to use the NATO ships to assist in saving the refugees. And we also -- and

Turkey also has to help in stopping people coming to Europe.

AMANPOUR: Minister, you talk about Turkey. Turkey is complaining very loudly that it has not received yet one penny of the 3 billion euros that

were promised to deal with refugees inside Turkey.

Also, you have been criticized, Austria has been criticized for not including Turkey in recent meetings to talk about this.

So you know, what are you going to do to make it easier for Turkey to do what you say you want them to do?

MIKL-LEITNER (through translator): Turkey is a key partner in resolving the refugee crisis. But we mustn't become dependent on Turkey. The

European Union did commit to giving Turkey 3.3 billion euros. And this is to help provide better conditions for refugees in the camps.

This money will be allocated as soon as there are concrete projects to which it can be allocated. So Turkey will be given a deadline to set up

such projects.

AMANPOUR: What about -- how do you answer what Austria has done?

From being very generous at the beginning -- and you've taken in, as you say, a lot, 90,000 or so refugees; you have now put up borders -- there's a

bottleneck now all the way from Austria, all the way through the Balkan states, to the Greece-Macedonia border.

Why are you doing that?

Why are you putting up borders?

And how long are you going to have those fences up for?

MIKL-LEITNER (through translator): Austria has set some restrictions, because we cannot take in infinite numbers of people. We do not approve of

waving refugees through to travel on to other countries. Our capacities have been overburdened. We will try to stanch the influx of refugees.

And if our capacities are exhausted, then we have to stop these flows of refugees and other countries will do the same. And we have started with

the Balkan states.

AMANPOUR: Explain that to me, please, because obviously there have been reports that the Balkan route will be closed. The major Balkan route will

be --


AMANPOUR: -- shut down.

What can you tell me about that?

MIKL-LEITNER (through translator): Austria has introduced a cap on the number of refugees that can enter Austria.

These -- so these daily quotas have been set to stop this waving through of refugees. And we have done the same with the Balkan states, because this

is sensible. The Macedonian-Greek border is now being controlled and refugees will not simply be waved through.

AMANPOUR: You say the Macedonia-Greece border is being controlled but there are the most unbelievable, horrifying, uncontrolled scenes going on

there, tear gas and children and people screaming and shouting. It is not a very pretty sight to see in Europe today.

What do you say to that?

MIKL-LEITNER (through translator): Yes, these images are terrible for all of us. But the people who are causing this are those who are holding on to

this open-arms policy for refugees and who are raising expectations. Europe cannot take in all the refugees. We have to stop this influx.

AMANPOUR: Well, you have said the E.U. is acting like a human trafficker of refugees. You've said that before. And now, again, you're criticizing

people in Europe for letting them in.

Do you mean Chancellor Merkel?

MIKL-LEITNER (through translator): I agree with Chancellor Merkel that we need a European solution. We need to save people. But we cannot simply

allow people to come in. We also need to return people. We have to dissuade people from embarking on these dangerous journeys.

AMANPOUR: And finally, obviously, all of this is having a dramatic political effect inside many European countries. You in Austria have the

rise of the extreme right; we're seeing it in Germany; we're seeing it in France; we're seeing it in the Netherlands; we're seeing it all over the


How worried are you about this rise of extreme far right xenophobia?

MIKL-LEITNER (through translator): This is a real issue. If we, as Europeans, don't take national measures and don't take the necessary steps,

then nationalists will get the upper hand. Then, a unified Europe will come to an end.

AMANPOUR: Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner, thank you so much for joining me from Vienna tonight.

MIKL-LEITNER (through translator): Have a good evening. Thank you very much.


AMANPOUR: As we said, all sorts of venues are being turned into emergency housing.

In Turin, Italy, you could say the 2006 Olympic Village is staying true to its Olympic ideals by becoming a shelter for over 1,000 refugees of more

than 30 different nationalities.

After a break, some out-of-the-box ingenuity. Imagining the man and the monk who changed the face of all our mod-con. We'll explain, next.





AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, we imagine a world losing some style and some substance.

Over the weekend, the Internet mourned one of its pioneers, computer scientist Ray Tomlinson, who invented e-mail back in 1971 and chose its

crucial @ symbol. He died at 74 this weekend. Tomlinson reportedly made the breakthrough as a bit of a maverick.

About his creation, he reportedly told a coworker at a tech company, "Don't tell anyone. This isn't what we're supposed to be working on."

But the font style in those pioneering e-mails looked nothing like they do today. That's because of another dearly departed pioneer, who later

inspired the likes of Steve Jobs, when he was designing the Apple Mac computer.

Reverend Robert Palladino also died this weekend. He was 83. And he was once a Trappist monk. He became one of the world's foremost calligraphers.

Palladino devoted his time to adding style to the words of others. And though appearances may not be everything, to drop out Steve Jobs,

Palladino's calligraphy course had a lasting impact when he started up Apple, as he mentioned decades later in his 2005 Stanford University

commencement address.


STEVE JOBS, CO-FOUNDER, APPLE: If I had never dropped in on that symbol course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or

proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it's likely that no personal computer would have them.


AMANPOUR: Thanks to Palladino and Tomlinson, then, two innovators changing the way we communicate with the world and with each other.

And that's it for our program tonight. Remember, you can also listen to our podcast, see us online at and follow me on Facebook and


Now tomorrow, we're having a special program on International Women's Day, with guests including the former U.S. secretary of state Madeleine

Albright, who will also surely weigh in on the current U.S. presidential election.

Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.