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Solidarity, Disagreement Over Russia at G7 in Italy; Turkish Media Reports Confirmation of Sarin Gas Used in Syria; Printing Houses in China; Debate Over Changes in Presidential Powers in Turkey Ahead of Voting; Great Barrier Reef Dying. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired April 11, 2017 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[11:00:23] REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: It is unclear whether Russia failed to take this obligation seriously or Russia has been
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: America's top diplomat lands in Moscow after questioning
Russia's commitment to ridding Syria of chemical weapons. Next up, we're live at the G7 meeting in Italy, we're in Moscow, and on the Syrian-Turkish
border for you.
Also this hour, a warning from North Korea. Donald Trump tweets that the country is looking for trouble and he is prepared to, quote, solve the
problem. Coming up, a rare report from inside Pyongyang.
And -- fly the friendly skies, well that is United Airlines tagline. Later this hour, find out why this passenger was given anything but warm welcome
Hello and welcome. I'm Becky Anderson in Ankara in Turkey. It's just after 6:00 in the
evening. And we begin this hour as diplomatic shockwaves reverberate around the globe. The unlikely epicenter, well, it's a sleepy Italian city
where foreign ministers tried and failed to reach a new agreement on Syria.
Both the G7 and Middle Eastern states finished talks in Lucca, Italy a few hours ago, but they couldn't work out new sanctions against Russia and
There are now hopes that America's top diplomat, Rex Tillerson, who arrived in Moscow just over an hour ago, can persuade Russia to abandon its Syrian
Well, earlier Tillerson said Moscow failed to help ensure that Syria got rid of its chemical weapons.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TILLERSON: It is also clear Russia has failed to uphold the agreements that have been entered into under multiple UN Security Council resolutions.
It is unclear whether Russia failed to take the obligation seriously, or Russia has been incompetent. But this distinction doesn't much matter to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDESON: Well, tensions between Moscow and Washington are strained after the U.S. struck a Syrian air base last week. That was in response to a
chemical weapons attack.
Russia's president spoke out in the past couple of hours, making comparisons between Syria and
the recent history of its troubled neighbor, Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We say that this resembled very much the situation of 2003 and the war in Iraq, first of all
there was a campaign launched in Iraq. And it finished with the destruction of the country, the growth of the terrorist threat and the
emergence of ISIS on the international arena.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, we're covering all sides of what is this truly global story. Ben Wedeman is at the Turkish-Syrian border for you. Matthew
Chance is in Moscow and Nic Robertson is in Lucca.
And Ben, I want to begin with you. We are hearing a report here in Turkey that tests on the victims of the chemical attack in Syria confirm the use
of sarin. What more can you tell us at this point?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This was the health minister, Rajib Akdag (ph) who told the Anadolu news agency, the official
news agency, that after autopsies and other tests were conducted, including tests on urine and blood samples, that they can confirm that Sarin gas was used on this attack
last Tuesday. Now, these were conducted on three bodies of the 89 victims killed in that attack.
And we were earlier reporting that the results of those initial autopsies were, in fact, shared with the World Health Organization and the
Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons as well.
Significantly, however, no international body has actually gone to Khan Sheikhoun to conduct a further investigation. So at this point, we're
essentially going on the word of the Turkish authorities - Becky.
[11:05:03] ANDERSON: Ben Wedeman is on the border.
Nic, they came, they talked, but they just couldn't get agreement, of course. If this evidence does prove to be conclusive, that just ratchets
up the significance of what's been going on in Lucca. But without agreement on backing Russia into a corner, what happens next?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there was consensus on support for the United States and its strike against Syria.
There was good reason for it, they believe, and agree -- actually felt it was appropriate. Also, they believe that -- and came to consensus on the
fact that the sanctions in place in Russia right now are good. There's consensus on that.
Where there wasn't consensus on the question of applying more sanctions to Russia to strengthen Tillerson's position as he heads into those talks with
Sergey Lavrov, his opposite number in Moscow.
And the Italian foreign minister, the Italians obviously hosting this G7, and we'll remember back to just last year when Matteo Renzi, the then
Italian prime minister was the first of the European leaders, if you will, to break ranks with his European partners to meet with Putin at the St.
Petersburg summit in May last year. Italy tends to have, has had, closer business ties, warmer relations with Moscow than some of the other
So, it's perhaps no surprise that what we heard from the Italian foreign minister here today embodied a sort of softer attitude towards Russia,
opposed to imposing sanctions, more sanctions at least. This is how the Italian foreign minister explained it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANGELINO ALTANO, ITALIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): We must have a dialogue with Russia. We must not push Russia into a corner. We
must also ask Putin to demand the credit that is up to now been granted to Assad. We think that Russians have the strength that is needed to put pressure on Assad and to get him to
observe the commitments with regard to a cease fire.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTSON: But there did seem to be consensus around what Tillerson said, which is that Assad - Putin, rather, has a choice, back away from Assad,
help bring a cease fire and get behind the UN peace process that results in a political transition, removing Assad from power. That was something that
was -- did appear to be agreed here as well, Becky.
ANDERSON: Well, Matthew, then agreement amongst G7 partners that a window of opportunity exists in which to persuade Russia that its alliance with
Assad is no longer in its strategic interest. Is that likely?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, in a word, no, I don't think it is. Certainly not at this stage.
The G7 may have agreed it's in the best interests for Russia to back of its ally in Syria, Bashar al-Assad, but Vladmir Putin and his ministers are
certainly not of that opinion. They've showed no indication that they're prepared to do that. In fact, they've doubled down, if anything, on their
commitment to Basher al-assad since this apparent chemical attack last Tuesday. They vowed that they will bolster Syria's air defenses to try and
deter a future attack of this kind. And they've sent one of their those most modern frigates to the eastern Mediterranean off the coast of Syria to
provide additional Russian fire power in that conflict zone.
Look, I think we have to remember why Russia is backing Syria so strongly. It has bases there, yes. It has economic interests. And it says it wants
to stem the flow of Islamic fundamentalism to its southern underbelly.
But first and foremost, this is about sending a message to the world. It's a symbolic presence that says, look, Russia is a powerful force in the
international community. It's a force to be reckoned with. And Putin, the Russian president, has spent billions of dollars and millions of tons
of weaponry trying to push forward that project.
He's also invested a lot of his personal and national prestige. The idea that he's going to give that up just because the United States has flung a
few dozen missiles in the direction of a single Syrian air base is frankly unrealistic.
ANDERSON: And Matthew, very briefly we've seen G7 in coordination with its Middle Eastern partners suggesting that Russia needs now to step away, as
it were, from Syria. How important the support of Tehran and perhaps increased support going forward in Moscow's calculation about whether or
not it stays the course in Syria?
[11:10:02] CHANCE: Well, as I say, I mean, Russia is there for its own national interests, which I think it defines as -- doesn't make them public
-- but it defines as you know this is an important foothold in the Middle East for Russia. It sends an important message about Russia's strength and
power and influence in the world.
In that process, Iran has emerged as an important ally. And on many occasions, Russia and
Iran talk with one voice when it comes to the future of Syria. There's also a peace process that the Russians have instigated along with Rurkey.
They've drawn other powers into this process as well, which they say they are still behind.
But what we're not seeing at this point, is any sense, even in the aftermath of these missile strikes by the United States, that that support
for Basher al-Assad, that support for their continued presence in military interaction operations in Syria, is going to diminish.
And so if Rex Tillerson, the U.S. Secretary of State is coming to Moscow and he's here now, he's scheduled to meet his Russian counterpart Sergey
Lavrov in the morning. They're going to have a working lunch with each other as well, but if his message to Russia is that now is the time for
your to back off Syria, to back off Bashar al-Assad, I expect he may be disappointed.
ANDERSON: Matthew Chance is in Moscow, Nic is in Italy, and Ben Wedeman on the border, the Turkish-Syrian border. Thank you.
Well, let's look more closely now at the role of Turkey in this Syrian conflict. Ankara has long called for the ouster of Syrian president Basher
al-Assad. On Friday, the country's foreign minister said and I quote, if he doesn't want to go, if there is no transition then -- transition
government and if he continues committing humanitarian crimes, the necessary steps to oust him should be taken.
That position could hurt Turkish relations with Russia, leaving Ankara stuck in a tough position
between Washington and Moscow.
I'm joined now by the Saban Kardas who is president of the Center for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies.
Turkey, of course, was represented at this G7 meeting. It has also been represented at the Astana peace talks, which were pushed and coordinated by
Russia. So, where does Turkey stand at present in what is this very, very complicated map of stakeholders in
SABAN KARDAS, CENTER FOR MIDDLE EASTERN STRATEGIC STUDIES: Yeah, given the evolution of the Syrian crisis, especially since 2015, the big focus for
turkey is to defend its own interests and prevent a second...
ANDERSON: So, what are those interests, just remind us.
KARDAS: The disintegration of Syria as a red line for Turkey, to prevent it is the big interest. But also the direct security repercussions flowing
The moment of the foreign terrorist fighters, the movement of the refugees, these are all creating direct threats on Turkey's own territorial integrity
to some extentand also domestic security situation as we have seen that ISIS attacks and PKK terror attacks inside Turkey that originated from
So, the big concerns to focus on the security threats that are emerging from Syria. In that sense, since 2015, Turkey was pushing the United
States a little bit more forward coming in terms of being sensitive to its own security interests. Especially given the tensions with President
Obama, the United States did not meet Turkey's expectations, as a result, Turkey solved its problem with Russia that was created by the so-called jet air crisis and in
that sense Turkey also started even some understanding and cooperation with Russia on the ground in Syria as well as the political
front, as you mentioned.
ANDERSON: So, it wouldn't be surprising for many of our viewers who don't follow the machinations of what is going on in Syria and Turkey's -
Turkey's positioning, it wouldn't be surprising if people were confused by the president's position. And aferall, this is the president's position,
isn't it, or is this a coordinated across the board parliamentary position for Turkey?
KARDAS: I will say it represents the big majority of Turkish populations. We (inaudible) about the Syrian crisis as well. I mean, in terms of the
parliamentary politics, the CHP main opposition party has been critical of that policy.
ANDERSON: This is the Kurdish Party. It is not the - it is the Republican People - secular Communist Party, but the Kurdish - pro-Kurdish HDP has
been also critical.
But also some issues when it came, for instance, lounging by military operation against Daesh, (inaudible) CHP, the Republican People Party, did
support. So, in certain areas we have seen CHP support. But overall when you look at all MPs plus the Nationalist Action Party, they have been also
So, there is a big consensus behind the policy in terms of being proactive inside Syria both to some extend militarily, but also diplomatically
ANDERSON: After the suspected chemical attack, Turkey's president called Syria's Basher al-Assad a murderer.
He spoke at a rallyg saying, and I quote four viewers, "oh Assad, the murderer, how are you going to find relief from their curse?" Referring to
the victims of the attack.
Oh, with the world and the UN keeping silent about it.
How are you going to account for it? Your response to those words.
KARDAS: Well, I mean, Turkey's Syria policy from day one to some extent has been shared
by the president's own personal views. His moral approach to foreign affairs, so to speak. I used to call it as such. I mean, in addition to
countries around political interests, here they express a certain moral interest in this particular case from day one when the demonstration in
Syria he has been a person who is also involved in the making of Turkish policy within Syria, but also in terms of
calling Assad to leave power, calling Assad these reforms.
The humanitarian side of the Syrian crisis has been making a big part of his moral policy.
ANDERSON: Right. Rex Tillerson, the U.S. secretary of state, has landed in Moscow. He has a message from G7. He's not bringing a message with
particular teeth, I think, many experts would say because there are no new sanctions. But he will ask Moscow to step away.
Just over a month ago, Turkey hosted a rare meeting between Russian and American military officials in (inaudible). Now, let's remind our viewers
that the goal was to improve military coordination on the ground in Syria in the war against ISIS.
Relations between the U.S. have obviously deteriorated since Washington's russia have obviously deteriorated since Washington's strike on a Syrian
air base. So can Turkey, do you think, get Washington and Moscow back to negotiating table if Rex Tillerson fails?
KARDAS: Well, I don't think Turkey will be in a position to bring two major international powers to negotiation table. It is beyond turkey's
role in the international affairs and also in the Syrian crisis. Here, Russia has been a pursuing its own interest, to some extent it did work
with Turkey in terms of the Astana process (inaudible). Beyond that, Russia pursued its own interest.
For instance, it (inaudible) maintains its support to the regime. So, I don't think Turkey is in a
position to push Russia to change course so it can make up with the United States.
So, the same is also true, because American interests has been there and I don't think Turkey's
in a position to convince the American side to have a different approach.
ANDERSON: We will continue with our reporting on and from Turkey throughout this hour because, of course, there is an important, very
important referendum on the constitutional powers of the president coming up this weekend. And we will talk about how Syria might
play a role in that. But for the time being, we thank you very much indeed for joining us.
KARDAS: Thank you.
ANDERSON: Well, still to come tonight, Donald Trump's blunt words to North Korea and China about the rise in military tensions and what he wants to
happen next. Going to get you reaction live from Pyongyang. Stay with us.
[11:21:05] ANDERSON: All right, just about 20 past 6:00 in Ankara in Turkey. You're watching CNN and Connect the World with me, Becky Anderson.
Now, the U.S. president is back on Twitter with a warning for North Korea. Donald Trump says North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to
help, that would be great, if not we will solve the problem without them.
He also had blunt words for Beijing tweeting, I explained to the president of China that a
trade deal with the U.S. will be far better for them if they solved the North Korean problem.
Well, CNN's Will Ripley joins us from Pyongyang. Still the only U.S. TV journalist in North Korea. What's the response there, Will?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we won't be the only TV journalist for long, Becky, as more are expected to arrive here tomorrow
for a major national event happening in North Korea on Saturday: the Day of the Sun holiday, North Korea's most important
holiday where they often invite in the international press.
But we have been here today covering the Supreme People's Assembly. And these are some new images coming out just within the last hour of North
Korea's Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un presiding over this gathering of some 680 delegates. These are North Korea's ruling elite who come here to
Pyongyang once or twice a year and essentially vote ceremonially on the policies that Kim Jong-un and his inner circle have already predetermined
because the votes at this gathering are always unanimously in favor of what the leader puts forward.
Now, we're still disseminating everything that happened. There will be more information released in the coming hours here in Pyongyang about what
exactly these elite rulers decided lead, of course, by the ruler who holds the most important vote, Kim Jong-un, but we know they talked about
everything from the economy and budget and we expect also perhaps to learn about other things, such as North Korea's nuclear program and their missile
We have also asked the North Koreans for a response to President Trump's provocative tweets. So far, nothing yet from officials. And we don't know
if we'll hear anything for some time, but North Korea has issued a very strong response to the deployment by the U.S. of the carrier strike group
Carl Vinson to the waters off of the Korean peninsula. They turned that strike group around as the result of North Korean provocative acts,
including a series of missile launches and intelligence in the U.S. and South Korea that this country and its leader could push the button at any
moment on their sixth nuclear test, which of course would be very troubling for the world, Becky, as it
would show just how far and how quickly this country is coming along with their goal to have an
intercontinental ballistic warhead capable of striking the mainland U.S.
ANDERSON: Will Ripley is in Pyongyang with the very latest from there. Will, thank you.
Well, things at United Airlines have just gone from bad to worse. First, social media blew up over shocking video of a passenger getting violently
dragged out of a United plane. Well, now a leaked letter from its CEO describes the passenger as disruptive and belligerent. And says employees
followed established procedure.
Alisyn Camerota has more on what was the chaotic scene.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A disturbing scene unfolding in front of horrified passengers as this man is wrestled from his seat...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on.
CAMEROTA: ...and dragged off the plane.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, this is wrong. Oh, my God, look at what you're doing to him.
CAMEROTA: Three Chicago airport security officers seen forcibly removing this passenger to make room for crew members on the overbooked flight, the
man hitting his mouth on the armrest across the aisle.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They busted his lip.
CAMEROTA: Moments later the distraught passenger runs back onto the plane.
[11:25:04] PASSENGER REMOVED FROM UNITED FLIGHT 3411: I have to go home. I have to go home.
CAMEROTA: Witnesses say the man told the crew he was a doctor and was yelling that he was being profiled because he was Chinese. The incident
prompting outrage on board...
TYLER BRIDGES, PASSENGER ON UNITED FLIGHT 3411: The United employees come on the plane. The other passengers were just berating the employees, saying
things like you should be ashamed of yourself, you should be embarrassed to work for this company.
CAMEROTA: ...and sparking a major backlash against the airline on social media. United Airlines first explaining in a statement, "Normally when this
occurs, passengers are asked to voluntarily give up their seats for compensation and the situation is resolved. However, this was not the case
on Sunday night's flight and United was forced into an involuntary deboarding situation."
United CEO Oscar Munoz later addressing the incident on social media saying, "I apologize for having to reaccommodate these customers. Our team
is moving with a sense of urgency to work with the authorities and conduct our own detailed review of what happened." Munoz later calling the
passenger "disruptive and belligerent" in an email to employees.
CHARLIE LEOCHA, PRESIDENT, TRAVELERS UNITED: Well, I've never seen this happen before. I've never, ever seen a passenger roughed up and dragged off
a plane to put a flight attendant on. I mean, that's just idiocy.
CAMEROTA: The officer involved in pulling this passenger from the flight is on paid leave while officials investigate what happened.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is wrong. Oh, my God.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They busted his lip.
ANDERSON: All right. Let's get you some of the other stories on our radar today. And registration is open for candidates in Iran's election.
President Hassan Rouhani is expected to run again, but is yet to officially put his name in.
Potential candidates have until Saturday to register before a guardian council vets them and
produces a final list. The election takes place on May 19.
A dire warning from the United Nations. It's raising the alarm even further about a humanitarian crisis affecting 20 million people.
The UN says drought and violent conflicts are increasing the risk of mass deaths from starvation in South Sudan and Somalia, Yemen and in Nigeria.
It says a funding shortfall is making an, quote avoidable - sorry, avoidable crisis virtually inevitable.
Well, Journalist David Fahrenthold of The Washington Post has won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting for his investigative work on Donald
Trump's campaign for U.S. president. Administrator Mike Pride announced the awards as victory for the free press.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PRIDE, PULITZER ADMINISTRATOR: You only have to pause to consider societies where journalism is suppressed to realize that even with its
flaws, a vigorous free press remains a cornerstone of democracy. It is truly an ally of the American people.
Well, world news headlines just ahead for you. Plus, last minute rallies on the streets of Turkey as a critical referendum on the country's future
is now just days away.
We'll join you again live from Ankara right after this short break. Don't go.
[11:32:02] ANDERSON: Security is being ramped up in Egypt after Sunday's deadly terror attack. At least 45 people were killed when bombers targeted
two Coptic christian churches on Sunday.
The country now in mourning, and under a three month state of emergency. Ian Lee has more.
IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There is noticeably tighter security outside of
Saint George's Church here in Tanta. There are more police officers, there are more barricades. In front of the church you have men who are
padding those who want to enter down. There's a metal detector. But talking to Christians in this community, they say this strikes at the
fundamental corps of the problem. They say this type of security won't last long and it won't be replicated at churches across the country. They
say the few security guards that are placed at churches are inadequate. They're inexperienced. And they're incompetent, not the cream of the crop.
Now, President el-Sisi has declared three months state of an emergency that has been approved by the cabinet and now it'll go to the parliament. They
have seven days to ratify it. This gives them a special court where people who go in front of it, they cannot appeal that verdict.
Now, the government says this will expedite justice against terrorists. Human rights groups say that they're afraid this law - this rule could be
In the meantime, ISIS says they will continue their attacks against what they is their favorite prey: Egypt's Christians. And that leaves a lot of
people scared as Holy Week continues and concludes with Easter.
Ian Lee, CNN, in Tanta, Egypt.
ANDERSON: Well, as America's top diplomat tries to lure Russia away from its Syrian ally, the White House is, again, pushing back against criticism
that it is sending mixed messages on Syria.
So are we really any closer to knowing where the Trump administration stands? Here is Joe Johns.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: If you gas a baby, if you put a barrel bomb into innocent people, I think you can -- you will see a
response from the president.
JOHNS (voice-over): White House press secretary Sean Spicer telling reporters that another chemical attack or use of barrel bombs could result
in more missile strikes.
SPICER: When you watch babies and children being gassed and suffering under barrel bombs, you are instantaneously moved to action.
JOHNS: This would mark a dramatic escalation of U.S. action, considering that Assad's regime has dropped 495 barrel bombs last month alone,
according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights.
Hours later, the White House walking back his apparent red line, saying Spicer meant to signal that the president is never going to rule anything
Further muddying the waters, this interventionist comment from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the G-7 summit in Italy.
[11:35:05] TILLERSON: We rededicate ourselves to holding to account any and all who commit crimes against the innocents anywhere in the world.
JOHNS: Very different from Trump's "America first" vision.
SPICER: We're not going to become the world's policeman, running around the country -- running around the world.
JOHNS: The Trump administration's stance toward Assad also remains unclear.
SPICER: I can't imagine a stable and peaceful Syria where Bashar al- Assad is in power.
JOHNS: Spicer seemingly taking the position stated by U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley on Sunday.
HALEY: Regime change is something that we think is going to happen. It's going to be hard to see a government that's peaceful and stable with Assad.
JOHNS: Which was the opposite of statements from Secretary Tillerson.
TILLERSON: Once we can eliminate the battle against ISIS, conclude that, and it is going quite well, then we hope to turn our attention to achieving
cease-fire agreements between the regime and opposition forces.
JACK REED, U.S. SENATE DEMOCRAT: I think they're still searching, frankly, for a policy and for a strategy.
JOHNS: Meantime, Syrian warplanes are back in the sky, taking off from the air base hit by the U.S. with dozens of cruise missiles. The Pentagon
claims the strikes caused 20 percent of Syria's operational aircraft to be destroyed. But two senior military officials tell CNN it was 20 planes, not
ANDERSON: Well, Joe Johns joining me now from the White House.
Joe, do we have any more clarity on these comments?
JOHNS: Well, there is two or three pieces to this as you know, Becky. Nothing is ever easy when it comes to
Syria. There's the piece that relates to Russia and how it deals with Syria. We got a little bit more clarity on that today from Rex
Tillerson, the secretary of state who essentially said, among other things, that the reign of Basher
al-Assad in Syria is coming to an end. And if Russia continues to support him, it risks becoming
increasingly irrelevant in the international conversation.
But as to how the United States relates directly to Syria, we still had some muddied messages. And a lot of that, I think, comes down more than
anything else to confusing comments and inaccurate information. The good example as you saw in the piece about this notion of barrel bombs, a
problem for this administration because barrel bombs have been used many times by the Syrians, we understand. And if the United States were to
create that red line and say we're not going to allow barrel bombs, or the president is going to react to barrel bombs, it would be a
huge change in Syria.
So, it certainly had to walk that back.
I think, the bottom line from this administration, and one of the things they try to make clear again and again in their messages is this president
does not want to telegraph what he plans to do in any particular foreign hot spot.
At the same time, he reserves the right to consider all his options. And that is the big picture, despite whatever inaccurate or confusing
information is coming out, Becky.
Joe Johns is in Washington. It's 11:38 here. It's 18:38 in Ankara where we have been discussing Syria through the perspective of Turkey.
And here in just a few days, a referendum could usher in the most sweeping political changes
in decades, dramatically overhauling the parliamentary system to consolidate power in the hands of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Voters
will go to the polls Sunday after months of demonstration and campaigning on both sides of the debate.
Now, critics fear the referendum would erode any democracy in Turkey. But Mr. Erdogan's supporters say changes are needed to make the government more
Well, that's what his supporters certainly say. We are joined again Saban Kardas who is president of the Center for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies.
And just, if you will, set what is this important poll, historic poll, on Sunday here in context
for you. Why? And why now?
KARDAS: Well, in the history of the modern Turkish republic, if changes go through, it will mean a complete rehaul of the administrative and
government structure. That is coming from the civilian initiative. In the past, we have seen major changes. We have a bicameral system, we had a
unicameral system, different forms of governance.
But all the changes, all the changes to the constitution were introduced by military coups, aftermath of the coups. So, this will be a complete
redesign of the political government system based on popular initiative.
[11:40:16] ANDERSON: Well, while this reflects the operation of democracy, many argue that this is right in the hands of President Erdogan.
Let me just step back for a moment, if you will, and just have a look at what's in this reform
package. Reminding our viewers that if Turkish voters approve the bill, the governing structure in
Turkey will change from a parliamentary, as you rightly pointed out, system to a presidential one.
Now, the president will hold executive power and can be a member of a political party. Five out of the 13 Supreme Court members would be
appointed by the president. And the president will have the authority to publish decrees.
Let's discuss the following, critics say the bill amounts to a power grab by President Erdogan, is it?
KARDAS: No, I don't think so.
I mean, you should put it in context based on the current political system, in which the executive has certain powers versus with the new system. And
other compares needs to be made, for instance, between the Turkish proposed presidential system versus the American system.
ANDERSON: And I understand where you're going with this, you're making...
ANDERSON: You're making some perfectly sensible analogies and you're drawing some perfectly sensible comparisons, but if that is the case, why
is it that he's so widely criticized by his opponents for what they say is a power grab? It will give him authority, should he win this, until I
think I'm right in saying 2029. That would be something like 27 years in front line politics in Turkey. Is that a good thing?
KARDAS: Well, there's no guarantee that he will be elected, first of all. Secondly, we don't know he will run in all the elections.
So, to some extent here we see the critics personalize the issue rather than looking at the
structural change and what it means for the governance and political system in Turkey.
The very fact that the critics just focus on how many years he's served and how many years he may potentially serve also reflects to some extent the
personalization of the debate.
So instead, I think we should look at what it introduces, but also the powers of the parliament in the new system. And personally, I should add
that this change, this package of changes, the transitional phase, probably some criticisms that are directed against the current
changes may eventually be readjusted. Eventually in Turkey, we have also having a discussion about rehauling the entire constitution, rewriting the
entire constituion. It may come to the agenda in the second phase.
ANDRESON: You have rightly pointed out that he might not win this. I'm loathe to even quote polls here particularly. But around the world, as we
saw in the American election polls, not doing us any favors ofttimes when it comes to reporting on these events.
But what we do know is that emotions have been running high over this referendum for months. The tensions spilling over in parliament, you'll
remember, back in January, these scenes as lawmakers brawled during a debate over the constitutional amendments that would
reduce their own powers, of ocurse.
Fists flying after one opposition lawmaker told the ruling party, quote, you are trying to destroy yourselves when the TV is off and nobody sees.
We won't let it happen.
And quite frankly, it isn't a slam dunk yet, is it? It really isn't. I mean, this is not wrapped up for President Erdogan with what four or five
days to go.
KARDAS: Well, I mean, when we look at the recent trends, I think now we can say that the lack of yes what is bigger than a tie. Before until the
last week or so, 50/50 was more likely than a clear yes. But right now, when we look at major polls, also the trends, the polling, not only the
polling, but also the people on the rallies.
So, the emotions are high but mobilization is also high. Especially in the last two weeks, the president himself has been running at the rallies and
meetings, campaigns. So, here's this power to mobilize people. We have seen it reflected in terms of the audience attending big rallies in
(inaudible) predominately Kurdish city in Ishmir (ph), which is seen as a major secular-oriented city - in Istanbul, in Ankara. And today he's
speaking in other cities.
So, I think in the last turn toward the final vote, we have seen a big mobilization which indicates that the yes vote is more likely at this
ANDERSON: Well, that's fascinating. That's fascinating. We have also been on to the
streets of Ankara today. And we have seen those singing and chanting for both yes and no on the streets of Ankara today. So there are people are
out there and they are demonstrating their support on both sides.
Thank you, sir.
KARDAS: Thanks a lot.
ANDERSON: It's a pleasure having you on.
KARDAS: Thank you.
ANDERSON: Live from Turkey, this is Connect the World. Coming up for you, a royal
Jordanian takes a jab at United Airlines. How the airline is using Twitter to tease competitors and attract travelers. That's next.
JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: When it comes to property, China's capital is known for two things: tall apartment towers and booming
prices. But 30 minutes outside of Beijing, right next to a steel yard and warehouse innovation is fast at work.
This home was built from start to finish in just 45 days using 3D printing technology. It's the brainchild of this man, mechanical engineer Wu
Jainping, who toyed with the concept after research for this this type of work in outer space.
WU JIANPING, ENGINEER (through translator): We got inspiration from NASA and a
university in California that researched a building houses on the moon through 3D print technology.
DEFTERIOS: His success is highly dependent on obtaining patents and contracts for what sits
behind this blue tarpaulin sheet: a giant 3D cement printer.
Wu sat me down in his 400 square meter model home and took me through his video illustrating
how it was done.
With only six builders on hand, 1.5 meters of cement wall were put up each day. The foundation and outer shell were finished in just over a week.
The two story project including all the finishing touches, cost just over $30,000.
This 3D printed house serves as a test case for this market, of course, but Wu has his sights set on emerging markets where China is already active.
And that would include Africa.
And he's starting to build celebrity status in the nascent 3D housing community, welcoming curious delegations from the Middle East and being
asked to give lectures in Europe.
JIANPING (through translator): I feel very gratified of course because this thing needs to be promoted. The world, indeed, has noticed the house.
The reason it's drawing attention is that's it's an innovative building technique and could be widely utilized in the future.
DEFTERIOS; And if all goes well, Wu tells me he wants to eventually take his 3D technology now in his shop yard and build homes on, get this, free
standing platforms at sea.
John Defterios, One Square Meter, Beijing.
[11:51:44] ANDERSON: Well, on what is a beautiful evening in Ankara, just before the sun sets behind me.
You're watching CNN. This is Connect the World with me, Becky Anderson. Welcome back. And for those who are just joining us, well, you are very
It is the world's largest living thing. Australia's Great Barrier Reef, once a wonderland of bright
corals and organisms admired all around the world. But now there might not be much to see. Scientists say, sadly, most of this natural wonder is
cooking and dying and climate change, they say, is to blame. Here is Lynda Kinkade.
LYNDA KINKADE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's one of the natural wonders of the world, but it is fast disappearing in front of our eyes. New aerial surveys
reveal two-thirds of the Great Barrier Reef is likely dead due to bleaching. That's some 1500 kilometers of coral reef, habitats for billions
of tiny organisms.
Last year's bleaching was unprecedented. You can see it on the map. Mainly, in the north of the reef. That has not recovered. And the damage this year
has spread further south.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I conducted some of the in-water surveys on the norther Great Barrier Reef last year and what we observed in our shallow
survey sites were very few species where resistant to bleaching.
KINKADE: The bleaching is caused by a rising sea level temperature, a result of global warming. Unfortunately, there has been no recovery in two
years. The Tropical Cyclone Debby, which generated wind gusts of up to 260 kilometers per our hit the region in late March, one of the most dangerous
cyclones in years. A study is currently underway to determine the extent of the impact of that.
Not only is the Great Barrier Reef crucial to supporting marine biodiversity and the fishing industries, it's also a tourist draw card,
contributing about $6 billion to the Australian economy every year.
(on camera): Scientists fear that the time left to act on climate change to save the world's largest living structure is now running out. And once
gone, it will never come back.
Lynda Kinkade, CNN.
ANDERSON: Well, for you're Parting Shots tonight, how royal Jordanian Airlines is trying to
bring humor back to flying. The airline tweeted this welcome message to travelers in the wake of the PR nightmare over at United Airlines. It
reads, quote, our pilots happily welcome you on board our flights.
Then there was this puny tweet, we are here to keep you United dragging is strictly prohibited.
Well, the airline also made light of the electronics ban by tweeting this list of things to do on a
12 hour flight. It suggests passengers read a book, meditate, analyze the meaning of life, or reclaim territory on the arm rest.
Royal Jordanian is known for its sense of humor. Here's the tweet it sent during the presidential campaign just in case he wins, travel to the U.S.
while you're still allowed to.
Well, coming to you live from Ankara in Turkey tonight this hour for a special edition of Connect the World, bringing you the news from all around
the region. And you can get more, do just reach for your phone, folks, and make your way to our Facebook page. We'll have the latest interviews
that we've just done here in Turkey up soon.
But for the time being you can read up on how Saudi Arabian women, for example, are making their mark on YouTube. That is all at
I'm Becky Anderson and that was Connect the World from the team working with me here in Ankara and those working for you around the world, thank
you for watching. CNN continues after this short break. Good evening.