Return to Transcripts main page
CONNECT THE WORLD
Turkey Votes In A Referendum For More Presidential Powers; North Korea's Show Of Defiance And US Reactions. Aired 12-1p ET
Aired April 16, 2017 - 12:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROBYN KRIEL, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: Well, you're watching CNN and this is an extended special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Robyn
Kriel. Welcome back.
We are following breaking news for you out of Turkey on its historic referendum. The latest numbers from state news have yes at 53 percent.
That's to give the president broad new powers. That number coming down slowly, though. No now rising to 47 percent. That's with 84 percent of
Now, this does not count as a definitive result, of course, and we will continue updating those numbers just as soon as they become available to
us. That's yes 53 percent, no 47 percent.
Now, just before tonight's show went on, Becky Anderson who is in Turkey's capital Ankara, went out on to the streets of Ankara and about to see what
the vote could mean.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: This is the AKP party headquarters, the seat of power of the ruling party that was co-founded by
President Erdogan. You can see the big campaign banners.
Now, up until now, the president of the country couldn't officially be a member of a party, but that will change if the vote is for yes in this
referendum, meaning that President Erdogan can rejoin the party that he once co-founded.
You can see the media setting up and getting ready here as well because this will be where the AKP party will hold its rally if it were to win
Couple of blocks away and the less animated scene perhaps at the headquarters of the CHP, the opposition party, pushing no, hayir, in this
This is one of the thousands of polling stations across the country. This one set up at a primary school in downtown Ankara. Let's go and find out
what's going on in inside.
In Turkey, you can only vote in the city that you are resident of, so you have to be registered and your name needs to be on the voters' list. So,
people bring their IDs and have their names checked before getting handed the piece of paper. Evet for yes, hayir for no. You then go into the
booth and stamp your preference before dropping it into the box.
And have a look at this. This is the presidential palace behind me, which you can see from across town, an imposing building. And what goes on there
could forever change depending on the result of this referendum.
KRIEL: Well, Chris Burns is in Berlin, Germany. He's at a viewing party for Turks living outside of Turkey, of which there are more than a million.
Chris, it does sound a bit more excited than when we last spoke to you when I believe the no vote was a little bit lower than it was now.
But just take us through the atmosphere there.
CHRIS BURNS, CNN FRANKFURT BUREAU CHIEF AND CORRESPONDENT: Robyn, an amazing atmosphere because as the first results were coming out - this is -
I have to be clear, this is the no vote crowd here with the CHP party.
And before the results came out, they were dancing. The flags were waving. The initial results came out, it was 60/40 yes. Very somber mood. It went
[12:05:05] And then, as we saw things started crawling back, with the no vote crawling back, at each step of the way, you'll hear these screams and
cheers and claps. So, it is very much a horse race at this point for the people here.
And one of the heads of the party here in Berlin said that, look - he told the audience, hang in there, don't give up, we still have a chance. Though
I talked to somebody else who said that, well, I don't know, I don't know if it's going to make it.
So, there is a party here. But in other parts of Berlin, you also have the yes vote. And so, the AKP party is in another part of town partying as
well. So, we still have to see what the results are. But, of course, having a lot of impact, a lot is at stake on relations between Turkey and
the Europeans in this referendum.
KRIEL: What are the no voters worried about, if indeed this referendum passes?
BURNS: Well, Turkey is continuing its bid for membership in the European Union. It's been more than 10 years that they are negotiating. They have
35 chapters in that thing and only one of the chapters has been completed.
There is very little hope at the moment that they will get anywhere anytime soon, but they're still holding out this hope they're going to have better
relations, at least visa free travel. That is on the table at the moment.
It's very, very tough, though. The government of Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been making it very, very hard for the Europeans to say, look, you have
complied with all of these civil rights issues and governance issues and that is why they are not getting that visa free travel that Mr. Erdogan has
been demanding as part of the deal to take in refugees from Europe.
That's a _3 billion deal that the Europeans dangled out in front of Mr. Erdogan and he accepted, but he also set kind of hard deal (ph) we want
visa free travel.
And that is something that the Europeans have not given yet, but the people here definitely want. They are very much pro-European. They are very much
engaged and want to be part of the European Union.
So, for them, it's very important. And also, because, of course, just trade is very important. The Europeans are the biggest trading partner for
Europe and these people are very much connected to that.
KRIEL: All right. Their sound is decidedly more excited than it did a few hours ago. That is Chris Burns who is live for us at a viewing party where
the predominance of people are supporting the no vote.
Let's now turn to Ian Lee, who is in Turkey's largest city Istanbul. Ian, define for us the pro-Erdogan voter at this point.
IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Robyn, I was able to talk to a number of them across the city today at different polling stations. And
one thing that I heard time after time again from people who support the yes, support President Erdogan is they say that they believe he will be
able to provide a stronger economy, a stronger Turkey also with security.
And when you look back over the more than a decade he's been a very prominent figure in Turkish politics, you have seen the economy really
revolutionized to become one of the top 20 in the world.
And especially for people in rural parts of Turkey, in the villages, they've seen better infrastructure that's connecting them to larger cities.
They've seen airports, they've seen roads, they've seen railways.
And also, President Erdogan has an ability to speak to the common man and that's where he gets a lot of the support from the people. And that's why
he's been able to stay in power for so long is because he can really galvanize that base to come out and support for him, Robyn.
KRIEL: And what about the anti-Erdogan vote? I know that there's been an enormous amount of criticism from human rights advocates as well as free
speech advocates? Where does that leave those if this yes vote does pass?
LEE: You've really got to start back in July of last year with that failed coup attempt. The government went after those people they say were
responsible. But you have activists and rights groups saying that that crackdown spread further to academics, to anyone - to many opposition
politicians, anyone really who was vocal against the government.
And so, in the lead up to this referendum, we've seen a lot of support really slanted in favor of the yes vote. And the no vote, people say, they
aren't getting - they don't have the money that the yes vote has, and especially when it comes to the airways. That media coverage of this
referendum, no vote saying that they haven't had a fraction of what the yes has received. They also complained of intimidation, violence and threats
And when I spoke to one woman at a polling station, she said, last night, I was crying all night because this isn't just a referendum for Turkey. She
said this has been a path that I've been witnessing over the past - over a decade that this has become more of an authoritarian country.
[12:10:10] And she says she's scared. Even if this referendum fails, that trajectory, it just cannot be stopped. So, there's a lot of people in the
no camp who are very afraid of what it means if yes were to win. And as we see right now with these numbers coming in, it is going to be incredibly
KRIEL: Who do people think can keep them most secure? Given the uptick in ISIS bombings and in Turkey's involvement in the war in Syria, who do
people believe can keep them more secure in Turkey at this time?
LEE: That is the question and it really depends on who you ask in the yes or no camp. Just to give you an idea of the security situation right now,
hundreds of thousands of police officers were spread across the country to secure this referendum. There were multiple arrests of people who have
suspected ties to ISIS.
But when it comes to who will provide security, the yes say, well, it is a strong president. So, the president can make the directive to go after
those people who are threatening the security. But the people on the no camp say that the president hasn't done a good enough job of sealing the
border with Syria to stop those that spillover violence, people coming into Turkey and carrying out these attacks like ISIS, which we've seen a number
And also, in the no camp, they said this wide purge that was carried out after that failed coup attempt, a lot of those people who were experts in
security were rounded up that were able to maintain the security of the country and disrupt any sort of ISIS or PKK Kurdish militant attacks.
Those people lost their job.
So, you really have a split on who they believe can provide the best security. Robyn?
KRIEL: All right. Thank you so much. Ian Lee live for us in Istanbul. And we will have much more analysis, opinions and videos on our CNN
website. You can go to CNN.com to see this article, what happens if Turkey votes for Erdogan's power bill. That is on CNN.com.
And a quick reminder on Turkey. The country is home to roughly 80 million people, nearly all are Muslims, most are Sunni with a very small fraction
of Christians and Jews. Ethnically, about three quarters of the population is Turkish, while almost 20 percent are Kurdish.
Turkey is a longtime member of NATO and has applied to join the European Union. But the EU parliament suspended talks on membership after last
year's government crackdown.
We will, of course, keep an eye on that story. But still to come, our coverage of Turkey's historic election continues and we're going to update
you on the latest results as they come in.
KRIEL: You're watching CNN. This is a special extended edition of CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Robyn Kriel. Welcome back.
Well, in our breaking news this hour, let's update you on the very latest numbers from Turkey's historic referendum. State news reports have the yes
vote at 53 percent. Now, that is to give the president broad new powers. That's President Erdogan.
That number is coming down fast, though. The no is rising to 47 percent. And that's with 84 percent of the votes counted as of now.
[12:15:10] So, this does not count as a definitive result. And as soon as we get updates to those numbers, we will break in and let you know.
Well, let's turn now to a new show of defiance by North Korea in the Korean Peninsula. The US and South Korea say that Pyongyang tried to test another
missile. It blew up almost immediately, though.
CNN's Will Ripley is one of the few Western journalists in North Korea right now and he looks at what the government could do next.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just hours after rolling its growing missile arsenal through Kim Il-sung Square, the
US and South Korea say North Korean leader Kim Jong-un tried taking things one step further.
US Pacific Command detected an attempted missile launch at the crack of dawn Sunday. The US says the missile failed within seconds. It was fired
from Sinpo on North Korea's East Coast, home to the nation's submarine base and the site of another failed missile launch last week, just ahead of a
meeting at Mar-A-Lago between President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The US Defense Secretary releasing a brief statement saying the president and his military team are aware of North Korea's unsuccessful missile
launch. The president has no further comment.
The North Korean leader apparently undeterred by mounting international pressure, unveiling two never-before-seen intercontinental ballistic
missiles at this military parade on Saturday. Analysts say these missiles are most likely mockups, but they believe North Korea is working towards
the real thing.
What should the world think when they see these ballistic missiles rolling by. Is North Korea threat to the world?
The Korean People's Army is fully ready to attack our enemies at any moment, he says, if they try to attack us.
Despite escalating rhetoric and US warships and submarines headed for the Korean coast, the nation's Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un did not test a
nuclear weapon Saturday as many predicted.
I think we've done something bigger than a nuclear test, this man says. We've shown the world something much bigger.
Analysts say Kim Jong-un could push the button on North Korea's sixth nuclear test at any time. He's already launched more missiles than his
father and grandfather combined. And even missile failures help North Korean rocket scientists gain valuable intelligence.
Also on display for Day of the Sun celebrations, North Korea's conventional arsenal - tanks, artillery, weapons pointed directly at tens of millions of
people in South Korea. Even if North Korea can't match the firepower of the US, experts say they have the potential to do a lot of damage and kill
a lot of people.
What do you want President Trump to know about the North Korean people?
I think President Trump should try to learn more about North Korea and its people, she says. We are never afraid of the American nuclear threat. We
have our own nuclear weapons to counter those threats, weapons North Korea and its unpredictable leader put on full display, promising they're not
afraid to use them if provoked.
Will Ripley, CNN, Pyongyang.
KRIEL: Here's what the US is saying about the missile test. While visiting Afghanistan, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster maintained
the administration's line that all options on the table in dealing with Pyongyang, although they prefer a diplomatic solution.
And the US vice president who is in South Korea right now called the test of provocation. Mike pence says that America's commitment to Seoul is
stronger than ever.
CNN's Paula Hancocks is in the South Korean capital and she joins us with more on the US vice president's visit. Paula, no president that the vice
president would be visiting in South Korea, but the visit went ahead anyway. A message to North Korea perhaps or what do you think?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN KOREA CORRESPONDENT: Well, Robyn, it's certainly a tricky time for US officials to be coming here, considering there's no
actual president. It's an acting president as the former president was impeached and imprisoned due to a massive corruption scandal.
And so, at this point, obviously, we have seen the Secretary of State come here. We've seen the Defense Secretary and now the vice president.
Clearly, it's not possible for US officials, they believe, to actually wait around until there is a new president on May 9. Well, the election is May
There's a sense of urgency certainly in Washington. When you mentioned what the National Security Adviser McMaster had said about all options
being on the table, he also said there's a sense in the US that this is all coming to a head. He mentioned that that was a sense in the region as
[12:20:15] And certainly, we are seeing a lot more diplomatic activity. We're seeing a lot more comments as well from President Trump. Robyn?
KRIEL: All right. A sense of urgency indeed. Thank you so much. Paula Hancocks live in Seoul for us. Well, still to come on CONNECT THE WORLD,
our coverage of Turkey's historic election continues. We're going to update you on the latest results just as soon as they come in.
ANDERSON: I'm Becky Anderson in the Turkish capital of Ankara where we are at the center stage of major breaking news for you this hour in today's
historic referendum here. The very latest numbers from state news have the yes camp at just below 53 percent. In fact, just ticking down to below 52
percent. That would give the president broad new powers. We have some 93 percent of votes counted now.
That number, though, has been coming down fast, the no camp rising to 48 percent. That is, as I said, with 93 percent of votes counted, nearly all
the votes counted as of now. So, this does not count - I think it would be right to say - as a definitive - certainly, it is not a definitive result,
but should the results stay the same. It also doesn't look like it's a big margin by any stretch of the imagination, then some would say not a mandate
for Erdogan and the yes campaign.
But to break this all down for you, let's bring back in Ahmet Kasim Han. He's a political analyst and an associate professor here in Turkey. You
and I watching these votes live as they are counted. This is the Anadolu state news agency. With 93 percent of the vote now in, 51.9 percent to the
yes camp, 48.1 percent to the no camp. Thoughts?
AHMET KASIM HAN, POLITICAL ANALYST AND ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, KADIR HAS UNIVERSITY: That's really amazing to watch. And I'm sure that that makes
everyone that are interested in politics hold their breath.
One interesting thing, Becky, that these results are telling is that the yes vote, assuming, of course, it ends up here or in the vicinity, 51.92
percent as we stand, means that AK Party has added up almost something like 2 percent to their votes.
That might spell a win for the president and the yes camp. However, it spells big troubles for Turkey's nationalist political party's leader, Mr.
Devlet Bahceli, who lended support for the yes.
His party's vote in the last election was 11 percent. Everyone thought that it could be a very comfortable win for the yes because 49 percent AKP
party vote, plus 11 percent MHP vote, the Nationalist Party vote makes - and adds up to 60 percent.
But there's only 2 percent here and no one can guarantee that this - given that 2 percent comes from the nationalists.
[12:25:12] ANDERSON: What is very interesting is that, as things stand, it is looking as if Istanbul, the big city of Istanbul has actually voted no.
And we'll talk about that in a moment.
Chris Burns is standing by in Berlin in Germany where there is, of course, a large population of voting Turks. And what is important for this, of
course, is those who voted in the diaspora could be conceived to be the swing vote as it were. Sources here telling me they could be around about
sort of 2 percent to 3 percent of the voting public who actually took part in this referendum, Chris.
BURNS: Yes. Becky, a lot of tension and excitement in this room. This is the no vote, the CHP party. And they've been watching this. It's been an
emotional rollercoaster for them that where, right out of the gate, the initial result was 60/40 yes. And now, it's a very different ballgame. It
is a horse race.
So, let's talk to the general secretary of the CHP here in Berlin, Oktay Celebi. Oktay, how do you feel? What is the feeling in this room for you?
OKTAY CELEBI, GENERAL SECRETARY OF CHP, BERLIN: Yes. We have a great feeling here and there is a very, very good ambience here.
BURNS: But the fact is you are still losing.
CELEBI: Yes. It seems so, but we will wait until the last minute and we don't give up. We know (INAUDIBLE) and therefore we wait till the last
BURNS: Now, wait a minute, you guys are all expatriates, you don't live in Turkey, why is this so important to you? There are millions of you out
here in Europe, but you don't live in Turkey.
CELEBI: In Turkey, we have a relation and every time. And therefore, we hope Turkey wins here and in Europe too.
BURNS: You want Turkey to join Europe?
CELEBI: Yes. And we want to enjoy it. For the democrats of Turkey, it is very important. And therefore, we want all of our friends together for a
better Turkey, for the democracy of the Turkey, and we work with all our friends in Europe too, but in Turkey.
BURNS: OK. But the yes vote people will say, look - the yes vote people will say this is an American system. It goes to a presidential system. It
gets rid of the Prime Minister. The president has more power. There is more stability. How do you answer that?
CELEBI: They say that the best system from USA presidential system, but what they do for the Turkey it is not the same what you have in USA.
BURNS: How is that?
CELEBI: One-man regime. It is not a democratic regime, but it is one-man regime. Therefore, we are against it and we want that Turkey have more
BURNS: OK. Oktay Celebi, thank you very much. We'll speak to you later.
CELEBI: Thank you.
BURNS: We are watching this on the edge of our seat to see how this goes through and what impact they could have with the European Union. Very
important for Turkey as Europe is the biggest trading partner for Turkey.
Back to you.
ANDERSON: Absolutely, Chris. Thank you for that. A reminder before we go then, this half hour, as we close in on a final tally. These are the very
latest numbers from literally just moments ago. State news here in Turkey has yes ticking just below 52 percent, no rising to 48 percent. That's
nearly all the votes counted as of now. We're looking at around 93 percent, 94 percent of them.
I am Becky Anderson and that was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thank you for watching. We will have more in the hours to come with what is an historic
moment in Turkish politics. Stay with us.