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Hurricane Sally Slams into U.S. Gulf Coast; Migrants Risk Life and Limb to Find a Safe Home; French Hospitals Coping with Coronavirus Case Surge; Ireland Extends Restrictions, Delays Relaxation Plans. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired September 16, 2020 - 10:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[10:00:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Turks mobilize for a sea rescue, with the added risk of COVID-19. Now it's a race against time. These waters have already

claimed too many lives.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST (voice-over): This hour, CNN in the heart of the action for you, with incredible access. We're taking you onboard a migrant

rescue mission in the Aegean.

Then --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I urge everyone to evacuate, if you are living in low-lying areas, this is not worth risking your life.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Well, we are right in the path of a roaring hurricane hitting America for you in the midst of what is an historic

hurricane season.

Plus, we take you inside a French hospital's battle against the plague of our time. Doctors tell us what they are up against.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC PLAYING)

ANDERSON: Well, it's 6:00 in the evening here in Abu Dhabi. It's 5:00 pm in Istanbul and in Athens, too.

Crucial datelines this hour. It is also early morning in Florida, where, this hour, Hurricane Sally walloping the state and will creep up the East

Coast.

I'm Becky Anderson, a warm welcome to CONNECT THE WORLD.

We start by connecting you to a critical issue that is unfolding in your world right now, Europe's migrant crisis. Ever deadly and ever complex as

it is. Just hours ago, the president of the European Union's Commission announcing that she will put forward what is grandly called a new pact on

migration for the E.U. in the coming days.

It will, Ursula van der Leyen promises, take a human and humane approach. That is an approach that is badly needed. Take a look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON (voice-over): This is how many people have tried to get to Europe this year alone. More than 40,000 coming through Italy, through Spain and

through Greece. Once there, conditions can be awful. That's for those who make it. Hundreds don't.

They are dying along the way, often drowning, stranded at sea.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: But people are not numbers and grand political plans are often just that.

So what is really going on?

Nic Robertson is in Athens for you and Jomana Karadsheh just back from the Aegean, joining us from Istanbul this evening.

You have had some incredible access, Jomana, tell us what you have witnessed.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know Becky, for years now, we have been hearing from migrants and refugees who have tried to make it

to Europe, who have tried this journey through Greece.

They come back with these horrific accounts, saying they had been violently, aggressively pushed back by Greek authorities. This is something

that Greece for years has consistently denied.

But what we've seen, Becky, over the past few months, since March, we have heard, there seems to have been an uptick in these reported pushbacks.

We have heard this ourselves from migrants and refugees and this has also been reported by human rights organizations and also the United Nations

Refugee Agency has expressed concern about this increase.

They say that only 5,000 people since March have made it to Greece and they say that this is a significant drop compared to previous years.

Now of course, that number, you know, the events coincide with the same time that Turkey basically, as you recall, that crisis at the land border,

when Turkey in March basically said, that it's had enough, that the E.U. isn't fulfilling its obligations under that 2016 deal to stem the flow of

migrants.

And so Turkey was not going to do its part and it was going to open the borders. Things have changed since then but these reports have been

increasing.

And the Turkish Coast Guard, who has been carrying out search and rescue missions in the Aegean, gave CNN this rare access to their patrols and this

search and rescue mission so we can see for ourselves firsthand what has been unfolding at sea.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KARADSHEH (voice-over): This is the new pattern, the Greek Coast Guard vessel right on the edge of Turkish waters.

KARADSHEH: The crew is telling us that they just got information about a possible pushback incident, migrants and refugees possibly on a life raft.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Greek ship is moving towards its own waters.

[10:05:00]

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's now fleeing toward Lesbos.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): The Turks mobilize for a sea rescue, with the added risk of COVID-19. Now it's a race against time. These waters have

already claimed too many lives. They spot the motorless life raft drifting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Take the rope. Take the rope. Grab the rope and don't let go.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): One by one, they emerge, 11 in total, barely able to stand. Cold, wet and exhausted, they huddle together at the back of the

boat.

KARADSHEH: She says, "You really don't want to know what they have done to us."

KARADSHEH (voice-over): Still in shock, they recount how they made it to the Greek island of Lesbos two days earlier. But they were caught by Greek

authorities, they say their money and belongings taken.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): He grabbed me from my neck and started hitting me. They put a knife to my husband's stomach and they held

a gun to my son's head.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): They were forced on a boat and abandoned at sea.

Fatima (ph) said her family fled hopeless Lebanon. They've tried the sea crossing five times in the past six months. This was the first time they

had reached Greek soil.

Human rights advocates and the United Nations Refugee Agency have documented many similar accounts since March, watchdog groups accusing

Greece of violating human rights obligations by expelling asylum seekers, at times leaving them adrift at sea for hours.

According to the Turkish Coast Guard, there have been close to 200 pushback incidents in 2020. They say they've rescued nearly 6,500 men, women and

children.

KARADSHEH: Ayak (ph), who's from Somalia, says that they were treated like animals.

Everyone we've spoken to here says that they don't want to try this trip again. They don't want to try to go through Greece, because of what they

went through. They're really shocked that this is how Europe deals with human beings.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): In response to CNN's reporting, the Greek government denies that they're pushing back migrants and refugees. They say

authorities are guarding the borders according to the rules of international law.

They accuse Turkey of weaponizing the migrant issue at a time when immigration is at the heart of a political storm in the E.U.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I hear that Greece is part of the E.U. I wanted to get to the E.U., to Germany, to educate my children and

live there. But if Greece represents the E.U., I don't want any of it.

KARADSHEH: Definitely, definitely, they say, they will not be going back to Greece after what they've just gone through.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): These forced expulsions and pushback seem to be morphing into the new norm, not only putting the most vulnerable at risk in

treacherous waters but also drowning out the values that Europe claims to stand for.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KARADSHEH: And you know, Becky, we have spoken to legal experts, international and European law experts who say that Greece, the European

Union, they're under no obligation, basically, to accept and host every single person who arrives at their shores, on their soil.

But what they are obliged to do is to allow people to make a case. Every human being has the right, they say, to make a case for asylum, to seek

international protection. And they say that a lot of these people are not getting that chance.

ANDERSON: Stand by, Jomana. That was a compelling report.

Nic, you're with me out of Athens. Greece says it can no longer be a destination for refugees. It is over capacity, it can't cope, it says.

What more have we heard from their side?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, we've put these specific cases and the sort of more numerous background to authorities

here.

And the migration ministry responded as Jomana reported, that they say that the Greek Coast Guard operates in full respect, in their words, of

international law and European regulations.

And they say they strongly deny the claims from migrants that they are being pushed back by the Coast Guard. Indeed, when we asked the ministry of

migration here, pointed to an incident that happened on Monday night here in Greece in stormy weather, when the Greek Coast Guard rescued 57 migrants

because their boat was in distress, the Coast Guard rescued them.

[10:10:00]

ROBERTSON: And the migration ministry said, look, these Greek Coast Guard officials are out, you know, day and night sometimes, putting their own

lives on the line, at times, to rescue people.

Why would these same people doing that put risk to themselves then put migrants in such danger?

So it's a very strong pushback that we have from Greek authorities. It has been a period over the past week or so, with the burning down of Lesbos

camp, Greek authorities have now arrested six men, all of them Afghans. They've been arrested. The Greek authorities accusing them of burning the

camp down.

The Greek authorities building a new camp. We've had the prime minister here saying that the previous camp in Lesbos was old, wasn't fit for

purpose. The new reception facility will be funded, in part, with the European Union.

You have the European Council president here, earlier in the week, saying he had sympathy for the migrants but also for the residents of Lesbos as

well. And Greek authorities here are saying that the new camp that they've rebuilt, they've been able to get 1,200 people, 1,200 migrants back in the

camp.

But they say there are many migrants there who still feel, if they go into new camp in Lesbos, they are going to miss their opportunity to then be

moved further into Europe, which is where they really want to go.

And what authorities are saying is, by Christmas, they hope to have half the number, from 12,000 to 6,000 migrants in the camp. They hope to have

that whole number transited through what they're calling a reception facility now.

Now one of the striking things that Charles Michel, European Council president, said when he was in Lesbos this week, was that he is not going

to paper over the cracks of the migrant issue.

And if you go back 150 years, that was the same sort of language being used by Bismarck, talking about not papering over the cracks of the differences.

But the reality is the E.U. has been very slow to support countries like Greece and Italy.

And it's widely accepted at the moment by politicians from all of these countries that some nations are not going to help. France and Germany will

but there are other nations that have flatly said, they are not going to take any migrants.

And this compounds the problem for European leaders to actually act decisively, which, frankly, they have not done over the past number of

years.

ANDERSON: Let's just -- I know you interviewed the Greek president yesterday. I want to hear from her before I get back to Jomana, speaking

specifically about this issue to you, Nic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATERINA SAKELLAROPOULOU, GREEK PRESIDENT: Things have reached a point of no return now, maybe, even this disastrous humanitarian catastrophe in

Lesbos has shown that we cannot look away. Now everybody has to look there. Europe cannot fail twice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Right. And that, the Greek president. Let me bring back Jomana at this point.

Jomana, 43,000 arrivals so far into Europe, in Italy, Spain and attempts through Greece. This is clearly, you know, close to a new tipping point.

And the coronavirus pandemic pushing what is already a fragile humanitarian situation onto a knife's edge.

What COVID challenges are these agencies, these humanitarian agencies, facing when it comes to supporting these migrants?

KARADSHEH: Becky, it is a huge challenge for them to be operating during normal times when we're talking about, what we've heard from aid agencies

when it comes to shortages in funding and support that they need to run the various facilities.

Now when you talk about the impact that COVID is having, there have been a lot of concerns that are being raised by organizations; for example, like

Human Rights Watch, when it comes specifically, for example, to the issue of pushbacks, that we've just been talking about, where they have raised

concerns about how migrants and refugees are handled on arrival; at times when they are basically detained by authorities, that there is little

regard, according to Human Rights Watch, for the pandemic and for the COVID situation in terms of how, you know, people are placed in groups and how

they are moved and how they are sent back.

So there's a lot of concern about that. And what is interesting, Becky, is you saw in our report, the Turkish Coast Guard, of course, there in full

personal protection equipment. They are, you know, dealing every night, they say, almost, with these search and rescues.

And we did ask them about how they feel about this, when they are basically extracting, you know, people -- they don't know who these people are, don't

know what they've been through, don't know what their situation is when it comes to COVID-19.

[10:15:00]

KARADSHEH: And they come into close contact with them. And you know, these officials from the Coast Guard, saying that basically, in their normal

life, in their day-to-day life, they have to be so careful. They need to maintain social distance, they have to be very careful.

Yet they find themselves in this position, where they have to simply come into close contact with people. And that is something that, they say, is

very challenging and very difficult for them on a personal level, too.

ANDERSON: Jomana, thank you.

And to you, Nick, in Athens, we appreciate it.

We are just getting some new drone video from Europe's largest migrant camp, just after large parts of it, as we've been reporting, burned to the

ground only last week. Let me take this drone a little bit higher for you, to show you the scale of that blaze.

You can see how close together people live. This isn't just some camp. These are people's homes, where they have had to live for years. These are

remarkable images. And we will press Greece's migration minister about everything that we've been talking about here in about an our from now.

That is on CNN, on CONNECT THE WORLD. Do stay with us. This is, of course, a two-hour show.

First up, CNN right in the path of yet another hurricane pummeling the U.S. Gulf Coast. Look at how powerful this is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON (voice-over): There have been so many storms this year, they are almost running out of names for them. Details on that just ahead.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON (voice-over): Then a little later this hour, one of the big guns in Brussels has a new warning about the Brexit negotiations. Live reaction

follows this.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC PLAYING)

ANDERSON: Welcome back. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson.

This hour, we are tracking Hurricane Sally, whipping and smashing its way into Alabama and Florida after making landfall in America just hours ago.

This storm threatening to cause catastrophic flooding, forcing thousands of people to flee their homes.

And like we said earlier, this is an historic season. Sally, one of four systems currently churning in the Atlantic; just hours ago, a fifth was

downgraded. Now that has only happened once before on record. And that was 50 years ago.

Well, right now, all eyes are on Hurricane Sally. Let's get you to Gary Tuchman, who is live for you in Pensacola Beach in Florida.

What's the latest there on the ground?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, we are used to hurricanes here in the United States. But as you alluded to, the last few years were

very active. This particular year has been very rough. And this hurricane, Sally, is very unusual because it feels like the hurricane that will never

end.

[10:20:00]

TUCHMAN: I've been here now for 17 hours in Pensacola Beach. And for 17 hours, we have had this torrential rain that hasn't stopped. That's very

unusual for a hurricane.

The winds are very intense, also. It came in as a very strong hurricane, not as strong as the one we had, though, 2.5 weeks ago, Hurricane Laura,

which was intensely strong. This was strong but the issue here is the amount of rain we're getting.

We're getting so much rain, it's creating flash floods around in Alabama and this part of Florida. We're in the Florida Panhandle. This is Pensacola

Beach. It's a barrier island, which is just south of the city of Pensacola.

Pensacola, the city, has about 50,000 people. Pensacola Beach, where we are, the barrier island, only has about 4,000 year-round residents but lots

of tourists. And if they decided to stay here last night, they're stranded here.

The bridges that connect this barrier island from the Gulf of Mexico, behind me, to the mainland are now all closed until this hurricane is over.

There is flooding throughout this city. Officials are asking everyone not to leave their homes, even though it's daylight now, here in Pensacola

Beach, because they're afraid that people can literally drown.

What happens in a lot of these situations is people drive through puddles, they don't think it's any big deal. It gets bigger and bigger and their car

floats away. That's a major concern.

And another major concern are power lines. There have been explosions of transformers of exposures, power lines on the ground. Many of those power

lines could still be live and that is also how people die or get hurt.

So officials are warning everyone to stay home, wait until this rain or wind ends. But as of a few hours ago, this is an unusually complex and long

hurricane.

ANDERSON: And we're going to talk to Chad Myers about how this storm is tracking. You know, I realize, you're struggling to even stand on your

feet.

How are people coping, briefly?

TUCHMAN: That's a really important question, Becky, because, normally during this type of storm, one that's this strong, there are mandatory

evacuation orders in place, for people who live in vulnerable areas, like a barrier island, like where we are.

But there are none now. It's just a voluntary evacuation. And part of the reason for that is something we've never experienced in our lifetimes, a

pandemic during the hurricane season.

A lot of people are afraid to evacuate and end up in shelters. So what people have been asked to do is go to relatives' houses and safer areas or

stay in their house, be as safe as possible. So that's how people are coping. They're staying in their houses and they're being asked not to

wander around.

And people here, they're smart. They've dealt with hurricanes before. We've seen, since yesterday, very few people venturing out to take pictures.

They're being careful and staying in their homes.

But you just don't know when these shelters are open, people are afraid to gather, lots of people in the shelters. You never know if they're in a safe

enough place if they don't go to a shelter and stay in their home.

ANDERSON: Gary, you and I have been talking through storms for years now. I know that you are taking every precaution. You are a professional. But do

please stay safe out there.

Gary Tuchman reporting for you.

Well, normally, the average hurricane season sees about 12 named storms. This year, we have already seen 20. And there's still two months left to go

in the season. Tropical storm Vicky was named on Monday, leaving only one name left on this year's Atlantic hurricane list, Wilfred.

So then what?

What is likely to be just the second time ever, officials will then have to turn to the Greek alphabet, I'm told, for more. We've only had to do that

once before and that was 15 years ago.

(WEATHER REPORT)

[10:25:00]

ANDERSON: As we've been saying, 2020 has seen a devastating season of hurricanes so far, along with horrific West Coast fires, wildfires, a

reality far from what seemed to be a year of environmental success.

Ten years ago, nearly 200 countries agreed to meet certain benchmarks by this year to save the Earth. Not a single one of those have been reached. A

damning report from the United Nations outlines 20 targets. Of those, only 6 of them have been partially achieved.

The report claims, "The legacy of humanity is at a crossroads and if countries invest in major conservation projects, concrete results will come

out of it. But if we continue this trajectory in the climate crisis, things are only going to get worse."

As you are well aware, the politicization of the climate crisis is a major threat. Just one day after U.S. president Trump baselessly claimed that

science, and I quote here, "doesn't know" if the wildfires are related to climate change, his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, saying

climate science doesn't always agree.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JARED KUSHNER, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: Look, I think that you often have scientists that contradict each other and you look at what that is. The

president is open-minded to different --

JUDY WOODRUFF, PBS CORRESPONDENT: But not anymore on climate change. There's an overwhelming view about climate change.

KUSHNER: But what I would say is that we all agree that there's -- that we want to have clean air and clean water. The president said that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Well, that's Jared Kushner.

But a fact check for you, Mr. Kushner. Scientists do agree and they have agreed for decades. Our climate is changing and it is a crisis.

Well, the climate crisis will be on the agenda for Joe Biden's town hall on CNN. You can watch that Friday, 1:00 am in London, 4:00 if you are watching

here in Abu Dhabi.

And if you are, you are more than welcome. Set your alarms, folks. That, the Joe Biden presidential town hall.

Coming up, French hospitals becoming overwhelmed once again with COVID-19 patients needing critical care. CNN gets access inside a hospital in

Bordeaux.

Plus, Ireland pulling back on a plan to relax its travel restrictions. I'll be speaking live to its ministry of state for European affairs, just ahead.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:30:00]

(MUSIC PLAYING)

ANDERSON: New COVID-19 infections are soaring in large French cities like Marseille, Bordeaux and Paris. The country trying to avoid a second

nationwide shutdown. So local authorities have been tasked with slowing the spread of the virus in their areas.

And in some areas, that means ramping up social distancing measures significantly. In Bordeaux, the number of people allowed to gather is now

10 or fewer. And that is even outdoors.

The real impact of the surge in cases can be seen in France's hospitals. Most are off-limits to journalists. But CNN's Melissa Bell got access

inside a hospital in Bordeaux where the critical care unit is now at 90 percent capacity.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's about dealing with a virus that is here to stay. This hospital is preparing for the arrival of

more COVID-19 patients but unlike last spring, will continue to treat other emergencies as well.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): The University Hospital will be dealing with those two populations and that is what makes the situation

harder. It's also going to be harder than last time, because this wave, I think, will grow progressively and then last over time.

BELL: But as he shows us around the ICU, Dr. Joannes-Boyau says that at least now lot more is known. The use of steroids and specially adapted

ventilators that can now avoid contamination mean that this time, intubations are down 50 percent since the spring he says.

But intubation is dangerous and intubation is painful and it's a last resort.

JOANNES-BOYAU: Yes. Intubation increase the risk of (inaudible). Sometimes we don't have a choice and we have to intubate the patient and ventilate

the patient, because he's not able to use the oxygen that we bring to him.

BELL: So doctors are better at dealing with COVID-19 but that doesn't mean they are not worried.

JOANNES-BOYAU: The major problem is to keep the wave really, really low. If the wave grow up a lot, we will face a large number of patients with

COVID that will come and we will not be able to treat and to manage all of the patients.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: As new surges in the pandemic haunt the European continent, Ireland taking no chances. It has some of Europe's strictest travel

restrictions and will now keep them in place for another month, delaying relaxation plans.

The country, in comparison with other European countries, has not yet seen a second wave of coronavirus cases nationwide. But there have been

localized spikes and a brief scare in the corridors of power.

The Irish government now back to work after health minister Stephen Donnelly tested negative for the virus. But the entire Irish cabinet was

told to self-isolate on Tuesday when Donnelly started feeling unwell.

Well, Thomas Byrne is Ireland's minister of state for European affairs and joins us now from Dublin.

Your country announcing new COVID precaution measures today for countries on what is known as the green list, countries you can travel to from

Ireland.

Do Greece and Italy still figure on that list, sir?

THOMAS BYRNE, IRISH MINISTER OF STATE FOR EUROPEAN AFFAIRS: Look, the list will be updated in the next couple of days, on Thursday. It's going into

effect next week.

But the general advice at the moment the not to travel abroad. That's the advice we're giving people. I myself, separately from the cabinet have been

self-isolating since Monday morning, because I developed a cough and I am waiting for test results. So I'm here at home.

But what we want to do is we do want to open travel where it's safe to do so. But we have adopted a cautious approach, because we do see what's

happening. And you see what's happening in France, we saw what happened earlier already in the year right across Europe. It is still happening in

large parts of the world.

This is a dangerous virus.

[10:35:00]

BYRNE: And it doesn't seem to be going away and we're redoubling our efforts. What we've done, probably one of the first in Europe now, we have

a plan as to how we live with the virus. And there's quite a bit of evidence about that at the moment.

We're still showing a significant resurgence, 15 outdoors, 6 in your home from up to 3 families and only one outside household in Dublin as well

because Dublin has significantly higher rates of the virus.

But we will be updating the green list, whereas next week there'll be a list. I'm not going to speculate what countries would be on that, because

that would be done as it arises and as the science and figures are available.

But --

(CROSSTALK)

ANDERSON: Minister, sorry, sorry. Let me just stop you there. Minister, you must have seen the numbers and you've clearly seen the new measures

that have been announced, because we've all seen those. So you must know at this point whether Greece and Italy are no longer countries that are on the

green list.

I must press you on this, because you are the minister for E.U. affairs.

BYRNE: I accept that but I also think this is a government decision and it hasn't been taken yet. We've adopted a cautious approach. Our priority is

to protect public health and to make sure that we can control this virus.

(CROSSTALK)

BYRNE: -- published and the difference this time will be that we will be saying in terms of the green list countries, that you will be able to

travel to them.

We won't be recommending that you don't travel abroad. But at the moment, the advice still stands. Don't travel abroad unless it's absolutely

necessary.

ANDERSON: You tweeted today that no E.U. state can tackle the virus alone. And Ireland largely in a bubble at the moment. It is clear that the country

is being keen to relax measures.

But are you telling me that that is simply not realistic at this point?

BYRNE: I would say the country is keen to relax measures. I would say that the country and the government is keen to make sure we protect --

(CROSSTALK)

BYRNE: -- you're right. I did tweet that and (INAUDIBLE) the European Commission is working on a comprehensive European plan on this. But that

won't be ready for about a month.

And we're indicating that, in all likelihood, we will join them. But at the moment, that's not ready. So we have to go our own way on that. And we will

be doing that on Thursday. This is -- there are difficulties with that.

And we're not in a bubble, actually. Ireland is a small open economy. We very much depend on tourism, which has obviously completely collapsed from

an international level and a lot of our businesses, as well. Our international companies who depend on executives and workers traveling, we

need to import and export a lot of our goods, as well, by road and by sea.

So we're not in a bubble. And we need to make sure that we can protect people, while allowing our daily life to proceed.

ANDERSON: Yes; I by no means wanted to suggest that Ireland was in a sort of physical bubble. You've been right to explain the challenges that a

country, that is so reliant on tourism and trade, faces with these -- with this current pandemic.

For the last four years, our news cycle, of course, has been dominated by Brexit. And if we weren't in a pandemic, it would, sir, continue to be

dominated today. Just today, the president of the European Commission said the chances of a Brexit deal are fading every day.

Do you, sir, believe that we are slipping past the point of no return at this point, for a deal?

BYRNE: We've certainly believed, at least since May, that a no-deal situation was certainly possible. And we've been preparing as a government

since then for the possibility of no deal or even for a limited trade deal, which will have a significant effect anyway.

What we thought we had completely sorted was that the protocol (INAUDIBLE) question and I think we are entitled to rely on commitments that have

already been made in relation to that. But we are very much preparing on the basis of either a no deal or a very limited deal on trading goods.

And as the weeks slip by, that becomes -- the possibility of a deal becomes less and less likely but talks are still taking place. There have been huge

difficulties. This has dominated the news cycle despite COVID in Ireland over the last week. And the extra difficulties have been caused. There's no

two ways about that.

But I think what we need to do in Ireland, support the European Union negotiating team and to continue work on implementing the protocol.

And insofar as we can, let the British process play out, while, at the same time, being very, very firm, saying they must comply with agreements they

signed less than one year ago. That's standard practice for sovereign independent countries.

ANDERSON: And you have called the U.K.'s draft legislation that violates its international legal obligations and undercuts part of the divorce deal

as totally unacceptable, a totally unacceptable way to do business, a unilateral provocative act.

[10:40:00]

ANDERSON: Britain's Northern Ireland, Minister, is pretty optimistic that Britain will secure a trade deal.

Too optimistic at this point?

BYRNE: I don't know. We're certainly hopeful. We think it's in our interests and in Britain's strong interests. What we know from the history

of Ireland is that talks work, agreements work.

But agreements require agreements between two sides. And for two sides to comply with those agreements. So I was proud to see the president of the

commission invoke the name of John Hume today, the great Irish and European peacemaker.

And he emphasized those relationships within the North and South and between Britain and Ireland. And they're absolutely essential for the

promotion of peace.

And I think that if cool heads are allowed to take over, to examine what agreements Britain has already entered into, to comply with them and to

work as hard as we can to get a trade deal, everyone will come out of this satisfied. Brexit will have bad consequences for Ireland, whatever the

outcome.

But we want to make the best out of this particular situation.

ANDERSON: I was also pleased to hear John Hume's name being mentioned, a man I've met a number of times. And I agree entirely with what you just

said about him. Thank you very much indeed for joining us, sir.

Coming up yet, this Welsh winger might be wearing a new kit or, better put, an old one. We'll have the latest with "WORLD SPORT" after this.

[10:45:00]

(WORLD SPORT)

[11:00:00]

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