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Interview With Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez; Interview With European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen; Interview With "A Wolf At The Schoolhouse Door" Co-Author Jennifer Berkshire. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired September 21, 2022 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello everyone and welcome to AMANPOUR. Here's what's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I think it is necessary to support the decision the partially mobilized citizens of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Widespread condemnation as the Russian President Vladimir Putin calls up reservist to fight in Ukraine. As world leaders gather here in New
York for United Nation's General Assembly, we get reaction from a key NATO member, Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and the president of the
European Commission Ursula von der Leyen. Then --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JENNIFER BERKSHIRE, COAUTHOR, "A WOLF AT THE SCHOOLHOUSE DOOR": People really need to understand just how politicized things are right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Journalist Jennifer Berkshire speaks to Hari Sreenivasan about the state of public education in America.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour at the United Nations in New York. Whereas, world leaders gathered behind me for their
first in-person general assembly in three years since the COVID crisis. The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has decided to call up 300,000
reservists to fight in Ukraine. A massive escalation amid his troops' recent setbacks on the battlefield.
Now, the announcement comes just after officials in several occupied regions in Ukraine said that they would hold referendums on formally
joining Russia this week. It's a move that's been widely condemned as a sham by the western alliance. In his address, President Biden said that
Russia's invasion is about extinguishing Ukraine's right to exist as a state. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Now, Russia's calling out more soldiers to join the fight. And the Kremlin is organizing a sham referendum, trying to annex
parts of Ukraine, an extremely significant violation of the U.N. Charter.
This war should see these outrageous acts for what they are. Putin claims he had to act because Russia was threatened. But no one threatened Russia.
And no one other than Russia sought conflict.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now, the war is just one of several bleak challenges on the agenda which, exacerbating the rising global energy prices and the cost of
living. Not to mention the biggest existential crisis of our time, climate change.
It is a perfect storm that comes as organizations, like the U.N., seemed largely adrift, so far incapable as working a mechanism for peace and
stability. Spain of course, is a key NATO member and it announced to boost in its military spending when it hosted NATO summit in Madrid this summer.
And Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is joining me now.
Prime Minister, welcome back to our program. We spoke during the summit that you were re hosting. The situation on the battlefield was as it was
then. What is your immediate reaction to President Putin's seeming escalation?
PEDRO SANCHEZ, SPANISH PRIME MINISTER: I think that we are entering in a new stage of the conflict which is the one that the aggressor realize that
he is losing the war. So, I -- in my opinion, what we'd have to do is to stick together. And of course, to send all our solidarity to the Ukrainian
AMANPOUR: Why do you think that he's losing -- he thinks he's losing the war? Does he understand or he think that's because of the fallout?
SANCHEZ: Well, I think it's obvious because of the development of the war. Second, because he's now trying to hide this invasion -- this illegal
invasion of Ukraine with these referendums in the Donbas. And the message of the International Community, especially the European Union is crystal
clear. We condemn and we reject the outcome of these illegal referendum in Ukraine.
AMANPOUR: Let's say they do take place.
AMANPOUR: What actually can you do to hold Russia or those Russian --
SANCHEZ: We have to recognize internationally the result of the referendum. And of course, never forget what is the origin, the causes of
this war. Which was to undermine the international order base and rules to put into question the territorial integrity of the third country, which is
Ukraine, and of course, it's national sovereignty.
So, the solution of this conflict is easy, theoretically. Which is, you know, you have leave Ukrainian, the soldiers, the military presence from
Russia in Ukraine. But indeed, I think that we are witnessing a new stage of the conflict.
AMANPOUR: And what will the new stage look like? Because clearly in his speech Vladimir Putin talked about reservists. Didn't call for a general
mobilization. Did not call for a draft. I don't know how you read that.
SANCHEZ: He doesn't recognize that he is in war. Domestically, I mean, you know. So, I think that we see the development of the war over the past
months. In the first stage, what he tried to do is to occupy all the country. Second, he tried to have a government not so ruled by Zelenskyy
and his party. And now, he has concentrated his efforts in this region of Donbas.
So, I think that it is important to keep the unity, to condemn with the strongest terms all this annexation of referendum. And of course, to tell
Putin that, of course, we're not going to recognize at the international scale and of course, at the European scale of this -- the outcome of this
AMANPOUR: So, the NATO chief calls it a strategic failure or this whole --
AMANPOUR: -- invasion and war by Putin. And yet you have described and others the fact that he knows that he is in real difficulty on the
battlefield. I don't know whether you think his back is against the wall. But when you were having discussions about a new stage of the war and how
to react, do you feel that he is a point where he may lash out in a way that's unconventional or what?
SANCHEZ: Well, I think that he doesn't have a clear strategy of the war. That is why I think it is important to be prudent and to keep that unity
that I mentioned before. And of course, to send all our solidarity, humanitarian solidarity, and also military capabilities to the Ukrainian
forces in order to reject the aggressor.
So, you know, we're in the United Nations. We have to remember always that he's trying to blow up the international order base and rules. And one of
the main principles of the U.N. Charter is the respect to territorial integrity and national integrity. Which is, you know, trying to undermine,
in this case the aggressor, Putin.
AMANPOUR: I quoted quite a few people -- critics, really, who say that this building behind me which was, you know, created in '45 or so precisely
to get the world out of war and to construct a peaceful future. And by large to a great extent it, sort of, succeeded. But now, one of the main
members of the permanent five is actually violating the charter by invading a country.
AMANPOUR: How on Earth does this kind of organization, therefore, solve this when you need unanimity in the security council?
SANCHEZ: Well, first of all I think that we need to reform profoundly, the U.N. Security Council and the U.N. system. And this is something that the
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has been very vocal over the last years. And of course, has been.
And second, nowadays, with all the global challenges that we're suffering, the pandemic, the war, the climate change that you mentioned before. It is
important to have a multilateral approach to these global challenges.
Take into consideration all of the nations that we took from the pandemic. We had -- in one year and a half, not one but 40 vaccines against COVID-19.
So, the main reason is that we take multilateral approaches to these global challenges. The outcome is supposedly for the humanity.
AMANPOUR: Do you have a specific idea how to reform the U.N. and the security council to unparalyzed it, if you like?
SANCHEZ: I think we need to be prudent in -- I mean, not to be ambitious in all the goals that we need to reach in the short term but go step by
step. Two years ago, many leaders of the globe, we tried to reconvene for our -- we try to propose reforms to make more effective the move -- the
U.N. system. So, for instance, take into consideration all these SDRs and the international finance --
AMANPOUR: That's sustainable development, yes.
SANCHEZ: Yes. For the medium in low-income countries. So, you know, I think that step by step, we can do things to make more effective in the
multilateral system. But, of course, what we cannot accept and we cannot tolerate and we have to keep always in mind is that there is a country that
is fighting for its freedom and its future. And there is an aggression which is, you know, trying to blow up all the international order base and
AMANPOUR: So, in light of what Putin said last night about upping the number of troops that he thinks he is going to send to Ukraine, the
Ukrainian government has said, now our western partners have to match that threat and have to up their help to us. And we know that you've given a
AMANPOUR: But we also know that the United States and others are holding back on perhaps some longer-range artillery for instance. Certainly, no
aircraft to match what Putin's aircraft are doing on the ground there. And they say that we actually now that we're doing well, we need even more to
help us push him back. Which is your goal. Why is now not the time to give them more of what they need on the battlefield?
SANCHEZ: I mean, we -- I think that we are answering to the request of the Ukrainian government. Of course, I cannot speak from the U.S.
administration, but I can speak from our responsibilities at European level and also at national level.
And in my case, as prime minister of Spain, you know, we already exported around 400 tons of military equipment. We are financing with 200 million
Euros, which is a huge amount for Spanish budget. The European Peace Facility which is, you know, the form that the European Union needs
channeling to help with military equipment and Ukrainian forces.
And of course, we are also channeling financial aid to the Ukrainian government. Pledging around 250 million Euros. For the Spanish economy,
this is a big effort. But at the end of the day, all the European Union, and I would say the International Community, is showing that solidarity
with the one who's, you know, suffering the aggression.
And this is something that we need to keep in mind because many times we speak about the consequences of this terrible war. Food crisis, energy
prices, but we cannot forget that what is at stake is the international order base and rules.
AMANPOUR: Right. I mean, that's why I asked the question. Because for instance, Germany, we understand, has not yet and we don't know whether
will send the heavy tanks that they had promised. We know that France sends a fraction of what other nations are sending. And nothing succeeds so much
So, you've seen what the Ukrainians with what they've been given. And I would assume, and tell me if I'm wrong, that that would encourage your
populations in these times of hardship to keep backing the Ukrainians. So why not double down?
SANCHEZ: Our populations are, you know, backing governments in helping -- and helping --
AMANPOUR: Food crisis, cost of living, inflation?
SANCHEZ: Yes, of course. And this is important to keep in mind that all these consequences are due to a political actor, which is, in this case is,
Vladimir Putin in his invasion of Ukraine. And of course, we've -- we have been very vocal within the European Union and also in the international
arena, that we need not to use this excuse of the energy crisis to postpone our duties and our homework with climate change.
SANCHEZ: So, what we'll need to do is to align the responses to this energy crisis to a major crisis which is climate change. This is what we
are doing in Spain. We are, you know, passing plans to save energy. We started to do so at the beginning of August. And of course, we are speeding
up the process of the green transition and the renewable. Just to give you some figures, in four years, it was eight times more the presence of
renewable energy in the Spanish economy.
So, you know, we are speeding up the process and not, you know, using this excuse to postpone these major challenges.
AMANPOUR: There have been some complaints. You've probably seen that there is a major round table meant to be attended by heads of government and
state on climate here at the U.N. today. But President Biden is not going. President Macron is not going. Even though both declared climate as an
existential crisis. Are you going? And if not, why not?
SANCHEZ: Well, I mean, the heads of states and the heads of government, they have many agendas and bilateral meetings. And of course, yesterday,
for instance, we had a very important summit on food crisis. But -- I mean, I cannot speak about the agenda of all the leaders. But I do believe that
President Macron and President Biden, they're very committed with the Paris Agreement and the mitigation and adaptation to climate change.
And -- well, at the end of the day, as I've said before, it is important to have a multilateral approach to these global challenges. Of course, to
coordinate all these efforts.
And finally, which is important for the medium income countries and also low-income countries, is to provide them financial instruments. I think
that we had a very good news from the IMF with this new creation of the resilience and sustainability form (ph) that would channel resources to
these countries in order to make their economies much more resilient with climate change.
AMANPOUR: In your countries and others in Northern Europe, in the global north, you've seen the emergence of some very hard and far-right parties.
AMANPOUR: In Sweden, they've had a significant victory. Made very well do so in Italy over the weekend. These are parties with roots and, you know,
Mussolini's party, in the Nazis, and all the rest of it. You have a very extreme party box in your own country.
What can you all do to mitigate their influence, and surely all of this stuff is contributing. Not, you know, dealing with the war and all its
crisis. It's contributing to the anxiety that brings the far-right to power.
SANCHEZ: I mean, polarization benefits, the extremist. And of course, the far-right is profiting from this polarization of the public debate at
national level and also at international level. But take it, for instance, the example of Sweden. I think it's a very interesting example to explain
what I'm -- what I would like to share with the -- with you.
The social democrats won the elections, 30 percent. The second political party was the far-right, 20 percent, 10 points ahead.
SANCHEZ: Social democrats form the second party. The third political party were the center-right, so-called moderates. And there there was another
liberal party with a minor result. So, the outcome of this election will be, that the third party involved will lead the government with the support
of the liberals and the far-right.
So, I think that the question to be answered is by the central right parties in Europe. What kind of relation are they going to have with the
AMANPOUR: Do you think that the far-right being in politics will lower the E.U., sort of, ambitions when it comes to cracking down on Russia because
of the pain it's giving all there?
SANCHEZ: It is indeed a risk.
AMANPOUR: It's a risk.
SANCHEZ: It is indeed. I mean, there are -- I mean, this is public. There are links from different political parties from the right -- far-right in
Europe with Putin and his party. And at the end of the day, what the far- right parties want is to blow up global consensus.
SANCHEZ: Gender equality, climate change, piece.
SANCHEZ: LGBTQ. And the -- I think it is important to tell the center- right parties in Europe what kind of relations are you going to have with the far-right. Because what it is not acceptable, at least from my side is
that the third political party in Sweden is going to rule the government when the first political party, the social democrats, they won by far --
SANCHEZ: -- you know, the elections in -- a week ago. So, you know, of course it is acceptable because, you know, the paramilitary game is like
SANCHEZ: But politically, I think that's the question is to the center- right and the liberals. I mean, you -- they prefer to, you know, to form a government with the far-right and not with social democrats.
AMANPOUR: We'll see how it goes. Prime Minister Sanchez, thank you very much for joining.
SANCHEZ: Thank you. Thank you very much.
AMANPOUR: Thank you so much.
Now, the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, says that Russia's mobilization comes as no surprise and shows that Moscow is having problems
with military personnel. While NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg thinks it's time for Putin to face up to his big mistake.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: The best would be for Russia to admit the big strategic failure, to withdraw its forces, and then end the
war. But we need to understand that this is not, kind of, equal responsibility. Is -- if President Putin stops fighting, there will be
peace. If President Zelenskyy stops fighting, Ukraine will cease to exist as an independent and sovereign nation. So, we need to support them to
enable a political solution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now, the president of the European Commission was in Kyiv just days ago when she pledged Europe's support for Ukraine as long as it takes.
And Ursula von der Leyen is with me now.
Welcome back to the program. I mean, here we are, the annual meeting. The first time you've all managed to get together in person. And you've got as
everybody's describing, a perfect storm of crisis.
Your immediate reaction to what President Putin has said and threatened now again on the battlefield of Ukraine.
URSULA VON DER LEYEN, EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT: Well, President Putin is showing his weakness now. Because what you see is that he tries to
mobilize personnel that is less trained, less experience, less motivated. And he wants to start sham referenda in -- on Ukrainian sovereign soil. So,
I think these calls for sanctions from our part again.
AMANPOUR: Do you think they have been successful?
VON DER LEYEN: The sanctions have been very successful. If you look at the Russian economy, the industry is in tatters. We see that they have a real
hard time to replenish their armed forces because the military complex has big difficulties, for example, the semiconductors, which we are not
delivering anymore. You see that, for example, Aeroflot is basically grounded. So, all these signs show that the sanctions are really biting.
AMANPOUR: So, if the aim is to get him to change his activities in Ukraine. What is it going to take that hasn't happened yet? He's in fact,
from what it looks like, upping the ante and sending 300,000 more troops. And as you mentioned, sham elections where they may be held, you may not
recognize them but they may be held.
VON DER LEYEN: He has not been able to reach any of his goals. I was, last week, in Kyiv. Life has come back to Kyiv. People are on the streets again.
The shops are open. The Ukrainians tried to get their economy going again. So, none of his goals -- Putin has reached so far.
We have completely -- we are completely winding down from Russian fossil fuel. He loses his biggest client, which is the European Union. We're
completely out of Russian coal. We have reduced Russian oil. We have reduced Russian gas by 75 percent by now.
And thanks to our friends, the United States, we have been able to compensate my agreement with President Biden, really works. Energy is
coming from the U.S. to Europe. So, you see he has not reach -- Putin has reached any of his goals.
AMANPOUR: On that issue, is it enough to keep Europe on sight? The people who are hurting because of potential huge, you know, energy spikes, cost of
living spikes. Your alternative routes, is it enough or you still need to make some headway?
VON DER LEYEN: Yes. I mean, we've been working hard and we're still working hard to really get rid of Russian fossil fuels. Our storages are
filled by 86 percent by now. We're better that we expected at that time. We're energy saving and electricity saving. And as I said, we have
diversified away from Russia towards reliable supplies like our American friends or Norway, for example. And this really works.
So, there's going to be a tough winter ahead of us. But we know why we have to pay this price. This is a question of democracy versus autocracy. And
I'm deeply convinced democracy will prevail.
AMANPOUR: I'm going to play a soundbite from President Putin's address overnight. Basically again, threatening not just Ukraine but the western
alliance. We're going to play it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PUTIN (through translator): This is not a bluff. The citizen of Russia can be sure that the territorial integrity of our homeland, our independence
and freedom will be ensured. I emphasize this again with all the means at our disposal. And those who try to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should
know that the prevailing wins can turn our direction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, what do you think he means? I mean, it's a very, very unsettling and awful situation when you have a member of the security
council either overtly or covertly talking about all weapons at our disposal. And something that a percentage chance of him using these things
on the battlefield has risen. Do you believe that?
VON DER LEYEN: So, one thing is for sure. We know that Putin has nuclear weapons, that's a fact. But we will never bow to blackmail. So, I think it
was and is the right approach to be very clear. He will have to pay massive costs for this invasion in Ukraine. We want beforehand. We're doing now
exactly what we have said before the invasion started. And blackmail does not work with us.
AMANPOUR: Do you see any route towards any kind of negotiations? There are always these, kind of, rumors that keep, sort of, rising that we may have
been just on the verge of some kind of negotiation. Putin was on the back foot. You know, Ukraine was doing better in, you know, in that area. We've
seen that President Erdogan, a NATO member, and with good relations with Putin, has said that on no account will Putin be allowed to keep the
territory that he's taken by invasion.
We've seen the Chinese president raise "Question and concerns." We've seen the Indian prime minister talk about war not being an aspect of this era.
Has any of that made any difference? Do you see any path towards any negotiation? Because still the President of France says he'd like to be a
VON DER LEYEN: Well, what you see is that Putin is getting more and more isolated. And that speaks for the others paying tribute and respect to the
international order. That's very important. I mean, we're here with the United Nations. It's about the Charter of the United Nations that we are
And for us, it's very important. Nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine. Ukraine is the one who has to determine the path forward and the question
of how and when the negotiations are possible.
AMANPOUR: So, you were in Kyiv, as I just said, just a few days ago. And this is in the aftermath of the Ukrainian counteroffensive that's been
successful. What did President Zelenskyy say to you about how he was looking to the future?
VON DER LEYEN: So, we are still in very tough times. We should not -- it's good that they have the military successes. And I commend the Ukrainians
for their bravery. It was lifting spirits, not only the Ukrainian ones. But we all know that Ukraine needs strong support from our side, for example,
financial support in a -- on a monthly basis. They need support in military capabilities. We support as much as possible the refugees that are in the
European Union but also the internally displaced people in Ukraine.
So, it's about stamina. It's about perseverance. And this, the Ukrainians have shown. And one thing is for sure, we are by the Ukrainians side as
long as it takes.
AMANPOUR: You've seen now what victory in Ukraine looks like. They have seen what it can look like. And as you say, it must be quite encouraging
for all of you who have helped this long. And also, to keep your people on the side, the Europeans and the westerners who are going through pain
because of this war on the side.
So, do you not think that now then would be the time to actually up the kinds of weapons that they need to pursue this?
VON DER LEYEN: The --
AMANPOUR: Because they are saying they need, you know, tougher weapons than they do now.
VON DER LEYEN: The Ukrainians are very clear about what they need. And I think the Ukrainians should get what they say they need because they have
proven that they can defend themselves, if they're appropriately equipped. And that they defend our values. Therefore, I am always a strong advocate
to deliver to the Ukrainians what they need.
AMANPOUR: So, you presumably have or will meet with President Biden. They have said publicly that they're not going to give certain heavier military
some systems to Ukraine.
VON DER LEYEN: Important is that on a bilateral basis, Ukraine and the respective country, in the European Union it's a 27 member states discuss
what is necessary and what can be delivered.
AMANPOUR: I know. But even the Germans -- I'm sorry, that's your country. You were minister defense there when I first met you, in in fact. And the
chancellor today is actually still not sending the tanks and things like that --
VON DER LEYEN: Germany --
AMANPOUR: -- were mentioned at the beginning.
VON DER LEYEN: Yes. Germany is sending a lot. So -- and the Ukrainians told me they are grateful for that. Again, we have established a system
where Ukrainians, in very detailed, say what they need. And if you look back over the last seven months, slowly but surely, they have gotten what
is necessary. And they have proven that they can handle the situation. So, I'm always an advocate that we listen to them and deliver what is possible.
AMANPOUR: What is the endgame? What is the endgame for Ukraine that you articulate and that you have a vision on?
VON DER LEYEN: We want a free and independent Ukraine that can decide where its future path is. And they want to be member of the European Union,
we want them also to be a member of the European, that's what we are working for.
AMANPOUR: And do you think that's closer or still as far away as ever?
VON DER LEYEN: Well, they have already the candidate status. They're working very hard on reforms. We will be by their side when the whole topic
of investment for reconstruction will be on the table. We are, investing already in the relief right now, for example, repairing schools or
repairing hospitals. But whatever we do, Ukraine and us, we have decided, let's shape, reform, and investment in a way that is the path into the
AMANPOUR: So, again, part of your mandate has to be to keep citizens on side when do these policies. I was just speaking just before to the prime
minister of Spain, and I asked him what he thought the effect of the victories by some very, very hard right parties, certainly in Sweden and
perhaps on Sunday in Italy.
What effect they would have on the support for Ukraine? Would it lower E.U.'s ambitions? Would they be able to try to say, hang on a second. This
is all way too much for our people to tolerate? Will you have to lower your ambitions?
VON DER LEYEN: I think this is -- what is our task now to convince everyone that we're in a bigger game here. That is, indeed, the fight for
the respectful international order. The respect for the sovereignty and integrity of Ukraine. Democracy to prevail. And so far, as far as I
listened to all the different who are aspiring to be in office, they've understood that this is a question of democracy versus autocracy. And that
we have to stick together and that unity is so important.
They also know that unity is important because to overcome all the problems that we have because of this war, for example, the skyrocketing energy
crisis and the impact on our economy, which we are willing to bear. They know that unity here is the only way forward to get out of this crisis, and
therefore let's stick together.
AMANPOUR: You're not concerned at all that Sweden, I don't know, may reassess its decision to join NATO?
VON DER LEYEN: Not at all.
VON DER LEYEN: This is a clear will of the Swedish people. And therefore, I'm deeply convinced that this will go this way.
AMANPOUR: Let's switch a little bit to more local politics. You were at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth. I saw you were there to view her body lying
in state. And it was a moment of remarkable coming together, not just by the people of Great Britain, but also the world who came together around
this particular figure.
And yet you've just also met with Liz Truss. And there are real problems between Britain and the E.U. There's still no trade deal. We have an issue
with the mechanics for the Northern Island. That's a problem for you and also for the United States. Did you get any sense that Liz Truss would be
an easier partner than Boris Johnson? What did she talk to you about?
VON DER LEYEN: It's the very first time that we met. And indeed, we both were looking back on the funeral and the legend that the queen was. And
indeed, this also reminded us again that we have a common cause to fight for in this world that is so difficult and in such a crisis.
It's not only Russia's war in Ukraine and against the International Order. It's also fighting climate change. It is making sure that we share with the
rest of the world as much as possible to fight the food crisis and the fertilizer crisis, for example. These were dominant themes at the very
beginning. Of course, there are topics that we have to solve. But I am confident that with this bigger view, there will be a lot of positive
motivation on both sides to find solutions so that will deliver for people.
AMANPOUR: So, Liz Truss has said that she has this great vision of a global Britain. And yet she's also said, even on her flyover from England
for this U.N. summit, that she does not see any kind of bilateral trade agreement with the United States for the moment. That would be huge.
Because there's no Britain-E.U. trade deal. We understand that that is also exacerbating the cost of energy in the U.K. Where do you see Britain's
VON DER LEYEN: Well, I cannot judge on bilateral issues of the United Kingdom with the United States, for example. And what the energy market is
concerned, we are very integrated. And this shows how much we are relying on each other. And here, too, is a very clear message. You can rely on us
and we know we can rely on you. Because with the energy market, the gas market, the electricity market which are completely integrated. We've done
a good job so far. We know that this supports each other if we're getting along well in the energy market and we will be reliable friends.
AMANPOUR: On the so-called Northern Island Protocol, which is a complicated thing but the idea is that it was negotiated by Boris Johnson
with the E.U. And now Liz Truss is saying that she has no problem ditching it. Also ditching a lot of regulations on climate change. But on that, on
the Northern Island issue which is very, very important in this country and to E.U.
Did she suggest that she might table it? What is good enough for you at the moment? What is the practical solution to this?
VON DER LEYEN: Well, as it was the first time that we met, we did not go into details. And of course, we know that we have issues there. But we both
are determined to find solutions to deliver for the people in Northern Ireland, in Great Britain, in the European Union. And I'm deeply convinced
that if we look at the overall background of the world -- the state of the world, it is possible to find solutions. So, I'm in a positive mood where
that is concerned.
AMANPOUR: And finally, are you in a positive mood about climate? You made it a central theme of the Build Back Better out of COVID. But even here,
the so-called big head of state climate conference is actually looks like - -
VON DER LEYEN: It is --
AMANPOUR: --it's getting more diluted today.
VON DER LEYEN: It is absolutely urgent. So, we have progressed a lot but climate change is progressing too. And we have had a horrible summer, and
it's not going to be the last horrible summer. So, we really have to step up. We really have to join forces. We have to get better. Our ambition has
to rise. So, looking forward to CAP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh. We really have to step up. This is not enough.
AMANPOUR: Ursula von der Leyen, E.U. Commissioner President, thank you so much for being with us today.
VON DER LEYEN: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Thank you.
And now, from the world stage to the classroom, imagine this, 70 percent of 10-year-olds in low-and-middle-income countries around the world cannot
read. It's a fact worsened by COVID of course. And our next guest says that America schools are also under threat.
Journalist Jennifer Berkshire is co-author of "A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door". An analysis of what she calls the dismantling of America's public
education system. She is speaking to Hari Sreenivasan about why teachers are in such short supply now in America.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christiane, thanks. Jennifer Berkshire, thanks so much for joining us.
JENNIFER BERKSHIRE, COAUTHOR, "A WOLF AT THE SCHOOLHOUSE DOOR": Thank you so much for having me.
SREENIVASAN: First, I want to ask, you know, I have seen and so many parents have seen these headlines, around the country of teacher shortages.
And I want to know how bad is it.
BERKSHIRE: Great question. So, the -- whether you are experiencing a teacher shortage depends on where you are and what subject matter is being
taught. So, there are subject matters where we have had long running teacher shortages in this country, like special ed and certain stampedes
But now we're seeing something a little different. We're seeing regional parts of the country where teacher shortages are really starting to get
severe. And I'm thinking of places like Arizona and Florida. Places that are often in the news for other reasons pertaining to school related
And then the -- I think the other thing to keep an eye on is when you hear teacher shortages, look to see what people are saying about the pipeline of
future teachers, right? So, maybe the problem in your area isn't evident today. But what if there is no one in that queue preparing to be a teacher
tomorrow? That's something we all need to worry about.
SREENIVASAN: One of the statistics that's really concerning is from National Education Association survey back in February. And it said some 55
percent of educators are thinking about leaving the profession earlier than they had planned. So, let's start to look at some of the reasons why that
is. This is something that is been made worse by the pandemic, I imagine.
BERKSHIRE: Absolutely. So, you will see a lot of statistics like that. And to the critics of the teacher shortage narrative will say, well, you know,
it turns out that teachers often say that they're going to leave but then, you know, that they -- a lot of them ended up not leaving. Well, it tells
us that we are looking at a profession that, in many ways, is in the throes of a crisis. And the pandemic definitely made things worse. The post-
pandemic political charged atmosphere is making things worse.
SREENIVASAN: So, let's talk a little bit about the accelerant that the pandemic was in this problem. I mean, you know, within months of children
going to Zoom, there was almost this seemingly universal love of parents saying, oh, my gosh. Teachers need to be paid more. It is unbelievable what
they're dealing with all day. And I'm having to figure that out as a parent.
Where -- how do we get from that where we consider them heroes to the state where so many of them are saying, you know what, I don't need to do this to
myself. I'm going to switch professions or I'm going to retire.
BERKSHIRE: When I interviewed teachers over the summer for a big piece I wrote for "The Nation" about teachers leaving. They -- so many of them
pointed to that, the pendulum swing. The fact that you don't like the school shut down, they're recognized as heroes, people are tweeting every
teacher should be paid $1 million dollars. And then we see, you know, not just the pendulum reverses but just this sort of incredible backlash.
Some of it had to do with school closures. And some of it had to do with just this intense politicization, right? There's this argument that started
to take hold, I think, very opportunistically about schools indoctrinating kids. And of course, who's doing the indoctrinating then? It's teachers.
And so, all of those things, sort of, set the stage. And I think for so many teachers, it was just this incredible disconnect between realizing
that, you know, that they could go from being held in very high esteem to being, you know, like a real -- like a full-on enemy within, you know, like
within just a few months. That was just really -- that was really disconcerting.
SREENIVASAN: Are the forces that are increasing the pressure on teachers, I guess the same people who felt like the mask policies or the vaccine
policies were wrong. And now they're shifting, I guess, focus on what's wrong with teaching or is there -- are there discrete groups that are, kind
of, adding to this pressure?
BERKSHIRE: I think the loudest voices that we hear right now really are an extension of what you just described. If you look at a community that's
really being rocked by these parent protests, you'll see the issues keep morphing. First, it's school reopening. Then it's masks and vaccines. Then
it's critical race theory. Then it's what they're calling a gender ideology.
And often they're making specific demands about what they want teachers to do. They want them to post all of their lesson plans prior to the start of
the year. The gubernatorial candidate in Arizona wants cameras in every classroom.
So, you can see that there is this, sort of, organized course that's now more and more concentrated on teachers. And if you are paying attention to
conservative media, there is a kind of implied message that what teachers are doing is so bad that violence might be called for. And I think that
that, in particular, is just so alarming to people.
SREENIVASAN: So, tell me some of the teachers that you speak with. When you talk about this potential violence and fear factor, give me some
examples of what teachers were telling you in your reporting?
BERKSHIRE: Absolutely. So, I -- you know, I think people really need to understand just how politicized things are right now. And so, think about
ahistory teacher who, as part of his standard approach, teaches a lesson on the electoral polish (ph). But now half of the people in your Iowa
community don't believe that Biden won the election. Suddenly, everything you're doing is controversial.
So, what are those parents going to do? Well, they're going to call the administration and complain about you. And the administration just wants
the calls to stop. And so, suddenly you're sort of out there on your own. And then you're -- you know, there are these intense school board meetings
where, you know, maybe you're in a community where the Proud Boys are showing up.
And so, the -- it's not just the threat of violence that is coming through the TV. There's menace in your community. And for people who think of
school board meetings as just these state boring affairs, you know, this is really something new to deal with.
I think all of those things start to add up. The feeling of being isolated. The feeling of being under constant watch and having, you know, having
things that you've always taught now being under a microscope. And politicians calling for more. Calling for things like, you know, for you to
be accused of a felony if you're teaching a book that they're saying is pornographic, right? All of these things really have people on edge.
SREENIVASAN: How concerted are these efforts at school board meetings around the country when this pressure is being applied, when these policies
are being questioned? Is there the equivalent of a rule book online, so to speak, where these advocates are saying, oh, here's what work in Iowa,
let's try it here.
BERKSHIRE: Absolutely. So, on the one hand, there is a genuine grassroots element to a lot of this stuff. You know, the pandemic was genuinely
unsettling for all of us. But particularly, you know, for parents of school age kids. It was profoundly disruptive. And wherever you were, whether you
are in a red state or a blue state, a city or a rural area. It disrupted life.
And so, in many ways the protests we're seeing are a response to that. We're experiencing the long tale of that. But there is definitely
concerted, organized, very well-funded part of this as well. The politicization and the disruption around schools plays into long-standing
political goals to privatize education. And you'll see organizations being more and more explicit about this, right? This is our shot. Let's go for
And so right now, in a state like Michigan where maybe you would've had school board protests during the pandemic, now you have -- you know, you're
in the throes of a debate about full-on privatization through a statewide voucher program. Things are moving fast and I think that people are
starting to realize that this is -- this isn't just the voices of a collection of angry parents. That there is money behind this. There is
power behind this. And that the goal is to privatized public education.
SREENIVASAN: So, I guess let's -- a philosophical question that probably needs to be answered to some of the folks who might be interested in
privatizing it or taking the funding away from the State. I mean, what does a public education mean to the country?
BERKSHIRE: Yes, so it's a really good question and it's really worth looking. If you're in a state where one of this privatization plans is
being proposed, pay very close attention to the money that they're talking about. Because typically, the amount of the voucher doesn't cover the whole
cost of an education. It certainly doesn't cover what we now spend on public education.
And so, it means that we're talking about shifting some portion of the cost on to parents themselves. Think about that. In a country as unequal as we
are, what's that going to do? That is absolutely going to cement inequity in a way that I think is really concerning to think about.
And then, you know, think about the other things that schools do. Our public schools are a public good. You pay for them even if you don't have
kids. You pay for them because they are a benefit to the community. You pay for them because we are investing in the idea of schools as growing civic -
- future civic leaders and participants in our democracy. What does it say that we're going to walk away from that and start to define education as an
individual responsibility that you shoulder the burden for yourself much like we treat higher ed? And think about our debate right now about higher
ed. How has that experiment worked out?
SREENIVASAN: Where do you see this soar of attempt kind of furthest along?
BERKSHIRE: It's furthest along in a State like Arizona which just, over the summer, enacted what is called a Universal Voucher Program. And that
means that now, like anyone in Arizona, can basically take taxpayer money and spend it not just on private schools or private religious schools but
home-schooling and any education related expense.
And so, you know, not surprisingly, the people who have rushed to participate in that program were overwhelmingly already in the private
system. So, suddenly you have this pool of money that's now, you know, being used to subsidize people who were paying for private education. And
that's going to mean less money for kids in the public schools.
So, you know, and Arizona is being really held up as a model by folks who believe in this vision. So, I would pay close attention to what's happening
SREENIVASAN: What sort of pipeline problems are we looking at here? And how is this going to impact us two years, five years, 10 years out in the
way that public education or just education is structured?
BERKSHIRE: Yes. So, this is really concerning. When you look at the drop in applicants in things like education programs. And we're not just talking
about university-based programs. This is really happening across the board.
Think of a program like Teach for America which, you know, just a few years ago was absolutely awash in applicants. They've seen -- they -- this
current year they have their smallest class since the program was founded. And that really tells you something, right? Like these are our kids who saw
a career advantage in many ways to going into teaching. And now they're saying, you know, I'm not so sure.
And then you talk to folks in rural communities that are really being hit hard by this. They're seeing the same -- you know, it was already hard for
them to convince somebody to pack up and move to a small town in Western Kansas. And now they're looking with great concern to the fact that there
are -- the pipeline of future teachers in rural Kansas is drying up as well.
So, it's not just that there is this debate about shortages right now. It's what does the future hold? And I think that's very concerning.
SREENIVASAN: So, in a perfect market, you know, the supply and demand don't even out. You see states like Florida changing the requirements of
what is necessary to be a schoolteacher. What are the impacts of that?
BERKSHIRE: Well, I think -- you know, I think we really need to think about what it says that the response to not enough teachers would be to say
basically that anyone can do it.
We have all sorts of careers where shortages are a problem. Think of the terrific -- you know, there's a shortage of nurses or doctors in rural
areas. And the idea that a governor would come out and say, you know, what? As a temporary stopgap measure, we're going to let anybody do it.
People would immediately see that as a dangerous road to go down. But the difference is that there is this, sort of, larger narrative that teaching
doesn't require any particular skill, right? It's the only profession where all of us see it done in front of our eyes for at least 12 years.
And so, there is this persistent, sort of, undercurrent. Well, you know, I could do it, so maybe DeSantis is right. Maybe somebody coming out of the
military would be just as good.
SREENIVASAN: What happens to the idea that teaching is a profession. That it requires training. I'm looking at a stat that says according to a 2019
report from the National Council on Teacher Quality, only 15 States require that candidates pass a basic skills test which measures whether they have a
grasp of math, reading, and writing.
BERKSHIRE: Yes, so we're entering into an era that is profoundly uncertain. And one of the reasons is that the politicization around
education is a very much directed at schools of education. If you listen closely to the conservative governors, in particular, who are sort of
waging this campaign, this is one of their particular targets.
And so, that means that -- well, what -- you know, how are we going to train teachers then? You know, what are they going to be expected to learn?
And so, I actually don't think you're going to be seeing a lot of demands for -- the sort of, basic skills tests that you were just describing.
Instead, there is going to be this battle playing out around the States where you're going to start to see conservatives calling for their own
schools of education. That train teachers in particular sets of ideas around, say, patriotism and virtue. It's -- we're in for some wild times.
SREENIVASAN: So, what do we do about this? Especially if we know that this is a bigger problem in certain regions of the country where there is more,
kind of, pressure on teachers. What do we do to try to improve the situation in these parts the country?
BERKSHIRE: Well, I think that making teaching more attractive as a profession is always the best answer. There are also, you know, a number of
places that are doing really interesting things with grow your own teacher programs.
I interviewed somebody in rural Texas last week. And so, they have a program where kids leave high school with an associates' degree. And then
the school district basically then pays for the first year or two of their education degree with the understanding that they'll come back to that
rural community of teach. What a cool idea.
So, I'm hoping that we'll see these -- you know, in some ways the shortages will read some creative solutions. I also think it's really important not
to focus on the most negative stories. The loudest voices. The most, sort of, school -- you know, the disruption around school boards.
Look at some communities where folks have really banded together to support teachers, to support their public schools. And you'll be surprised that
actually these stories are in the majority.
SREENIVASAN: Jennifer Berkshire, co-author of the book, "A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door: The Dismantling of Public Education and the Future of
School". Thanks so much for joining us.
BERKSHIRE: Thanks so much for having me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And as we mentioned, obviously, the lack of education around the world is a major impediment to leveling up.
Now, finally tonight, an ancient treasure has been unearthed in Gaza. A farmer has discovered an ornate mosaic in his olive orchard that dates back
to the Byzantine era. The mosaic features designs of colorful birds and intricate drawings. Keeping its beauty nearly 1,500 years later. The farmer
has swept, wiped, and cleaned the mosaic to restore the artifact to its former glory. Pledging to preserve it as a piece of Palestinian heritage.
And that's it for now. Remember you can always catch us online, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, plus of course our podcast. You can find it at
cnn.com/podcast and on all major platforms. Just search AMANPOUR. Thank you for watching. And goodbye from New York.