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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Scholz To CNN: We Are Giving Russia A Strong Message While Also Pursuing Diplomatic Channels; British PM Johnson Filling Sudden Vacancies. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired February 07, 2022 - 17:00   ET



OLAF SCHOLZ, CHANCELLOR OF GERMANY: This is why we enlarge our capacities in producing electricity for instance with offshore wind, with onshore

wind, with solar. We are making our grid more strong and we also work together with partners.

And there is the U.K. in one of the key partners for our strategy for the future to produce hydrogen with their natural resources because the

industry to come in Germany and possibly worldwide will be an industry that is using gas, but not natural gas or coal or oil --

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Right. A cleaner --

SCHOLZ: -- but hydrogen produced, for instance, in the big landscape of the Ukraine. And our activity and our money is now offered to develop such

an industry in the Ukraine for giving them a future post gas.

TAPPER: So, I wanted to ask you about a few other issues. Neither you nor your foreign minister plan to attend the Olympic Games in Beijing, but you

have -- you're not calling it an official diplomatic boycott. The United States, the U.K. and others are doing an official diplomatic boycott

because of the Chinese government genocide against the Uighurs, a Muslim ethnic minority.

Why are you not doing an official diplomatic boycott if you're not going anyway? It does seem like Germany might have a special obligation to stand

against genocide than other countries given your country's history.

SCHOLZ: First, Germany has the strongest legislation on production overseas. We did this in the last two years and it is much more strict as

in most other countries I know. And this will have an impact on the industries of our country. If they buy things overseas, abroad, they will

have to follow this rules. And for instance, looking at the -- of labor laws, looking at human rights, as you mentioned, is a key strategy. And

this will change the world because as you know, we are the very strong industrial place.

TAPPER: Right.

SCHOLZ: We are a big importer and exporter but not all people understand, we are really importing a lot of things for the industry, goods we are

producing, and in this strategy, we are doing this new regulation which we have now in Germany. This will change the world. On the second --

TAPPER: But why not do a diplomatic boycott?

SCHOLZ: And the second is that we agreed that we will do it together with our partners in the European Union. That we will find a common strategy on

what we will explain in this case politically, but it was all the time clear that no one was planning to do a trip over there.

TAPPER: Right. But China, the Chinese government is committing genocide against the Uighurs and Germany has a history of genocide. I would think

your country of all countries would want to stand against what the Chinese government is doing.

SCHOLX: As I already said, we are working very hard and all the activities we are doing, this is playing a big role. For instance, the rules of the

International Labor Organization for us has to be implemented. Also in the trade agreements which are responsible -- which are planned between the

European Union and China, one of the questions. But there are a lot of more. So you see that there is a very constant and very effective strategy

we are following. I'm sure that this will help.

TAPPER: Let's talk about Iran because Germany is among the western nations trying to revive that landmark and controversial Iran Nuclear Deal. If

diplomacy fails and an agreement cannot be reached, what next steps do you need -- do you think need to be taken with Iran to convince that country to

not have a nuclear weapons program?

SCHOLZ: We are very cheer together with our friends. We are working together and acting together and this is now the time for Iran to make a

decision. There is no time for prolonging the debates and things like that which happened in the past because we look at the situation in Iran and we

see that they are making progress with their capacity building of having a nuclear bomb and being able to use them on missiles.

And because of that, it's clear that we will not wait. That it will have a cost and it will have consequences if Iran is not using the opportunity,

which is coming up now. There is really leadership from the United States and the president from all the partners we are working together to convince

Iran now to use the chance which is now.

And now that is the message I also would like to send from our talk here. Take the chance. It's not -- nothing for prolonging. We don't want to

continue and continue and continue talks. It's now to take the chance.

TAPPER: Last question, sir, and I really do appreciate your taking my questions. We've talked about Iran getting a nuclear weapon, the

possibility. We've talked about war breaking out in Ukraine. We've talked about what's going to in China.


There's so many threats in this world. What keeps you up at night? What do you worry about?

SCHOLZ: I think we have to be absolutely clear that peace is the most important question we have to work for. This will be only successful if we

are working for our own strength. It's necessary for being successful.

TAPPER: Peace everywhere or peace in Ukraine? What do you -- what do you mean?

SCHOLZ: I'm speaking about peace everywhere. This is what you asked me about.


SCHOLZ: And so I think this will be an important aspect of a political strategy. This means military strength and we are working very hard for

that. And economic strength, which is the basis for military strength. And it is partnership in NATO and the European Union for us. And we will very

much do this.

And there is a new aspect in the politics which should never be underestimated. We understand ourselves as democracies, countries that

follow the rule of law. And this is what is -- what makes us being the same team with the United States and with our partners in the European Union.

And this is different to many other countries and regimes and states in the world. But I'm absolutely sure that the way of life we have with democracy,

the rule of law, with individual freedom and the market economy is a way of life that people would appreciate all over the planet.

And so we should be confident that if we are following a clear strategy of international cooperation, but implemented in cooperation between partners

and allies as the NATO, for instance, we will be successful in the end.

TAPPER: But do you -- just to try to bring this point home. President Biden talks a lot about how the struggle right now in the world is between

democracies like the United States and Germany versus autocracies, places where there are no freedoms, where there is no democracy like Russia, like

China. Do you worry that we are going to lose that fight?

GERMANY: No. It is a strong fight. But the ideas that situated the United States and the ideas that were important for our democratic development,

they are ideas of mankind. They are not just western ideas or North America and Europe and some other places. It is something which is deeply in us as


And because of that I am absolutely sure that we will succeed in this game because it's coming from the people even in those countries. And the very

strange situation we are in is that this is not anymore a struggle between communism, socialism on the one side and capitalism on the other.

There are all over capitalist states. North Korea may be the one other country, but all the others are capitalist but they are autocrats, they are

following ideologies and they are not giving the freedom to their people which they are lacking for.

And so we should develop our role in the world of international cooperation in multilateralism that we built an environment where during this

situation, the people of those countries will take their chances.

TAPPER: I appreciate -- I appreciate you being here and I hope your right.

SCHOLZ: Thank you.

TAPPER: I hope our side does win. The German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz. Thank you so much for your time today, sir. Really appreciate it.

SCHOLZ: Thank you for having me.

TAPPER: Coming up, the protests --


BIANCA NOBILO, CNN HOST: You have been watching the German chancellor speaking exclusively to CNN. He's currently in Washington, D.C. after

meeting with President Biden regarding the crisis in Ukraine.

And our Fred Pleitgen is standing by now in Berlin.

Fred, you're watching that interview and obviously you follow German politics very closely. Any surprises? What struck you?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I -- first of all, I think that it was a very lively interview. I think it was a

very wide ranging interview. And certainly, I think one of the things that Jake did is he did hit hard on some of the topics you would think would be

a bit uncomfortable for the German chancellor.

First and foremost, it is some of the things that we have been hearing around the Ukraine crisis, where of course there have been Ukrainian

politicians and even from NATO members who do feel that Germany so far maybe hasn't been doing enough, may have gone a little too soft on Russia.

And I think that the German chancellor didn't dodge any of those questions. And he did say that Germany has been doing a lot as far as the economic

sphere is concerned. Some of them obviously kept wanting to point out, the one thing he didn't do is something I think Bianca we've heard throughout

the entire evening. He did not commit to the fact that or did not commit to Nord Stream 2 not happening if there was a further invasion of Ukraine.


That's also something that we saw in the press conference with President Biden beforehand, where President Biden unequivocally said there would be

no Nord Stream, or that it wouldn't -- it wouldn't start operating if Russia further invades Ukraine. The Germans still remain -- keeping some of

that ambiguity, if you will.

But aside from that, the chancellor saying, look, that Germany does believe that it's being a good ally. It wants to continue to be a good ally. It's

going to continue to financially support Ukraine and also offer up more German troops for the Eastern Flank of NATO as well. So, in total, really

an interview that I think hit a lot of points on top of, of course, Ukraine, also hitting on Iran, hitting on China as well.

That I think in many ways showed the German chancellor to be lively, combative, and really trying to defend Germany's policies not just towards

Ukraine, but other world issues as well, Bianca.

NOBILO: And, Fred, just briefly, if I may, what is the advantage of Germany maintaining a position of strategic ambiguity on Nord Stream at

this point when the E.U. and NATO are trying to put pressure on Russia, trying to go for a deterrent strategy. Obviously, there's an economic

incentive, but what do you think the calculus is there?

PLEITGEN: Yeah, I mean, there's certainly an economic incentive. I mean, one of the things we have to keep in mind is that Germany is very much

dependent on natural resources that it itself doesn't have and dependent on natural resources from Russia.

That isn't just gas. That's also coal and oil as well. But gas in particular. Germany gets half of the gas that it uses from Russia.

And so, certainly some of that ambiguity is due to the fact that the Germans say that diplomacy must come first. They want to make sure they

explore all diplomatic avenues and try to work it out with the Russians before going any further.

One of the things that we know, Bianca, is that the German chancellor Olaf Scholz about a week from now is going to travel to Moscow to then there

speak with Vladimir Putin. The way the chancellor has put it in interviews before going to Washington, D.C. today and in that interview with Jake as

well is he wants to keep the ambiguity up to make sure that the Russians understand that more sanctions could be coming.

But he did say that they were absolutely on the same page with the United States as far as sanctions is concerned and there would be a united

response if there was a further invasion of Ukraine -- Bianca.

NOBILO: So, almost like an economic trump card in the whole sanctions debate, and obviously a lot more than that.

Fred Pleitgen, thank you so much for joining us from Berlin.

Now to Moscow. Vladimir Putin hosted French President Emmanuel Macron for marathon talks Monday evening. The Russian president had harsh criticism

for NATO and Ukraine, but suggested some of Mr. Macron's proposals could facilitate dialogue on Russia's security concerns.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The president nevertheless found it necessary to come to Russia to exchange opinions as

to how we should move ahead. A number of his ideas and proposals, which is too many to talk about at the moment, I consider to be possible.


NOBILO: Mr. Macron agreed the continued dialogue is possible in the days and weeks ahead.


EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): Russia's commitment to sovereignty and law means that I believe we can construct

stability in Europe by reaffirming the role of the OSCE, which we built together, but also by coming up with new solutions, perhaps more



NOBILO: I'm joined now by David Herszenhorn, the chief Brussels correspondent for "Politico".

David, welcome to the program. I'd like to get your thoughts on Macron's more conciliatory approach than the U.S. and U.K., for example. He's

obviously trying to strike a balance between protecting the E.U., but also trying to address Russia's security concerns.

DAVID HERSZENHORN, CHIEF BRUSSELS CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: Well, Bianca, I think this is going to prove to be a very controversial night for Emmanuel

Macron. There were some quite defiant things Vladimir Putin said, including insisting that Crimea is Russia, that one of the reasons it's dangerous for

Ukraine to ever join NATO is because some European countries think that Crimea is still part of Ukraine, and he doesn't want to go to war with NATO

to keep Crimea, Macron today by and said nothing.

These are fundamental principles in the West that Crimea was invaded and annexed to illegally. That was a violation of international law. Macron

stood by and said absolutely nothing. Putin also asserted that Russia has been trying to set it will conflict in east Ukraine in Donbas by military

means. Macron, again, didn't answer Putin on that point.

It's going to be really interesting the reaction both in Europe and the rest of the West. As we saw this contrast with Washington where Scholz and

Biden came out with a very strong warning. That gas line, which is important, Gazprom, into Russia, will not operate.


On the other hand, as you just reported, Macron saying they will talk and talk and continue to talk bum there wasn't a very clear message. What the

West has been trying to say is that Putin must de-escalate, that he must withdraw the troops that have been amassed on the borders in Ukraine,

Belarus, on the Russian side of the border, and then there are things they might be able to talk about.

But we didn't hear a clear message from Macron about that. He said he was going to offer a path to de-escalation. Put en not taking that path


NOBILO: And, David, why do you think the silence on Macron's part when it comes to these issues? Issues such as Crimea? Because, obviously, his team

would have prepared for such an event, what would he say if the Russian president spoke about those issues?

And is there also concerns with the talks and talks and talks approach that it could be buying Russia time while they engage in dialogue?

HERSZENHORN: Well, we know that while Russia is buying time, it is still increasing its military presence, at the same time, Macron might try to

counter that he is buying time for Ukraine, but every day that goes by without an attack, without a military incursion, that that's another day of

peace, but it's very clear that as usual, Vladimir Putin has been doing this a lot longer than his counterparts. He's just better at this.

The Russians prepare better for these encounters. I don't think Macron was quite ready for this. What we saw at the very outset was Putin very

definitely, as we welcomed macron to the Kremlin, scoring certain points, framing the conversation in the way he wants to frame it, referring to

Georgia's attack, calling it the inter-Ukrainian conflict. That's the Russian view this is a civil war when most of the world knows Russia stoked

a separatist insurgency, that Russia set off this conflict in Donbas that wasn't happening before there was meddling on the Kremlin's part.

So, in that sense he frames the conversation, lays out where he wants to go, all the while flattering Macron, telling him how great it is France is

trying to be the dealmaker, the peacemaker that his predecessors have also done this kind of outreach. There you see a leader can fall into a trap.

Macron didn't want to contradict Putin, didn't want to pick a fight, but one thing leaders can't do in this kind of high profile high stakes

situation is stand by when their counterparty contradicts fundamental principles.

And the question of Crimea is a fundamental principle for the West. I think we're going to hear a strong reaction from Ukraine, about Macron's lack of

answer on that. He's going to be in Kyiv tomorrow. It's going to be interesting.

Putin also asserted Macron agreed to begin putting pressure on Kyiv to implement the Minsk agreement we know that the general position on the West

has been that it's Russia that needs to take steps to get it back on track. Macron himself has suggested that. And so, unclear why when Putin makes

that suggestion, Macron didn't come back strongly to demand the clear step he would like Moscow to take going forward.

NOBILO: David Herszenhorn, thank you so much. I wish we had more time with you today, but we're tight in the show. We'll bring you back to get more

into this and figure out exactly what Macron may have been thinking. Thank you.

You're watching THE GLOBAL BRIEF. We'll be right back with more of the day's news after this.



NOBILO: Ten straight days of protest in Canada's capital have pushed the city to a breaking point according to its police chief. Thousands of people

gathered in the heart of downtown Ottawa in the chaotic display of anti- vaccine sentiment. The city's mayor has declared a state of emergency. Police are investigating potential hate crimes.

It shows the conflicting tensions in the country right now, while many in Ottawa feel held hostage by the demonstrators, protesters and other

Canadians feel hostage by COVID restrictions.

So, let's take a lack at the other key COVID-19 stories making international impact. Australia is set to welcome back fully vaccinated

foreign travelers quarantine-free starting late this month. The country's been slowly relaxing some of the world's toughest border rules. Australian

tourism has been hard hit over the past two years and it's a vital part of the country's economy.

Just a few days after Bali opened to tourists, it's in other parts of Indonesia are tightening restrictions. In an effort to contain rising

coronavirus infections, multiple cities, including Jakarta are introducing social restrictions. The measures limiting capacity at grocery stores and


And in Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Twitter he and his wife tested positive for COVID-19. They wrote they both have to omicron

variant and are experiencing mild symptoms. Erdogan had just returned from Ukraine where he met with the country's president about the tensions with


Now embattled Prime Minister Boris Johnson shared a song as he greeted his new communications director, Guto Harri. But it was a nervous tune they

sang. Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive".

Johnson is suddenly having to replace five top aides who quit in just the past week over his political problems. Johnson's under pressure to resign

for parties at 10 Downing Street and the cabinet office while much of the country was under a strict COVID lockdown.

Quentin Peel is an associate fellow of the Europe program of the Chatham House and he joins me now via Skype from here in London.

Quentin, it's great to talk to you. I'm sorry we're not in person.

First and foremost -- first and foremost, I'd like to get your take on Johnson's new appointments, particularly Stephen Barclay, because he is an

MP. He's also chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. He's a cabinet minister.

It's quite unusual, isn't it, to be bringing someone in as chief staff when they've already got quite a full plate?

QUENTIN PEEL, ASSOCIATE FELLOW, EUROPE PROGRAMME, CHATHAM HOUSE: Yes, it's obviously a political appointment. In fact, most of these appointments are.

It's a shift to the right by bringing in Stephen Barclay, very strong Brexiteer, somebody who always fought to get Britain out of the E.U., and

the other people coming in, Andrew Griffith, now head of policy, and David Canzini who's going to be the key link man with the House of Commons.

This is all about Boris Johnson really rather desperately trying to reassure his own supporters, his own side in the House of Commons, that

they shouldn't be having a vote of no confidence in him, which is what quite a number of them seem to want.

NOBILO: And it does appear we're in that unknowable phase where we have a lot of Tory MPs grumbling about the prime minister, even former loyalists

coming out and criticizing him. Charles Walker I think had said it's inevitable that the premiership is nearly over. And yet he does continue.

Is that because conservative MPs aren't sure of the result if it was pushed to a vote of no confidence?

PEEL: I think they're in a terrible dilemma, because Boris Johnson, after all, they put him there because he was an election winner. He actually won

very well. He gave them this extraordinary 80-seat majority.

But having said that he's also his own worst enemy that now looks as if he may very well be an election loser. They can't quite decide. But now he's

trying to demonstrate he's steadying the ship, bringing in new people, and now he's back in control. The trouble is, every time he does this,

something blows up in his face, and it look as though he's losing control again.

Today, the drama is that his own words have come to haunt him. I don't know if you remember, he accused the opposition leader in parliament of being

responsible of not prosecuting television star Jimmy Savile for child abuse.


This has really blown up because the leader of the opposition, Keir Starmer, was heckled and mobbed in the street outside parliament today by

people accusing him of doing just what Boris Johnson had said. And now, his own side wants him to apologize. It really couldn't be more difficult.

NOBILO: It does so many interesting as well. Obviously, Munira Mirza cited as reason for her to resign. There have been many criticisms that he's

quite demeaning the office of prime minister and it could be misspeaking or intentionally saying that in the House of Commons, which is driving him to

his most dangerous point.

If I could also get your thoughts, Quentin, on Mrs. Johnson, Carrie Johnson, her spokesman coming out and addressing the book, I think "First

Lady" it's called by a Troy fellow Lord Ashcroft saying this, Carrie Johnson is subject to a brutal briefing campaign and is often blamed for

thing as she shouldn't be.

How is -- how is the role of Carrie Johnson seen by conservative MPs and those in that House of Commons?

PEEL: Well, I think they are really -- that there is a whole group of rather conservative conservatives, rather on the right wing of the party,

who see her as dangerously pulling her husband towards much stronger environmental policies. They don't like her influence.

But I think there's quite a lot of sexism to it, too. I mean, after all, Boris Johnson is the prime minster. He's the man in charge. And every time

he's accused of anything, it's always somebody else to blame.

Now it's his wife. Before that it was members of his staff. Somehow, it's never the prime minster himself.

NOBILO: Quentin Peel, it's been fantastic to catch up with you. I'm sorry we've got such a show today. Have a nice evening.

And to all our viewers, thanks so much for watching. We'll be back again on THE GLOBAL BRIEF tomorrow. Have a good night.