Return to Transcripts main page
Connect the World
Fighting in Tigray Began One Year Ago, Killed Thousands; CNN Talks to Tigray People's Liberation Front Spokesman; U.S. Reopens to Fully Vaccinated International Travelers; Poland Deploys Thousands of Soldiers and Police to Border; Ortega Insults Jailed Opponents During Live Celebrations; Farmers Think Hashish Can Boost Lebanon's Economy. Aired 11a- 12p ET
Aired November 09, 2021 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: And this hour we connect you to both sides of the conflict in Ethiopia. I'm Becky Anderson. Hello and
welcome back to the show, escalating tensions in Ethiopia between fighters in the Tigray region and government forces that began last November.
In the last hour, I had a tense exchange with the press secretary to the Ethiopian Prime Minister accused CNN and other media of bias in covering
the conflict. When I asked her about the Prime Minister's call to Ethiopians to be ready to defend the Capitol and if an armed solution was
the right solution, here's what she said.
BILLENE SEYOUM, PRESS SECRETARY, ETHIOPIAN PRIME MINISTER: The Prime Minister calling upon the Ethiopian people to defend their city to defend
their communities to defend their country is supplanting or supporting the government's responsibility and constitutionally mandated responsibility to
force off any attacks any terrorist attacks.
As you know, the TPLF and their partners have been deemed or designated by the House of people's representatives in a constitutionally in an Ethiopian
constitutionally clear process designated as terrorist organizations so you are seeing the authority coming from the other side saying we are going to
take over Addis Ababa, there's going to be a siege under -- of the Capital with all this narrative building up, it's important for everybody to be
aware and to be alert. So this is not -- from the Prime Minister to arm everybody.
And you know, descend into civil chaos. But this is about being vigilant in their communities that this kind of threat which is originally aired by the
TPLF is upon us.
ANDERSON: The prime the prime minister also said, and I quote him here, "we will bury this enemy with our blood and bones and make the glory of
Ethiopia high again", calling on citizens to take up arms and quote, "bury the terrorist TPLF". This is very heavy rhetoric from a leader.
And it doesn't sound from that as if there is any room for the Ethiopian government to talk to the TPLF. Look, Facebook removed the prime minister's
post. How can Ethiopia unite under this current Prime Minister when he continues to use language inciting violence against particular key ethnic
SEYOUM: Becky, that is -- in the perspective of CNN. The Ethiopian government ran the first time --
ANDERSON: I just quoted what the Prime Minister said in a Facebook post that was then removed by Facebook for inciting violence.
SEYOUM: You need to let me explain, you need to do let me explain. We're testing the removal of this post by Facebook because we do not feel that it
is as alarmist as Facebook has. Now, there's other context for these global corporations and global entities.
ANDERSON: What part of that post do you not see as alarmist? Do you not see?
SEYOUM: No. Can I finish?
ANDERSON: I'm asking you, I am literally asking you a very simple question.
SEYOUM: Once is if the Amharic language of the Prime Minister is not asking people to go and attack their counterparts in their brothers and sisters.
There has been a clear pathway from the Prime Minister from the beginning that he came to the administration asking for peace asking for unity
throughout the country.
There have been several, several attempts by the TPLF and the war drums that have been beating up before the November 2020 altercation. Through all
of that the federal government championed and spearheaded by the Prime Minister has been very clear that that we did not want this to descend into
where it is right now.
So calling upon the Ethiopian people to defend themselves calling upon the Ethiopian people to protect themselves should not be seen in that negative
light. Some nuances within the Amharic language maybe or easily if you're splitting hair can be taken to mean other things, but there is no clear
call for violence on each other.
What the Prime Minister and the government the federal government of Ethiopia are asking is for all to be vigilant that the threat of TPLF is
there because they are saying they want to take over they want to attempt a coup and they want to topple a government. And legitimately elected
government if I may --
ANDERSON: The Ethiopian Prime Minister speaking to me last hour in what was a very wide ranging discussion. Meanwhile, on the ground as a rebel
alliance threatens the national Capitol.
Witnesses say authorities are targeting ethnic Tigrayans with a wave of arrests. The U.N. Security Council held an emergency meeting on Monday. One
U.N. official warned the next step could be civil war.
While the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations says the Security Council stayed silent for too long. The world once had high hopes for Ethiopia a
country rich in history and culture.
ANDERSON: And its prime minister three years ago Abiy Ahmed became Prime Minister helping end the two decade war with Eritrea which for which he was
awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Well today, he is sadly overseeing what appears to be or certainly is a deadly conflict and could devolve into
Let me remind everyone just how we got here. Over the past year, thousands of people have died in fighting between the Ethiopian government and the
Tigray People's Liberation from.
Ethiopia's government declared a unilateral ceasefire in June, when Tigrayan forces retook the regional Capital Mekelle. The TPLF categorically
ruled out a truce and the fighting spread beyond Tigray's borders into the neighboring Amhara and Alpha regions.
TPLF has allied with the Oromo Liberation Army a rebel group fighting for the rights of people from -- Ethiopia's most populous state. And last week,
the rebels claimed to have taken two other key towns on the road to the capital, Addis Ababa. Well, as you saw last hour, we spoke to the
Ethiopian Prime Minister's press secretary who downplayed rebel advances claiming they yield little popular support.
Well, now we talk to the TPLF spokesman who tweeted this recently saying and I quote, "a quick perusal of the prosperity party media would reveal
that Abiy has given clear instructions for his lieutenants to preach to their dwindling choirs that TPLF is the boogeyman.
They have to keep away from Addis whatever the margin of success of such media exercises though it's not going to change the fact that Abiy's ship
is sinking and sinking fast.
The reason why they are rounding up innocent Tigrayans and -- was in Addis and other part of Ethiopia is most likely to use them as chips of bargain.
Of course, this is also a money-making enterprise.
Let's bring in Getachew Reda, a spokesman for the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front, the Ethiopian politician also an advisor to the acting
president of the Tigray region. What did you mean in the last part of that tweet, sir?
GETACHEW REDA, SPOKESMAN, TIGRAY PEOPLE'S LIBERATION FRONT: You mean the money making enterprise --?
REDA: Yeah, Abiy has been ratcheting up genocidal violence against the people of Tigray in anyone who's -- who he thinks is standing in the way of
his --. Abiy from the get go, has never been interested in peace has never been interested in democracy has never been interested in reforms.
He was mostly interested in making sure that the entire Ethiopian population cowed into submission, were cowed into submission. So you know
Tigrayans unfortunately for him stood in the way of his imperial ambitions.
He wanted to be the king of kings of Ethiopia. But unfortunately, the Tigrayans stood in that way. Now, after ten months of violence against the
people of Tigray, Abiy finds himself in a situation where we he has to struggle for his life.
Now that he realizes he's not in a position to turn the tide against our forces. He is trying to mobilize people, not just against TPLF are not
going to solve forces.
REDA: More importantly, again, its very people who are residing in other parts of Ethiopia, especially to grandson arose.
ANDERSON: Let's talk about what's happening on the ground. Oh, hold on one sec. Well, there have been reports of atrocities on both sides. Let's be
quite clear about that from the U.N. and the Ethiopian state run Human Rights Council.
Over the past couple of days we've seen rebel forces allied to the TPLF, advancing on the Capital, Addis Ababa. This has led the Ethiopian Military
to issue a call to Veterans to rejoin the army and protect the Capitol. I want to get from you where are these fighters right now? And what are the
plans to move on the Capitol?
You certainly said it's not an ultimate objective, saying we have to break the siege on Tigray. And we will do what it takes to break the siege we
will have to do everything in our power that Abiy has unleashed on Tigray. What do you mean by that? And where are these forces?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REDA (voice over): It's quite simple. I mean, our forces are now in the northern part of South Shore, which is very close to the capital Addis
Ababa. Like we have been telling the world again and again, we're not particularly interested in the corridors of -- and we are not particularly
interested in territory.
REDA (voice over): We are mostly interested in breaking the siege which has been imposed by Abiy Ahmed. Once he realized he has failed in his Military
ambitions to retake Tigray, what he in a city that is a reign of terror, especially a cutting of electricity, the cutting of communications, cutting
of banking services and all those things.
And our children are starving by their scores on a daily basis by maybe tomorrow by their hundreds and by their thousands, simply because we say no
to --. We our children are being -- being sentenced of todays.
And we have to break the siege and the rest of the world that seems to fail to understand how serious the problem is. Humanitarian aid has been blocked
from the people of Tigray; children are dying because of such a blockade. And we have to break this blockade. And we will continue to be taking
appropriate measures to make sure that Abiy's charcoal on Tigray is broken.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Okay. Last hour, I spoke to the Ethiopian government spokeswoman. And when asked about humanitarian access into Tigray, she said it was the
TPLF, who is blocking aid from getting through, what's your response?
REDA: Our response is, you know, I will give you an example, when we took Kombolcha last week; we communicated our intentions to the U.N.
authorities, for them to take over operations.
We were not particularly interested in taking over warehouses, about 70,000 metric tons of food, the easiest thing for us would have been to carry out
operations to help our own people, but we communicate at the U.N.
And we have been communicating this to the U.N. authorities, including under Secretary General Martin Griffiths himself, that we are not
particularly interested in taking over U.S. operations, but we expect them to take our operations, we are trying to break the deadlock.
We are working with the U.N. authorities to make sure that aid rich not only to Tigray, but also other parts of Ethiopia, including Northern --
thousand worlds which are under our control including sports in the alpha region.
We have never been blocked. It is the government it's obvious government which has been standing in the way of humanitarian aid. And of course, to
the extent that there is a need for ensuring access to food, we have to use our Military power to Abiy's government into to --
ANDERSON: Okay, that is your position. Nine opposition groups, including fighters loyal to the TPLF recently formed a new alliance in Washington,
saying they no longer recognize Abiy Ahmed's government as legitimate and would seek to establish transitional arrangements.
What does that look like in reality? And how would the TPLF who themselves govern Ethiopia with an iron fist ensure a better future for the country?
REDA: Well, whatever the super logic there when it comes to TPLF role in Ethiopia, we know that there are people have issues, you know. But the fact
that we are trying to break the siege and of course, the concomitant measures that we are going to take simply means that we have to coordinate
our resources and our efforts with likeminded organizations.
The list of organizations that you have alluded to is not an exclusive one. We still continue to work with other organizations which have a vested
interest in ensuring a stable transition in a post-Abiy world. We still are ready to extend olive branch out. It's not it's not asked, But Abiy was
been standing in the work piece. So whatever we do, we want to make sure --
ANDERSON: So why were you not prepared to take the offer of humanitarian ceasefire back in June? I mean, top Ethiopian government officials have
completely downplayed revel advances, claiming the yield little populous support.
So is it a ceasefire that you are looking for at this point? I'm just asking. I haven't -- no, with respect, sir. I'm just putting questions to
you. I'm just putting questions to you. No, no. I'm just putting a question to you.
REDA: I understand, I understand.
ANDERSON: How do you respond to that?
REDA: Let me respond to it.
ANDERSON: And are you prepared to take a ceasefire at this point?
REDA: No, you see, the point is people think that there was a unilateral ceasefire back in June, that was an absolute or absolutely false, because
it was only after Abiy's forces took a beating, tried to take advantage of the situation to confuse the world that they were calling for a unilateral
ceasefire, when in actual fact, they are making preparations to re-launch their attacks against Tigray.
So we went ahead and neutralize the threat that was that continued to port to be positive against Tigray. And now that we have pushed Abiy's forces,
all the way to -- which is very close to the Capitol Addis Ababa.
We have been telling the world that we're not interested in power --. We're not interested in territory. We're not interested in everything. But as
long as their --
ANDERSON: And you are not interested in the ceasefire? It's a very basic question.
REDA: Abiy's Bombers are coming and killing our children --. Well Abiy's bombers are killing our children day in and day out for God sake.
REDA: And we have to make sure that those dogs of war are restrained and will continue to take measures. Otherwise, if there is readiness on the
part of Abiy's government to sue for this, we'll be more than glad to extend all olive branches as well.
But for Abiy to have his cake and eat it, too, that's absolutely acceptable. And we'll continue to take measures as long as there is no
intention on the part of Abiy, like you've been saying he's been calling on the people of Ethiopia to rally against not TPLF, but also the people of
Tigray for God sake.
People are being rounded up in it simply because they belong to the Tigray nation. So yes, we have to be responsible enough to take measures to
neutralize the threat.
ANDERSON: The Ethiopian government has accused the TPLF of setting up positions in civilian areas in Mekelle that are targets for airstrikes. How
do you respond to that accusation?
REDA: Look, we don't have Military targets. If it was targeting me, I would have considered the Legion's made Military target. But targeting University
compound is targeting civilian residential neighborhoods that are far from Military target.
And of course, Abiy knows pretty well he was targeting civilians because that's his way of terrorizing people. Now that his -- people is now
working, he wants to continue. In fact, the other day in Dessie, which is involved in Amhara region, he targeted the same varsity with drones in the
fighter planes bomber planes from the Ethiopian Air Force.
And they were not Military targets, obviously, but he wants us to attack and terrorize the people who follow format, falling for his tricks to fight
against them and brothers and sisters.
ANDERSON: I want to see whether -- I want to get a sense from you because I'm not getting a sense from you that you see a solution to this anytime
soon. A U.N. report released last week and you will be well aware of this found that both sides of this conflict are in gross violation of human
U.N. Human Rights Chief Michelle Bashley said the U.N. had observed and I quote her here "Huge allegations of abuses by the Tigrayan forces since the
Ethiopian government declared a ceasefire in June.
The Ethiopian government also saying the Tigrayan forces killed 100 youths in a key town on the road to Addis as they advanced last week. I have to
ask you, how do you respond to these allegations you do categorically deny them?
REDA: Yeah, I categorically reject the so called report by U.N. High Commission for Human Rights because it was practically written by Daniel
Bekele, who is the Head of the UN Human -- the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, which works for Abiy Ahmed and Company. Having said that,
though, we have been consistently --
ANDERSON: I spoke to the U.N. co-writer of that report who said it is absolutely impartial.
REDA: The U.N. didn't conduct, Becky, the U.N. didn't conduct independent investigation. In fact, they clearly admit to having missed out on the
opportunity to investigate areas which they should have investigated.
So I categorically rejected but having said that we are still open for an independent investigation. But I don't think Abiy is ready for that kind of
investigation. With regard to the so called killing of hundred -- it's just a figment of some Addis Ababa official's imagination, it didn't happen.
It didn't happen. It simply didn't happen. So if there are allegations that this indeed happened, we are more than willing to extend our cooperation
for an independent investigation that you don't think we will find from Abiy's government side.
ANDERSON: We are hearing officials in many places around the world, not least in Washington and in London, sounding the alarm cautioning that a
civil war may be on the horizon. Is that what your expectations are at this point? Because there is nothing in what you have said to suggest that the
TPLF will agree to a ceasefire at this point.
REDA: I would have thought the -- I don't know whether to consider what about that genocide campaign by Abiy Ahmed has been in full swing, to the
extent that there is going to be an issue.
It is that the international community has failed miserably to take appropriate measures against a regime which has perfected genocide and
genocidal campaign into an --
Civil War is an understatement as far as I'm concerned. We know for a fact Abiy is trying to ratchet up violence against not just only Tigrayans but
also other people who are not willing to fight in his desperate cause.
And he's been taking all kinds of textbook examples of repression in the killing in tyrannical measures including the state of emergency which gives
carter Blanche for his security officer to jail people at will. And if this is not civil or if this -- side nothing is.
ANDERSON: With that we'll leave it there. We thank you very much indeed for joining us with your perspective today. Up next, just when Europe thought
it was finally safe to try living normally it was wrong how COVID-19 is once again calling the shots across the continent. That is after this.
ANDERSON: COVID-19 is getting uglier in Europe. Now that one of the biggest economies in Europe is getting ready to address his nation in some EU
countries mulling the possibility of winter restrictions. Does this sound familiar? Well, Europe sadly once again scrambling to put the brakes on
another COVID wave blamed the Delta variant. Germany can't get booster shots into arms fast enough.
Denmark considering new restrictions just two months after dropping them and French President Emmanuel Macron has a big speech in a matter of hours.
It could be a tough lesson especially now that the continent is once again at the epicenter; it seems off the pandemic CNN's Nina dos Santos with this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Record new infections reported in Germany, Greece and Slovakia, hospital beds filling up fast and
the death toll on the rise. In Austria those not fully vaccinated or recovered from COVID were barred from bars, hotels and other indoor public
spaces under a new rule that took effect this week.
In Iceland, where the health ministry recently loosened COVID restrictions, masks who made compulsory once more. This is what today epicenter of the
pandemic looks is like. The reason the World Health Organization says is stuttering uptake of the vaccine.
STEFAN WAGNER, WAITING TO GET SECOND VACCINATION: This is my way to work. And this vaccination point had been deserted for a long time. Now you can
see how in recent days, and especially over the weekend, it's very popular and I welcome that.
SANTOS (voice over): From Spain recovered stands at 80 percent to Slovakia at around 42 percent coupled with the recent loosening of social distancing
requirements over the summer, and for the result, a massive campaign for boosters across Europe.
In the UK 10 million have already had a third COVID shot. For those without American citizenship but fully vaccinated, a trip to the United States is
finally possible as the country reopened its borders to travelers from much of Europe for the first time in 20 months, relief for airlines and
travelers alike just ahead of Thanksgiving.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's even better today to know that we are flying with a full plane and that we can finally bring these continents and cultures
SANTOS (voice over): Across Russia, it was back to work despite transmission rates so high authorities imposed a week long holiday last
week. With winter on its way health experts are warning there's no time to lose in the race to once again contain COVID-19 Nina dos Santos, CNN,
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, Belarus apologies let me get you to Paris, CNN's Cyril Vanier on the story for us from the Paris Bureau. Kamala Harris, the U.S.
Vice President is in France today. She will be meeting with President Macron. Is it clear whether that is before after his speech to the nation
where he is expected to address the COVID crisis?
CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Becky, the meeting the bilateral meeting between Emmanuel Macron and Kamala Harris will be taking place
later this week. That's to say it will be after the televised speech to the nation which is this evening in just well in just two and a half hours now.
And that speech will be taking place four months after Mr. Macron last addressed the nation on the pandemic. He's been making just in the last few
hours his final decisions on next steps in fighting the pandemic, Becky.
What is the President going to announce this evening. Four months ago is when he announced mandatory vaccination for all healthcare workers that was
controversial. And that caused protests every Saturday for multiple months.
So what will he say now, given the cases are rising and have doubled over the last month, the French government as we understand it, still not too
worried. Because the difference between now and earlier this year is of course, the vaccination rate vaccination rates in France very high 75
percent, one of the highest in Europe.
So France has a lot of protection against COVID. But that has not stopped the cases from rising. And so there is speculation that the president may
make the booster dose the third dose mandatory for over 65.
So will he make it mandatory? Or will he just call on those people to go and get a booster dose? Certainly the appointments and the requests for
booster doses have increased ever since we found out the president would be speaking to the nation tonight, Becky.
ANDERSON: Cyril Vanier on the story for you, thank you. Belarus says it's looking out for migrants rights for the EU and Poland say vulnerable people
are being used as a weapon the latest on the developing border crisis for you and as tensions rise.
We look at another border with Belarus. What a prominent Latvian politician says the European Union must do to defuse the crisis.
ANDERSON: CNN is agreeing that a tense situation on the Polish border with Belarus could erupt into violence. Poland has deployed thousands of
soldiers and Police to protect its border where large groups of migrants have gathered attempting to illegally enter the country.
Belarus has denied allegations that it's been encouraging this migration and is warning Poland against any provocations against vulnerable asylum
seekers who do not pose a security threat.
Well, NATO the EU and Poland say Belarus is using migrants as leverage in retaliation for EU sanctions. The NATO Secretary General today called that
unacceptable. Fred Pleitgen has more on what is a very tense situation along the country's shared border.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Camped out under harsh conditions in the freezing cold. Poland says around 4000 migrants are now
at its border with Belarus, trying to enter the EU. Warszawa -- it will not let them pass.
ANDRZEJ DUDA, POLISH PRESIDENT: It is a matter of fulfilling our duties as members of the European Union, as well as ensuring the safety of Polish
citizens and the Polish Republic.
PLEITGEN (voice over): Poland says it has deployed around 12,000 forces to the border as a large group of migrants repeatedly tried to push through
into EU territory on Monday. The European Union accuses Belarusian strongman and President Alexander Lukashenko of luring people mostly from
Iraq and Syria to Belarus and using Belarusian security forces to bring them to the border.
While Minsk denies the allegations, European leaders call this state sponsored human trafficking. Polish's Prime Minister even using the term
hybrid war as he visited the border region.
MATEUSZ MORAWIECKI, POLISH PRIME MINISTER: Lukashenko's regime uses civilian's weapons of a hybrid war. What we can see today are new methods
and you are a key Bastion against them.
PLEITGEN (voice over): The majority of those who do make it into the EU want to go to Germany. German authorities say we were on hand as a group of
new arrivals was being processed in on foot under order at the German Polish border. German authorities are now beefing up their presence here.
The German Police has drastically stepped up checks here at the border with Poland. And they say they are increasingly coming across people looking to
claim asylum in this country that the vast majority of those people came into the European Union by Belarus.
Germany says it's redeploying forces from across the country to help out. The Federal Police has sent several 100 officers to the entire German
Polish border. The spokesman says we did that to increase patrols but also to help processing the migrants as well.
Both Germany and Poland believe the situation won't ease anytime soon, with thousands pinned up against the border at severe risk as winter draws
closer. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Frankfurt -- German.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: My next guest is a politician from Latvia which borders Belarus to the north. She says quote, "EU border security is a common EU-wide
affair. The EU must assist Poland with staff at the border its equipment and sanctions against those involved in the exploitation of migrants.
Marija Golubeva, the Latvian Interior Minister joins me now live from the capital, Riga. It's good to have you. Who to your mind is responsible for
this border crisis?
MARIJA GOLUBEVA, LATVIAN INTERIOR MINISTER: I think they're kind of no two answers to this. It is the Lukashenka regime, which is a very shameless
attempt to weaponize people in order to undermine the stability of European societies and the EU as such.
ANDERSON: Where does EU responsibility lie at this point?
GOLUBEVA: I believe the EU has to protect its borders and to rethink carefully its approach to migration and asylum policy in the time of hybrid
In the time when state actors like Belarus will want to use the so called gray zone between open hostility and normal life, so to say to weaponize
various phenomena of international life such as migration in order to undermine a democratic societies of the European Union.
ANDERSON: Because I do want to press you on this, the EU announcing today will likely impose further sanctions on Belarus. Let's be frank, Europe
does have a problem with migration. And it has been accused countless times of not doing enough. Do you agree with that characterization?
GOLUBEVA: Well, both yes and no. I think Europe has done more than its fair share so far, and is still doing in terms of receiving very many people who
are truly in need of asylum. And I think Europe should continue doing that.
However opening -- to yeah, well, opening its borders are usually irregular flows without really knowing which people can claim asylum and which cannot
will basically undermine our asylum system and I believe that is wrong.
ANDERSON: Do you have concerns and an action plan in case a situation on your border with Belarus changes? How concerned are you that this is a
problem that will spill over to you?
GOLUBEVA: Well, it is obviously very concerning. It is however quite clear that we will act and we will protect our border we see both as our duty to
national security to -- society but also to the EU, because we are also a country in the Schengen zone and we do have to control the border of the
Schengen zone and external border of the EU.
ANDERSON: We have had a statement from the UNHCR today and indeed the IOM, the labor or the migration organization, calling for all states involved in
this to de-escalate, suggesting that the human rights and rights in general of refugees and asylum seekers are not being held up.
Many officials, including you lying blame squarely on Belarus's President Alexander Lukashenko. In response to those accusations, he has said the
handling of migrants at the Polish border amounts to and I quote him here, some kind of training or blackmail. What do you make of that?
GOLUBEVA: Well, I think, a little bit hypocritical on behalf of the Belarusian authorities to speak about blackmail, whereas the whole process
of organizing migration from third countries and luring people into this kind of trap in the woods by the U.S. borders, is in fact a blackmail for
Europe in order not to impose further sanctions and to get off trying to well to envisage a more democratic Belarus.
We know that Mr. Lukashenka has lost the elections; he doesn't want to recognize that. And he has since then, been basically terrorizing Europe to
accept his government for the rest of his lifetime, probably given, for example, the case with a hijacked EU plane, which is one of the most
obvious, obvious cases in this story.
So I do believe that, of course, we have to maintain human rights, and we have to maintain our international obligations. But that doesn't mean
opening our borders, and relaxing all controls in order for Mr. Lukashenka to be able to instrumentalize our immigration and asylum policy.
ANDERSON: I do have to press you on this, if it doesn't mean opening the borders, to these migrants, unless we forget these are people here. How do
you protect the safety and human rights of these migrants and refugees, if you push them back into Belarus?
GOLUBEVA: Absolutely a good -- of people and we have to see them as individuals not as some kind of blackness. And we do have to recognize that
some of the situations that are forming now it's the borders of our countries, because of Mr. Lukashenko, his hybrid operation are quite
However, we do have to make sure that we keep the European asylum system functioning, that we do not just let a hostile attempt to overburden it
with totally, totally regular flow of people into our countries to basically make it malfunction.
We shouldn't just sit back and watch it happen. And I don't think those other EU countries such as Germany and other countries that are the
destination for most of these people that they will be very happy to do that.
We have to be a little bit more I think or shall I say a little bit more direct there and to stay quite clearly that we need to protect the borders
we also need to process individual applications. However, we cannot do that physically when there is a mass of people pressing through the border. It's
just it doesn't work that way.
ANDERSON: Yes, but if these are genuine asylum seekers, if these are genuine migrants and refugees seeking a better life, are they welcome in
GOLUBEVA: I think they're welcome in the EU. But we have to think of solutions in this world as well as some researchers have called it the
world of un-peace.
When state actors are instrumentalizing various objectively existing phenomena such as climate change, that just migration to basically impose
pain on their political opponents or competitors, we have to be able to manage migration in ways that are still effective. So I think as the EU, we
have to reconsider the ways in which we manage migration. We have to really come back to that negotiation table.
ANDERSON: That's a long term project, isn't it? That's a long term project; the short term is that these people are stuck at this border. So I put it
to you again, very briefly, are those that are seeking genuine asylum welcome?
GOLUBEVA: Well, there are ways people can apply for genuine asylum, obviously, in most of the territory of Latvia, except for the border of
Belarus; any person can apply for a visa and come.
But also from the territory of Belarus, a person can apply for a humanitarian visa and then being processed of course through the Latvian
consulate, this application will be considered. So there are ways to apply for asylum, but I don't think that pushing unmask for the border is the way
to get asylum in Europe, and I don't think it should be.
ANDERSON: With that, we'll leave it there, the Latvian interior minister joining us here on "Connect the World". Thank you. United Arab Emirates
Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed has met with the Syrian President Bashar Al Assad in Damascus.
Now, he is the highest ranking UAE official to visit the Syrian capital in a decade. The two discussed "developing cooperation" between their two
nations, according to a Syrian statement and Assad thank the UAE for helping Syria overcome the challenges of the Civil War.
The visit signaling continuing efforts to bring Syria back into the international diplomatic community. Well ahead on the show Daniel Ortega
locks up his opponents and wins a fourth consecutive term as Nicaragua's, President we'll hear from activists who say his campaign of political
terror goes way beyond Nicaragua's borders.
ANDERSON: We've been following Daniel Ortega's reelection, president of Nicaragua and the campaign of political terror that has consumed the
country. On Monday his reelection celebration was broadcast live on TV.
You see him there along with his wife who is also the vice president. He insulted his jailed political opponents during the celebration. The Supreme
Electoral board said he had gotten almost 76 percent of the votes.
Well, in June his government began locking up dozens of his opponents. They locked up journalists and human rights activists using national security
laws justification and the crackdown doesn't stop at Nicaragua's borders. Matt Rivers explains.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): He calls himself an elected president. But for many Daniel Ortega is a dictator whose regime is getting
stronger and more dangerous. Under his rule, a campaign of political terror has gripped the country dissent can lead to house arrest, jail time; some
even allege they've been tortured.
It is a dangerous time in Nicaragua, something we tried to go see firsthand. For that, we took a bus in northwestern Costa Rica to the
Nicaraguan border, entering the land to try and avoid the attention of the authorities. But after 10 minutes with an immigration official, it was
clear we were not getting in.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you working with CNN right now? Are you working? What report are you doing for?
RIVERS (on camera): So they just took our passports and our Mexican residency card and asked if anyone on the team worked for CNN, even though
we did not offer that information. It's clear that they know who we are. And soon after immigration officials denied our entry.
So we've been formally escorted out of the country. After waiting three hours, they told us that we need to send a formal request to the government
in order to be allowed in without giving us any reason as to why we weren't allowed in they won't answer our questions. And so now officially, we're
back on the Costa Rican side. Clearly they don't want people like us inside the country.
RIVERS (voice over): Our experience just a small example, of the staggering level of government control faced by Nicaraguans. Since June, dozens of
perceived enemies of the regime had been thrown into jail, while countless others have been harassed and followed in roughly a dozen interviews CNN
conducted with people inside the country.
Each said most neighbors won't even talk politics anymore fearful they could be denounced as traitors. One current government official would only
speak to us over the phone as he stood in an empty field, fearful of being heard.
He says only Ortega's followers are the ones who can walk freely. The vast majority of us live like hostages. Every time I leave my home, I'm
terrified. We granted him anonymity because he said government forces surveil his house constantly.
If they knew he was speaking to foreign journalists, he says he'd be imprisoned. I was afraid to speak with you. But at the same time, the
conviction and the hope that our voice will reach others around the world, makes us take the risk.
It has certainly reached other Nicaraguans around the world tens of thousands of whom have fled the country since government crackdowns ramped
up in 2018. But for many, the terror of the Ortega regime doesn't stop at the border.
Jorge spoke to us from an undisclosed location in Mexico. He says he was tortured by Nicaraguan Police after participating in anti-government
protests in 2018.
Even alleging they used a razor blade to carve the word plume into his leg, a threat of future violence. Someone even spray painted his home writing,
"If you -- around, you die". He says people I had grown up with and known had become my enemies.
He fled to Guatemala and felt safe for a bit until he received this photo. Someone he says who worked for the Nicaraguan government snap this picture
of him at the bus stop he used every day writing, "You thought the Guatemalans would take care of you, you and your family are going to pay in
My family and I do not feel safe because we know what they can do. We wouldn't be the first or the last Nicaraguan to be murdered outside the
country. He's still receiving threats in Mexico, and though CNN has no way to know for certain that Nicaraguan state agents were threatening him, that
is the consistent fear of so many here in San Jose, Costa Rica, where thousands of Nicaraguans have fled since 2018.
There we met with this group of Nicaraguan exiles, each of whom say they've received threats from the Ortega regime since fleeing in the last few
years. One story from Rayza Hope stood out and Nicaraguan activist she fled back in 2019 after threats to her life.
She now runs a flower shop in San Jose where her friend -- fellow Nicaraguan activists, visits her often. About a month ago, a man entered
the shop, closed the door and pointed a gun.
RAYZA HOPE, NICARAGUAN EXILE: He told us stop around mother ---. We said don't hurt us, but he started strangling me.
RIVERS (voice over): Rayza was pistol whipped and knocked out that he say kicked to the floor. She suffered knee fractures as a result. Crying she
says the first thing I thought about my son, this man is going to kill us.
Eventually the man left without stealing anything both women filed a police report and suspect the same thing. They were targeted by Nicaraguan agents.
RIVERS (voice over): Both women filed a police report and suspect the same thing. They were targeted by Nicaraguan agents. Nicaraguan human rights
groups say they've recorded dozens of such suspected attacks in Costa Rica in recent years, though proving the Nicaraguan government is behind them is
Officially, Costa Rica's government says they found no such cases of Nicaraguan spies attacking exiles. We're always talking to Nicaragua, he
says and maintaining a conversation to respect each other sovereignty, but not everyone in the government agrees.
RIVERS (on camera): A senior government official with deep knowledge of the situation tell CNN there are in fact, Nicaraguan intelligence operatives
working right now here in Costa Rica, including those that target Nicaraguan exiles adding the number of operatives working here has
increased since Nicaraguans began arriving in mass back in 2018.
The government the source says is hesitant to speak out publicly on the issue, fearing it could damage diplomatic relations at a tenuous time.
RIVERS (voice over): On Sunday, protests were held in San Jose, people chanting and waving the Nicaraguan flag but in Nicaragua things were much
quieter. No protests are allowed these days, but it doesn't mean that they're not happening.
CNN spoke to several people who said they would not vote; a form of quiet protest, they said refusing to participate in the coronation of the
dictator Matt Rivers, CNN, San Jose.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Let me come back here in a country facing economic collapse. Farmers say they know the perfect crop to help out a trip to a hashish farm
in Lebanon that's after this.
ANDERSON: A Senior Arab League Official is offering to help mediate a dispute between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon. The official met with Lebanon's
President on Monday and described the talks as positive. The two countries are at odds so the comments by Lebanon's Information Minister criticizing
the kingdom's involvement in the war in Yemen, he is also -- he is under increasing pressure to resign.
Well, a breakdown in relations with not just Saudi but other countries in the Gulf just worsening Lebanon's already terrible economic crisis. The
country produces very little that it can export but local farmers say they have a crop that the world wants if the government would let them sell it.
Here's CNN's Ben Wedeman with that story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): They're bringing in the sheaves in Lebanon's Beqaa Valley, sheaves and sheaves of
cannabis or hashish as it's called here.
WEDEMAN (on camera): The climate in this part of Lebanon is changing, it is getting hotter and it is getting drier and perhaps this crop hashish is the
ideal thing to grow in this changing climate. It's drought resistant, and doesn't need much in the way of pesticides and fertilizers.
WEDEMAN (voice over): Late October and the days are still warm harvest delayed because the rains came late. Before there was more rain in the
spring says this farmer preferred to give his name simply as Osada.
WEDEMAN (voice over): There has been much less rain in the last three or four years. Climate change they can handle the biggest bummer for hashish
farmers is politics. George -- heads the Cannabis Growers Union, founded after the Lebanese Parliament passed a law last year legalizing the
cultivation of cannabis for medicinal use.
But the government bankrupt and perpetually embroiled in the weeds of political paralysis has failed to translate the new law into reality.
Unfortunately -- says its all talk politics and campaign promises. The arguments in favor of hashish cultivation are cutting dry.
The climate here the soil here's the best -- boosts. People say the best hashish comes from the Beqaa Valley. The quality is better than Morocco or
Afghanistan or any other country. With Lebanon's economy in free fall, this could be a valuable source of hard currency.
According to the UN, Lebanon is the world's fourth largest producer of cannabis. Hashish consumption is a popular illegal pastime in Lebanon and
in a country where warlords have become politicians, where corruption is rampant growing something that relieves the pain of Lebanon's mountain woes
seems a minor sin and says this farmer who calls himself Abu Hannah (ph).
Growing hashish he says is better than being a thief or a killer or stealing public funds or spying for foreign country. Despite climate
change, the grass could be so much greener here. Yet so far, politics threatened to send the promise of hashish up in smoke. Ben Wedeman, CNN in
Lebanon's Beqaa Valley.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, we started this hour in Addis Ababa, from there to Mekelle, Ethiopia to the Belarusian border with Poland, to Nicaragua and finally, to
the valleys of Lebanon. Tonight, we connected your world and we thank you for joining us on that journey. It is a very good evening from Abu Dhabi.