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Humanitarian Crisis Grows at Polish-Belarusian Border; Interview with Ayman Safadi, Jordanian Foreign Minister, on Reintegrating Syria; CNN's Call to Earth Celebrates Sustainability; Israel Opposes U.S. Plan to Reopen Consulate in Jerusalem; Interview with E.U. Commission Vice President on Probe into Alleged Migrant Pushbacks; Riverdance at Expo 2020 Most Diverse Ever. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired November 10, 2021 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST (voice-over): Is Damascus coming in from the cold?
I'll ask Jordan's foreign minister in an exclusive interview about how they plan to engage with the Syrian president.
Caught in the middle: Belarus and Poland ratchet up their war of words.
But what happens to these migrants at the heart of the crisis?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One, two, three; two, two, three; three, two, three.
ANDERSON (voice-over): Well, I learned some moves with the Irish dance troupe Riverdance as they celebrate their 25th anniversary right here, at
Expo 2020 Dubai.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: It's 7:00 pm in Dubai. I'm Becky Anderson, live from Expo 2020 Dubai. This is CONNECT THE WORLD.
We begin with the shifting sands of Middle Eastern politics, where a picture quite often is worth a thousand words. Take a look at this.
Syrian president Bashar al Assad meeting with Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the UAE's foreign minister. These scenes would have been unthinkable over
the last decade as many Arab leaders shunned Damascus over the Assad regime's brutal crackdown of what began as peaceful protests and quickly
morphed into one of the bloodiest conflicts on Earth.
But things have changed. Assad has effectively won the war. Now he needs to win the peace and bring about a semblance of normality to his country. But
that won't happen without the support of regional countries like the UAE.
And that is why this visit is so significant. Now if Syria is to fully re- enter the Arab family of nations, it will need buy-in from Jordan, its bordering neighbor. The Hashemite kingdom is home to more than 670,000
registered Syrian refugees. And that's only the registered number.
That has put a massive strain on the Jordanian economy over the years. No surprise then that the Jordanian king appeared to be taking the lead on
reintegrating Syrian despot Bashar al Assad back into the fold. The king and Assad even spoke on the phone recently.
For the better part of its history, Jordan has often been described as being stuck between a rock and a hard place.
But with the recent shifts in regional politics, how does this small country fit in today?
Jomana Karadsheh with this report.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: It's a great honor to have the king and queen of Jordan with us.
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The end of Donald Trump's presidency was met by a huge sigh of relief from this longtime
For four years, King Abdullah II of Jordan was sidelined by the former U.S. president, his advice on critical regional issues ignored. But with a new
president and an old friend back in the White House, Abdullah was back in the spotlight, the first Arab leader to meet President Biden in D.C.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to welcome back to the White House, a good, loyal and decent friend (INAUDIBLE). And we've
been hanging out together for a long time.
KARADSHEH (voice-over): The visit was not only a reset in U.S.-Jordan relations; the king was clearly reassuring allies they can still rely on
ABDULLAH II, KING OF JORDAN: We have, as you said, many challenges in our part of the world. I think many of us leaders, from our part of the world,
will do the heavy lifting, which is what we need to do on behalf of the United States. But you can always count on me, my country and many of our
colleagues in the region.
KARADSHEH (voice-over): Jordan's image of a stable country in a turbulent region was called into question earlier this year, after the king accused
his half-brother of plotting to overthrow him, which he denied.
He placed the former crown prince under house arrest. It was a royal drama like no other in the country's history. With a rush to turn the page on
this divisive chapter, Jordan was ready to resume its traditional role of peace broker between the Israelis and Palestinians.
KARADSHEH (voice-over): Forging new alliances in a fractured region and most recently the king appeared to be taking the lead on re-integrating
Syrian despot Bashar al Assad back into the fold.
But the news of his first known phone call with Assad in more than a decade was overshadowed by yet another PR nightmare for Jordan, stunning
allegations revealed in the so-called Pandora Papers.
The monarch, whose country has heavily relied on U.S. and international aid, had secretly purchased 14 luxury properties in the U.K. and the U.S.
worth more than $100 million U.S.
The Jordanian royal court said in a statement the allegations included inaccuracies and distorted and exaggerated the facts. And the properties
were kept secret for security and privacy reasons.
It added, quote, "The cost of these properties and all related expenditures have been personally funded by His Majesty. None of these expenses have
been funded by the state budget or treasury. This also applies to the personal expenditures of His Majesty and his family."
DAOUD KUTTAB, JOURNALIST: Many people who understand the way things are, it's not a big problem. But for the average person who doesn't have a job,
the optics of the king having properties there in the $100 million worth of properties does not bode very well.
KARADSHEH (voice-over): It doesn't look good at a time when Jordan's decades-old economic troubles have been exacerbated by the pandemic, with
unemployment reaching unprecedented levels. Some think that's already driven Jordanians out onto the streets in protest earlier this year.
The king has also been facing mounting pressure to deliver on the promise of real political reform. He's now tasked a diverse committee with, quote,
"modernizing the political system."
KUTTAB: Moving in the direction of turning Jordan from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy within the next 10 years. So I think
there are a good things going on in Jordan politically. For the average Jordanian, the price of gas and cost of food and getting a job is much more
important than talk about democracy.
KARADSHEH (voice-over): After a year of many challenges for the king, the toughest perhaps will be restoring the image of Jordan's royal family at
home and beyond -- Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Istanbul.
ANDERSON: As you heard in Jomana's reporting, Jordan's efforts to bring the Syrian president in from the diplomatic cold have once been
overshadowed. They are now taking center stage. My next guest is intimately involved with those efforts. Ayman Safadi is the foreign minister of Jordan
and he joins me now live from Amman.
And Jordan has certainly played a key role in this effort to reintegrate Syria back into the regional fold and with the visit of the UAE's foreign
minister to Damascus, there is clearly some momentum building.
Why now, Foreign Minister?
AYMAN SAFADI, JORDANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Good evening, Becky. And allow me, before I get to that, I just heard parts of the report that you played
before you put this question to me.
And if I may, address a couple of things there, just in terms of accuracy. What Jordan witnessed earlier this year was not a family feud; it was the
state defending its constitution, defending against sedition, defending against incitement in the most transparent, proper, legal abiding manner.
So I just want to set the record straight on that.
On the issue of the Pandora's box (sic) and one of your commentators really trying to put things out of context and, again, we stand by what we said.
Everything that was done was done legally. There was no secrecy. There was privacy. Funds used were private funds.
And again, you're talking about a very transparent, open process and those properties, when His Majesty goes to the U.S., he stays in them.
So how can they be secret when he is staying in that property?
And some of the comments by some of the guys about the size. I just had to say that putting things out of context and exaggerating things is not
something that really reflects the truth there.
That said, on Syria, our position in Jordan has always been a constant. We believe that this crisis has gone on for far too long. It has caused so
much suffering and, to be honest with you, we have not seen any effective strategy to try and solve that conflict.
So what we're trying to do, in coordination with our partners and our friends, is to, again, try and gear our movement toward an effective
mechanism that would put an end to this crisis that has shattered the lives of millions of people --
SAFADI: -- and have had security implications, economic implications and social implications for all of us.
But mostly, for countries like Jordan, which is a bordering country of Syria and the tremendous impact of that crisis on us is something that we
have to mitigate against.
ANDERSON: And I want to talk about that in a moment.
How much support do you believe there is around the region, Foreign Minister, for the normalization of relations now with Syria and its
president, Bashar al Assad?
SAFADI: Look, again, we're not talking about normalization. All we're talking about is to work together, to put an end to a conflict that we all
agree has done so much damage and has caused too much suffering, that we all agree has to end through a political solution and that we all agree has
not had the necessary attention for it to be resolved.
So what we're trying to do is what the whole world agrees on, which is achieve a political solution to that conflict. And to have that political
solution, reality is, you have to talk to the players. And the Syrian government is involved.
And we need to talk to them about, how do we bring a political solution?
And our position is that solution should end the suffering of the Syrian people, should preserve the unity of Syria, should end foreign
intervention, should lead to the -- all foreign forces leaving, victory over terrorists.
And 2254 is a benchmark that all of us agree on. So that is what we're trying to do, is to work with our partners to get a real effective process
toward solving that conflict. And if I may say, we have 367 kilometers of border, Becky.
The threat of terrorism has been enormous. Now we have the threat of drugs coming into Jordan. Millions and millions of chemically produced drugs are
trying to make their way into Jordan. We have to protect that.
And, among other things, we have 1.3 million Syrians in Jordan, who are not going back, who are not receiving the supports that the world once gave,
dwindling international support to them. We, as a host country, are having to deal with the burden of that, with less and less funds coming.
We are committed to providing them with dignified, meaningful lives, because, if we abandon them to hate and despair and anger, then they are a
threat to all of us in the future.
So as a country that's impacted most by the crisis, we're working with all our partners to put us all on a path toward a political solution that would
end this crisis for all of us.
ANDERSON: That I understand. Washington has not been shy, though, about its reservations, has it, toward this. Have a listen to what the State
Department spokesperson had to say just yesterday, Foreign Minister.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NED PRICE, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: We urge states in the region to carefully consider the atrocities that this regime, that Bashar
al Assad himself, has perpetrated on the Syrian people over the last decade, as well as the regime's ongoing efforts to deny much of the country
access to humanitarian aid and security.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: And he went on to say, Ayman, that the Biden administration will not express support for efforts to normalize or to rehabilitate Bashar al
Assad, who is, Ned Price said there, a brutal dictator.
Have you been in touch with your American counterparts?
SAFADI: Look, the U.S. is our closest ally. We do speak very frankly and openly together on all issues. So, yes, we've had conversations with them
on that. They've got their position on the issue.
And our position is one that ultimately, I believe, meets the objective. What we want to do is to end this suffering, is to end this humanitarian
crisis that we see in Syria. Our approach is that we need to have a path to fight for.
And that is what we're trying to do, is to engage with a view to making sure that we create enough horizon for us to move forward toward a
political solution that would end all those atrocities, that will ensure humanitarian aid to the Syrian people, that will ensure that 3 million kids
in Syria, of school-going age, who are not going to school now, will be able to go back to their schools.
And again, as a neighboring country, Becky, it is our job to address our concern. A lot of what we are doing is we are doing for Jordan. We have
suffered tremendously from that crisis. Again, we're extremely alarmed and concerned at the dwindling support that we're seeing for refugees.
SAFADI: That is a burden that we're sharing. So ultimately we're trying to do what's good for Jordan, what's good for the region, what will all get us
toward an end to this crisis. And we do that in consultation and cooperation with all our friends and partners.
ANDERSON: I just wonder, there will be people watching this who say, what is it in for Jordanians? What is promised by Syria in return for this
effort to bring them in, as it were, from the cold?
SAFADI: Look, again, we have been impacted negatively more than anybody else almost. We've got 1.3 million Syrians. Unless there's a resolution to
the conflict, they're not going to go back; 1.3 million means we're giving 200,000 work permits to Syria and Jordan, 133,000 Syrian kids go to our
already burdened educational system.
Our trade routes through Syria to Europe are blocked. The threat of terrorism on our border is there. The threat of drug smuggling from the
border with Syria is a real one, with which we live almost every day.
So it is, again, we're protecting our interests and, of course, Jordan, like all of us, want to be able to end conflicts and crises in the region
that are having a tremendously negative impact on all of us. So that is from a Jordanian perspective.
From a broader perspective, what have we as a global community been doing to solve the crisis?
Living with the status quo is no option. We've got to move toward a political solution, again, consistent with international consensus, as
manifested by 2254 and work with all our partners, all our friends and try and create a horizon for moving forward.
ANDERSON: Yes, you have said in the past that, quote, "The Syrian crisis cannot be resolved without an American-Russian dialogue."
What did you mean by that and is that actually happening?
Or do you now believe that this can be dealt with without that dialogue, as it were?
SAFADI: Ultimately, Russia is there; the U.S. is a leading power. We do need Russia and the U.S. to talk and to agree on a solution going forward.
We do believe -- I can't speak for both -- but we do believe there are ongoing discussions.
We're hopeful that we'll all -- since we all want the same thing, which is an end to this horrific tragedy, that we all are going to be working
together toward that solution.
Now there's a lot of talk about early recovery projects, which are essential, which are important. We all realize that this crisis has to end.
And 11 years into the crisis, what has been the outcome and where are we going?
Are we going to face yet another 11 years of a status quo?
Maybe others can. We in the region, particularly we, in Jordan, with all the consequences of the crisis on us, cannot. So again simply, we're trying
to do what Jordan always does, which is try to find space for peace and for conflict resolution on basis that will ensure all things that need to be
addressed are addressed and, as always --
ANDERSON: And I --
SAFADI: -- in consultations with our friends and partners.
ANDERSON: -- I hear what you're saying. Yes. Over the past decade, Bashar al Assad has overseen atrocities. At least 350,000 Syrians have lost their
lives. Many more have been displaced or have fled the country. Jordan was for a long time a major critic of the Syrian president.
So there will be those watching this tonight who will, quite frankly, see realpolitik at play here.
Is that it?
And ultimately, you know, when we talk about what's in it for Jordan, let's be frank. Bringing Syria in from the cold makes an awful lot of economic
sense, not least for Jordan transiting electricity, for example, through Syria to Lebanon.
Is that the sort of big opportunity you see next, which, by the way, would, of course, run foul of the Caesar (ph) Act, wouldn't it?
SAFADI: Yes, look, I mean, let me just explain that the issue of getting electricity to Lebanon is not done for economic reasons for Jordan. We're
talking about two things.
Passing Egyptian guards (ph) into Lebanon through Jordan and Syria and connected our grid with the Syrians. We're doing this to help Lebanon
because we really do not want Lebanon to sink deeper into the crisis that unfortunate it has been facing. So this is something that we're trying to
do to help Lebanon. The U.S. is supportive of this. Europe is supportive of this.
SAFADI: Nobody is going to say no to helping the Lebanese people, at least address one of the areas that has been opposing them, suffering and
On other issues, ultimately, again, the question -- let's bring back the Syrian crisis to be our Syria and about the Syrian people.
And, again, away from all sort of political big statements, if you have a thousand kids growing in Syria, whether they are growing under government
or under the opposition, if these don't have schools, do not have clinics, do not have food on the table if they grow up bitter, angry, arrogant, then
they'll be the army from which all radicals are going to be recruited.
But if we give them education, give them hope, give them respect, give them dignity, then they will be the future generation that will develop the
country. So we're facing reality here.
And again, 11 years into the crisis, let's have any objective criteria by which to assess, are we on the right track to resolving the conflict or
maintaining a status quo that is causing more suffering?
One indication for us, strategies. Nobody is going back.
SAFADI: Why are they not going back?
ANDERSON: Right, I understand.
SAFADI: -- not going to go back because there's peace, there's opportunity, there's food, there's law (ph).
ANDERSON: Yes. With that, I'm going to have to leave it here. We could talk for much longer and we should talk again. I do want to get your
perspective on what's going on in Jerusalem, in Tel Aviv at present, and with the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
I know you'll have a lot to say about that but we've run out of time tonight. So we thank you very much indeed for joining us, Ayman Safadi, the
Jordanian foreign minister, speaking about what has been a very important moment in time, the image of the UAE's foreign minister with Bashar al
Assad in Damascus and the momentum for the political rehabilitation of Syria in the Arab world. Thank you.
Later this hour, we are going to get back to the Middle East. I'll talk to Hadas Gold about a consular controversy. Why the United States wants to
reopen its consulate in Jerusalem and why Israel is saying, find another place for it.
Amnesty International is accusing Tigray rebel fighters of gang raping women in Ethiopia. A new report found members of the Tigray People's
Liberation Front raped and assaulted 16 women from a different ethnic group in Ethiopia's Amhara region in August.
Amnesty International's secretary-general said, and I quote, "The testimonies we heard from survivors described despicable acts by TPLF
fighters that amount to war crimes and potentially crimes against humanity. They defy morality or any iota of humanity."
The spokesman for the rebel group denied the accusations and called for an independent investigation.
This comes as the U.N. says Ethiopia has detained about 70 truck drivers who were trying to deliver aid. The U.N. is trying to figure out why the
drivers were arrested. Salma Abdelaziz watching this all unfold from London.
What more do we know about the Amnesty International report?
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Let's start there, because it makes for really grim and disturbing reading. Amnesty International speaking to
16 women, who accuse TPLF forces of mass sexual violence and rape.
They say this happened in mid-August. That's when the TPLF entered the Amhara region. Now CNN has not independently spoken to these eyewitnesses
so we cannot independently verify their accounts. But they're highly disturbing.
And we have reached out to a TPLF spokesperson to get their response to these allegations. I'm going to read you what he told us here.
"We take these allegations very seriously. We believe the allegations, which are being attributed to our forces, are basically groundless because
our forces do not indulge in the very practices of the enemy forces."
So an outright denial there, Becky, from the TPLF. And they have said that they are willing to be part of an independent investigation.
But again, this is consistent with what we've heard from CNN reporting, from human rights groups, from the United Nations, which, last week,
released a report, accusing all parties to this conflict of potential war crimes.
And in particular here, prime minister Abiy Ahmed is being accused of genocide in the Tigray region. The fear and concern with this ethnic-based
violence is diplomats say there's a very short window of opportunity here, either to stave off the violence or the country could very much be headed
toward all-out civil war.
ANDERSON: Salma Abdelaziz is on the story.
Coming up, thousands of freezing migrants are at the European Union's border. We ask the man handling the crisis for the E.U. how he saw plans to
And stay with us, our Call to Earth Day special, dedicated to celebrating people taking real action to protect and preserve our planet.
ANDERSON: That is Call to Earth Day and that is coming up. Stay with us.
ANDERSON: Over the past 10 days, we've been covering the environmental challenges facing our planet. These issues can sometimes feel vast and
overwhelming. But we want to put the big focus right now on solutions.
Today is our Call to Earth Day. It's the first on CNN and it is celebrating people creating a more sustainable future, those who are driving awareness
and inspiring action, from Hong Kong to New Delhi, New York to Beijing.
Today CNN correspondents around the world bring you stories about extraordinary individuals protecting our planet and about young students,
who are learning to do the same.
As part of CNN's initiative, we are profiling the people and practices that stand out on what is this first-ever Call to Earth Day. Let's take a look
at some of the best moments so far.
KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Here in Hong Kong, I'm at one of hundreds of schools around the world marking the very first Call to
Earth Day, a day of action to help protect the environment. Let me tell you, the community here at DSC International, they are all in, the parents,
teachers, staff and these year 3 students.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My Call to Earth is our future and not only for us but for those that come after us as well.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Be nice to the Earth like the Earth is nice to us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One person can make a change.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here at the Finnish (ph) school we're raising the next generation of leaders.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) plastic and save the whales and the sea lions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are saving the Earth one step at a time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We believe that we can make the Earth a better place if we start learning at this young age because, let's face it, we are the
future of the world. And so our little kids and their kids and their kids and their kids and we want them to have a nice world like we did.
STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER, BEIJING BUREAU: These kids around me are literally from all quarters of the world. They are also trying to get
involved and do more to make a difference through firsthand experiences.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's inciting curiosity for what's around them. And the hope is that eventually they become global citizens, who can engage in
the big questions.
ANDERSON: Join us next hour, we've got a whole lot coming for you. Have a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are starting to bring recycling bins to our school and trying to make our school much more ecofriendly to help our school. And
not just our school, in the whole world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, some big ideas from some very globally minded youngsters here in the UAE.
As I say, it's our first ever Call to Earth Day special. I sat down with, as you saw there, bright young kids and world leaders and scientists to
talk about how they are making real changes to save our world for future generations.
That is next hour. Please do stay with us. It's 8:00 in the evening Abu Dhabi time, 4:00 in London. Wherever you're watching in the world, you can
work out the time. It's a terrific show, full of some really inspiring ideas. That follows this hour here on CNN.
ANDERSON: Israeli-American diplomacy faces a new test that could reshape Israel's relationship with this current Biden administration. The U.S.
wants to reopen its consulate in Jerusalem.
That was shuttered by former president Donald Trump. Israel strongly opposes the idea. The consulate had served Palestinian interests. Many
Palestinians believe reopening it would lead to a U.S. embassy in East Jerusalem, which they consider the capital of the future Palestinian state.
Hadas Gold connecting us today from Jerusalem -- Hadas.
HADAS GOLD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm just outside of the building that's come to represent a major point of contention in the
relationship between this new Israeli government and the Biden administration.
There's actually a group of protesters behind me, protesting against the Americans reopening the consulate for Palestinians, saying they want
President Joe Biden to leave the issue and to leave Jerusalem alone.
For the Americans, reopening this consulate would symbolize a desire to reverse what former president Donald Trump did to relations with the
Palestinians. But for the Israelis, the consulate is a nonstarter.
GOLD (voice-over): When then president Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital in 2018, what had been the consulate serving
Palestinians was shut down.
TRUMP: We took Jerusalem off the table so we don't have to talk about it anymore. They never got past Jerusalem. We took it off the table. We don't
have to talk about it anymore.
GOLD (voice-over): But with President Joe Biden, Jerusalem is very much back on the table as the administration seeks to reopen the consulate. As
secretary of state Antony Blinken said in May --
ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The United States will be moving forward with the process to reopen our consulate in Jerusalem.
GOLD (voice-over): -- and repeated in October.
BLINKEN: We'll be moving forward with the process of opening a consulate as part of deepening those ties with the Palestinians.
GOLD (voice-over): New Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett worked to create a smooth and drama-free relationship with the Americans. But he was
blunt, when asked by CNN, whether he was heading toward a conflict over the consulate and other issues.
NAFTALI BENNETT, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): No. Our position is -- and it was presented very clearly and openly to our American
friends -- that there is no room for another American consulate in Jerusalem.
GOLD (voice-over): The historic building that housed the consulate was folded into the broader American embassy when it officially moved to
Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.
GOLD: Many Palestinians want to see the sign on this building switched back because an American consulate in Jerusalem is seen as a precursor to
what they hope will one day be an American embassy in East Jerusalem, capital of a potential future state of Palestine.
GOLD (voice-over): The Israeli intransigence on the issue even suggesting the Americans open the consulate instead in Ramallah seen as a direct
challenge to the Americans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOHAMMAD SHTAYYEH, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY PRIME MINISTER: By all means, Ramallah is not Jerusalem and Ramallah is not the capital of Palestine in
the same way that abudis (ph) is not.
And, therefore, for us, the consulate in East Jerusalem, it has a lot of political significance. We want this consulate in Jerusalem to be the
future American embassy to the state of Palestine.
And, therefore, when we say that we want it to be there, of course, we want it to be there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLD (voice-over): A choice then for President Biden: pick a fight with Israel's new government or quietly and, in not so many words, accept what
Trump said, that, for the U.S. at least, Jerusalem is most definitely off the table.
GOLD: And Becky, there was a prevailing logic that the Americans and Europeans were going to hold off pressuring the Israelis until this new
government got a budget passed because that would place this new government on much more stable footing.
That budget has now passed. But the Israelis seem to be holding on. And they don't seem particularly concerned this issue will directly damage the
relationship with the Americans -- Becky.
ANDERSON: Hadas Gold is on the ground for you. Thank you.
Despite facing a wall of security forces, migrants making bolder attempts to enter the E.U. for a better life. We'll have more on the crisis along
the Polish-Belarus border.
ANDERSON: Desperate migrants stranded in Belarus have made three large- scale attempts overnight to enter Poland. A Polish border guard official said more than 300 people were involved.
On Tuesday they made almost 600 attempts to force their way through border barriers. The Polish prime minister said the border is being brutally
ANDERSON: He blames Belarus for encouraging migrants to enter the E.U. Let's not forget that this is happening across the European Union. The
numbers are startling; 16,000 have attempted to illegally cross that border at Poland since August; 5,000 alone in October.
Same number of asylum seekers have arrived in Greece since March. Over 10,000 migrants entered Italy in the first half of this year.
But these figures can mask what we are dealing with here: fathers, mothers, children, freezing at borders, bailing out lifeboats. CNN's Arwa
Damon recently saw the treacherous conditions that some are having to battle, trying to reach Greece from Turkey, for example. Take a look at
some of her reporting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As we approach we can see the waves battering and rolling over the sides of the
DAMON: Can you see that?
They're bailing water out of the back.
DAMON (voice-over): The Turks were notified by the Greeks by a fax of the dinghy's location. This is what happens on a regular basis. For more than a
year now, the Greek Coast Guard has been pushing back those that try to reach its shores.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: The Greek migration minister was on our show recently. And he denied claims of pushing back migrants. Have a listen to what else he told
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NOTIS MITARACHI, GREEK MIGRATION AND ASYLUM MINISTER: The E.U. has signed an agreement with Turkey. And Turkey must prevent every legal departure of
every dinghy from Turkish soil. Turkey is not a country in war. It's a safe country.
There is no war in Turkey and people -- they're not fleeing Turkey. People that have arrived in Turkey do have a sufficient level of protection.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: This is the attitude of many E.U. countries, who are making it clear that they don't want to have to deal with these migrants.
My next guest is Margaritis Schinas, the European Commission's vice president for promoting, and I quote here, "the European way of life." Yes,
that's the title. And he has described the actions of Belarus as unacceptable and says that it will be met with a strong and united E.U.
He is at the heart of the E.U.'s migration strategy and joins me now from Brussels.
I just to have ask in the first instance, what is the E.U. strategy here to pushing back against Belarus?
MARGARITIS SCHINAS, COMMISSIONER FOR PROMOTING OUR EUROPEAN WAY OF LIFE: Becky, let me start by saying that we are witnessing a major hybrid threat,
an attack at our external border in the east by Europe's last dictator, who is weaponizing human suffering to attack Europe. That's the starting point.
And that's what we have been witnessing since a couple of days now. This is not normal asylum seekers that seek the protection of Europe, fleeing war,
dictatorship. These are groups of people that are flown to Minsk. They are put in buses.
They are escorted by Belarusian police and special forces, pushed to the border and pushed into the European Union. This is not a normal migratory
movement. This is a hybrid attack. So this is what we are fighting and this is epidemic.
ANDERSON: You describe them as a, quote, "hybrid threat." With all due respect, that sounds like quite dehumanizing language, to be honest. And we
are talking about women and children fighting for their lives here, trying to cross into the E.U.
I just have to ask, what are you defending the border from exactly?
SCHINAS: What I'm trying to tell our viewers is that we are not discussing ordinary migratory movements. Europe will always remain an asylum
destination. Those who flee from dictatorship, from persecution, they should know that they can find protection in Europe.
But what is happening in our eastern borders is, a couple of days, is not that. It's an organized, planned attack against the European Union. And
those who have been instrumentalizing (sic) innocent children, women and families but pushing them in front of the border, they should give be
account -- they should give an explanation and apologize.
ANDERSON: Can I ask then, who is involved in this?
Aside from the Belarus government or Belarusian officials, who else are you alleging is involved in this?
SCHINAS: I'm not offering a diagnosis of my own; we are basing our intelligence and information on multiple sources that point out the
existence of --
So what's the evidence telling you?
SCHINAS: The evidence points out to organized smuggling networks, that they offer services to the Belarusian regime, bringing people from all
different locations to Minsk.
And these are not people who are tourists, students or investors. These are people that are being instrumentalized by international smuggling groups,
that play into (ph) the hands of the Belarusian government and then they are pushed in an organized way by the Belarusian forces to the border.
That's what Europe is facing.
ANDERSON: I have to ask, do you believe there's some Russian involvement here as well?
SCHINAS: Well, I'm not in a position to say that, because the suggestion is evolving as we speak. I am flying tonight to the -- a number of
countries of origin of transit to discuss and ask for their cooperation in refraining from these tactics.
I am in contact with the airlines that are involved. We're stepping up our sanctions against the Belarusian regime as we speak. So we are trying to
protect the European external border across the board.
ANDERSON: Let's talk about the wider story here, because we do know that there are migrants trying to cross European borders at various stages
around the continent. And there are European countries who, quite frankly, do not want these migrants.
The commission has called for an investigation into what are known as these illegal migrant pushbacks, evidence which we've seen in our own reporting.
Where are you at this point with that probe?
SCHINAS: I repeat what I said earlier, that we shall always remain an asylum destination for people seeking protection in Europe, fleeing
dictatorship and persecution.
ANDERSON: But that's my point, because there has been illegal migrant pushback. So my understanding is there's an investigation ongoing.
Where are you with that investigation?
SCHINAS: Yes, but those who are not eligible for protection, they cannot be admitted to the European Union and will have to be returned. Now there
have been indeed allegations from various sources on different incidents. We cannot investigation these incidents ourselves from Brussels. This is
the responsibility of our member states.
And we have been insisting with all our member states that all these allegations should be investigated thoroughly and by independent mechanisms
at international level. This is happening and I'm sure that answers and explanations will be given where appropriate.
ANDERSON: What are you prepared to do to crack down on those countries who do act illegally, those E.U. countries who do act illegally?
SCHINAS: First of all, we need to have a clear understanding of what is involved here because there are many types of managing the external border,
that not all of them are to be catalogued as illegal. There's a legal obligation, for example, to protect border against smuggling networks.
Our European border and (INAUDIBLE) has a legal duty to patrol the border, both sea and land border. And this is the obligation of the (INAUDIBLE) of
the national (INAUDIBLE) to investigate and determine the possibilities (INAUDIBLE) which is documented (INAUDIBLE) --
ANDERSON: Right. Yes, you may or may not have heard the Greek migration minister, who was on my show recently. And we ran some of that sound ahead
of coming to you. He denied any suggestion that Greece was acting illegally.
Have you seen any evidence to contradict this?
Because that's certainly -- your reports and our own reporting suggests that they are.
SCHINAS: I don't know what your reporting is and I didn't know what the minister said because I didn't have sound or image whilst the story before
our connection was shown.
SCHINAS: What I can say -- I don't speak for the national governments. There are national authorities that are in charge. There are national
judges that they have, to take decisions.
And the only thing that we are responsible for is to create the conditions for independent mechanisms that can investigate these allegations and find
out what's really happening.
And I repeat, what's happening in our external border is not one same pattern. There are many types of situations developing. And we need to have
clarity on all of them.
ANDERSON: OK. It's good to have you on, sir. And we'll have you again as you get more information on that investigation. I would love to hear the
outcome and more on the E.U. migration policy. Thank you for joining us tonight.
And we are getting a first look at the draft climate deal coming out of COP26 in Scotland. It was released just a short time ago. And it's calling
on countries to boost emission cuts by 2022.
It's also urging them to set out long-term strategies by the end of next year. Remember, the version of the Glasgow agreement isn't final. COP26
delegates from nearly 200 countries will now negotiate the details over the next few days. It could be quite some days before we get that.
Still ahead, I put on my dancing shoes for a dancing class with a world famous dance group.
Can you guess which one?
ANDERSON: For a bit of fun on CONNECT THE WORLD, thousands of performers from all over the world are showing off their talents here at Expo 2020
Dubai, perhaps none more famous than Ireland's Riverdance.
So I thought I'd put on my dancing shoes for a master class with the Irish dance group. Have a look at this.
ANDERSON (voice-over): They first burst onto the world stage during the 1994 Eurovision song contest, mesmerizing audiences with their masterful
footwork. More than 25 years later, Riverdance is in Dubai for the first time ever.
JOHN MCCOLGAN, RIVERDANCE DIRECTOR: My ambition has always been to keep it fresh. We've added a lot of elements that would resonate with the audience
here. So they will see that the show is tailored for here.
ANDERSON: Anna Mai, you are the lead dancer.
What can audiences expect to see?
ANNA MAI FITZPATRICK, RIVERDANCE LEAD DANCER: Audiences can expect to see what Riverdance is known for, which is being culturally diverse, having
resilience, dynamic, just unbelievable talent on stage.
ANDERSON (voice-over): It's also their most diverse cast of dancers ever.
MORGAN BULLOCK, RIVERDANCE DANCER: There's no feeling like it. There's nothing you can really compare to it.
ANDERSON (voice-over): American Morgan Bullock is the first Black female Irish dancer to tour with the group.
BULLOCK: It's a beautiful cultural art form that was created to be shared.
BULLOCK: And as a dance form, it resonates with people from all different backgrounds.
ANDERSON: She was invited to join the tour after she posted this video on TikTok.
It was Mom who told you to post it.
Am I right in saying that?
BULLOCK: Yes. I was being a little bit hard on myself. Like I don't know if anyone will really enjoy this. It's just like a fun video.
MCCOLGAN: The first time I saw it I thought, this girl has something. She has a special quality.
ANDERSON (voice-over): The Irish dance group is in Dubai to teach their moves and pick one lucky UAE resident to perform with the group.
ANDERSON: They don't have to be an experienced Irish dancer, as I understand it?
MCCOLGAN: It's better if they're not. They have to want to do it. They have to be ambitious. They have to be enthusiastic and they have to be a
ANDERSON: Look, I'm going to go through a master class with you. Please be gentle with me, please. I mean, you talk about your candidates not needing
to be Irish dancers. Believe me, I am not.
I'm now surrounded by professional dancers, which is really intimidating, honestly.
Be nice. Be nice. Come on. Show me what to do.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The first thing we're going to do is with our right leg, we're going to go one, two, three, two, two, three, three, two, three,
four, two, three. Stamp two, three, stamp, two, three.
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. One, two, three. Three, two, three.
ANDERSON (voice-over): An Irish phenomenon wowing audiences and connecting cultures one step at a time.
ANDERSON: How was I?
You tell me. And be sure to stay with us next hour for what is a special CONNECT THE WORLD presentation, Call to Earth Day. We're at the Earth stage
here at Expo 2020 Dubai, looking at how each and every one of us, that's you and I, can do our part to save our planet from a looming climate
You know you can get involved at home. Send us your tweets during the show. #CallToEarth. Thank you for joining us for this hour. Do stay with us.