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Connect the World
CNN Speaks to Polish President; Israeli Raid Kills Six Palestinians, Including Shooting Suspect; Zelenskyy: Russians would Gain Open Road if they Capture Bakhmut; Andrzej Duda: Waiting for Results of Nord Stream Investigation; CNN Speaks to Polish President on his UAE Visit; Female Boxers in Cuba now Allowed to Compete in Tournaments. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired March 08, 2023 - 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: This hour as EU defense ministers gathered to discuss ammunition aid for Ukraine. Poland's
president tells me European defense was just not prepared for this war. Our interview conducted right here in Abu Dhabi is just ahead. First up, NATO
Secretary General says he cannot rule out that Bakhmut may fall to Russia in the coming days.
This is Moscow claims control over the city's east despite Ukrainian defiance. Thousands take to the streets in Georgia to protest a Russian
style law - police please use tear gas to disperse the crowds and detained almost 70 people. Weeks of large-scale demonstrations across Israel have
failed to hold Benjamin Netanyahu's plans for a judicial overhaul.
A group of combat pilots is joining the protest by refusing to train ratcheting up the pressure on the government. Well, the Israeli military
raid in the West Bank and start that again for you. The U.N. envoy for Middle East peace says he is alarmed by another deadly Israeli military
raid in the West Bank. Israeli forces entered a refugee camp in Jenin and killed a Hamas militant suspected of killing two Jewish settler brothers.
Five other Palestinians were killed. Raid coming as some Israeli pilot's boycott training exercises to protest the government judicial overhaul ban.
There have been widespread protests across Israel over that ban. Elliott Gotkine is back with us this hour from Jerusalem, while these protests
continue this raid on Jenin and is being responded to and responded to in kind across the board. Tell us what do we know at this point?
ELLIOTT GOTKINE, CNN JOURNALIST: Becky, Israel targeted the man that they say was responsible for killing two Israeli settler brothers in the
Palestinian village of Huwara on February the 26. So, they went into the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank. They surrounded the wanted
man a 49-year-old man they described as a Hamas, a terrorist operative.
And he barricaded himself inside that you - missiles to kill him and then a gun battle ensued as well, which resulted in the death of five more
Palestinians. Now although Hamas did not claim that they were members of the militant group they did hail who were they described as the fighter
At the same time, three Israeli soldiers were injured without life threatening injuries, I should say. And after the event, Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the raid saying that whoever harms us will pay the price. This is something he routinely says after Israel goes after
people that it suspects have been responsible for attacks on its citizens.
But as you say there was concern expressed by the United Nations by the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process. He
also condemned Israeli settler violence against Palestinian villages.
Of course, after those two Israeli settler brothers were killed, some settlers went on the rampage in went on the rampage, resulting in the death
of at least one Palestinian villager nearby. And the same, the same coordinator for the Middle East peace process from the United Nations, also
condemning Palestinian violence against Israeli civilians.
One word of support, though, did come from the outgoing, as you said, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department Ned Price, saying that Israel has a
legitimate right to defend its people and its territory against all forms of aggression, including from terrorist groups, Becky.
ANDERSON: Elliot, the Defense Secretary, the U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was due in Israel as part of what is a Middle Eastern trip. He is
not coming. Do we know why?
GOTKINE: Yes, I think the arrangement was changed because of concern about disruption of the protests, I think it was due to stay overnight in Tel
Aviv. But he's not doing that. But the meetings that he has planned are still going ahead. And we have these protests that are planned for
Thursday, another day of disruption as the protesters are calling it against the government's judicial overhaul.
Now we've seen these people, hundreds of thousands in aggregate on the streets of Tel Aviv, or Jerusalem and other cities across Israel. But
things seem to be ratcheting up in terms of the pressure on the government because now a particular Squadron, an elite squadron of Israeli air force
pilots 37 of its 40 members of his squadron 69 skipped training today.
A kind of yellow card, if you like for the government to warn that look, they're not saying they're not going to serve on missions at this point.
But if this judicial overhaul is rammed through, then there could be severe consequences.
GOTKINE (voice over): They bombed Iraq's nuclear reactor in 1981 and regularly hit Iranian targets in Syria. And even some of Israel's revered
combat pilots are now firing warning shots with reservists from one squadron skipping a training session, and suggesting they may not heed the
call of duty if the government ramps through its judicial overhaul. In this country, that's a very big deal.
COLONEL NERI YARKONI (RET.), FORMER IAF PILOT: No existence of Israel is based on the Israeli Air Force simple as that.
GOTKINE (voice over): Neri Yarconi was an Israeli combat pilot for 30 years. He's also a lawyer who wants it if the government continues with
plans to new to the Supreme Court and give itself sweeping powers; the country may be in trouble.
YARKONI: Since we are talking only about few hundreds of people, then if you lose some of them, the mere existence of Israel is essentially
degraded. That is why the government and all the people in Israel are very concerned about the protest of the Israeli fighter pilots.
GOTKINE (voice over): Israel's defense minister seen here meeting reservist commanders from the combined services on Tuesday says he is listening.
GOTKINE (on camera): Weeks of street protests in Israel had thus far failed to persuade the government to even pause its judicial reform plans. Could
this warning from some of Israel's Air Force pilots, the very people whose job it is to defend Israel's existence? Could they have any more luck?
YOHANAN PLESNER, PRESIDENT, ISRAEL DEMOCRACY INSTITUTE: Given the current situation--
GOTKINE (voice over): This analyst thinks they will.
PLESNER: I think what we're seeing now from the fighter pilots is a new ballgame altogether. It's an escalation of the protest. It comes alongside
with other measures of escalation. And it seems like a snowball that is just gaining more and more momentum. I think that it will bring the
government to the table.
GOTKINE (voice over): On the ground, though little appears to be changing. The government's judicial overhaul remains on track. At another day of mass
protests, perhaps with a few pilots among the crowd is planned for Thursday.
GOTKINE: And it's not just the U.S. Secretary of Defense's plans that are having to be changed slightly, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his
wife is used to fly to Rome tomorrow. And apparently that due to the protests looks like they're going to have to get a helicopter from
Jerusalem to the airport to avoid finding their passage blocked or disrupted by the protesters, Becky.
ANDERSON: Elliott Gotkine on the story for you. Thank you. And you can stay on top of all of the stories from this region. And remember, this is a show
broadcast from our Middle East programming hub here in Abu Dhabi.
You can get a real range of news from our newsletter. "Meanwhile in the Middle East" a new edition has just dropped today featuring a story on the
Turkish opposition candidate challenging Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the upcoming president at presidential election there. Why he is described as president
Erdogan's polar opposite that is all @cnn.com/Mideast newsletter.
And you can find an option to sign up there. Still to come on "Connect the World", my interview with the Polish President and later in the show
thousands of people in Georgia take to the streets to fight for their democracy, we'll look at how the European Union is trying to help them
ANDERSON: The war in Ukraine is on Poland's and NATO's doorstep of course. And right now, all eyes are on the decimated eastern Ukrainian city of
Bakhmut. The NATO Secretary General said he cannot rule out Bakhmut's fall to Russia in the coming days. But right now, the battle for that city is
still going on.
Ukraine's military says more than 100 Russian soldiers have been killed there in the past 24 hours. Those of Russia's new tourist Wagner Group
dispute Sadie posted a video from inside the city and claimed his fighters now control the east from part of Bakhmut. Well, Ukraine's President
defending his decision not to retreat.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy told CNN's Wolf Blitzer this is a tactical decision and he laid out what he fears would happen if Bakhmut is captured by the
Russians. This is part of that conversation, take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, THE SITUATION ROOM: Why have you decided not to withdraw from Bakhmut?
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: We understand what Russia wants to achieve there. Russia needs at least some victory, a small victory, even
by ruining everything in Bakhmut, just killing every civilian there. They need to put that little flag on top of that, to show that society, it's not
a victory for them.
It's more like, you know, like to support to mobilize their society in order to create this idea of that such a powerful army. For us, it's such a
different. This is tactical for us. We understand that after Bakhmut, they could go further, they could go to Kramatorsk to Donetsk, it will be an
open road for the Russians after Bakhmut to other towns in Ukraine in the Donetsk direction in the east of Ukraine. That's why our guys are standing
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: CNN's Melissa Bell joins us now from Ukraine's capital Kyiv, keeping a keen eye on what is going on in Bakhmut. Melissa, what do you
make of what you heard there from the Ukrainian President?
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Volodymyr Zelensky, defending a decision that has cost Becky the blood of a lot of Ukrainian soldiers. Of course, it
has also been extremely costly to the Russians and to their ranks Ukrainian saying that just in the last day 100 Russian soldiers have lost their
lives. And they've repeated over the course last week.
So, this is the point that what they've wanted to do with Bakhmut is wearing down that Russian machine and that --the lives lost. This has been
important they say because their strategic objectives have now been reached not only managing to wear down the Russian ability to continue to wage war.
And this is something that Western official's backup saying that they doubt now that Russians have either with regular soldiers or mercenaries large
reserves in either Donetsk or Luhansk province with which to mount further large offensives like they did around Bakhmut.
The other point of the Ukrainians they say has been to gain time. Again, Western officials saying that they understand that to be the case that
Ukrainians they say have chosen in Bakhmut to trade space for time.
And that appears to be the case when we look at the latest video from Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Head of the Wagner Mercenary Group that has been so
key Becky and making that Russian progress towards the center of Bakhmut. He was speaking today from the very place where his men had hoisted their
flag earlier this week geo located by CNN and that does suggest their progress; have a listen to his chilling message.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YEVGENY PRIGOZHIN, HEAD OF WAGNER GROUP: The only request takes out the elderly children and sent here normal combat ready units. We need to deal
with you here now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BELL: And yet, we know that there are just under now 4000 civilians still trapped beneath that town. Largely Becky because of the amount of artillery
and mortar fire that the town has been coming in for it is to their basements that they've had to retreat.
The evacuations have gone down to a trickle just because of the danger of getting in and out of the city and it is unclear at this stage. What fate
will befall them over the course of the coming days? For now, though, no Ukrainian retreat has been announced Becky.
ANDERSON: So, all eyes it seems fully focus on what is going on in Bakhmut. Meantime, just give us an assessment of what is happening elsewhere in
BELL: Well, we've been seeing a larger picture that seems to be getting more complicated these last few days Becky, specifically to the north of
Ukraine with accusations from Russia last week of terrorist sabotage operation where civilians were shot on by what Russian authorities
described as Ukrainian agitators who'd slipped across the border to the Briansk region.
We've also been hearing over in Belarus, accusations of a Ukrainian sabotage mission at an air airfield, near Minsk where Alexander Lukashenko,
arguably the closest ally of Vladimir Putin, has said that several, as he called them, terrorists were caught trying to call sabotage this Russian
So, there is this wider picture where both inside Russia and Belarus there are accusations that Ukraine is trying to take the conflict further than
its borders. Ukrainians pushing back very hard on that and explaining that the only terror activity is the one going on inside Ukraine, Becky.
ANDERSON: Melissa, appreciate it. Thank you very much indeed. And Wolf Blitzer's exclusive interview with the Ukrainian President Volodymyr
Zelenskyy --Wednesday night 9 p.m. Eastern time that is 6 a.m. Thursday here in Abu Dhabi. Well, these images are from Ukraine nine years ago when
thousands took to the streets, seeking closer ties to the European Union and away from Russia.
I was there covering those demonstrations which intensified after then President Viktor Yanukovych cracked down on the right to protest. Gaining
democracy and keeping it is often hard fought and messy. And now in Georgia we are seeing this. Protest against Russia style bill that would require
certain organizations to register as foreign agents.
Opponents say that move would move the country away from democracy towards authoritarianism. While the European Union's top diplomat Josep Borrell
says the law in its current form risks is having a chilling effect on civil society and media organizations with negative consequences for the many
Georgians benefiting from their work.
This law is incompatible with EU values and standards. Well, Borrell's lead spokesperson is Peter Stano joining me live now from Brussels by Skype.
Sir, how concerned are you in Brussels about this?
PETER STANO, LEAD SPOKESPERSON, FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND SECURITY POLICY, EU: Good afternoon and as you already indicated we are very concerned because
this is not the development we wanted to see in Georgia. And we said it already at the end of February when the law has been prepared for the first
reading; we said that we are concerned that this is not the way to proceed.
Because exactly this law, as it's been presented is affecting very important issues for the European Union. And that's the work of the non-
governmental organizations. And it's affecting media freedoms as well. And then yet we have seen it past the first reading. And then the reaction was,
I think, very stronger from the side of the European Union and other international partners of Georgia, because we see Georgia as an important
ally as an important partner.
And let's not forget, Georgia is a country with European aspirations. Georgia applied to join the European Union. And Georgia is supposed to do
everything it can to deliver on the necessary criteria to join European Union to become European. And yet they proceed with such a law, which goes
totally in the opposite direction.
ANDERSON: What tools does the EU have to support those inside of Georgia who want to become closer to the European Union?
STANO: We are supporting Georgia as the country and the Georgian people, of course, with their legitimate representatives. This is the nature of
democracy and the representative democracy. So, we are having very close dialogue with Georgia. And I think the biggest boost and the biggest
motivation to Georgia was given last June when the European Union member states decided that we accepted the EU application from Georgia.
And we outlined the homework for Georgia in order to receive the candidate status, which is very important step to start the process of the accession
towards the European Union. So, we defined 12 key priorities. And the European Union is not only giving homework.
They are also offering a lot of assistance to help our partners to deliver on this homework, to change the legislation, to prepare the necessary
reforms and implement the necessary reforms. And this is what we've been doing with Georgia already for some time, because already before their
application to join the new, they had a very close ties based on something which is called Association Agreement, which was about political
association and economic integration. So, we will.
ANDERSON: Yes, we know that Ukraine, of course aspires to join the European Union. That is just an aspiration at this point. Your boss has said
reportedly said that he has suggested the EU the block spend over a billion dollars for the joint procurement of ammunition for Ukraine to refill their
stockpiles. Can you just explain how Josep Borrell got to that figure? Why, to his mind and to Europe's mind that is so important at this point?
STANO: This is only one element of our overall support to Ukraine, which has several levels and one of them is military support, so that Ukraine is
able to defend itself against this brutal illegal Russian aggression. Actually, few moments ago, there was the meeting of defense ministers of
the European Union.
And in Stockholm, they were exactly discussing the ways how to proceed further with, especially with the joint procurement of ammunition because
right now, at this particular point, the ammunition is something that the Ukrainians are needed, needing most. So, this was the discussion in
Stockholm, I think there was a press conference ended few minutes ago, where all this was explained.
So, we will get it probably in other feeds. But to summarize it very shortly, Ukraine needs any help any assistance it can get, especially from
the European allies, but also from the U.S. from Canada and others. The European Union is committed; we are providing a lot of military supplies to
Ukraine. At this stage, the discussion is about the ammunition because this is crucially needed.
And the one million was one billion was just a proposal. Of course, the overall amount of military help to Ukraine is reaching more than 12 billion
euros at this stage, and will probably increase because we are determined to help Ukraine for as long as needed and the discussions about one billion
for ammunition or whatever other amounts, and whatever other forms of military support.
This is just the expression how committed we are because Ukraine in our eyes is fighting a legitimate war of defense against the brutal aggressor,
which aims to destroy the country and erase the Ukrainian nation from the earth. So, it's our duty as a civilized European nation to help Ukraine and
we will continue doing so.
ANDERSON: Peter, it's good to have you, thank you very much indeed. Up next, my interview with Poland's president, we talk specifically what is
going on in Ukraine and how Europe can help, that after this.
ANDERSON: One million rounds of ammunition as soon as possible. That is what Ukraine's defense minister is pleading his European counterparts to
give to take on the Russians. And just now, the European Commission president has suggested that support is needed immediately to transfer
ammunition from existing national stocks and to consolidate demand for the launch of a massive EU contract on behalf of Member States and from Europe.
The statement that they should massively increase EU production capacity well, the sort of numbers that Zelenskyy is talking about, as far as
ammunition is concerned, would total something like $4 billion in costs to EU countries. Priority number one, he said is air defense systems and then
ammunition, ammunition and again, ammunition, he says.
So tonight, we ask how far will Europe go to support Ukraine. That's also what Poland's President wants to know. He's on what you might call it, a
gratitude tour of this region thanking the UAE for its economic and humanitarian aid in Ukraine. Andrzej Duda is a major supporter of Kyiv.
Of course, I want to bring you more of my interview that I conducted with him earlier today here in Abu Dhabi. We discussed the deliberate damage to
the Nord Stream pipeline last year. And if it was pro Ukrainian sabotage, as some have claimed, here's what the Polish president told me.
ANDRZEJ DUDA, POLISH PRESIDENT: I don't know whether you can say that this is Pro-Ukrainian sabotage, I would say the following, if not stream two
stops existing. And it is not possible to send gas from Russia in this way; this will be profitable for Europe. I'm sure this will be beneficial for
Western Europe. Because, in a nutshell, Russia, who uses Gazprom as a tool simply wanted to dominate Europe, it wanted to make Europe dependent on
itself in that respect.
ANDERSON: So, you wouldn't be surprised if it was pro-Ukrainian?
DUDA: I'm probably waiting for the results of the investigation. That's when I hope that in the future, we'll find out who was responsible for this
ANDERSON: Let's talk about what support Ukraine must have to your mind in order to win this war to remove Russia from Ukrainian land as you describe
it. You've said you'll provide a company of leopard tanks only four as I understand it have been sent from Poland so far. Why?
DUDA: We wanted to provide exactly 12 of those tanks to Ukraine. Those tanks have been prepared part of them has already been delivered to
Ukraine. Let me add one more thing. Apart from that, we are now supplying Ukraine with highly modernized post-Soviet tanks, which we have got at our
And speaking about PT 91 tanks, the so-called tough tanks, those were totally modernized in the 1990s. And they perform much better than the
tanks, which Ukraine has got right now and also modernized T-72 tanks. So altogether, we are providing more than 50 tanks in this branch for Ukraine.
ANDERSON: You've also said that Germany needs to accelerate the production of spare parts and indeed send other hardware to Ukraine. Are you still
determined that the Germans lack that production capability at this point, and that is what is holding up the delivery of these times? When can you
DUDA: We have had a problem with spare parts for Leopard Tanks. And because of that, we also had a problem servicing and maintaining the tanks that we
had on our stock. It turned out that it was not only a Polish problem, it is also a problem faced by other countries.
And many of the things that we have received and needed to be repaired on that spot, so that they could be made operational and sent further to
Ukraine. So, it is no secret that there has been a problem with spare parts from Germany.
ANDERSON: You have said that Poland could send older Soviet MIG 29 fighter jets to Ukraine as part of a coalition led by the U.S. Do you believe the
West will send fighter jets to Ukraine, and if so, when?
DUDA: I believe that Ukraine will have its own army, and I'm sure that those armed forces will want to be up to the NATO standard. So, I believe
that that army will use F-16. So, the training of Ukrainian pilots is important and it is quite necessary, as you rightly mentioned.
And that remains part of the MIG 29s, which we have in Poland, which are operational, and which are now serving in our Air Force. We stand ready to
provide those planes and I'm sure that Ukraine would be ready to use those planes instantly because Ukraine has got pilots able to operate these
machines right now.
ANDERSON: Do you believe that without additional support, fighter jets from the West Ukraine will fail to win this war?
DUDA: I talked about this in detail with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Volodymyr stressed one thing in this conversation. First of all, what we
need most is artillery.
ANDERSON: But with respect he has asked for fighter jets, should he get them?
DUDA: I believe that he has of course they would surely contribute if Ukraine achieved modern jazz for sure, they would contribute to helping
Ukraine that is quite obvious. However, as far as I know, what is much more needed right now instantly by Ukraine is this long-range artillery in order
to repel the enemy to avoid direct clashes.
Because Russians are crushing Ukraine today they are crushing by the weight of their armed forces by its size and by this tank equipment in which
they're equipping their armed forces with. This equipment is not modern, very often; it dates back to the 1960s. But still, it is capable of driving
it is crushing.
ANDERSON: Europe's armies are ill prepared, unprepared. And that is becoming clearer. For example, with the delay in parts for these leopard
tanks being transferred to Ukraine. How do you assess the readiness of Europe's armies and defense at this point, is it - is it lacking?
DUDA: For sure Europe started to sleep at peaceful sleep after the fall of the Iron Curtain. People thought well, the war is not there. It will not
come back a peace, calm welfare. So, it seemed that things were going in the right direction. It seemed that one did not have to spend that much on
Why should one spend so much on defense, it's better to support a health care system? Education of course, we would love to spend more on health
care, we would love to spend more on education. Unfortunately, today it turns out that this dream was brutally interrupted by Russia. Russia
attacked Ukraine and it showed that another war could break out like the Second World War with tanks rolling with demolished houses. So, we have to
come back to this production.
ANDERSON: What does a peaceful resolution look like at this point?
DUDA: Russia must not emerge from this war with a conviction that it has won. If the peace, the global peace is to be maintained if the countries in
Central Europe and other countries which are exposed to Russian imperialism, if all of them are to have a peaceful and secure lives, Russia
has to emerge from this war as a state which has not won. I'm saying that it has to suffer a defeat.
ANDERSON: Does that mean allowing Ukraine to supporting Ukraine to retake Crimea?
DUDA: Russia should be removed from those lands, which, under internationally recognized norms, according to internationally recognized
the borders are the lens of Ukraine.
ANDERSON: Poland is now spending 4 percent on defense spending, that's the highest of any NATO member higher than the U.S. Do you call for more at
this point? Do other countries need to step up their defense spending significantly?
DUDA: Looking at the situation we started one year ago, looking at how brutally Ukraine was attacked by Russia, we are aware that what is most
important is to create that foundation for deterrence. And deterrence is possible only when we have our own strong, functional and well-equipped
armed forces. And that is what we're doing in order to achieve that. Unfortunately, we have to spend more on defense, hence the decisions.
ANDERSON: You are though at present nevertheless being tested by Europe at present, as they take Poland to court over your position with regard the
judiciary. Can you just explain where you stand on that position? And do you retain?
DUDA: The basic problem is that it is the European Commission which violates the European law is that a Poland not Poland, Poland has not
violated European law concerning the changes in the justice system, never ever all the changes which we have introduced are within the framework of
the treaty-based rules.
ANDERSON: So, you see, this is a political dispute.
DUDA: Political, yes, this is a political clash. We myself as a politician and the ruling party in Poland, today, we are a conservative camp. We have
got our values; we are not ashamed of these values. We are vocal in announcing those values and we adhere to these values. These are not left
on liberal values.
ANDERSON: You expect that 35 million euros worth of loans and grants to be delivered to Poland, correct?
DUDA: Poland will get that money anyway. The money serves right now to exert pressure on Poland with regards to the upcoming parliamentary
elections. In a nutshell, the representatives of the European institutions on the left and liberal European camp want to topple the current Polish
authorities by not giving the money. They believe that they are going to impact the results of elections in this way.
And by doing so they infringe the rules of democracy that is obvious everybody can see that. That what is important I believe that the polls are
going to make a wise choice and the money will come to Poland anyway because Europe will have to convey the money.
ANDERSON: Polish President speaking to me earlier. Yes, a wide-ranging discussion we're going to take a short break, back after this.
ANDERSON: Well, today is International Women's Day. We are celebrating the achievements of women while looking at ways to fight inequality quite
literally in this next story. Female boxers in Cuba are finally allowed to compete in the league after decades of restrictions. Now, many are making
history by getting into the ring. CNN's Patrick Oppmann has this report from Havana.
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): For years this is how women in Cuba have boxed, sparring in rudimentary gyms with whatever
equipment they could scrounge. Well, men's boxing is a sport the island has long dominated; women's boxing did not bear the government's stamp of
approval, meaning women boxers had to train on their own and were unable to compete in tournaments at home or abroad.
It was a missed opportunity to show how formidable Cuban women can be in the ring says trainer Namibia. From the time we were in our mother's wombs,
we are fighters, she says. We are always fighting for something to raise our kids to help our families to be independent.
Whether it was sexism or simply the slow pace of progress they were up against and long last Cuba's female boxers are getting their title shot. In
December, Cuban boxing officials said a new league for women would be created and that they hoped female boxers could represent the island in the
2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.
We took this step when we were sure really convinced, he says, that it was the moment and we didn't have any concerns because our women would be
protected. Weeks later, 12 women made history as they competed for a spot on the team.
OPPMANN (on camera): Cuba has long produced some of the world's best mailboxes or women were prevented from taking part in the sport here.
Now that that glass ceiling has finally been broken. At last, the moment for Cuba's women boxers has arrived for them to shine.
OPPMANN (voice over): And he doubts about the women's fighting abilities were quickly put to rest, as they came out swinging. These athletes know
they will still need to change the minds about whether they belong in the ring. But say it long last attitudes are shifting. In my case, all the
comments I have received have been positive, she says that if I make an effort, I can achieve it.
The Cuban women have the potential for this. It took years for this moment to arrive. And while Cuba's women boxers are only just beginning to fight,
simply being in the ring means they've already won the first round. Patrick Oppmann, CNN Havana.
ANDERSON: Thanks for joining us. CNN continues after this.
ELENI GIOKOS, CNN HOST, MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST: The Middle East and North Africa region is young. According to the World Bank, more than half of the
population, 250 million people is under 30. How are these young people being trained today for careers of the future?
I'm Eleni Giokos. And this month on Marketplace Middle East, we're at the World Government Summit in Dubai. One of the major themes here the future
of learning and work, so let's go find out why it's important for the region to prepare the professionals of tomorrow.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our educators, effectively shaping.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Young people empower the kids give them an opportunity to be creative thinkers.
GIOKOS (voice over): As industry leaders and policymakers gather in Dubai, to discuss future trends, all eyes on students in the region. The World
Bank says that for the past 20 years, Middle East and North Africa has the highest youth unemployment rate in the world. Today, nearly one in every
three people aged between 15 to 24, did not have a professional or academic occupation.
This is in part a result of political instability in some countries, such as Syria and Yemen, which disrupted access to formal education and
training. Heightened with school closures during the COVID 19 pandemic and with a spike in skilled job openings in the region, and a widening skills
gap, there is a divergence of skills acquired by youth compared to the skills that are actually required.
MAZEN HOUALLA, PARTNER, KPMG: In a job market, for example, they're asking for people who are more self-aware, emotional intelligence, very strong and
presentation skills, as well as very well aware of how to use technologies also, very efficient in team working, and very strong in research and
analysis, self-motivated and driven to the region. Unfortunately, we have a big gap to these kinds of skills.
GIOKOS (voice over): To prepare for these mega shifts means not only preparing youth with the necessary tools for the future, but also adapting
educational programs and curricula.
HOUALLA: After deploying this technology and allowing people to access this great digital infrastructure, we need to really train and educate the
people on how to use it. If we are just bombarding them and shooting maybe schedules and classes after class or classes, I think we've witnessed a lot
of maybe failures and having how to manage those students. So, it's introduced or called for an opportunity for us to really build the programs
and are the well-being.
GIOKOS (voice over): Over the past few decades in Morocco, the share of the population completing secondary school and university has increased
significantly according to the World Economic Forum. In 2015, the government set an ambitious task to tackle some of the challenges in the
Their program focuses on ensuring equal opportunities among its use and forming more proactive and driven professionals. Today, the kingdom is
reaping the rewards of these efforts with an increase in the number of students in tertiary education, but over 30 percent between 2017 and 2022
according to national data.
Like at the World Government Summit, I caught up with a Moroccan Minister of Higher Education to find out what the plans are to boost the kingdom's
ABDELLATIF MIRAOUI, MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION, SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH AND INNOVATION, MOROCCO: In a global level, we are facing a very important
period, we are witnessing considerable transformations. The future of university education is to aim for empowerment, individual training and
more flexible minds.
I think that what we have experienced in recent years shows that it is better to learn how to learn than to force information on young people. And
I think that the new generation must be inserted into this field of learning.
GIOKOS (on camera): When I look at it regionally, and there's a big issue with regards to skills developments in the region, right to make sure that
it is on the same level with economic growth, with the ideas that governments have in the region to become, you know, modern economies and
particularly within the tech space. Where does Morocco sit with regards to its peers?
MIRAOUI: We must at the same time respond to the socio-economic sphere, and the development of Morocco. But we must also respond to how our young
people are attracted towards other countries. For example, if I take the case of medicine, we trained about 1500 Doctors last year, and then half of
them left for Germany, France and Europe.
So, we have a loss of qualified young people, well-educated young people. We are losing a lot of engineers too. So we are in this situation, we have
to respond to our internal demand on the socio-economic level. But at the same time, we have a brain drain which is significant, which we live
obviously as a challenge, and as a constraint for the years ahead.
GIOKOS (on camera): The World Bank is funding efforts in Morocco for primary and secondary education. How is that going to make your life better
and easier when you're focusing on tertiary and getting kids to transition from one part of the school career to the next?
MIRAOUI: The Moroccan education and training system needs transformation. And all this requires means, means of training trainers, means of
technology, because today, technology plays a part on development. I think that the World Bank as well as many other international organizations can
help precisely on this transformation.
And as I often say, Morocco, like other countries of the African continent, does not only train youth for itself, it also trains for other countries,
rich countries, because young people are attracted to go there, and that we must absolutely respond and work together because the university is
GIOKOS: Welcome back to "Marketplace Middle East". Now you might think I'm distracted perhaps on social media or texting. But this is what the future
of learning might look like. And as we delve into the region's push to increase the population's access to education, a Jordanian a tech startup
believes that the solution lies on our fingertips. Now where was I?
GIOKOS (voice over): With a few clicks on her tablet, Jordanian student Shatha Al Afeef was able to revise for a final high school exams and
realize her dream of becoming a university medical student.
SHATHA AL AFEEF, MEDICAL STUDENT: I have a chance to become a doctor and work in a hospital to help other people sick people.
GIOKOS (voice over): Shatha lives in Jerash 50 kilometers from Amman, Jordan. As she studied to enter university, she relied on Abwaab, a
Jordanian e-learning app to revise for her exams. And it's not a coincidence that it all started in 2020.
AFEEF: I signed up and filed all of the lessons and there were simple and I can understand them very easily. I don't feel that I left my school in
GIOKOS (voice over): With remote learning during the pandemic, many schools and students around the globe refer to platforms like Abwaab to boost
performance. In the Middle East and North Africa, this meant doubling the amount of venture capital for Ed-Tech startups between 2019 to 2021
according to data analytics company magnet.
HOUALLA: It opens our eyes that digital technologies and e-learning is not only about having a student sitting behind a laptop and looking at maybe
the session online is not that. You can really in - concepts we are using and maybe retail and the business world, such as augmented realities, such
as creative tools, and learning methods in the classroom.
GIOKOS (voice over): The app offers interactive resources, including quizzes and mock exams. But what makes its co-founder really proud is how -
cater to children in the region purposefully building content for each country's national curricula.
HAMDI TABBAA, CEO, ABWAB: Our app today is present in Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. You land on the app, you select your program,
and immediately you find all the grades mapped out in front of you matching exactly the national curriculum that you're supposed to be learning at
school. Today we have all the teams that are working on Abwaab, are sitting locally in every single country that we operate in, in order to drive that
GIOKOS (voice over): The app is free to download and access, but has some premium paid features. The idea is for it to be an inclusive platform,
while providing students with a digital experience.
TABBAA: Our goal out of all of this is to provide an equal learning opportunity that is of high-quality education to students across the
region, whether they live in a rural area and remote areas.
GIOKOS (voice over): With other companies having similar initiatives such as UAE's Lamsa and Saudis noon Academy, the worker is a step towards
ensuring the region plays a role in the future of education, even of this transition is a complicated one.
HOUALLA: How ready we are to accommodate this digital transformation and to move people from the traditional way of learning to e-learning, the
readiness, the skill set of the people, the practitioners, the teachers. The point I'm trying to make here, you could have a very good digital
infrastructure and technology. But if the people are not ready, then they won't be able to accommodate and to adopt it.
GIOKOS (voice over): In the meantime, the videos produced here in the Jordanian capital of Amman are helping students across the country. It
taught Shatha and now her little brother more than a touch on a screen. It is a push towards their future careers.
GIOKOS: Well, that's it for this month's "Marketplace Middle East". If you want to see more of the stories we have on the program, you can take a look
at our website. From me Eleni Giokos at the World Government Summit, I'll see you next time.