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Isa Soares Tonight
Netanyahu Under Pressure Over Palestinian State Stance; Trump, Haley To Face Off In New Hampshire Primary; Indian Prime Minister Modi Inaugurates Controversial Hindu Temple; U.N. Secy. General Condemns Attacks On Dotesk Region; Baltic Countries To Reinforce Borders With Belarus, Russia; Mass Demonstrations Against Germany's Far-Right Party. 2-3p ET
Aired January 22, 2024 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: A very warm welcome to the show everyone, I'm Isa Soares. Tonight, Israel's prime minister is under
pressure as the international community criticizes his rejection of a two- state solution. I speak to the Lithuanian foreign minister to get his reaction.
Then we're just one day away from the New Hampshire primary, can Nikki Haley make a dent in Donald Trump's lead in the polls. Plus, this hour,
historic as well as controversial ceremony in India as Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurates a Hindu temple on the site of an ancient
destroyed Mosque. That and much more just ahead.
But first this hour, "a moment of truth is upon us. The whole world has to decide". Those words from Jordan's Foreign Minister at a meeting in
Brussels, joining calls from the European Union to re-launch the push for an independent Palestinian state.
EU ministers met with diplomats from Arab nations today as well as Israel and the Palestinian Authority. EU Foreign Policy chief Josep Borrell didn't
mince his words, saying Israel's war to destroy Hamas, is it working? He says peace cannot be achieved through military force alone, urging the
world to pursue a two-state solution over Israeli objections. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEP BORRELL, FOREIGN POLICY CHIEF, EUROPEAN UNION: Which are the other solutions they have in mind? To make all the Palestinians leave or kill all
of them? Twenty five thousand already in Gaza, 70 percent of women and children. Certainly, the way you're trying to destroy Hamas is not the way
they are doing, because they are seeding the hate for generations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Meantime, Jordan's Foreign Minister suggested the world should go ahead and implement a two-state solution, saying the path is clear.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AYMAN SAFADI, FOREIGN MINISTER, JORDAN: If the whole world says the only path forward is the two-state solution, then Israeli government says no to
the two-state solution. So they're defying the whole international community, and I think it's about time that the world took a stand on the
side of peace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: And for his part, Israeli Foreign Minister said he came to Brussels to talk about the hostages being held by Hamas and to discuss Israel's
national security, frustrations over the hostage crisis spilled into parliamentary committee meeting in Israel on Monday as you can see there.
Relatives of hostages demanded new efforts to free their loved ones, while a separate group of demonstrators blocked the entrance to the Knesset,
calling for an immediate election, that was outside. Let's get more now from Nic Robertson in Tel Aviv and Alex Marquardt, who is with us from
Nic, to you first, pressure as we just outlined there, clearly growing on Netanyahu both domestically and internationally. This after, of course, we
heard last week from Israeli war cabinet minister, saying that trust, that there is no trust, I should say, in the government, even calling for his
election. Talk to those pressures and whether those are visible in the country.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, these twin pressures are really coming to bear at the same time from the international
community. If there isn't a two-state solution, then what? And let's get one. Let's get an agreement for that. And internally, if the war against
Hamas cannot be won with total victory over Hamas, then how many more soldiers must die on that battlefield?
And how many of the hostages must be lost in that battle? These are the fundamental questions at the EU there. You heard Josep Borrell saying it
was unacceptable that Israel should reject -- Prime Minister Netanyahu should reject the two-state solution. The same words quite literally echoed
by the Irish Foreign Minister, Micheal Martin saying it was unacceptable.
And on the home front here, real visible demonstrations, as you said in the Knesset, of just how tightly and heartfelt this issue about the hostages
is. They had gone into the Knesset, some of them to meet with the prime minister, who told them that he had an initiative that he was not, as he
had said in the past 24 hours, not going to accept Hamas' terms to get all the hostages, to have an end of the war that would see the release of all
of Hamas' detainees and Israeli prisons.
The Prime Minister rejecting that, saying that all the soldiers would have died in vain, and that he has -- he told the families of the hostages that
he has an initiative. But some of them stormed into a Finance Committee meeting very rowdily and angrily and heartfelt when you look at the faces
of some of the family members in the -- cursing and shouting at those politicians around the table there.
That they want the -- they want the release of their -- of their -- of their family members absolutely prioritize. And as you say, this all comes
on the back of Gadi Eisenkot, a member of the war cabinet saying look, Mr. Prime Minister, essentially, I don't trust what you're saying, but you must
level with the country and say that there isn't an outright on whole victory to be had over Hamas, and that you must if you want -- if you want
to get the hostages, save them free, you must do a deal now.
And Yair Lapid; one of the opposition members of the Knesset has said the same. Influential members saying, yes, the deal is the only way, even if
the outcome of it is unpalatable, these are pressures that are mounting. They speak to divisions here, and they speak to the growing -- the
uneasiness and the great --
SOARES: Yes --
ROBERTSON: Anger in the international community that there isn't a path out of this.
SOARES: And so, that's the domestic aspect of it, Nic. Let's go to Alex. And Alex, internationally, and we'll hear from the EU Foreign Minister in
just a moment. We have seen Netanyahu doubling down a two-state solution at deepening this divide with his closest allies, and particularly and more
importantly, I should say, the United States.
What has been the response here from the Biden administration, Alex. I mean, they listened to this, to those words, and this doubling down, and
they think what?
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is in quite stark contrast to what the Biden administration has been saying for months
now. But you're not hearing this frustrated response that we're hearing in Europe that Nic just mentioned, you know, the EU Foreign Policy chief
talking about this being acceptable.
We just heard from the White House moments ago, a National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby, saying that the President Joe Biden knows that you
need to keep an open mind, and that there is a need for some flexibility. The U.S. knows its role here, Isa, that you can't push Israel too hard, and
they basically have taken the position of trying to control Israel and help Israel see the light, that what they are encouraging is actually to
But time and time again, Isa, we have heard Israel essentially reject the American position. The U.S. has said repeatedly that there is a need for a
reformed and revitalized Palestinian Authority after the war, Israel has said no to that. Secretary Blinken, President Biden talking about the need
for a two-state solution.
You never hear Prime Minister Netanyahu talking about that. In fact, he's saying no, essentially to Palestinian sovereignty. And so what President
Joe Biden now is saying is that it's not black and white. That essentially, the devil is in the details. They're questioning essentially what the word
"sovereignty" means, and allowing for the possibility that a future Palestinian state could be, as Israel has insisted on, be demilitarized.
Here's a little bit of what President Biden said after a phone call with Netanyahu on Friday. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think we'll be able to work something out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What does that mean?
BIDEN: There are a number of types of two-state solutions. There's a number of countries that are members of the U.N. that are still -- don't have
their own military, a number of states that don't have limitations. And so, I think there's ways in which this could work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUARDT: So Isa, you can hear the optimism there, and President Biden saying that there are a number of types of two-state solutions. Now the
biggest priority for the U.S. right now is to try to help Israel and Hamas come to some kind of agreement when it comes to a long-term ceasefire and
getting the hostages home. But the U.S., to Nic's point, is also keenly aware of the political pressures --
SOARES: Yes --
MARQUARDT: That Netanyahu is facing, both in his cabinet and among the more general Israeli population. Isa.
SOARES: Alex Marquardt there for us, and Nic Robertson, thank you to you both. Well, earlier, I spoke with the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Gabrielius
Landsbergis, who was at the meeting in Brussels, who told me that there is no other solution, but a two-state solution.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GABRIELIUS LANDSBERGIS, FOREIGN MINISTER, LITHUANIA: I support the position of European Union, that there is no other solution rather than two-state
solution. And if we want to see Israel safe, if we want to see people of Palestine safe, and if we want to see the region as a whole, safe and
secure, we have to -- we have to take this decision.
SOARES: And of course, we have seen heavy diplomacy from Secretary Blinken in the region in the last several weeks, where we are continuing to see
tensions escalate in the region from Hezbollah in Lebanon as well to the Houthis in Yemen -- with attacks in Iran, I should say, and attacks in
How concerned are you about the developments that we have been seeing in the Red Sea and the potential for this to escalate further, minister.
LANDSBERGIS: Well, it's truly worrying, especially that there are at least a couple of actors, you know, not necessarily at the front of the scene,
but behind the scenes who are heavily invested so that this conflict is prolonged as much as possible --
SOARES: You're talking Iran? You referring to Iran?
LANDSBERGIS: I'm talking about not just -- not just Iran, but Iran, yes, and but also Russia. You know -- you know, I find it incredibly worrying
when I see Russia openly meeting -- you know, Russia's officials openly meeting with the representatives from Hamas, you know, and discussing what
-- and you know, they're having these conversations -- and honest, I think that Russia is profiting from the fact that, you know, the West now has to
deal with number of crisis.
SOARES: How is it profiting -- how -- Minister, just expand on that. How is it profiting? What is -- what is the game here? What is the strategy from
Russia in your view?
LANDSBERGIS: For Russia as being, you know, immersed in difficult debates, not able to find a quick solution, you know, because that's the way
democracies, you know, tend to work. For them distracting us from Ukraine works -- you know, works perfectly.
Then you have practical issues, right? So Israel has to be supported where -- you know, by certain allies with ammunition, and you know, it's evident
that ammunition, you know, half a year ago would have gone to Ukraine and sustain their war effort.
And now, they're facing so many difficulties. And I think that, you know, at least, one or the other bottle of champagne is being opened in Kremlin
whenever we are divided.
SOARES: Minister, always great to get your insight. Thank you very much, sir, appreciate it.
LANDSBERGIS: Thank you so much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: And in just a few minutes, we'll have more from my conversation with the Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis this time on
how his country, as well as other Baltic states are planning to reinforce their borders against neighboring Belarus as well as Russia. You don't want
to miss that interview.
Well, there is heavy fighting around Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, and Palestinian officials say that medical facilities there were damaged in the
assault. One doctor at the hospital told in the western part of the city said the building was quote, "totally besieged" as more and more patients
Our Ben Wedeman is monitoring all of this for us from Beirut. Ben, what more do we know about this assault, it's been on for days now on Khan Yunis
and the medical facility and the impact it's having on the medical facilities there?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Isa, we understand that the Israeli military is intensifying its operations in Khan
Yunis, said they apparently have surrounded the Khan Yunis Refugee Camp and are operating on the margins of it, which means there will be more
casualties heading to the few remaining operating hospitals in Khan Yunis.
That same doctor you referred to describe the situation as catastrophic. He said that hospital staff, the staff that's still there, didn't sleep last
night, A, because of the bombing, and B, because they are dealing with an ever-constant inflow of the injured. And not only the injured, many of the
hospitals in Khan Yunis are doubling as cemeteries.
WEDEMAN (voice-over): By hand they bury the white shrouded body of a young girl on the grounds of the Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis. The soft sand at
the hospital, one of the only safe places to put the dead to rest. "The girl suffocated, they couldn't save her", says her grandmother, Saadia Abu
Khan Yunis is now the focus of Israel's offensive in Gaza, where Israel believes some of the hostages, as well as some of Hamas's leaders are
located. But after weeks of intense operations, they found neither. The war is well into its fourth month, Israeli leaders warn it could go on until
years' end. The prospect of an early halt to fighting brushed aside by the White House.
JOHN KIRBY, COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS, NSC: We don't believe a ceasefire is going to be to the benefit of anybody, but Hamas.
WEDEMAN: Some in Gaza might beg to differ. Israeli forces have pulled out for now from parts of central Gaza. In the Nuseirat Refugee Camp, people
search for what's left of their shattered lives or perhaps just scraps of firewood.
Thousands have taken refuge in now overcrowded U.N. schools. Officials warn that lack of sanitation, clean water, medicine, and proper shelter is
leading to the spread of disease. Umm Mohamed fled here with her family, only to find no space.
"Where is their shelter where we can stay?" She asks, "we're not the Hamas people they're talking about, we just want to live like everyone else." By
Al-Bureij Camp, at another U.N. shelter, school books keep the fire going to cook a meal. It was a nightmare here while the fighting raged nearby.
A nightmare that for some, isn't over. "My father is gone. My father, the pillar of my life is gone", says 11-year-old Karam Hussein. "How can I live
without him after the war." His father's body and others lie in Gaza's soft sand behind the school. No gravestone, just names spray-painted on the
WEDEMAN: And it appears the situation in Gaza is going to get worse here in Beirut. Rain is falling and expected to fall in Gaza as well, where
according to the World Health Organization, there are 500 people for every single toilet, 2,000 people for every single shower.
The World Health Organization worries that with the deteriorating living conditions in Gaza, for instance, that disease is spreading faster than
even expected. They say that Hepatitis A is up by 16 times, that thousands of people have jaundice, skin diseases and other things.
And if they were hoping for medicine to go in, apparently, that's going to be difficult because apparently, Israel has only allowed in about a fourth
of the number of aid missions that are trying to get in to Gaza in the first two weeks of January, Isa.
SOARES: Then that's not on top of the malnutrition, the lack of food and the impact that's going to have on growth on so many children. Ben Wedeman
there for us with the very latest, thanks very much, Ben. And we have some news just coming in to CNN in fact.
Northwestern China has been hit by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake. The quake hit near the border with Kazakhstan. It's fairly shallow, been told, but
it's also in a fairly remote area. Of course, we will bring you up-to-date, but 7.0 magnitude earthquake hitting northwest China as soon as we have
more developments, we will of course, bring them to you, and we'll of course, will stay across that breaking news story out of China.
Still to come though tonight, and then there were two, Donald Trump and Nikki Haley prepare for one-on-one match in the New Hampshire Republican
primary. And then later, the U.N. blasts recent attacks in Russian-held Ukraine, and Ukraine's military is worried, it's running out of ammunition
to continue. We have a live report next.
SOARES: Well, it's now a two-person race for the U.S. Republican presidential nomination one day before pivotal New Hampshire primary.
Donald Trump and Nikki Haley are the two candidates left standing after Ron DeSantis dropped out of the race.
If the latest CNN poll is any indications, you can see there, those DeSantis voters are moving over to Trump as you can see. Their choice for
nominee without DeSantis, Trump 54 percent, Haley, 41 percent. He has widened his lead over Haley to double-digits, winning more than 50 percent
of the vote as you can see there.
Tomorrow's primary is shaping up to be a make-or-break contest for the Haley campaign. I want to welcome in Margaret Talev; senior contributor at
"Axios" and Director of Democracy, Journalism and Citizenship Institute at Syracuse University.
Margaret, great to have you on the show. So, I mean, Haley wanted a two- candidate race, right? And now, she has it, there's two left, two standing, which I believe is pretty unusual at this stage. How do you see her chances
MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Isa, she got what she wanted sort of, but it's not really the way that she wanted -- New Hampshire -- for
your listeners overseas who may not understand all the sort of fine tune differences between each state.
New Hampshire is unique for a couple of reasons. Number one, it prides itself on kind of going against the grain and doing something different.
And that's why she thought that she had a very good chance there. And number two, in addition to having a lot of independent voters, New
Hampshire also has the ability for a group called undeclared voters, those are the ones who happen to say, I'm aligned with the Republicans or I'm
aligned with Democrats.
It allows those undeclared to vote in a primary of their choice, so they cannot be Republicans, but can show up and vote in the Republican primary.
All of that means that New Hampshire is the early state where Nikki Haley is said to have the best chance.
And even so, in all of the polling, including CNN's, she's actually running behind Donald Trump. She has the ability to catch up if these undeclared
voters turn out on mass for her. But the polling also tells us that the enthusiasm among Republicans is much stronger than it is for Nikki Haley.
So the odds are against her in a state that has been seen as her best chance, and that --
SOARES: Yes --
TALEV: All makes the stakes very high tomorrow. But it's also causing her to begin to redefine what it would mean to, you know, when does she have to
win? She's now saying, you know, no, she just has to do strong. But most experts believe that without a Winter mode, it would be very difficult for
even her to stay on Donald Trump's way at this point.
SOARES: Do you see a scenario where second place is a victory for Nikki Haley?
TALEV: I suppose if she came within a couple of points, if she really gave --
SOARES: OK --
TALEV: Donald Trump a run for his money, what it would demonstrate to people who watch politics, what it would demonstrate is how vulnerable
Donald Trump would be in a general election. But in terms of the Republican primary contests that are lined up in the states to come over the course of
the next several weeks, including Nikki Haley's own home state of South Carolina.
There is no state where she is running even close to as high as she is in New Hampshire. So, a very close second place finish perhaps would keep her
alive for another month, but it wouldn't overcome the problem that she faces in these states. Her only argument really to Republicans is
electability in a general election.
And so far, that hasn't allowed her to surpass Trump in the first early contests in Iowa, and it doesn't appear poised to do the trick in New
Hampshire. She still has a day to make that case.
SOARES: Yes, and look, after Iowa, we all saw this. She had a very strong narrative, saying that most Americans don't want to see a rematch, right,
Margaret? Biden and Trump. And then she's being much more critical of Trump, even questioning his mental fitness, let's say, after he compared
her with Nancy Pelosi. I want to play it for our viewers to listen. Have a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The crowd on January 6, you know, Nikki Haley -- you know they -- do you know they destroyed all of
the information, all of the evidence, everything, deleted and destroyed all of it.
All of it because of lots of things like Nikki Haley is in charge of security. We offered her 10,000 people, soldiers, National Guard. So
whatever they want, they turned it down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Will this -- will these attacks against Trump, will this work in motivating, Margaret, to the undecided voters or she left it too late, do
you think, to attack. Because like you said, you've got undeclared voters, you've got moderate Republicans, independents -- I mean, there's so -- the
message has to be so distinct for all those that she's trying to attract.
TALEV: Her challenge, and it was Chris Christies challenge to some degree, as she really wants to seize on those kind of centrist or center-right
voters, or voters who just say January 6, and sort of the lies and dishonesty means that they wouldn't support Trump again.
But you cannot appeal directly to those voters without turning away. Many of Trump's voting base, who you would need later, right? And so, it is this
complicated balancing act of saying, right, you want to criticize him, but not too directly on the things that will cost you all of the Trump base.
And it is impossible to hit that desire that the non-Trumpers or the never- Trumpers want to hear, to say he's disqualified, he shouldn't -- he can't - - he shouldn't run again, he can't be president again. If you make that case, you lose a chunk of the Trump base.
And so her calculation, much like Ron DeSantis' calculation, much lies almost every one of the Republican primary has been to use a gentle touch
on attacking Trump directly. Age is an area where Nikki Haley feels she can do it, she said you shouldn't run for president if you're over 75.
She's tried to make the case, that it's not just about Trump, it's about age. She feels that that is politically safe argument for her to make. It
also may not be the argument that motivates those undeclared who really want a strong alternative to Trump. When you have Nikki Haley herself
saying she'd --
SOARES: Yes --
TALEV: Support Trump if he were the nominee again -- against him.
SOARES: So given everything you just outlined for us, Margaret, help us make sense of then Ron DeSantis not only dropping out, but then very
quickly endorsing Trump, a man who has been, you know --
TALEV: Yes --
SOARES: Fraction, I should say, for several weeks. Where do his supporters go? Do they migrate to Trump or do they go to Haley?
TALEV: The polling certainly suggests that Ron DeSantis' relatively small group of supporters will help Donald Trump now more than it will help Nikki
Haley, especially because Ron DeSantis has endorsed Trump, but also was running to the right of Trump. What's Ron DeSantis doing?
The broad belief is that Ron DeSantis is trying to preserve his options for 2028 when Donald Trump almost certainly, won't be running again, although,
I guess I'd never say never at this point.
SOARES: Strategic move, even VP, who will know if they do go all the way. Margaret, always great to get your insight. Thanks very much, appreciate
TALEV: Thank you so much, thanks for having me.
SOARES: And still to come tonight, more from my conversation with the Lithuanian Foreign Minister as his country and other Baltic states meet in
Brussels and agree to secure their borders against Russia. And political uproar in Germany as hundreds of thousands of people gather across country
speak out against a popular far-right party. We'll bring you both those stories after this break.
SOARES: Turning now to the war in Ukraine. The prime Minister of Poland has been visiting Kyiv today to meet President Vladimir Zelenskyy as well as
others, this as the United Nations Security Council meets to discuss the conflict. This meeting comes after a deadly attack in Russian health
territory over the weekend. One Russian official says at least 28 civilians were killed in the attack. The U.N. Secretary General is condemning this
deadly attack. Ukraine's military denies responsibility.
But that's not the only issue facing Ukraine in its war against Russia. There is now concern over the levels of ammunition for Ukraine military.
Here's CNN Senior International Correspondent Frederik Pleitgen with the very latest.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Artillery is key as Ukrainian forces try to hold off massive Russian
assaults on the Eastern front. But Kyiv's ammo shortages are getting worse by the day. This U.S.-provided M109 Paladin Howitzer near Bakhmut is often
silent because they don't have enough shells to target the Russians, the commander tells me.
"We cannot fulfill our tasks 100 percent," he says. "Although we really want to, my crew and other crews are just waiting for it and are ready to
work around the clock." But it gets even worse. Finally, resupply does arrive, but it's only four rounds and this type of ammo won't hurt the
PLEITGEN: This really illustrates the shortages that Ukrainians have to deal with. Four rounds, that's all they're going to get right now. And by
the way, they're not even explosive rounds. They're smoke rounds.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): These shells will barely explode on impact. It's almost like firing cannon balls in medieval times. But the commander says
sometimes it's all they can do. "Every shell that is suitable for the paladin we use," he says, "it's better than no shells." The Russians face
no such shortages in this area. Ukrainian military intelligence believes Russia produced around two million rounds last year and acquired around one
million from North Korea. Massive barrages have laid waste to Bakhmut and much of the surrounding area.
At the headquarters of the 93rd Mechanized Brigades Artillery Division, the frustration is palpable. From their drones, they can see the Russians
gathered to continue their assaults on Ukrainian positions, but they often can't take them out because they need to conserve ammunition, the commander
tells me. "The ratio is about 10:1," he says "Ammunition is very important to us. Russia is a country that produces ammo. They have strategic
reserves. Yes, they use old Soviet systems, but Soviet systems can still kill."
Even without enough ammo, the Ukrainians say they are stopping most Russian assaults here and the M109 crew did manage to fire at Russian positions.
But they know they'll need a lot more firepower to stop Russian advances. Frederik Pleitgen, CNN, near Bakhmut, Ukraine.
SOARES: That's Frederik Pleitgen reporting there. Well, Baltic countries are taking measures to defend themselves against future threats from Russia
as well as Belarus.
SOARES: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, signed an agreement earlier reinforcing their borders to deter and defend against military threats. I want to take
you back to my conversation with the Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis, who is in Brussels with a mission to re-energize E.U. support
for Ukraine. I spoke with him about why his country is reinforcing their borders now, almost two years into Russia's war in Ukraine.
GABRIELIUS LANDSBERGIS, LITHUANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: We are talking about counter-mobility measures. That means that we have to make certain measures
that would make moving in to Lithuania quite and other Baltic states more difficult. Because when you think of it, Lithuania, just alone -- just with
Belarus, we have more than 600 kilometers border. It is a lot of border to cover, but also it provides an ample opportunity for potential adversary to
choose to go in. So, now we have in place electronic systems, we have structures already, but they do not -- they would not be able to stop heavy
equipment. They would not be able to stop tax. And this is what our military people have in mind.
SOARES: How much is those concerns driven by the fact that one, you have -- well, the one Ukraine has somewhat become a stalemate, but also those
requests that we have heard Minister from President Zelenskyy calling for desperately needed U.S.-European funding. And I wonder whether you are
confident, the conversations that you're having, the kind of cores of power, how confident are you that this aid, be it from the E.U., be it from
the U.S., that that will come through?
LANDSBERGIS: Well, I can speak about E.U. currently, because today I am in Brussels and we have a foreign affairs council where we have talked about
what is called the European Peace Facility, which was a founded instrument when the war started in a way to fund the Ukrainian war effort, fastest and
most -- in most efficient fashion. We weren't able to continue with this instrument for almost half a year. But today during the discussions, the
European Commission has offered a new instrument, an amended instrument, that at this point I am optimistic that it could find enough support in
SOARES: Even with Hungary? Even with Hungary, Minister?
LANDSBERGIS: Even with Hungary. I mean, I don't want, you know, to say that it is final, but it's the first day of debate obviously. But my point was
during the discussion that it's incredibly important that Europe would have this instrument. And today it is for Ukraine, it's needed for Ukraine,
desperately needed, but tomorrow it could be needed for Europe, so that Europe would also have an instrument to defend itself. So, we need this
message, we need this instrument. I am truly hopeful that it will come through.
SOARES: And of course, it's not just funding in the E.U. and also in the U.S., it is also a U.S. election that we have, and I wonder if that place
is some of your concerns.
We heard from former President Donald Trump, who was of course at the moment the leading Republican candidate, according to latest polls, who had
previously said, and you know this very well, Foreign Minister, that he wanted out of NATO and reportedly threatened not to protect Europe if it
were attacked. What would a Trump presidency mean for Europe and for Ukraine, you think?
LANDSBERGIS: Well, last time when President Trump was running the administration, the worst fears of Eastern flank did not materialize. So,
it's early to say whether, you know, we should be really, you know, how worried we should be. I've mentioned this, that if United States would
change its posture in Eastern flank or, you know, in Europe, you know, I could call it a nightmare scenario, especially in these geopolitical
circumstances that we are facing.
United States is needed more than ever in Europe because we are facing an aggressive neighbor, a country that was showing aggressive signs, but not
to the extent that we currently see. And if they test NATO, if they test NATO and we do not have a real response, if we would fail to meet the test,
then the world enters a very dark, dark times. And I'm still hopeful that this will not happen.
SOARES: I'm grateful to the foreign minister for that interview.
Now to Germany where hundreds of thousands of people took to the street throughout this weekend to protest against the country's far-right party.
The alternative for Germany party has been steadily gaining popularity in the polls. As its policies have become more and more extreme, this latest
national outcry was sparked by reports that senior party members had discussed migration policies.
Including, get this, mass deportations for German citizens of foreign origin. I want to bring in our Seb Shukla who is with us in Berlin. And
Seb, we just saw some of those images of those protests. And now in many ways, it speaks perhaps to the concern for many in the country, the rising
power here of the far-righting Germany. How real, first of all, just explain this to our viewers, is that surge and that support?
SEBASTIAN SHUKLA, CNN PRODUCER: Well, Isa, the surge is real. And I think the pictures that viewers have just seen are testament to that. Germans are
really worried about the rise that the AFD, the far-right party, is having and then may subsequently have later on in German political life,
particularly as we go towards the summer and September, where there are regional elections. And in three particular states, which are strongholds
of the AFD, they don't currently -- they are not currently the ruling parties there.
But the polls suggest with them totaling somewhere near 30 percent at the moment that they will become the party of power in those regions. And, you
know, there, they will be able to make decisions right down from education to health care. But all of this, though, needs to be looked at in the
context of what is being seen across Europe as a wider -- from a wider standpoint, particularly what we've seen in places like Italy and Holland,
where populist far-right leaders have recently been elected, Isa.
SOARES: And so, in those three states that you were mentioning there, Seb, I mean, what is fueling? What is feeding their support for the far-right?
Is it very -- is it in line with what we've seen across Europe?
SHUKLA: It is very much. It's as is the case in all of these situations, it's often compounded. It's one thing after another that people tend to
then vote with their feet or feel that they need a change.
Here in Germany, it's been a wealthy country for a very long time and has been able to weather the impacts of COVID initially, and then the war in
Ukraine, by being -- by having such a strong welfare state and social contract with people. But that's starting to wear thin. People are really
starting to feel the effects of the recession and inflation. And as it was always the case, that really makes people turn and look for an alternative.
And as I talk about the compounding of that, the government of Olaf Scholz is really struggling at the moment. Voters really don't feel that they're
being listened to or trusted. And he is, as the polls suggest, one of the least most popular chancellors Germany has ever had, Isa.
SOARES: Very important context there. An insight from our Seb Shukla for us in Berlin. Appreciate it. Thanks, Seb. Good to see you.
And still to come tonight, the inauguration of a Hindu temple stokes and sectarian divisions in India, why Prime Minister Narendra Modi is doing it
now, that is next.
SOARES: Welcome back. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated a Hindu temple in a northern city on Monday in a historic as well as
controversial ceremony. The move is expected to galvanize Hindu voters in this year's election. But for the country's minority Muslim population,
it's a painful reminder of religious divisions that have grown more pronounced under the Prime Minister rule. CNN's Vedika Sud explains.
VEDIKA SUD, CNN REPORTER: Millions tune in from all corners of India and abroad to watch the consecration of a Hindu temple in the city of Ayodhya.
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi participated in the ceremony up front and center but the event is also very controversial. The temple is being
built on land that was once home to 16th century mosque. The Babri Masjid and stands on the side of one of the bloodiest communal flashes in
independent India. Many Hindus believe it's the birthplace of Lord Rama, Hindu deity.
After decades demanding a temple in his owner and years of legal battles over the land, a Hindu nationalist mob tore down the mosque in 1992. It
ignited communal violence across the country. Over 2,000 people lost their lives. In 2019, after decades of legal battles, India's top caught a lot of
the sight to Hindus calling the mosque's demolition illegal. It gave the Muslim community another plot of land, but the ruling was seen as a blow
towards India's Muslim minority.
For some, today's consecration ceremony has reopened all wounds. Mohammad Azees lost his father in the 1992 riots.
MOHAMMAD AZEES, AYODHYA RESIDENT (through translator): What I feel towards that incident is that was our mosque and will remain our mosque until the
end of my life by Judgment Day. Even if they give us the whole of Ayodhya in return, it will not matter to us. Our plots, our mosques, those lands
that belong to us then will always belong to us.
SUD: This temple inauguration is the culmination of a relentless and protracted push by right-wing groups for a Hindu nation. Many opposition
leaders boycotted the event. They claim Modi is using a religious occasion to consolidate his Hindu vote base calling it, "A beginning of a new time
NARENDRA MODI, INDIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translator): The sum of the 22nd of January has brought with it a wonderful aura. 22nd of January 2024
is not just a date on the calendar, but a beginning of a new time cycle.
SUD: But analysts fear today's event could further weaken India's secular fabric in the world's biggest democracy, but there's little doubt that it
strengthens Modi's legacy as a Hindu nationalist leader in a year he's seeking a historic third term in office. Vedika Sud, CNN Ayodhya, India.
SOARES: And still to come on the show tonight, Pope Francis is used to making headlines and now he is thanking the Vatican journalists. We'll hear
what one close advisor has to say about the Pope's engagement with members of the media. That report coming next.
SOARES: Well, it's a recognition no one wants. Argentina, I should say, officially reported the world's highest inflation rate in 2023. That's a
staggering 211.4 percent. The nation has been struggling to control price spikes in fact for years. But still this was the highest rate it has seen
in some 30 years.
The new president, Javier Milei, has promised to cut government spending and switch legal tenders to U.S. dollars in an attempt to reign in the
inflation. But unions oppose that and have called a general strike for this Wednesday.
Well, Pope Francis is no stranger to controversy. From migration to AI, the Pope's willingness to speak out about divisive issues can sometimes getting
into hot water. CNN's Christopher Lamb spoke with one of the Pope's closest advisers about why Francis sees engagement with the media as the vital part
of his ministry.
CHRISTOPHER LAMB, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A newsmaker from day one, Pope Francis has never been afraid to engage with the media. In a
private audience he held for the Vatican Press Corps Monday, he underlined how critical responsible journalism is in today's world, telling a room
full of reporters that being a journalist is a vocation. Somewhat like that of a doctor who chooses to love humanity by curing illnesses.
POPE FRANCIS, HEAD OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (through translator): To protect and defend human life.
LAMB (voice-over): Ever since taking up office, Pope Francis has spoken out on many issues, including the death penalty, nuclear weapons. He's been a
consistent advocate for migrants, for peace in Ukraine and Gaza.
POPE FRANCIS (through translator): There is no conflict that does not end up in some way indiscriminately striking the civilian population.
LAMB (voice-over): He's also been a vocal defender of the planet. Carving out a prominent moral voice for himself on the world stage by engaging with
the media and his followers online, giving more interviews than any other Pope.
MICHAEL CZERNY, CARDINAL: I think he would say as I speak out because of the commitment of the faithful. In other words, I'm not speaking because I
have personally some kind of a special response to give. No, I speak out because there are millions of Catholics and other Christians and other
believers and other people of good will for whom or in whose voice I'm speaking. And we're trying to say to the world's decision-makers that their
decisions are anti-human, short-sighted, suicidal. And --
LAMB (voice-over): Like Pope Francis, Cardinal Czerny has been pushing efforts to galvanize Catholics and indeed the world to welcome and support
refugees fleeing war and poverty.
CZERNY: What we try to do is to help the church locally wherever it is to accompany the migrants and refugees, to welcome them.
To protect them, to promote them and to integrate them.
LAMB (voice-over): The Cardinal Czerny and the Pope, refugees are not about numbers, but names, faces and people. Francis made headlines in 2016 when
he bought back Muslim refugees on his papal plane after a trip to the Greek island of Lesbos. In an age of heightened misinformation and attacks on
journalists, the Pope has also emerged as a defender of freedom of the media. Francis is 87 years old and has had some health difficulties. Yet he
shows no sign of slowing down. And in a fast changing unpredictable world, he's likely to keep on making headlines. Christopher Lamb, CNN, Rome.
SOARES: And finally tonight, Canada's legendary Rideau Canal Skateway, the world's largest natural ice rink, skating rink, reopened yesterday for the
first time in two years. Officials say a lack of ice forced them to close the Ottawa rink last year. For the first time ever, the Skateway opened
more than 50 years ago and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Great to see it open.
And that does it for us for this evening. Do stay right here. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" with Richard Quest is up next. I'll see you tomorrow. Have a
wonderful day. Bye-bye.