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Hala Gorani Tonight
Belarus Arrests Opposition Activist After Diverting Flight; Blinken Heads to the Middle East to Shore Up Fragile Truce; Trains Collide in Malaysia, Injuring More Than 200 People; Outrage Grows After Belarus Forcefully Diverts Flight; Spain Welcomes Tourists From U.K., Japan, & Others; Delhi Extends Ongoing COVID-19 Lockdown For Fifth Time. Aired 2-3p EST
Aired May 24, 2021 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HALA GORANI, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone, live from CNN London, I'm HALA GORANI TONIGHT. Belarus stands accused of state-sponsored piracy. This
hour, the European Union is trying to decide what to do about the forced landing of this passenger plane and the arrest of a dissident who was
traveling on board. Then two people stabbed in Jerusalem. A ceasefire is holding, but the deep-seated conflict is still ruining lives in the Middle
East. We are there live.
And later, it's a global pandemic, but different countries are experiencing very different coronavirus realities. A number of European countries are
condemning what they're calling state-sponsored piracy after Belarus force- landed a commercial airline jet.
Belarus claims it received a bomb threat from Hamas and that's why a fighter jet diverted the flight to Minsk instead of the Lithuanian capital.
But you can see on this map just how close that plane was to Lithuania before it turned back. Right after the plane landed, police pulled a top
critic of the Belarusian government off the flight. This man you see here.
It's still not clear where journalist Raman Pratasevich is, his supporters fear he is being tortured. Meanwhile, European leaders meeting tonight to
discuss how to sanction Belarus. They're threatening to tighten sanctions, limiting international air traffic over Belarus and possibly restrict its
ground transport. And outraged leaders are demanding answers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THOMAS BYRNE, IRISH MINISTER FOR EUROPEAN AFFAIRS: When I spoke to Belarusian opposition leader Sviatiana Tsikhanouskaya yesterday, and this
is one thing that she asked for, which is a full investigation of what exactly happened here yesterday, and that needs to happen. And there'd be
fairly confident the European leaders will agree to that. But let's see what happens tonight. But we definitely need to get to the bottom of this,
this is totally unacceptable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, Fred Pleitgen joins me now live from Berlin. Look, EU leaders, none of them are buying this bomb threat story, I mean, they're
calling it a hijacking, they're calling it state-sponsored piracy. Essentially, the accusation is President Lukashenko of Belarus had this
plane forcibly land in Minsk to arrest one of his top critics. What are they going to do about it?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's essentially three things that they're talking about. And I think really
judging from the tough talk that I've been hearing from several EU heads of government and heads of state, is that they do seem to want to take fairly
On the one hand, they're obviously demanding the release of Raman Pratasevich. They say that it's something that has to happen immediately.
They're obviously saying that this plane was diverted and forced to land because of the Belarusian government, because Alexander Lukashenko wanted
this man off this plane and wanted him in custody.
And therefore, they're saying that this arrest is of course without any sort of merit and needs to be reversed immediately. The other thing that
they're talking about is additional sanctions against members close to Alexander Lukashenko, against people possibly involved in getting this
plane, forcing this plan to land.
Will be looking for instance at sanctions against the military also because of course, they sent a jet up to actually intercept this plane that was
flying towards Vilnius. And then finally, another thing that they're doing as well is they are trying to move forward and not allow, for instance, the
Belarusian flag carrier Belavia flying into European airspace and possibly or tell European airlines not to fly over Belarusian airspace anymore as
And of course, Hala, some of the things that we've been hearing in the past couple of hours is for instance, that the U.K. is already advising its
carriers not to fly over Belarus, Sweden is doing the same thing and Latvia as well. Simply because they say that it's not safe to do so. And that's
certainly something that could turn into a really big problem for international air travel, for Belarus and certainly for the Belarusian
national carrier Belavia, Hala.
GORANI: And Raman Pratasevich, this is the dissident who was arrested alongside his girlfriend as well. Talk to us about him, what do we know
about him, what do we know about where --
PLEITGEN: Yes --
GORANI: He is now?
PLEITGEN: Well, we know very little about where he is right now, except that he is in the custody of the Belarusian regime essentially. And you
know, a lot of the things that we've been hearing, Hala, over the course of the day ever since last night from other people who are active in the
opposition is that they are very concerned about the fact that he is in the custody of the regime because they say that usually what happens in cases
like this is that there's interrogation for several days.
That could involve torture, they say as well. Of course, we also have to keep in mind that he's on a terrorism list by the Belarusian government and
by Alexander Lukashenko.
Why is he on there, because of his work as an opposition journalist. Because he was one of the co-founders of a telegram channel Nexta which did
uncover, and I was there for a lot of those protests that took place in Belarus last year against Alexander Lukashenko, Nexta really uncovered a
lot of the police brutality that was happening, a lot of the arrests that were happening and just shining the light on that. Pratasevich himself also
helped organize some of those protests, which of course were huge in the late Summer of last year.
And it's clear that the Belarusian government, that Alexander Lukashenko wanted this to stop and wanted him apparently in custody. And so the
opposition is saying that absolutely, they believe that, that is the reason why the plane was brought down, and clearly, European leaders are saying
the same thing.
I was just listening to Angela Merkel a couple of minutes ago ahead of that European Summit, and she said the explanation that she's heard so far from
the Belarusian government is absolutely implausible, Hala.
GORANI: Well, Europeans have a big decision to make tonight. This was a pre-planned meeting, but this topic of discussion tonight will be sending a
strong message, either way about whether or not they can be united in the face of this type of provocation or not. Because this plane was traveling
from one EU country, Greece to another EU country, Lithuania, when it was forcibly diverted.
Thanks very much, Fred Pleitgen for joining us. We're seeing more of the international fallout as Fred mentioned, the U.K. is telling its airlines
to avoid Belarusian airspace altogether. It is suspending the Belarusian national carrier's operating permit here in the U.K. Now, a top aviation
group is also demanding answers from Minsk. Listen to what International Air Transport leader Willie Walsh told CNN just a short time ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIE WALSH, DIRECTOR-GENERAL, INTERNATIONAL AIR TRANSPORT ASSOCIATION: It clearly was an extremely dangerous action by the government. It put the
crew of the aircraft in a very difficult situation.
And I think we have to commend the actions of the crew because clearly they were left with very little choice but to follow the instructions that were
given to them. But we have to call this out. This is unacceptable behavior. It has endangered the safety of the aircraft, the passengers and the crew
on board that aircraft. And we demand that it be investigated properly to understand why this happened and to get assurances that it will not happen
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, Richard Quest joins me now from New York. Let's backtrack a little bit, do we know what happened when that flight was about to land in
Vilnius? What happened when Minsk authorities or authorities at the airport in Minsk contacted this Ryanair flight and said, turn around, divert, land
in Minsk. What happened?
RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Well, the Belarusian authorities are saying that they never actually ordered the plane to land.
And that they never actually gave an instruction you must land in Minsk. Now, that is a matter that will come out when you listen to the tapes on
both sides and you listen to exactly who said what, when and where?
But looking at this graph -- this chart, the obvious thing to do in that situation, if there had been a bomb threat, a legitimate bomb threat to the
aircraft, would that be to tell the plane to fly to the nearest destination which as is clearly here, it shows it's Vilnius which is the destination of
the flight to begin with.
You certainly wouldn't say, oh, by the way, please turn right -- in fact, do a U-turn and head in the opposite direction and head over towards Minsk
where we will look after you, you just wouldn't do it, you land at the nearest place if it's that serious. But Hala, if you then send up a MiG jet
and you sort of say we want you to fly to Minsk, not this jet is with you for your safety, security, I should go to Vilnius or your nearest
destination. You know, again, you'd say to the pilot in this situation, where would you like to go? What would you like to do?
These are the facts that you have at your disposal, please tell us because the captain is in charge. In theory, the air traffic control really can't
instruct them to do something as such. The captain is ultimately in charge of the safety and crew of all souls on board.
GORANI: Well, when you see a MiG fighter jet --
QUEST: Exactly --
GORANI: Escorting you in the air, and then a strong suggestion perhaps --
QUEST: Yes --
GORANI: That it should be Minsk that you should be headed toward and not Vilnius --
QUEST: Yes --
GORANI: Your original final destination.
QUEST: No --
GORANI: I mean, you get the sense that there was some coercion here and in fact political leaders are saying that this was a hijacking.
QUEST: Hala, I cannot overstate, no matter what I -- which hyperbole words I use, no matter what I say, nothing will overstate the awfulness of what
the Belarusian authorities did. You know, the incidents of planes being shot out of the sky by accident MH-17, Ukrainian International. You know,
if you start mixing civil jets with --
GORANI: Yes --
QUEST: Military jets and threats, and that is why tonight, it really doesn't matter what any leader says, Hala, it only matters what they do,
that's it in a nutshell.
GORANI: Here's my other -- and this is the obvious fallout for anyone who travels on airplanes or who has loved ones who travel on --
QUEST: Yes --
GORANI: Airplanes. Is this setting some sort of precedent that if you fly over a country and happen to have on board your flight, a dissident, and
that a regime is unhappy with and wants to arrest, that they can then somehow order, make up a bomb threat, send a fighter jet and then you are
forced to land in a third country that was --
QUEST: Right --
GORANI: Never on your itinerary --
QUEST: Until --
GORANI: What precedent is this setting for commercial aviation?
QUEST: Yesterday, until yesterday, I would have said, no, of course, this thing could never happen, no president. Today, I say, well, bearing in
mind, Belarus did it, and bearing in mind Russian authorities are now saying basically good on you, well done, look what he did, Lukashenko, nice
one. One has to say, no, the rules have changed.
The rules have changed. And that it would be not legitimate, not acceptable, but it might be an act that somebody else would do if Belarus
is allowed to get away with it. And Hala, we are talking here, not just about sanctions that everybody can forget about, we're talking about
something that hurts, really hurts --
GORANI: What hurts in this case? What hurts in this case --
QUEST: That's --
GORANI: To have their national carrier grounded at Heathrow?
QUEST: No, I think --
GORANI: I mean, that's the question, right?
QUEST: I think what hurts in this case is all right, sanctions against the leadership, but that's longer term, more immediately any form of flight,
any Wizz Air flight, any EasyJet flight, any Lufthansa flight, any form of flight that could -- airline barred from going to Belarus.
Now, that traffic would have to be taken up by Air Efata and eastern European or further other airlines, but if you basically say, there will be
no air traffic to your country as a result of this, that is the most immediate overnight way in which you've managed to -- and by the way, the
over-flight you take away revenue from the fees the airlines pay.
GORANI: Well, we know EU leaders are meeting in Brussels. We know the U.K. has already reacted. Scandinavian Airlines are saying we won't fly over
Belarus, we'll see what EU --
QUEST: Yes --
GORANI: Does because the EU have an opportunity --
QUEST: Let's say --
GORANI: Here to send a unified message --
QUEST: Right --
GORANI: Will they take it?
QUEST: But more importantly --
GORANI: Yes --
QUEST: Than those, let's see how many airlines say Minsk is off the list. And for this, by the way, I would ask, I would include the gulf carriers.
We are checking, I'm not sure what their schedules are to these coaches. But if they fly there, cut them off the list, take Minsk out of the
schedule to show Lukashenko that you can't do this and expect to get away with impunity.
GORANI: All right, Richard Quest, thanks very much, we'll see what comes out of that meeting in Brussels, thank you. To the Middle East, U.S.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken is heading there right now to try to shore up a fragile Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire. The truth -- the truce is
holding despite new violence in a flashpoint area of Jerusalem.
Israeli police say an attacker stabbed and wounded two men near the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. Police then fired at the attacker, killing him.
Tensions over the potential eviction of Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah helped trigger the 11-day Israel-Hamas war. Let's get more now from
Nic Robertson live in Jerusalem with the very latest. Nic?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, Hala, what we're expecting Secretary Blinken to do while he's here will be to meet with
Prime Minister Netanyahu in Jerusalem, to meet with Gabi Ashkenazi; the Israeli Foreign Minister as well.
He's expected then to go to Ramallah, meet with the Palestinian authority president, with the Palestinian Authority Prime Minister as well, Mohammad
Shtayyeh. So, he is expected to sort of meet with the main political figures here, but he's not of course meeting with Hamas because the United
States does know Hamas as a terrorist organization and doesn't deal with them.
What he is really aiming to do is -- what he's really aiming to do, he said, is to work on the ceasefire and make sure the ceasefire holds, focus
also on the rebuilding in Gaza, making sure that the money for it goes through the U.N. and through the Palestinian authority.
How the details of that work out are not clear. But what he won't be doing here is sort of trying to sort of push ahead the United States' ultimate
vision for peace here which is the two-state solution. In reality, what it's doing here, re-engaging the United States with the Palestinian
authority who have held themselves back from that contact since President Trump announced Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
So, rebuild that relationship a little, but in essence, it really is just try to keep relationships here going so that when there's a political space
for real dialogue that could lead to an endurable peace along the United States vision of a two-state solution. That can happen, this is really
about keeping the ceasefire going and the situation conducive ultimately to that type of peace. Hala?
GORANI: All right, thanks very much Nic Robertson, our senior diplomatic editor live in Jerusalem. Still to come this evening, a cable cart disaster
leaves more than a dozen people dead in Italy, and authorities are trying to figure out how this could have happened. We'll have the latest on their
investigation in a live report. Plus, this story. A British Black Lives Matter activist is clinging to life in a London hospital. Just ahead,
another activist in the U.K. shares why she fears for her own life. We'll be right back.
GORANI: Now to Malaysia where more than 200 people were injured when trains collided in an underground tunnel. These were some of the first
images we're getting from the CNN Kuala Lumpur. Authorities say the trains were traveling in opposite directions on the same track. One was empty
after being repaired while the other was packed with passengers, unfortunately. An investigation is under way, but police do not suspect
foul play at this time.
And we're learning more about the victims of a deadly cable car accident in northern Italy. Absolutely shocking. These cable cars are everywhere in
that part of the country. And officials say five of the 14 people who died on Sunday were part of an Israeli family and the only survivor is a 5-year-
old Israeli boy who is in the hospital in serious but stable condition.
Authorities also launching an investigation obviously into this disaster because this type of thing just does not happen normally. Let's get details
from CNN's Barbie Nadeau, she's live in Rome and the death toll is shocking. Do we know why this cable car snapped and fell to the ground?
BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No, we don't, Hala. And in fact, the investigators here have launched a manslaughter investigation, multi-
pronged sort of investigation to try to get to the bottom of it. What they're trying to figure out is why when the towing cable snapped, why
didn't the safety mechanism go into place. Why didn't the emergency brakes go into place. Now, this came back online on April 26th when the country
came out of its most recent lockdown. But it's been running successfully since then.
Had several runs the morning before the accident. But you know, we learned more and more details we learned are just horrific, in fact, they say it
took maybe up to ten seconds while that cable car went backwards and plunged to the crowd.
And you can just imagine how horrifying it would have been for those 15 people inside. But we did get good news from the hospital just in the last
couple of minutes. They confirmed that this little boy who is in the hospital in intensive care, they did an MRI and he doesn't seem to have any
brain damage. Tomorrow, they're going to try to wake him up, so there's hope in that, but of course, he's lost his whole family, so, even within
that hope, there's tragedy, Hala.
GORANI: Barbie, thanks very much, Barbie Nadeau. A British Black Lives Matter activist is in critical condition at a London hospital after being
shot in the head. Police say it appeared to have happened early Sunday near a house party in southeast London in Peckham.
There's a picture of her. In a tweet, Black Lives Matter U.K. expressed quote "shock and solidarity over this shooting of Sasha Johnson. A young
mother and fearless political campaigner who was at the forefront of many BLM protests last Summer." Johnson's political party says the shooting
followed numerous death threats.
Earlier this month, CNN's Salma Abdelaziz spent time with a friend of Johnson, also a BLM activist who says she too has received death threats
and that she feels targeted by the police. A note for our viewers, this report though is filmed before Johnson was shot.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is what democracy looks like.
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): Aima(ph) is one of Britain's most prominent anti-racism activists. But this is the only way she feels
safe to demonstrate. With two white allies by her side that she says deflect attention from the authorities, plus minders to watch her back.
ABDELAZIZ (on camera): You're in absolutely safe hands, all of us are going to be following you behind --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know --
ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): Right? We followed the 19-year-old student during a protest in London. She says she's never felt more afraid as a black woman
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm getting quite a lot of hate tonight, not just me, other black activists. And it is quite terrifying. I don't feel safe
ABDELAZIZ: Why don't you feel safe anymore?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you're constantly getting people telling you that they want to kill you and that they want you dead, you don't feel safe at
ABDELAZIZ: After George Floyd's murder, Aima(ph) co-organized protests in the U.K., campaigners were first met with curiosity and sympathy, but that
quickly turned into resistance and outright denial from Britain's ruling class.
ABDELAZIZ (on camera): Activists here tell us there's a backlash, a defensiveness against BLM in the U.K. and it starts at the top. A recent
government report found no evidence of institutional racism in the U.K. United Nations condemned the report and says it rationalizes white
ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): The Prime Minister's office rejected the U.N.'s criticism, and said the commission's findings were misrepresented. But MP
David Lammy from the opposition Labor Party told us there are widespread attempts to silence the cries for racial equality.
DAVID LAMMY, BRITISH LABOR MP: If you want to understand what's happening in the U.K., then simply dial back a year or so to the United States under
ABDELAZIZ (on camera): Is Britain taking steps backwards?
LAMMY: I'm afraid Britain is taking massive steps backwards because it's dialing up the populist rhetoric. It's dialing down the progressive need
ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): Aima(ph) has a word for what's happening, gas- lighting.
ABDELAZIZ (on camera): What happens next with this movement?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, I think right now, just keep coming on the streets. Keep speaking about it, keep fighting actively against the
government. The government refuses to listen to us, so we'll make them listen to us.
ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): For those seeking institutional change, it starts with acknowledging Britain has a problem. Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, London.
GORANI: And as I mentioned, Sasha Johnson, the woman who was shot in the head is in critical but stable condition in the hospital in London. What
the police are saying is that they don't believe she was targeted, that this potentially could have been some sort of cross-fire situation, her
friends are saying also some of those quoted in the media in the last 10 to 12 hours that they don't believe that she was the intended target.
Though, it is very important to underline these are the very early stages of an investigation with regards to this horrific event that led to Sasha
Johnson being shot in the head in the early hours of Sunday morning. A lot more to come this evening, where is the Belarusian journalist pulled from a
plane by police on Sunday? We speak to a lawmaker who is leading the charge to ensure the Lukashenko regime is held to account for this. We'll be right
GORANI: The whereabouts of the dissident Belarusian journalist Raman Pratasevich remain unknown at this hour after he was forcibly taken from a
Ryanair plane that was diverted to Minsk. Germany's chancellor says explanations provided by Belarus about the flight's diversion are quote
"implausible". This is what Angela Merkel is saying. Our Fred Pleitgen takes a look at how mid-flight, this plane's entire journey changed.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): Scenes from Minsk airport after the Ryanair airplane was forced to make an emergency landing in the Belarusian capital.
The airline now saying a bomb threat called in by Belarusian authorities appeared to have been a ploy in order to arrest journalist and activist
Raman Pratasevich who was on the flight.
MONIKA SIMKIENE, LITHUANIAN PASSENGER (through translator): He said nothing. He just turned to people and said he was facing a death penalty.
PLEITGEN: The death penalty because Raman Pratasevich is on the Lukashenko regime's terrorism list. The social media platform Nexta which he co-
founded uncovered widespread brutality on the part of Belarusian police and helped organize the massive anti-government protests in the Summer of last
year that threatened to unseat long-time dictator Alexander Lukashenko after the opposition and many countries around the world accused him of
rigging the presidential election.
Speaking to CNN, an adviser to Belarusian's opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya voiced concern as to how Raman Pratasevich will be treated
by the regime.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANAK VIACORKA, SENIOR ADVISER TO SVIATLANA TSIKHANOUSKAYA: He is probably in KGB right now at the interrogation. Interrogation usually takes several
days and you know that in Belarus, when they interrogate, they might use torture and other means.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PLEITGEN: The Ryanair flight originated in the Greek capital, Athens, and was supposed to fly straight to Vilnius in Lithuania. But it changed course
shortly before it would have left Belarusian airspace and made a sharp turn towards the Belarusian capital. Belarus confirmed it sent a fighter jet to
intercept the civilian airliner and escorted to Minsk. And while Belarus' foreign ministry said the country acted in accordance with international
rules, Ryanair CEO, Michael O'Leary, was blunt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL O'LEARY, CEO, RYANAIR (via telephone): This was a case of state- sponsored -- this was state-sponsored hijacking and state-sponsored piracy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PLEITGEN: The Biden administration is condemning the incident.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We're outraged as the international community has expressed and we have expressed as well, and we think this
was a brazen affront to international peace and security by the regime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PLEITGEN: Lithuania's president, meanwhile, is calling for tough action by the E.U. against the Lukashenko regime.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GITANAS NAUSEDA, LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We demand the release of Raman Pratasevich. If that is not done, we shall talk about the
very serious sanctions at the E.U.'s disposal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PLEITGEN: After several hours in Minsk, the plane finally continued its journey to Lithuania without Raman Pratasevich and his girlfriend who was
also taken into custody, leaving European leaders fuming and vowing to take action. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Berlin.
GORANI: Well, one lawmaker was calling for action as the German Member of the European Parliament, Terry Reintke. Her party has requested a debate in
the European Parliament over the Lukashenko regime. And she joins us now from Brussels.
Thanks for being with us. So this -- there's a meeting going on now of European leaders in Brussels. They're discussing possible measures,
retaliatory measures to take against Belarus following the forcible diversion of this commercial airliner to Minsk. What do you think will come
out of this meeting?
TERRY REINTKE, GERMAN MEP: Well, I think, first of all, I hope this is going to be called as what it is. It is a state -- it is an act of state
terror. It is a kidnapping of a critical journalist. And we want to see the strongest condemnation of it.
But the time for being very concerned and, you know, worried about the situation in Belarus is long gone, because this is part of an escalation
strategy that we have already seen for months, yet another political prisoner being taken and there have to be strong actions from the European
Union and to this really unacceptable act.
GORANI: So I know you want strong actions to be taken. This is what the Lithuanian Foreign Minister said on CNN about 45 minutes ago. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GABRIELIUS LANDSBERGIS, LITHUANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: E.U. leaders are meeting today and tomorrow to discuss what possible steps could be taken by
E.U. And I think that sanctions should be definitely discussed. And I think that they should be implemented. And I'm talking about the fourth package
in E.U. because we have already three packages of sanctions. But we should also debate about extending it, and maybe even starting on a new one, on a
new package of sanctions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Do you think a package of sanctions is going to act as a deterrent in this case?
REINTKE: Well, I would very much hope for because we have to make clear that actions, such as this incident, have consequences and that the
European Union is acting unitedly and determined in situations like this. And indeed, new sanctions would be an important thing to do here.
And we have seen that in the past, the sanctions of the European Union towards the Belarussian regime, have been defensive, very much focused on,
for example, arms trade, a very limited number of individuals. And we would like to expand these sanctions to state-old companies and also expand the
list of individuals but also look at possible sanctions in the field of transport.
GORANI: But -- so you think this would be a deterrent? One of the things you tweeted just hours after this flight was forcibly diverted, you tweeted
"Honestly, the time for just being very concerned is over. If the E.U. accepts something like this, all rhetorics on press freedom, protection of
human rights, and solidarity with Belarus are empty, ridiculous words. The European Commission must react, determined and united." Is that package of
sanctions enough or does the E.U. need to go further in your opinion?
REINTKE: Well, the sanctions, decisive sanctions, would be a very important quality, but there also needs to be an international
investigation who was actually involved in this.
And there have already been reports that there have also been potential links to the Kremlin. And there, we have to see what is going to come out
of it. The demands are very clear, we need to see an immediate release of the people who were detained. But more than that, we need to see a release
of all other political prisoners in Belarus and we need to see democracy come back. Because as was rightly said, this has not been something
surprising and new, it is something of an escalation of an anti-democratic regime and that needs to be met with strong consequences.
GORANI: Do you believe there should be, for instance, there should be a unified decision by the E.U. not to use Belarus to -- not to use as a
flyover country. Do you believe the Belarusian national carrier should be grounded in E.U. countries and not allowed to operate? Do you believe the
E.U. should go further than sanctions against individuals, for instance?
REINTKE: I think absolutely that the E.U. should go further than simply sanctions against individuals. As I said, state-owned companies should be
made part of this package. And but also, as we have already seen, certain member states have called for creating a no-fly zone over Belarus. And this
is not only because of the situation now with the detained journalist, but it is also because the safety of E.U citizens in flights over the
Belarusian airspace cannot be granted anymore.
And we hope that tonight, there is going to be a strong reaction. Again, this needs to be united. We need unanimity and council in order to act as a
European Union. So, it's also going to be a moment of truth how ready the European Union is to do something.
GORANI: And that's really -- that -- that's -- that -- that's really at the essence of this, is you have, you know, all of these countries, they all
have their individual foreign policies. They all have their individual set of self-interests. They don't always sing from the same hymn sheet. On this
one, do you think they'll be able to do it? Because it's a very important litmus test now for the E.U. tonight, whatever comes out of this meeting.
REINTKE: Absolutely. And as you know, there are people like Viktor Orban sitting around the table to take this decision. We will see how much
pressure can be put and also from the European Commission in order to act strongly to show that actions like this, actions of state terror, have
consequences, and that the European Union actually is a credible actor also on the global stage for human rights and for democratic movements such as
the one in Belarus.
GORANI: All right. Terry Reintke is a member of the European Parliament. Thank you very much for joining us this evening from Brussels. And as I
mentioned, there is an important meeting going on. We reached out to many of the leaders of European countries, specifically Baltic leaders.
They are in this meeting. They couldn't join us, understandably since they're sitting around the table, some of them joining virtually. And so we
hope to get more information on what's come out of this very important discussion very soon this evening. And we'll bring you that as soon as the
news becomes available to us.
Still to come tonight, we have the latest on COVID. Sun, sea and not a COVID test in sight. Spain is opening its borders to 10 countries without
any health controls on arrival. But in other parts of the world, that's a different story. The crisis far from over in Latin America. The region is
hitting a grim milestone as it awaits vital vaccine supplies. We'll be right back.
GORANI: Well, the global pandemic is showing further signs of global inequality and what's starting to feel like a tale of two COVIDs. On the
one hand, the U.S., Australia, and European nations are among those pushing ahead with vaccination drives and reopening plants. More on that in a
moment. Yet in parts of Asia and Latin America, COVID remains a major crisis. India has become the third country after the U.S. and Brazil to
report more than 300,000 COVID deaths, while the total in Latin America and the Caribbean is now one million.
All of this as Africa waits on hundreds of millions of vaccine doses that have been held up by delays with fears that new variants could massively
affect people all across the continent. From today, Spain is welcoming tourists from the U.K.
That's how different that picture in Europe is to some other parts of the world, Japan and eight other countries without any health controls on
arrival. It's part of a plan to boost the country's tourism industry. Well, Atika Shubert is in Valencia with more on that strategy, that approach. Now
obviously, they need the tourism money in Spain. But any concerns that this could lead to a resurgence in cases across the country?
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESONPONDENT: Well, it's still a cautious opening. I mean, most of these countries that are being allowed without restrictions
have very high vaccination rates like Israel, New Zealand, Australia, the U.S. and the U.K. Other countries whose vaccination rates aren't quite
there yet or still have a high incidence won't be coming in until much later, until after June 7th.
And in the meantime, Spain is ramping up its own vaccination plan at the moment, less than 20 percent of the people here are fully vaccinated. But
here in Valencia, for example, in some regions, up to 40 percent already have had their first shot. So, the speed of vaccination is going very
quickly here and authorities here hoping that will be enough to really secure the country against COVID. And at least to get that tourism economy
which is so important here restarted. Remember, it's 12 percent of the GDP, three million jobs. So there is a lot at stake.
GORANI: It's still looking quite empty behind you. I mean, what would it normally -- what would that stretch of beach normally look like pre-COVID?
What would it have looked like pre-COVID?
SHUBERT: Absolutely. It's -- it was pretty busy today, but it's really not at the peak summer numbers you would normally see a packed beach. And what
you would see is a lot of group activities. At the moment, there are still COVID restrictions so you don't have to wear your mask while you're
sitting, you know, sunbathing, or going into the ocean, or anything, or walking along the beach. But you will need it in order to walk here, to buy
any ice cream, you know, have any interactions on the boardwalk, you still need to wear your mask outside.
In previous summers, what you would have seen is just loads of people, music, dancing. You would have had open-air concerts. None of that is
happening right now. And one thing to keep in mind here in Valencia is for the next week or so, until June 7th, there is still a curfew in place.
So from 1:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m., there will be no dancing until the early hours. It's a very slow opening up for Spain and that's why they're hoping
it will keep them safe and until the country is ready, they're hoping not to see packed beaches like there used to be pre-pandemic. Hala.
GORANI: Right. If you can make it to the beach, you are lucky. We've been having atrocious weather in London. Thanks very much. And wearing a mask
out to get ice cream? I mean it -- you're going to get some interesting tan lines for some people. Thanks very much. I hope it goes well though because
that tourism industry is so important to Spain.
In India, the disaster continues to unfold. Delhi has extended an ongoing COVID-19 lockdown for the fifth time as the virus continues to rage. Making
matters worse, there's now a shortage of vaccines. CNN's Vedika Sud is in New Delhi.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VEDIKA SUD, REPORTER: India has reported over 222,000 new cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, taking its total caseload to over 26.75 million.
While there has been a consistent drop in cases over the last four days, India's death toll has largely stayed over 4,000 since May 8. India is now
the third country after the U.S. and Brazil to report more than 300,000 fatalities. The Delhi government claims it is running short on vaccines. It
has temporarily suspended its vaccination drive for the 18 to 44 age group.
The unavailability of COVID vaccine vaccines and indigenous vaccine has also impacted those 45 and above, many of who are due for their second
dose. The Indian government says almost 9,000 cases of mucormycosis, also known as black fungus, have been reported from states and union territories
across India. Black fungus is a rare and potentially fatal infection that is increasingly being detected in COVID-19 patients. According to the
If not detected and treated in time, this infection could be life- threatening. India has the second highest total confirmed cases of COVID-19 after the U.S. according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Vedika Sud,
CNN New Delhi.
GORANI: All right. And let's continue our tour in Latin America and the Caribbean. A surge in Coronavirus cases and deaths is straining local
healthcare systems and forcing some countries to reenter lockdowns, this as vaccines remain in short supply across the region. CNN'S Matt Rivers has
the latest from Mexico City.
MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: As cases drop in the U.S. and the country opens back up, other countries are locking back down. "Today
more than ever, we need to take care of each other," said the president of Argentina as he announced another strict lockdown that began over the
weekend. Only essential workers are allowed out during the day.
Schools and non-essential businesses shut down once again, the restrictive measures now in place until at least the end of the month. The move comes
as the country's seven-day average of new cases hits the highest mark of the entire pandemic. It's now about even with the average new cases in the
U.S., even though Argentina's population is more than seven times smaller. Inside the country's ICU's, stats on a line graph become real.
"Every patient is someone's child, somebody's parent," says Dr. Pablo Pratesi, tears in his eyes. "I feel their pain." Argentina's grief shared
across Latin America and the Caribbean as the entire region grapples with what might collectively be its gravest moment of this pandemic. The
region's seven-day average of new cases recently, the highest it has ever been.
In Brazil, one of the worst hit countries in the world, cases that had been declining are now slowly edging back up, still averaging more than 60,000
per day. Health officials say a COVID-19 variant first detected in India has now reached Brazil.
And in smaller countries like the Dominican Republic, COVID-19 patients are forced to wait outside hospital entrances for beds to open up inside
facilities overwhelmed by sick people. "They let her die because of a lack of a bed, of oxygen," said this woman who had been struggling for three
days to find a bed for her mother sick with COVID.
The way out of all of this, of course are vaccines which are an extremely short supply throughout the region. About seven percent of all people in
Latin America and the Caribbean have been fully vaccinated far behind the U.S. The hope is that the U.S. will share with this part of the world a lot
of the 80 million doses promised for export by the Biden administration, because without vaccines, it's unclear how any of this gets better anytime
soon. Matt Rivers, CNN, Mexico City.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: From Latin America to Asia, Japan has just opened two large-scale vaccination centers as it battles a surge of COVID cases. In Japan, this is
an interesting number. I wasn't aware that it was so low, in Japan less than two percent of the population is fully vaccinated.
So much lower than countries like the U.K. and the U.S. for instance. The government, though, is hoping to swiftly change that with the Olympics just
weeks away and a lot of opposition within Japan to holding the games. Selina Wang has more from Tokyo.
SELINA WANG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm standing outside of Japan's first large-scale vaccination CENTER here in Tokyo with the
Olympics now just two months away in Japan struggling with another surge in COVID-19 cases, the stakes are high for Japan to speed up its very sluggish
vaccination rollout. Now at this center, combined with another one that just opened in Osaka, the government is aiming to vaccinate as many as
15,000 people per day. Now these centers only make a small dent in what is a very big problem.
Japan, so far, has only fully vaccinated less than two percent of its 126 million people. Less than half a percent of the elderly population has been
fully vaccinated and the majority of the health care workers in this country are still unvaccinated. Now only the elderly population, those 65
and older, are eligible to be vaccinated. I spoke to several of them who just received their first dose. They say while they are relieved, they're
also frustrated by just how long this rollout has taken.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I feel frustrated by Japan's vaccine rollout strategy. It's been so slow for developed country, so I
feel a bit disappointed. I definitely don't think Japan should go ahead with the Olympics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WANG: Japan's vaccine rollout has been held back by bureaucracy, poor planning, and a lack of doctors and nurses to administer the vaccine. Now
the Prime Minister has said that the country aims to finish vaccination of the elderly population by the end of July after the Olympics has already
started. But even that target, public health experts tell me, is an extremely optimistic one.
Meanwhile, a growing chorus of voices are coming out in opposition of the games, including from the medical community here who say that it is
impossible to hold these Olympics safely. Selina Wang, CNN, Tokyo.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: OK. Well, we're well into this pandemic, and we're still talking about how it all started. Now, according to new U.S. intelligence, the
researchers at China's Wuhan Institute of Virology who fell sick in late 2019 also had to be hospitalized. Now the report is reigniting the debate
about what happened when to spark the Coronavirus pandemic. And here's what that means, according to the former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER COMMISSIONER, U.S. FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION: I think the challenge right now is that the side of the ledger that supports
the thesis that this came from a zoonotic source, from an animal source, hasn't budged. And the side of the ledger that suggests this could have
come out of lab has been continuing to grow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, China disagrees about this. A high-level director at the institute told the Chinese-run tabloid that the report is "A complete lie,"
while China's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson is questioning the motivations for all these allegations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZHAO LIJIAN, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN (through translator): The Wuhan Institute of Virology Chinese Academy of Sciences issued a relevant
statement on March 23rd this year. It stated that before December 30th, 2019, Coronavirus was not contracted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Until now, there has been zero infection of staff and postgraduate students at the Institute. The United States continues to hype the lab leak theory.
Does it care about origin tracing, or is it just trying to divert attention?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, you'll remember that after conducting an investigation, the World Health Organization concluded it was extremely unlikely that COVID-19
leaked from a lab, though that probe, too, has been criticized. Still to come, remarkable performance from a legendary golfer. How Phil Mickelson
pulled off a career comeback and made history.
GORANI: The Pacific Island Nation of Samoa has made history swearing in its first female prime minister today. She wasn't given the warmest welcome,
Fiame Naomi Mataafa, was forced to launch her term in a tent, that's because her opponent had locked her out of Parliament. Her narrow election
victory last month was said to end almost forty years of mostly one-party rule but the opposition are refusing to accept their loss.
Golf legend Phil Mickelson has made history at the PGA Championship in South Carolina. With his victory on Sunday, the 50-year-old became the
oldest person to ever win a major golf tournament. It's the sixth major title of his long career and his first PGA Championship in 16 years.
Heading into the tournament, he was not favored to win, but he said he pulled it off by giving a little bit more effort. We could all learn a
lesson from this. And it also -- he's 50, not a hundred. All right, thanks for watching tonight. I'm Hala Gorani. "Quest Means Business" is next.