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Hala Gorani Tonight

Rising Energy Prices Endanger Global Economic Recovery; Tensions Soar Between China And Taiwan; Polish Government Denies It Wants Out Of The EU; Initial Results Show Muqtada al-Sadr's Bloc Wins Most Seats; Syria's White Helmets Bury Idlib Province's Dead. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired October 11, 2021 - 14:00   ET



HALA GORANI, CNN HOST: Hello everyone, live from CNN in London, I'm HALA GORANI TONIGHT. An energy crisis unfolding across the globe and it is

putting the world's economic recovery at risk. We'll tell you what this means for you and your finances. Then a war of words between China and

Taiwan that could be a major headache for President Biden. We'll have the latest from Taipei. And later, denials from the Polish government that it

has any intention of leaving the European Union. I'll be joined by Poland's deputy foreign minister later in the program.

We are watching a global energy crisis unfold that could impact your wallet. The headline this Monday, Brent crude rose about 2 percent and some

economists are warning it could top a $100 a barrel. Here's why that's important for you. Oil is being pushed up by other energy sources. The cost

of natural gas in Europe is up more than 130 percent in a month and a half. China is implementing rolling black outs, the Communist Party apparently

willing to risk discontent. China had ordered a boost in coal production, but flooding forced some plants to close, so little relief is in sight for

coal dependent countries like India.

Now, the U.S. is a net exporter of natural gas, but even their prices are up almost 50 percent. So wherever you are in the world, it could cost a lot

more to heat your house and fill up your car, and it also as you mentioned could threaten an economic recovery across the world post-COVID. The United

Kingdom is particularly exposed. Anna Stewart is in London to explain why? And our business editor-at-large Richard Quest; host of "QUEST MEANS

BUSINESS" will break down the impact on the global economy in just a moment. Anna, how bad is it? How bad could it get?

ANNA STEWART, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: It is incredibly bad, and the U.K. certainly is at the sharp end of this gas crisis. Like the EU, it shares

some of the problems of it is reliant on oil and gas for over 70 percent of its energy consumption and a lot of it is imported. But where we see the

real problem when it becomes to the U.K. and the reason we're seeing crisis talks underway for businesses is because the U.K. doesn't even have enough

gas storage facilities. It can only store around 2 percent of the gas it needs every year. In some ways, it's always operating like a just-in-time

manufacturing line, gas comes in and it is used.

So, unless energy supplies are fueling households, unless big businesses are talking about factories that make cement and steel and so on, unless

they have secured enough long-term gas and long-term contracts at cheaper prices, they are relying on the spot market. They are relying on imports

and those prices have gone up eight-fold in a year.

GORANI: All right, Anna, thanks very much. Richard, why are we seeing such dramatic increases in prices, and why is it happening all over the world?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS EDITOR-AT-LARGE: It's happening all over the world because the same economic forces are being felt by all -- by all

different countries. You need to put this in two buckets, Hala. There are the overarching reasons for everybody. For instance, a certain ramp up in

demand at a time when energy producers had slowed down. Now, all countries, all developed countries are now emerging markets are demanding much greater

fuel at the same time. So, that's a common thread across everybody. And then you have the specific reasons that will hit certain countries.

China, for example, with the bad weather that you were talking about that's delayed the reopening of coal mines. The U.K. with Brexit that Anna was

talking about that's created unique problems in Britain. In the United States, it's a massive ramp up, but at the same time, there are delivery

problems across the country, again, because of employment shortages. Now feed all of those individual variables into --

GORANI: Yes --

QUEST: The overall melting pot and that's why you end up with this crisis.

GORANI: So, the question is, obviously, how this will impact the global economic recovery, but also people are watching us and you know, there are

macro-economics, but then ultimately, it boils down to the individual and people want to know how it will impact them. We're going to enter into the

Winter months, and for half the world's countries.

QUEST: Brutal.

GORANI: What will the picture look like?


QUEST: Brutal in some parts of the world, particularly northern Europe and over towards the central and eastern parts of Europe where there will be a

much heavier demand and where geopolitics will play a role through of course the Russia pipelines and through all those trans -- crossings --

GORANI: Yes --

QUEST: That take place there. But also, Hala, there's a systemic issue that you shouldn't forget. All these countries are at the same time going

through the net zero process. Everybody is shifting away from carbon fuels. And for example, in China, you saw this shift away and then they had to

rush back to coal, which wasn't ready. So, expect a greater, systemic problem. Things are going to get marginally worse, but it will be --

GORANI: Yes --

QUEST: Incremental as we make this shift. The cyclical stuff, the stuff we're talking about today, it will be done in a couple of months.

GORANI: So the net importers, I mean, obviously, Russia is playing its cards right now.

QUEST: Oh --

GORANI: It's a geo-strategic game as much as it is -- as much as it is an issue and a question of supply.

QUEST: Absolutely --

GORANI: What are countries like Russia doing? They're taking advantage, aren't they?

QUEST: Of course, they're playing our own game back at us. Whether it's the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that they're saying approve it, get it up and

running and we will give you more gas. We'll help your energy problem or threatening Ukraine or threatening other parts of the EU. There's always

this unspoken threat. The worry -- look, Anna talked about energy security in the U.K. and the just-in-time. The whole of Europe is facing the same

problem. And if Russia decides to get nasty in turning off the taps or any of the other stands or caucus countries, do likewise, then you'll have


Saudi Arabia and the OPEC and OPEC-plus countries can only go so far. Because even there, they're going to want to ensure their own supply, but

at the same time, they're going to want to make sure they hold it tight.

GORANI: So much going on at the same time, and as you expertly explained, different reasons and different parts of the world, but overarching issues

with supply --

QUEST: Pay more, Hala --

GORANI: Everywhere --

QUEST: Pay more.

GORANI: Well --

QUEST: The price of your heating and your fuel is going to go up in the northern hemisphere unless there's --

GORANI: Well --

QUEST: An increase of supply.

GORANI: Absolutely, and people living paycheck to paycheck, the elderly, those who are vulnerable, this could be a very rough Winter --

QUEST: Yes --

GORANI: For them. Thanks so much, Richard, and I'll see you at the top of the hour on QUEST --

QUEST: You're welcome --

GORANI: MEANS BUSINESS. Now, a country where the term energy crisis is an understatement is Lebanon. People there understand what it is like to see

the lights turned off. And it's not going to get better after this. Look at this video of a fire at one of Lebanon's main oil storage facilities. The

country's energy minister said 250,000 liters of gas were lost two days after the national electricity grid went dark due to a fuel shortage.

Imagine for 24 hours, the country was basically running on private generators. There was no electricity grid in the country the size of

Lebanon. Absolutely remarkable.

All right, we will revisit this a little bit later and we'll have more on this energy crisis on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. Of course, but for now to this

story, Taiwan has marked national day with a defiant speech and a huge military parade, both messages aimed at Beijing. They came a day after

China's president vowed to bring Taiwan under Beijing's control. It's all a tougher-than-expected test for Joe Biden. Will Ripley has that. Will.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Taiwan's growing arsenal on full display at this weekend's national day parade to defend against a

growing threat from China. This small island is spending big on weapons, many made in the USA. F-16 fighters, patriot missiles, $5 billion in U.S.

weapons sold to Taiwan last year.


RIPLEY: Taiwan arm sales skyrocketed during the Trump years. The former president's hard line stance against China, one of the few Trump era

policies embraced by President Joe Biden, defending Taiwan's democracy against authoritarian China has rare bipartisan support. Some worry

Washington politics may be provoking Beijing, even pushing Taiwan and the U.S. into dangerous territory.

JESSICA LEVINSON, PROFESSOR OF LAW, LOYOLA LAW SCHOOL: If you do take steps to look like you are aggressively defending Taiwan, then you arguably

put them in a more vulnerable position. You arguably irritate China.

RIPLEY: Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen says the island is on the frontlines of a much bigger battle.

TSAI ING-WEN, PRESIDENT, TAIWAN: Free and democratic countries have been alerted to the expansion of authoritarianism and Taiwan is on the forefront

of the defense line of fellow democracies.

RIPLEY: China sent a record 150 war planes near Taiwan in just five days this month. Biden's balancing act, calming cross-state tensions, defending

democracy and preventing a conflict that could cost American lives.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've spoken with Xi about Taiwan.

LEVINSON: I think Taiwan really presents a challenge to any American presidential administration because you're trying to balance competing


RIPLEY (on camera): This is an extraordinary sight. Four kinds of domestically-produced missiles rolling through the capital in front of

Taiwan's presidential palace, an ominous sign of escalating regional tensions.

CHANG YAN-TING, FORMER TAIWANESE AIR FORCE DEPUTY COMMANDER (through translator): We cannot control whether or not the Chinese Communist Party

has the ability to attack Taiwan, but we are able to control and make sure it does not have the motivation to do so.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Every Chinese leader since now has vowed to take control of Taiwan. Analysts say President Xi Jinping may be the first with

a military mighty enough to do it, even as he calls for peaceful reunification.

YAN-TING: Whoever wins Taiwan wins the world.

RIPLEY: China is locked in territorial disputes across the Indo-Pacific region. Taiwan, Beijing's biggest unresolved issue and some say Biden's

biggest test. Will Ripley, CNN, Taipei.


GORANI: The latest on COVID now. Many countries are moving away from their zero COVID strategies and making it easier for vaccinated travelers to be

on the move again. Today, the British government removed 47 countries from its red list. Travelers from all but seven countries can now enter England

without having to quarantine. Malaysia is also ending all domestic and international travel restrictions for fully vaccinated adults. Sydney is

emerging from four months of a strict lockdown, fully-vaccinating -- vaccinated residents of Australia's biggest city can now finally get out

and about. Angus Watson is there.


ANGUS WATSON, CNN PRODUCER: Joy, relief and some apprehension in Sydney, Australia, the country's largest city coming out of lockdown after 106 days

on Monday. People allowed to visit family and friends at their homes, go out for a meal at a restaurant, a drink at a bar, go to the gym or get a

haircut. For the first time since June when an outbreak of the Delta variant of coronavirus set in and forced the city into lockdown. That began

with just one case, some months later, over 60,000 cases and over 300 deaths.

But as those cases have risen, so has the city and the state of New South Wales' vaccination rate. Now, Sydney is able to open on Monday because it's

achieved its goal of 70 percent of the adult population fully vaccinated. That means people are going out with more confidence now. Yes, there is

concern about cases increasing, about pressure on the hospital system, but people who are vaccinated now able to enjoy some freedoms and be confident

in doing so. We were at a pub earlier in central Sydney, the Angel Hotel which was giving out free beers to celebrate the end of the lockdown.

The public then said that -- that high vaccination rate is giving him the confidence to keep his doors open.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we're lucky that Australia is actually at a higher vaccination base. Some of the U.K. does admit it, which has been

great. People have been jumping on it which has been excellent for us, we're going to hit 80 percent next week which is really good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The pub is way better than drinking in your own house. Hundred and six days in my house is nothing compared to the pub.

WATSON: Celebrations going on in Sydney there. The next step will be for other lockdown Australian cities to follow like Canberra, the capital of

the country, and Melbourne, Victoria, still lockdown, still with coronavirus in the community. That's very different to many other places in

Australia. We're living without the virus. They have closed off their borders to the states that do have it. The next step for Australia will be

for vaccination rates across the country to catch up to one another. That's the first step. The next step will be for international borders to open.

Angus Watson, Sydney, Australia.


GORANI: All right, we'll talk in a moment about whether or not it's too soon to open up borders because there's also news about a potential drug to

treat coronavirus. The drug-maker Merck says it has applied for emergency use authorization for its antiviral pill. The company says tests show the

pill cut hospitalizations and death rates in half for people with mild to moderate disease. Let's talk with Dr. Peter Drobac; he's an infectious

disease and global health expert at the University of Oxford. Thanks very much for being with us. Let's talk about this Merck drug.

Is it a significant development? And what is the difference between an antiviral pill and a vaccine?

PETER DROBAC, INFECTIOUS DISEASE & GLOBAL HEALTH EXPERT, UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD: Well, thanks for having me. This is a really exciting development.

This drug called molnupiravir is the first oral antiviral for COVID. So, we're talking about something that can treat somebody with active infection

where as the vaccines prevent people from getting infection. Now there are a couple of other COVID treatments out there, but they all require

intravenous administration.


And that's one of the reasons they haven't been used very widely. So the real game-changer here would be that this is a pill, this is an oral

treatment. So, it really could be at home. And if it pans out as Merck says, and we haven't seen these data yet, but if it is indeed as effective

as they claim, it could really be a game-changer because anybody with mild to moderate disease could get a prescription, could take the drug at home,

and that's going to save a lot of lives by keeping people out of hospital.

GORANI: And how does this work? And when might we know if this emergency use request will be granted?

DROBAC: So it's an antiviral that prevents or reduces replication of the virus in the body. It prevents it sort of from spreading through the body.

And so, the more severe manifestations both in the lungs and the rest of the body are reduced --


DROBAC: They've applied for emergency use authorization, which means all of those trial data -- and the trial is stopped early by the ethical

regulators who found the results were so positive that it was ethical to stop it early. So, we should anticipate FDA to be reviewing that over the

next several weeks, and I wouldn't be surprised if we heard something perhaps next month.

GORANI: Now, let's talk about pregnant women. It was found that in the U.K., a fifth of critically-ill -- of people critically ill with COVID in

hospital were unvaccinated pregnant women. And so the government is urging expectant mothers to get the vaccine. Is that because it was some lack of

clarity about whether or not the vaccine could harm an unborn child, and that led to some women perhaps delaying the decision to get jabbed?

DROBAC: Yes, almost everybody who is in the ICU with COVID now in places like the U.K. with high vaccination rates are the unvaccinated. And so,

that's not surprising. What is surprising is such a high proportion of those unvaccinated people at hospital are pregnant women. That suggests two

things. First, that COVID-19 is dangerous and can have significant effects for pregnant women especially later in the pregnancy, and also for their

newborn babies. But the second thing, as you suggest, is that a lot of women have been extra cautious about getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

And that's normal. When my wife and I were pregnant, we thought carefully about every single thing we put into our bodies. And so you want to be

extra safe. But the bottom line is that, we have good evidence of these vaccines, very safe for mom and babies, and in fact, far outweigh the risks

that come from COVID infection itself. And so the announcement today was really to reinforce that public health message that we haven't been doing a

good enough job to educate pregnant women to make smart choices for their health.

GORANI: Well, one of the young ladies who does hair and makeup here is eight months pregnant, and she told me that in her group of expectant

mothers, she was the only vaccinated one, and that the mothers who were not getting the vaccine were concerned that it could harm their child during

the pregnancy. So there needs to be more of an effort to communicate this information. Do you agree?

DROBAC: Absolutely. And you know, there's plenty of anti-vaxxer-fueled misinformation out there, including a lot of misinformation specifically

saying things like the vaccine can harm your unborn baby or harm your child. That's absolutely false. And so you're correct that we haven't been

doing a good enough job to counter that misinformation, and really just to have conversations with women who are rightly cautious and need information

to make smart decisions.

GORANI: Let's talk about it loosening travel restrictions. The U.K. for instance only has seven countries on the so-called red list. If you look at

the numbers in a country like the U.K., where by the way, I took the tube today, I would say 80 percent of people were unmasked in the tube today. I

mean, I find it absolutely unbelievable to see the number of people that are running around without a mask and in enclosed spaces. The U.K. is

reporting 30,000 COVID cases a day, France, a 1,000 COVID cases a day. So, with numbers this high, are you concerned going into Winter that we might

see yet another wave or not because so many are vaccinated?

DROBAC: Well, I think it is concerning. And this -- you know, the numbers that you just cited are a specific outcome of policy decisions, right? That

the U.K. relaxed all restrictions, and while they say, please consider wearing masks really to be too polite to one another, they really made it

an optional choice, and we've seen is that our personal behaviors have really changed, and that's one of the reason that we are seeing so much

transmission as things have opened up. The numbers in hospital have still been significant, though they have stabilized in recent weeks. But you're

absolutely right, there is a risk that as we go into Winter, we'll see further spread, we still have a proportion of adults who are unvaccinated.

We've got a lot of kids, of course, who are unvaccinated because most are not eligible, and we're seeing tremendous transmission --

GORANI: Yes --

DROBAC: In schools right now. And as we move into Winter and we move into flu season, that could really be a double whammy that risks not only

putting people at risk, but overwhelming health systems.

GORANI: Because you could catch COVID and the flu at the same time, is that possible? And that would significantly increase the negative effects

on your body and your health and could be deadly.


DROBAC: Yes, you know, last Winter, because we were mostly locked down, there really wasn't much flu transmission globally. All the public health

measures against COVID also interrupted flu transmission. So, this is really going to be the first Winter that we're going to see co-circulation

of influenza and SARs, COVID too, the COVID-19 virus. And they're transmitted in the same way, they're both airborne transmission, there's

nothing to say that it couldn't -- a person couldn't be infected with both viruses at the same time. And in fact, some evidence according to the U.K.

medical chief suggests that infection with both viruses could double your risk of hospitalization or death.

So, if there was ever a year to get a flu jab, this --

GORANI: Right --

DROBAC: Is the year. And I want to encourage everyone to get flu and COVID jabs, you can do them on the same day.

GORANI: I got some sort of crazy flu a few weeks ago, I don't know, it wasn't COVID, but if this is kind of an indication of what lies ahead for

others, it's going to be a rough Winter. Thanks so much Dr. Peter Drobac for joining us, always appreciate your time and expertise. And still --

DROBAC: Thank you --

GORANI: To come tonight, talking with the Taliban, the U.S. meets with its former enemies to discuss how to work together on key concerns in

Afghanistan. And a little later, thousands -- in fact, hundreds of thousands demonstrate across Poland in a massive show of support for the EU

and their membership in the EU. We'll explain why they took to the streets. We'll be right back.


GORANI: The U.S. government says talks with the Taliban in Doha were, quote, "candid and professional", unquote. The two sides met for the first

time since American troops withdrew from Afghanistan. The U.S. says it's focused on security concerns, human rights and the continued safe passage

of Americans from the country. CNN's Alex Marquardt is in Washington following these talks. Was anything achieved today?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR U.S. CORRESPONDENT: Well, it looks like, Hala, that during these meetings over the weekend, that there was some movement

on the question of humanitarian aid, that is according to the Taliban. But these discussions did cover a wide number of different subjects. The U.S.

has made it clear that they are not recognizing the Taliban, but in meeting with these top Taliban leaders, it is a recognition that they are very much

in control of the country and these are the people who you have to deal with on various issues, namely counterterrorism, economic and political

issues, humanitarian aid and getting Americans out of Afghanistan.


It's interesting, Hala, to look at the roster, if you will, of American officials who went to Doha, the most senior of which was the deputy

director of the CIA David Cohen as well as the number two in the State Department's office for Afghanistan reconciliation. So, you have senior

officials, but not the most senior, and they did ran this -- they ran the gamut of these various issues. The first of which, the highest priority

right now for the U.S., is to get those U.S. citizens out of Afghanistan. The State Department has said there are dozens who they're in touch with,

but they say it is hard to put a finer point on that and put a specific number to those Americans there.

They also -- the American side also brought up the fact that they discussed the role of women and Afghan girls in Afghan society. That is not something

that the Taliban mentioned that they discussed in these meetings. But the two sides do agree that one absolutely critical point is the question of

humanitarian aid. The U.S. wants to give humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, but directly to the Afghan people, so not through the Taliban government.

The Taliban side says that the U.S. is going to be giving humanitarian aid, and that they will work with the various organizations on the ground to

make sure that this aid is distributed --

GORANI: Yes --

MARQUARDT: In the way that it should. And then the Taliban statement on these meetings was a little rosier. They say that these meetings set up the

prospect for more meetings in the future. You can imagine, Hala, that certainly is going to happen. All sides I think will agree that what they

want is a stable Afghanistan, Hala.

GORANI: So briefly, what leverage does the U.S. have on the Taliban? Is it about -- is it about money, plain and simple?

MARQUARDT: A lot of it is going to come down to money. And certainly, the carrot of recognition, which as I mentioned at the top, that's not going to

happen any time soon. But certainly, the Taliban recognizes that they need to deliver for their people. With you know, an economy collapsing, a health

care sector collapsing, Winter coming, that country is in desperate need of aid, and America is at the center of that. So, it is not just getting the

aid, you know, approved, but getting it into the country, getting the international community to work together to help Afghan people. And then of

course, at the end of the day, the Taliban does yearn for recognition.

GORANI: Thank you Alex Marquardt, live in Washington. Three economists at American universities have won the Nobel Prize in economics, David Card was

recognized for his groundbreaking work on the market effects of minimum wages. It's been a big topic of discussion in the last few years, showing

that increasing the minimum wage does not necessarily lead to fewer jobs. The other half of the prize was awarded to Joshua Angrist and Guido Imbens,

they demonstrated that precise conclusions about cause and effect can be drawn from situations that arise from real life. So, for their work, they

were awarded half of the prize.

Still to come tonight, the Polish government races to reassure its protesting population and the European Union that it is not looking for a

Polexit. I'll be speaking with a Polish Foreign Ministry official about the dust up between Warsaw and Brussels after a break.



GORANI: The Polish government is denying it has any intention of leaving the European Union. That follows a day of massive protests supporting E.U.

membership. Protest that happened across Poland at issue is a court ruling that the country's constitution supersedes E.U. law. And that has set off

alarm bells in Brussels. CNN's Fred Pleitgen has more. Fred.

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Hala. Well, these demonstrations certainly do seem to show that there are a lot of people,

especially within the opposition, and its supporters who believe that the current government, the Conservative Government, may be plotting to try and

pull Poland out of the European Union, maybe somewhere down the line. Now we always have to state that the Conservative Government, and even the

Prime Minister, have said that there are no such plans, that it's not something that they want to do. Nevertheless, you can see by the size of

the crowd, that there certainly are some people who fear that it is something that could happen maybe sometime in the future.

Now, you look at these demonstrations, you can also see a lot of the divisions, the political divisions in Poland, where a lot of these

demonstrations, especially the ones with large crowd sizes in Warsaw, for instance, in Gdansk, in Poznan, and in Szczecin. Those are all very large

cities, and for the most part, city that are more towards the west of Poland. And there you can really see the divisions where you have the more

liberal crowd that's really in the big cities, and then the conservatives that really dominate the countryside and also dominate the east of Poland

as well. I want to listen in to what some of the folks were at these demos said on why they showed up there.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So we want to stay in the European Union because we feel stronger. And we hope there will be more prosperity if we are in.


PLEITGEN: Now these protests were called for and, of course, spearheaded by a Donald Tusk, who is the former president of the European Council, and of

course, also formerly the Prime Minister of Poland. He is now essentially the leader of the opposition in that country. But again, the government of

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki says that there's absolutely no plans to pull Poland out of the European Union, although the Polish Government has

been very much at loggerheads with the E.U. You obviously have some of the things that happened in Polish media, also, the fact that many people now

say that the Polish courts are no longer fully independent of the government.

And then you add that decision by the Polish Constitutional Court essentially calling into question the primacy of European law over national

law, that certainly is something that has alarmed a lot of people, not just in Poland, but on the E.U. level as well. It's quite interesting because

the E.U. Commissioner for Industry, Thierry Breton, he again said today that he does not believe that Poland will leave the European Union. He also

said that no one has been forced to go into the European Union in the first place, Hala.

GORANI: Thank you very much, Fred. Let's dig deeper into the Polish government's perspective. Now joining me via Skype from Warsaw is Deputy

Foreign Minister, Pawel Jablonski. Thank you very much for joining us. So E.U. officials --

PAWEL JABLONSKI, DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER, POLAND: Hala, good afternoon. Thank you for having me.

GORANI: Sure thing. E.U. officials are unequivocal. They're saying essentially that this Polish court decision flies in the face of every

treaty that Poland has ever signed with the E.U. establishing supremacy of Polish laws over E.U. laws. Are you trying to leave the E.U.?


JABLONSKI: Obviously, we are not. And in fact, if we would look where -- precision of what happened in Warsaw in the court -- in the tribunal -- the

constitutional tribunal, and also -- and at the verdict of all the European courts, constitutional courts, and regular courts in France, in Germany, in

Denmark, in Spain, in Italy, Czech Republic, Romania, I could go on and on and on. For years, for decades, there is a very longstanding jurisprudence

of National Court that, obviously the E.U. law precedes national law of a simple statutory rank.

But when it comes to Constitution, the highest law of the land, constitution always prevails. This is actually --

GORANI: But you know the --


GORANI: You know the difference between --

JABLONSKI: No debate whatsoever in the legal world.

GORANI: I figured you would bring up the German and the French examples. There's a huge difference, though, between the German example and the

Polish example. And I'm sure you know what it is. And that is your government asked the tribunal to rule on this. In other cases, it wasn't a

government initiative. So your government was seeking a way, judicially in your country, to establish that your country's laws superseded European

laws, that's a huge difference between your case and the Germany case.

JABLONSKI: There's no difference at all, because in fact, Polish Constitutional Court has this line of jurisprudence also for a very long

time. Actually the first ruling of the sort was taking place in 2005. So just one year after we joined the E.U., and then following rulings in 2007,

2009, 2011, in various compositions of the cold, in various political circumstances, too. What is important now is that very recent jurisprudence

of the European Court of Justice aims at reinterpret the basic rules of European treaties, reinterpret them in a way that actually Polish judges

would have to breach their own constitutional adjudicating and we cannot agree to that because this is the highest law of the land.

GORANI: So in other words, you are breaking the treaties that you signed with the E.U.? This is what E.U. officials are saying. I mean, look, if I -

- let me just read to you before it before I have you react, some of the reaction from European parliamentary members as hot -- as far up as Ursula

von der Leyen. Terry Reintke, the Shadow Rapporteur on Poland, said this flies in the face of what the Polish government has signed up to as a

member of the European Union, Jeroen Lenaers, the European parliament members, said the Polish government has lost all of its credibility.

They're also reacting to many years of your government, stacking courts with judges that will agree with you, forcing other judges to retire. They

consider these moves to be utterly undemocratic and not in keeping with the spirit of E.U. democracies. How do you respond to that?

JABLONSKI: Well, you are obviously quoting political accusations. When I'm -- when I hear of stacking quotes with government, pro-government judges, I

can only laugh about it because actually, the reality is that vast majority of judges in Poland are very much critical of the government. In fact,

there is a debate of whether they shouldn't be politicized this way, but this is the reality, the majority of Polish judges is actually taking a

very open political stance and this is -- and against the Polish government.

And when we speak about the necessity and about the reality in which we are, you said that we are breaching the European treaties. To the contrary,

we want the treaties to be observed. And the treaties, there is a principle in the E.U., the principle of conferral, which means that only the

competences that are conferred upon the E.U. institutions can be exercised by these institutions and other competences belong in the member states.

GORANI: So you're denying that your government is making these moves --

JABLONSKI: The courts -- jurisprudence -- I am -- please, allow me to conclude this, this is very important. The competence to organize a

national judiciary structure lies within the sole competence of E.U. member states. And we want to nothing else but the rule of law, but the observance

of the treaties on the European Union, on the function of the European Union, nothing more and nothing less.

GORANI: So you're denying the accusations coming from the E.U. But look at the streets of -- in your cities over the weekend. These are your

countrymen and women.

JABLONSKI: Absolutely. This is beautiful sight.

GORANI: They're worried. But let me tell you --

JABLONSKI: I love it.

GORANI: That's -- I'm glad you do. Eighty-seven percent of your citizens, according to a poll, that's not even a year old say they want to stay in

the E.U. They're very worried by your government's actions. So why --

JABLONSKI: Exactly as you said.

GORANI: If what you're doing is simply a way of re -- is simply a way of reconfirming that, you know, E.U. law is observed within Poland, within the

judicial structures of your country.


If this is all that this is, and it's benign, why are so many people so concerned?

JABLONSKI: Poland is a democracy, a very vibrant democracy. And people have the right to exercise the right to assembly, to express their political

views. And actually, I fully agree with the mind -- with the main message of these demonstrations. We want to stay in the E.U. This is also the line

of the Polish government, and the fact that some opposition leaders believe that we should agree to everything that comes from Brussels' institutions.

This is the difference between us because we believe that we should remain in the E.U.

But we should always be cautious where to draw the line between the competences of the national state and of the community, of the alliance

that we are in.

GORANI: You must be --

JABLONSKI: And opposition -- some -- there is a political debate about this, somebody who should always accept whatever Brussels' institutions are

saying, we believe otherwise. This is the democracy that we disagreed with --

GORANI: You must be concerned --

JABLONSKI: -- we can discuss it.

GORANI: You must be concerned on some level. There is a 36 billion euro COVID fund, some of that money might not go to you. Poland pays in about

four billion euros a year, it receives about 16 billion euros a year. So you're a net winner here financially in terms of your membership of the

E.U. You have no concerns that this could impact you financially?

JABLONSKI: Well, we obviously see attempts of doing it. But nonetheless, we believe that these principles that we are discussing here are much more

important than simple financial debate. Obviously, we are going to continue this debate on money, on budget, and I'm absolutely certain that it will be

concluded in a positive way. But we should never forget about the main principles. Because if we were to agree to a system, when E.U. institutions

could impose anything on any other members' take, then E.U. would simply turn into a superstate. We didn't agree to that. We agreed to a union of

sovereign states, independent, free, and equal state. This is simply what we wish to continue to proceed and we wish to remain in the union that is a

union of sovereign member states.

GORANI: All right. We'll see how this develops. And we'll continue to follow it, of course. Pawel Jablonski, the Deputy Foreign Minister of the

Law and Justice Party joining us live from Warsaw. Thank you very much --

JABLONSKI: Thank you very much. Have a good afternoon.

GORANI: -- for your time this evening. You, too. Still to come tonight, we are just getting the initial results from Iraq's parliamentary elections

after turnout for Sunday's vote was the lowest since, wait for it, 2003. Also ahead, a country already consumed by years of civil war is now facing

another battle with an invisible enemy, how Syria is confronting the Coronavirus.


GORANI: Well, Just in to CNN, the first results from Iraq's parliamentary elections show the block of Muqtada al-Sadr has won the biggest number of

seats. The powerful Shia cleric heads a movement that opposes foreign interference in Iraq. Sunday's vote saw the lowest voter turnout since

2003. Our Sam Kiley is following developments and joins me now live. Sam.

SAM KILEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Hala, what a surprising turnout at first look compared to the energy that we saw on the streets when I was

covering the revolutionary demonstrations in 2019 that precipitated the collapse of one government, the arrival of Kadhimi's government, Kadhimi's

-- Prime Minister Kadhimi's announcement of early elections and now this, a damp squib, it would appear.

Some 41 percent of people eligible to vote turning out to vote down at least three percent on the previous national elections. But what has

happened in between I think is not -- means that this low turnout and a rather predictable result. Most experts suggesting that there won't be any

clear winner, although Muqtada al-Sadr has been widely tipped to be the dominant force emerging out of these general elections. But very low

turnout among the exactly the sorts of people who have been demanding a change, a massive shift in the political culture of the country away from

sectarianism, away from Iranian influence, crushing -- or demand that corruption be crushed, and, of course, economic growth. Who doesn't want

that? But clearly, large numbers of people who might have tipped Iraq in a different direction have stayed away from the polls, Hala.

GORANI: All right, Sam Kiley, thanks very much. Syria is still consumed by the civil war that's lasted more than a decade and it is now fighting

COVID-19. Jomana Karadsheh takes us to one of the last opposition strongholds, Idlib province, its relative isolation is no longer protecting

it from this virus.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Grief is no stranger to this part of Syria. But this time, it's not the bombs and bullets. It's COVID-19 that's

claiming more and more lives. The White Helmets, known for their heroic rescues, pulling countless bodies from underneath the rubble of bombed out

buildings now bury Idlib's dead. No one really knows how many lives COVID- 19 has claimed. But every day since August, they've been digging new graves. When they're not faring the dead, the White Helmets are still

trying to save lives, transporting hundreds of patients to the few hospitals left standing after years of Russian and regime airstrikes.

Hospitals treating COVID-19 are overwhelmed. Oxygen is in short supply and so are doctors. Officials here say there are only 200 doctors treating

COVID-19 patients in northwestern Syria. Years of war have left this last major opposition stronghold, home to more than four million people with

only nine hundred doctors. This nearly isolated part of the world was spared the worst of the pandemic. But health workers say the Delta variant

is wreaking havoc. With limited testing capabilities, it's hard to know the real extent of the spread. Medical NGOs say the situation is catastrophic,

with a positivity rate of more than 50 percent.


IBRAHIM ABBOUD, DIRECTOR GENERAL, AL- ZIRA'A HOSPITAL (through translator): Over the past six weeks, the curve started increasing slightly with the

Delta variant. We felt the danger and prepared ourselves at the hospital and the logistics and schedules. We prepared the workforce but didn't

expect that this wave was to be this strong and this severe.


KARADSHEH: It's not just the Delta variant. Vaccines have been slow to arrive here. Less than one percent of northwestern Syria's population is

fully vaccinated. It's hard to believe that these are the streets of a city facing its second and worse wave of the pandemic. But this is a population

that has lived through hell. People here have been craving the normalcy this past year's relative calm has brought.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People have suffered a lot from airstrikes, from chemical attacks, and we have lived through many wars. So we have developed

immunity, emotional immunity and permanent immunity.


KARADSHEH: While many parts of the world prepare for a post-pandemic life, Syria's latest nightmare may be just be beginning.


Jomana Karadsheh CNN Istanbul.


GORANI: We'll be right back. Stay with us.


GORANI: The South Korean survival drama Squid Game debuted less than a month ago and is already on track to become Netflix's most watched show.

The nine-episode series is the latest in a wave of South Korean content that is gripping the world. And CNN's Paula Hancocks in Seoul has this


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On social media these images are everywhere. On television.


JIMMY KIMMEL, AMERICAN TELEVISION HOST: I'm here with the cast of Squid Game.


HANCOCKS: Everyone is talking about it.


KIMMEL: Welcome.


HANCOCKS: Amazon's Jeff Bezos tweeted, "I can't wait to watch the show." Already hitting number one in 90 different countries on Netflix, Squid Game

is a South Korean TV show where 456 debt-ridden contestants compete in childlike games for a prize of nearly $14 million. But the penalty for

losing is death. Show creator Hwang Dong-Hyuk has wanted to make this show for more than a decade, but studios rejected it.


DONG-HYUK HWANG, SQUID GAME CREATOR (through translator): When I showed it to people, a lot of them said that it was unfamiliar. It's strange and

unfamiliar. What is this? What the hell is this? They said this in a negative way.


HANCOCKS: South Korea already has a strong film industry with deep talent pools and large profitable studios. But it's TV shows were predominantly

romantic soap operas until Netflix arrived.


HWANG (through translator): I suddenly thought will I be able to bring the show to life as I wanted if Netflix is involved? I took that script from 10

years ago. I showed it to them. Netflix said they loved it.


HANCOCKS: Netflix says it has already invested some $2 billion on Asian content and will invest another half a billion on making new Korean content

alone this year.

MIRYOUNG KIM, VICE PRESIDENT OF CONTENT, NETFLIX: I think in the past couple of years, we've seen Korean content viewing grow four times in the





HANCOCKS: This is a golden age of Korean cultural exports, one went after another, music, films, TV shows, dubbed Hallyu or Korean wave and it's

swept far beyond Asia where it's been popular for the past two decades. Hwang says that this shows message resonates around the world.


HWANG (through translator): The world is getting much harder to live in. Even in the last 10 years, wealth disparity is growing, nations are facing

economic strife and the added element of the COVID pandemic has made the wealth gap even worse.



HANCOCKS: Social disparity mirrored in Oscar-winning Korean film Parasite, film experts say that content from South Korea, with its turbulent history

of war and military dictatorship, traditionally carries a strong political message.


HYE SEUNG CHUNG, PROFESSOR OF MEDIA STUDENTS, COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY: Media is not just means of entertainment, like in the United States or in

the West, but media has been always considered a very important tool for political enlightenment or political resistance.


HANCOCKS: But it's not all politics.


CHUNG: It is still relatively cheap to produce some dramas in South Korea compared in America. In the Squid Game, the each -- episode cost less than

$2 million, which is half of the price Netflix invested in each episode of House of Cards.


HANCOCKS: The younger generation is far more open to foreign language content.


JASON BECHERVAISE, PROFESSOR OF ENTERTAINMENT, SOONGSIL CYBER UNIVERSITY: If you look at those who watch parasite, a big, big number of the kind of

audiences or the audience that went to see Parasite in the United States was younger people. And they were -- they've been really keen to kind of

break that one-inch subtitle barrier.


HANCOCKS: The success of Squid Game is already helping other Asian content to trend on Netflix while other streaming platforms are looking to

replicate this enormous success. Paula Hancocks, CNN Seoul.

GORANI: Blocks of lava's largest three-story buildings have rolled down from that erupting volcano in the Canary Islands. Take a look. The lava has

been flowing now for more than three weeks, and tremors are still being felt in the area. Monday, the lava sparked a fire at a cement factory.

Because of that, more 2,500 residents were ordered to lock down to protect their health. And officials said gas and smoke from that fire was a health

hazard. It's easy to understand why when you look at some of these images.

Finally, a 72-year-old Bosnian man is taking his wife for a spin and they don't even have to leave the house. Vojin Kusic built this rotating house

because his wife said she wanted a more diversified view. It took Kusic six years to finish it, not including time off for a hospital stay. At its

lowest speed, the house makes one revolution in 24 hours. He had to be admitted to hospital for heart problems, but that didn't keep him from

finishing the spinning house. Thanks for watching tonight. I'm Hala Gorani. Do stay with CNN. After a quick break "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is coming your