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tv   Dateline London  BBC News  January 9, 2017 3:30am-4:01am GMT

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the israeli prime minister has described an attack on a crowd of israeli soldiers injerusalem, which killed four soldiers, as a terrorist attack. the driver of the truck was shot dead. police say he was a palestinian from the east of the city. benjamin netanyahu linked the attack to the islamic state militant group. iran's supreme leader, ayatollah ali khamenei, has led tributes to the former president, akbar hashemi rafsanjani, who has died aged 82. the conservative ayatollah described his long—time more moderate friend as a companion of struggle, despite their differences. blizzards and dangerously low temperatures are continuing to cause problems across much of central and eastern europe, where 23 people have died in recent days. dozens of villages in serbia and bulgaria are without power and water. now on bbc news, dateline london. hello and welcome
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to dateline london. two stories in today's programme — two stories likely to dominate the year ahead. first, the future of the european union as britain prepares to press the brexit button. and secondly, how far president putin and russia are steering events in the middle east and elsewhere, with donald trump perhaps in the passenger seat. my guests today are: greg katz of associated press. annalisa piras, who is an italian film maker. lyse doucet, who is the bbc‘s chief international correspondent. michael gove of the times, and who is also a conservative mp. good to see you all. britain's top diplomat in the european union, sir ivan rogers, quit this week amid the continuing political row about britain being unprepared for brexit. but with italy's banks in trouble, the greek crisis unresolved, elections in germany and france
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in 2017 and in italy by 2018, plus fears about the euro, how much of a mess is the european union and more importantly the eurozone actually in? michael? over the course of this year, the attention will focus on german elections and french elections and dutch elections, particularly in these three countries there will be strong populist challenges. i believe geert wilders in the netherlands will top the poll, but i suspect the other parties, for the first time in the netherlands, will say the person who topped the poll should not be in government. in france, i suspect marine le pen will make it to the run—off and run the other candidates very close. in germany, the alternative fur deutschland, the anti—immigra nt, anti—eu party, will get more than 20% in the polls and may do better than the social democrats, the coalition partners. it will shake the confidence of the eu's current leadership.
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how much of that do you agree with? there are many parties in germany and italy who are pretty eurosceptic. yeah. the kind of picture that michael has just painted is correct. not much is going to happen until the german elections in the autumn so we have in front of us a long period of uncertainty and instability in which populist forces are going to mount an extraordinary challenge to the status quo. having said that, there is something else going on, which is an extraordinary story, and terrifying, which could pull together the european union leaders who are going to be smart enough and convincing enough to explain to the people what's going on in the world. i'm referring to the migrant phenomenon which is going to accelerate massively and is going to show, for the first time in european
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history, how the outside challenges can combine with inside challenges and make the situation untenable unless europeans work together. specifically on italy, how far are people concerned about the italian banks? i've seen debt write—downs of 50%, people are suggesting in reality many banks will be lucky to get 20% back on bad loans. in other words they are insolvent. the banking crisis in italy is one crisis and people have lost faith in the banking system and the government a long time ago. there was a very eloquent front cover of a magazine saying "welcome back to the past". italy is looking at 2017, looking back at what has been happening in italy and not expecting anything good from this new year. there is a generalised
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gloom and doom, despair, lack of any hope whatsoever. the banking crisis isjust one of the aspects. lyse, we tend to look down one end of the telescope, brexit britain and the challenges here. how difficult do all these other challenges make it for any british government? you talk about the european union and we have discussed how disunited and shaky and fragile this edifice of the european union is. brexit was anotherjolt. it is now very shaky in a year with major elections. for those two pillars, germany and france, looking inward, and you can't look inward all the time. you have to take care of the external factors. brexit will force them to look inward as well. that is what could set in motion, and already has, along
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with the victory of donald trump in the usa, these political forces that are tearing at the whole ethos of the eu. the migration crisis was emblematic ofjust how divided europe is politically, socially, morally, in every which way in terms of how they responded. there was no eu response to that and there still isn't. from the united states, is the european project in serious trouble in 2017, and particularly the euro? the european project is in tremendous trouble and far worse than the people in the us are aware of. people are focused on the domestic situation. having watched the eu closely for several years, there's never been a crossroads like this before and the idea of a closer union is so discredited at this point that it's almost not worth uttering the words. i've had this disagreement with annalisa before. she talks about a common european response to the immigrants and i think that's beyond
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the leadership of europe. you put those 28 or 27 leaders in a room and you have such competing, impossible—to—reconcile self interest that the immigrant crisis could be what divides it and what leads to a gradual breaking away. hungary, for example, and some of those countries surrounding hungary, take one view, germany another. germany, italy, everyone‘s crisis point is different, and so is britain's. for any british prime minister or negotiating team, never mind defections from the civil service, to get the attention of any european leader, particularly angela merkel this year, will be difficult. it is. one of the points made by two of the principal negotiators is that until the german elections conclude, it will be difficult to get the full focus and the full attention of everyone in europe on these negotiations. the point is also made that once
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negotiations are concluded, there needs to be agreement as much as possible across europe before any deal can be settled. there is an imperative on the prime minister and the british negotiating team to make clear, and i know the prime minister hopes to in the next week or so, what the core ask of the european union is. clarity in this process is absolutely critical to success. more important, what is the core ask of britain? you have your cake and you want to eat it. yes. europe might not be able to respond. i expressed myself poorly, what is britain asking of the eu? we need to be clear about what britain is requesting. it's not open—ended, the clock is ticking. once the trigger is pulled with article 50, they have two years. you cannot waste a year,
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even though a year with germany and france focusing on their elections, they will have to do something about brexit is brexit. it's not just theresa may saying that, jean—claude juncker has said it, so has merkel, you have to get it done quickly. it will be up to britain to clarify, because i don't think anybody in the british government knows what brexit they want. i think they do. a critical thing for the eu is if those who are currently steering it play a clumsy hand, that will only strengthen what they consider to be populist forces. marine le pen has put the european institutions on notice that if british institutions are punished for leaving, she will make that a rallying cry. it is also the case that if countries like poland and hungary, that take a very different line to the current eu core leadership, see that leadership privileging its position, its ultra —federalist position, over some of their interests, that could create difficulties as well. can i ask some of you who cover
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these things to take a step back from this week's headlines in britain. ivan rogers have left. many people would not be familiar with his name or the name of his successor. how important are these people who have been derided in some of the papers as the sir humphreys? how important are these people rather than the politicians? a good ambassador or high commissioner is gold dust. they are your eyes and ears in the country and they have... they are able to tell you forensically what the situation is. it is up to leaders to listen... or not. even though nobody should listen to experts! they are the experts of all experts. ivan rogers said he knew the british system so well, he knew the european system so well, he knew all the players. his replacement is also a very steady hand, but she's losing
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a key person. it is a tragedy for britain that he has resigned. simply because the world is getting so complex, the old order is being replaced by completely unstable and unpredictable orders. diplomats in this moment are key to the national interest because they understand the way the world is and the way it's going. the fact he has resigned and he has warned the civil servants, please speak to the power, it's very, very important. let's not forget that the british diplomatic service is considered to be one of the best in the world. rogers is a patriot, he is an example of the best of the foreign office. the fact that he has left
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is very, very significant and very, very serious. the world is getting very, very complex and to look only at the british interests and not looking at the big picture is very dangerous for the national interest. it also struck me in his farewell e—mail to the civil servants when he was pointing out that whitehall and in general britain doesn't have the negotiating expertise, doesn't have the staff, doesn't know enough about how to do the trade deals and he also, in his earlier memo which leaked, pointed out that even after this two—year process it will be up to each national parliament to approve the deal and it could fail at that point. he said some pretty important things that perhaps the prime minister was not interested in hearing. i'm conscious that the idea of some kind of goldilocks brexit, that everybody likes, not too hard or soft or hot or cold, won't even work within your own party. the least of the prime minister's worries is the conservative party. there's a strong consensus behind the type of brexit most
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conservatives would like see. philip hammond against theresa may, big differences. i don't think so. it's interesting to see the way opinion has moved outside the conservative party. this week vince cable made it clear he thought freedom of movement shouldn't continue. who would have imagined 12 months ago that someone as committed as vince to the liberal democrat tradition would have said one of the core freedoms of the eu should no longer apply? theresa may says she wants workers for the farming community and others say they want banking and service sectors to have freedom of movement. it's entirely possible to have a migration policy that allows britain to get the skills it needs in the sectors that matter without accepting freedom of movement as it currently operates within the eu. you will say but not being in the single market. you're not going to say that!
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the problem with the muddled thinking is that britain seems still not able to understand that you can't have your cake and eat it. you can't have the single market and not freedom of movement. it's not on the table! i don't think we do want to be in the single market. the cake is not on the table. panettone! president putin has engineered a rapprochement of sorts with a key player in nato — turkey — and is using it to drive a peace process of sorts in syria. it comes as donald trump prepares to take over the us presidency amid concerns he is close — perhaps too close — to putin, and picking a fight with china and possibly iran. as mr trump remains a riddle wrapped in an enigma, where are the flashpoints we should worry about in 2017? and is putin playing a weak hand with great skill? the report by the us intelligence agency,
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the bits that have been made public, it does suggest that russia really played a very strong role in the us election, quite an extraordinary role, whether it made any difference in the voting is a matter of contention. i don't think there's much doubt it made a difference. mr trump doesn't think so. they had a very concerted, well—directed, successful 16 and 18—month intrusion into the democratic party's e—mails for which i blame the democrats. they were sloppy. we're all pretty sloppy with e—mails and they left themselves open to blame, they were completely wide open to state intrusion and putin's people do that sort of thing extraordinarily well. it was very effective. it had to have swung some votes towards trump, but so did a lot of other things. nobody is saying trump is the president because of putin, but he enters with this very cloudy relationship with putin that will be problematic.
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it is extraordinary in our lifetime to have any american leader being that close to the leader of the kremlin, particularly somebody who used to be in the kgb. it sounds like science fiction and if ten years ago somebody would have told you a republican candidate would have been elected with the help of a former kgb agent, it would have sounded crazy. that script would never work! actually we need to brace ourselves because we are entering a very, very dark year. 2017, especially in europe with all these elections, and clear evidence that russia has been waging cyber warfare to influence the american elections, of all countries, is something that might really put us on alert. we've got a number of elections in europe and putin has already been trying to meddle with germany, public opinion, in many ways. he's been doing it in the former
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warsaw pact countries, he's been doing it everywhere. we need to be aware. this is a year in which what we have taken for granted, the international law and order, the kind of force of law, is going to be replaced. we know that francois fillon in france is quite receptive to russia playing a bigger role in europe. we know that putin is playing what could be seen as a very weak hand, but playing it very well. that's exactly what american diplomats will concede. a weak hand played extraordinary well. in december 2015, when russia decided to intervene militarily in syria, there were warnings from barack obama it would be another afghanistan, a quagmire where russia will get bogged down. what has happened instead is that russia, president putin,
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has had the projection of military force and forced the conclusion he wanted. i spent most of 2016 going to one security forum after another with western leaders saying we will not accept the changing of borders in our time by force, we will not accept the post—1945 order will be changed. russia went into crimea and it is still there. russia not only shifted the momentum on the battlefield in syria, saved president assad from collapse on key front lines, it's a key player on the battlefield and i was in aleppo during the last stages of the war for that important city. then it shifted to the negotiating table. it was russia and turkey which negotiated the evacuation from aleppo. russia and turkey is driving the talks to take place not in geneva of vienna or paris, but in russia.
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it's extraordinary. even british diplomats will concede that vladimir putin went from zero influence in the middle east in 2015 to now being the major player with the military force and the political will to back it up. gulf states are saying we wish our ally was president putin. saudi arabia, the gulf states and also iran, the impact of russia putting its weight about and being successful. has that changed things? it's always been asked if russia and iran see eye to eye in syria, but they don't. they have a shared interest in seeing president assad, or at least his regime, remaining, but they have different strategic interests. russia wants its military base, iran wants to maintain its corridor to lebanon and hezbollah, it wants its access to forces. the question will be once president trump enters the mix. he seems to want to work with president putin,
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but he also wants to undermine iran's influence. if you're going to work in syria, it's hard to square that circle. how do you see president trump's relations, potential relations, with mr putin? do you see that as a worry that britain should be concerned about? one should be alive to some of these concerns. there are people who have been in the trump entourage who have said things about putin that give me cause for concern. there are others in the trump transition team who have been quite robust towards russia. it is an area of concern. but we should take one step back. many of the gains president putin has made which cause me concern and heartache are as a consequence of the weakness shown by president obama.
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we had an opportunity to intervene in syria in 2013. the british parliament, much to my regret, chose not to. president obama said that was the reason they didn't do it. the president of the united states could have shown greater resolution and clarity at that time. it's a great shame that in the final days of his presidency there's been an element of displacement activity on the part of president obama and john kerry. they have concentrated the united nations about resolutions on israeli settlements rather than accepting that they played a much bigger role in the eclipse of western power in the middle east and the unhappy consequences that lyse has alluded to with gulf states looking to russia for a role. they play a heavier role and carry a heavier responsibility than anything mr trump has to have on his conscience at this moment. how far do you buy that? the other way of looking at that same story is that after afghanistan and after iraqi, obama did not want to get involved in some kind of protracted conflict.
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the opinion polls and mps here said the same thing. there's a consistency to the eight years of obama's foreign policy. it's been a bit ambiguous in afghanistan, but he's not wanted more interventions and i think he inherited a truly disastrous situation from the prior administration and has spent eight years trying to cope with it and now it goes back the other way. it's a very confusing time for american foreign policy. six months ago, obama was proud of what he had accomplished and what he had not been dragged into and i think that's no longer the case. i was with us diplomats the day the us went into syria and they were convinced putin was making a disaster error and it's paid off beautifully for putin. on the other hand, if you want to be more optimistic, it is true that this new international scenario
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does put a lot of pressure on the europeans. it is true that the bombing of civilians by the russians in syria has caused all the european leaders to really think long and hard, what are we going to do? if america doesn't engage, if america decides, as trump has said, that he doesn't want to pay any more for nato, the europeans, by necessity, have to come together in order to ensure their own security. the last european council, there was no discussion of what had been happening in syria and no resolution to deal with what russia had been responsible for. it's only in the uk that there is a live debate about the need to increase defence spending. that's not correct. there are plenty of smaller countries.
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if you've been watching eu politics, you would see there's been an acceleration in terms of common defence spending, common research. more spending? but not more men and more material. the baltic states are concerned. if you look at who is putting forces on the eastern border of nato, it is america, canada, britain. one of the concerns that i have is that the european union, for the reasons we discussed at the beginning, is turning inward and while there is a belief that there should be institutional change within europe, what there isn't is the resolution in dealing with the anti—democratic forces that putin has marshalled. we've come full circle. we started off with michael saying there was huge internal issues to resolve, and there are in the eu, but they will be forced to confront the problems of their unity, or the lack of it, when president trump talks
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about nato and you have to pay your own way. what about when president trump starts talking about easing the sanctions on russia over ukraine? angela merkel was leading the way in terms of russia and dealing with ukraine. these are red button issues for europe in terms of values and principles. they cannot let then drift away. i suspect if marine le pen doesn't win, if francois fillon might have a chance, that will be the key moment in which we could see a real change in europe, especially on defence and security issues. france is very keen. that will also have a strong influence on brexit negotiations. we have one minute left. i wanted to ask you if we'd missed what could be the scariest story of the year, which is china, north korea, south korea, relations there and donald trump's attitude to china. we don't know what he will do,
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but it is interesting. and his attitude to nuclear proliferation, where his attitude has been it's no problem. will it change in the oval office? we don't know, he hasn't clarified his view. he was very robust about north korea. judging from his tweets rather than major policy statement. whatever obama told him rattled him on that first day when obama first met with him after the election. trump expresses a willingness to japan and south korea to get nuclear weapons. what he said would overturn the codes of nonproliferation. on that note, happy new year! that's it for this week. you can comment on the programme on twitter @gavinesler and engage with our guests. we're back next week at the same time. make a date with dateline london. goodbye. hello.
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many of us have had a grey and murky weekend. the weather is on the change but that means wet weather will arrive. first thing in the morning in ireland and scotland and it will head south eastwards as we go through the day. it will lift low cloud is it freshens up only to make way for brain pushing in through the afternoon. behind that it brightens up afternoon. behind that it brightens up with plenty of sunshine expected in northern ireland and north—western parts of england and wales. the showers will return frequent and heavy across the moors and scotland for snow on high ground. frequent wintry showers overnight. the rain clears away from the south—east on monday night and
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it will turn called for all of us. a touch of frost in a couple of places, nothing too severe or widespread at this stage. this week we keep the windy thing going. briefly mild but then far colder in the second half of this week. and some snow. welcome to bbc news, broadcasting to viewers in north america and around the globe. i'm ben bland. our top stories: four israeli soldiers are killed after a lorry is driven into them injerusalem. the palestinian driver is shot dead. the former iranian president, akbar hashemi rafsanjani, one of the country's most influential moderates, dies at the age of 82. snow and sub—zero temperatures lead to deaths across europe, from poland to italy and the greek islands. music plays the musical la la land sweeps the board at the golden globes awards ceremony in los angeles.
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