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welcome to hardtalk with me, zeinab badawi, from the world economic forum in davos where my guest is one of the world's most senior politicians, germany's defence minister ursula von der leyen. she's also deputy chair of angela merkel‘s ruling cdu party. does the arrival of donald trump in the white house, plus brexit, spell the start of a new world order and mark a shift in power away from the west? minister ursula von der leyen, welcome to hardtalk. thank you, zeinab. the president of germany, joachim gauck, has said, earlier this month, "with the inauguration of a new us "president, we face challenges to the international order "and to transatlantic relations." germany and europe can no longer live as usual on the transatlantic
partnership, can they? i am deeply convinced that they can rely on the transatlantic partnership because there is a strong foundation, the transatlantic partnership exists now since almost 70 years. there is a huge amount of common experience, of trust and confidence in each other and we have this transatlantic partnership because we share common values. but here is your president, who is stepping down in march afterfive years, and he's going through this period of reflection and he's saying that it has challenges. are you saying that his concerns are not valid? no, if he says it has challenges, i would applaud. because this is true. so what are the challenges? we have two major challenges. the first is terror on the causes of terror. the crisis in the middle east. the second one is cyberspace and manipulation. we will talk about those but i have
to put it to you that those challenges existed under barack obama but he is saying that the inauguration of a new us president presents challenges to the transatlantic partnership which is a slightly different point to the one you're answering. if you are not talking about the threats we are facing together, let us talk about a new administration. i have been in davos and talking at the world economic forum to many republican congressmen and senators and it was interesting to listen that they interpreted what at that time, president elect, now president trump said, or tweeted, and what i sensed is there is a typical reaction, and i know that, i am familiar with that, when you come into office and there is a change of government and policies, there is a tendency to say what has been was wrong and not enough and now we come and we will change everything. we listen to that.
i would say the transatlantic partnership, mainly nato, yes, there is a necessity of modernisation but it does not start today but it has already started. we will come to nato in a moment but to continue this, president xi jinping of china also said in his speech to the world economic forum, the world is on the verge of radical change. in ten years, we can expect a new world order. there will be an alliance between china and russia. basically, iam putting it to you that the west is in decline. well, president xi, in a very strategic way, is looking for strong alliances, yes. he is talking to russia but also had at davos i had a chance to listen to his talk, the speech he gave and it was interesting, there was a strong speech for free trade, for cooperation. for an inclusive global management of problems and of fairness within the economic systems.
so these were new tones. our tones. he was giving our speech. you are implying... he was giving our speech. so is he in some way then claiming the mantle of leader of the world? filling the vacuum that president trump might be...? i would say that, i welcome this attitude, welcome to the club and of course, this openness, this external openness has to be echoed by internal opennes too and the most important thing is, i am very glad to listen to these worlds but deeds have to follow. so china and russia being the new superpowers in a decade's time, you refute that? definitely. because there is the transatlantic element. i put it to you that the west is in decline. let's look at europe in particular. europe is in crisis post—brexit, it really is. a couple of thoughts.
again, the president of germany, joachim gauck, "the uniting force "of the eu has declined significantly." president trump said, after brexit, other countries can follow the uk's example and leave and president xi of china, "the eu is gradually falling apart." three powerful voices, not much confidence in your. warning voices? different points of view? yes, the question that is in front of us, is do we want this european union and do we want a european family or can live without it? i am strongly in favour of a european union because i think our future and the tackling of our, the problem we are facing, we battle when we are in the european union, i do not think a single country of the european union, not even a large country like germany, can handle the problems as well as the european union can do it. but a member of the family —
you said the family of the european union — a key member of the family, britain, has decided to go it alone. theresa may said, "we are not turning our backs on europe "but we want to claim our place as ou history has always "given us, in the world." looking beyond europe to partners elsewhere. you're faced with this issue that you cannot make brexit easy for britain because as guy verhofstadt, the key negotiator for the european union with britain, has said, the eu will never accept a situation in which it is better to be outside the eu, outside the single market, than it is to be a member of the eu. you've got to make it tough for britain, haven't you? well, i think we should diminish the tone that is always pushing towards make it tough, make it hard. all these words. they don't make it easy. it will not be an easy task to dis—tangle what has taken years. we should keep in mind that we are on the same side
of the front because we share many values together. we face many common threats. and europe is doing better and britain is doing better if the two of us find a smart and convenient way to organise our future relation, because it is not either in the european interest or british interest that one or the other is not doing well. but prime minister theresa may said in her speech on january 16, the uk would not accept a punitive approach to brexit, adding that no deal is better than a bad dealfor britain. so what are you going to do? give britain a good deal but then that goes against what guy verhofstadt said, that if you make life too rosy for britain outside the eu, then others might follow. you are caught between a rock and a hard place. well, yes, and the most important thing is, sit down
and start to negotiate. be concrete. because lll these extreme voices, be concrete and then you see step—by—step, what are our common interests? what is the large portion that we share where we can do something good together in a world that is larger than only britain and the european union. are you worried, minister, about britain's reaction? the chancellor of the exchequer, philip hammond, told a german newspaper that britain would not lie down and accept economic damage incurred by a harsh deal. he has said that the uk would change its economic and social model, it would have a very low corporate tax structure, for instance, it's got a strong finance sector, so britain could become this tax haven in the heart of europe. you would be very worried about that, wouldn't you? these are things to sort out. i don't think that it is smart to go into a tax dumping race and we have heard other voices and the whole
picture will not be complete if we do not look at the final contract we have together. so i don't think that it is smart just to pick the one or the other topic without even having sat down at the negotiating table and to utter threats, how it could be. would it happen, issuing a threat? you heard him and it's his words. but i think it's better to sit down and to start to talk concretely instead ofjust predicting things, one or the other, small issue. you are obviously defence minister of germany. let us turn to defence matters. donald trump, in an interview injanuary that he gave to the times newspaper, he described nato as obsolete because it's not taking care of the jihadist threat. what is your reaction to that?
well, i think that we have this long history of trust and reliance within nato and we made the experience that is a high value that we have the strong promise, article five, if one of us is attacked, all of us stand up. we saw it with 9/11. the united states were being attacked by al-qaeda and all of us, we stood up and we are still in afghanistan and it is good that we have the proof that we can rely on each other. this is the one part. fighting terror started at that time. al-qaeda was the first sign, massive terror attack of a terroristic group so therefore, we are in the process, globally, to fight terror. nato plays a key role. therefore, i think there are many objective facts that we need nato. but he has also said other worrying things. you mention article five. but he said that, for example,
if russia were to attack a nato member, he would considerfirst whether that targeted country had met its defence commitments before providing military aid. and he was very clear. i think that... have you raised that, though, because that is quite a serious matter. the one part is, article five and our promise in the transatlantic alliance to stand up for each other, is not a question of cost—effectiveness. on the other hand, and there i am with our american friends, since long, i think europe has take over a fair share of the burden and has to raise the defence budgets. that is the reason why in germany, since a couple of years, we are raising the defence budget. way higher than the proportion than the overall budget in germany is rising. your intention is to raise it by 2020 but i have to put it to you, minister, that germany is not meeting nato‘s target
on defence spending. it should be 2% of gdp and is currently over i% and even with your increased spending, you will not meet your target. but the steps in right direction. how will you meet the target? we are coming from a timeframe we had right after the reunification period of peace and the so—called peace dividend. everybody knows it in the scurity sector. and when i came into office, i realised we had to have a turnaround, a turnaround in armament, i need more personnel, i need a strong rise in the budget over years. this turnaround has been accepted by parliament, which is very important, so we have a clear plan. we will invest over 130 billion euros over the next 15 years, purely in armament. we are raising the amount of soldiers that we have.
right now, the armed forces are 250,000 personnel, military and civilian ones, so, you see, the numbers go on the right direction. another aspect of what president trump has said concerning defence matters is that he has touted this idea of lifting sanctions against russia, us and eu sanctions, which were imposed after russia took crimea. and he is stating that if there is a deal with russia on nuclear arms reduction, he would lift those sanctions. that is surely something that many people would welcome? what we know is that ukraine accepted to get rid of its nuclear weapons. many, many years ago. with a guarantee, a written guarantee from russia to respect and protect its border. this deal has been violated by the annexation of crimea. therefore, it is very clear that the combination, nuclear weapon reduction,
and sanction reduction, does not work at all. so it's not something germany would support? not at all. the sanctions are connected to the minsk agreement because of the hybrid warfare of russia in the eastern ukraine and if we are talking in terms of deals, this is the deal, minsk agreement fulfilled, then sanction reduction. ok, so that is clearly an area where you don't see eye to eye with president trump. in terms of russia, we have heard, of course, very, very serious warnings from the german intelligence agencies that there is some kind of role that is coming from russia, in terms of online attacks and misinformation. and you are all very concerned about that, because you have got your national elections in september this year. and the us vice president in the obama administration, joe biden, said he had no doubt that russia interfered with the us elections, through its online attacks and hacking.
what are you doing to try to stop this? what action can you take? it is a real concern. bots, trolls, fake news, we have it all. and therefore i created a cyber command, which is merging the intelligence officers with the it officers. cyber command means visibility, strength, and we are constantly addressing, in public, the topics. because the public has to understand, what are bots, what are trolls, what are fake news? we are learning in public now that not every opinion out there is a real opinion, from a person, but it can be an algorithm, it can be a computer—driven opinions, that are there. and therefore, it is very important to realise what we do not want is machine against human being. we want human beings in dialogue, to have their opinions, and to debate about opinions.
that is democracy. but democracy, as it is, is not machines against humans. fake news is one thing. but on this issue of spying, hacking by russia, you very clearly pointed the finger at russia. the nato chief, jens stoltenberg, accepts that there is a problem, that some states are doing this, but he has declined to specifically name any country, including russia. would you like nato to do more? we have to prove it, case by case by case. we have to defend ourselves, support our cyber security, absolutely true. but we have proved it in germany, where it was clear that it was the kremlin who tried to interfere with public opinion. i will give you an example, of the case of lisa f, where there was a rumour out that refugees, plural, had raped a 13—year—old girl of russian descent. none of it was true.
it had a huge reaction in the russian—speaking community in germany, and it ended with the foreign minister of russia saying this time he hopes germany would not hide the facts. so the good part in it, and this is an ugly story, is that the german media dismantled and showed the whole fake news plot, and what the intentions behind it. therefore, we are learning the patterns. and i am talking about thatjust to say, just to make sure, don't try to interfere in that way, because we are showing the patterns to the public. right. you mentioned refugees, and of course angela merkel, the chancellor of germany, with her open—door policy, and taking i million refugees last year, has provoked quite a reaction. even she has said that what has happened will not happen again. you have got these national elections coming up in september, in the spring, you've got some regional elections. you are deputy chair of the ruling
cdu, of which angela merkel is the chair, of course. you must be very worried, particularly, with the rise of some of the anti—immigration parties like afd, alternative fur deutschland. the rise of the populist party afd has... the migration flow in 2015 was the trigger, without any doubt. different from other countries, where you have populist movements as well, but the trigger was not the economic system, or the economic situation in germany. we have a very robust economy. we have unemployment that is as low as never before in our history, almost no youth unemployment. we have rising wages, rising pensions, stable prices, so the economy is strong. but the experience of the almost 900,000 refugees in 2015 really worried the public, without any doubt, and this made it easier for populist parties.
what happened this year is we had a reduction of the migrant flow. less than one third did come. so this is an improvement, and at the moment being, you see that confidence is coming back. but what are you doing? because, you know, the afd took more votes than the cdu in angela merkel‘s own home state. and i will tell you what one of your allies, horst seehofer, the leader of bavaria's christian social union, which is allied to your party, said we owe it to the victims of the terrible market attack at christmas in berlin, to those affected, and to the whole population, to rethink our immigration and security policy, and to change it. so what are you doing, in the light of the concern
about refugees, especially since people are concerned that some of them may carry out terrible attacks like the one we saw in december in berlin? be clear about the rules. we will always be open for asylum, people who need asylum, because this is in our constitution. but we have a lot of people coming who are economic migrants. this is no door to enter our country. economic migrants have to go back to their countries, these are the rules. we have been working hard, and we are still working hard, on improving the registration, on securing the outside border, on clarifying who can stay and who has to go home. we are having a contract now with turkey, with some african countries. what i'm displaying is you have to work on the root causes for what happened in 2015. and, slowly but surely, step by step, people realise if we don't work with africa, for example, on reducing migrant flows, invest in africa in stability, in economic development, then it will be
difficult to tackle the problem. but, if we do so, the migrant flows are reduced. and this is the fruit of consistent policies, which we are doing. which is why we saw mrs merkel visit three african countries in 2016. and this is a very key moment for germany, the lead nation in the european union, you know, one of the biggest economies in the world. your president, joachim gauck, has said just now, democratic and stable germany faces threat. and he is looking at the jihadist threat that we have talked about, and he is talking about obviously brexit, and also a new trump presidency. so it is a critical moment, isn't it, for germany? for germany, and for the open society and democracy. because what he is talking about, he is painting a picture of all this as potentially undermining trust and confidence in democratic institutions. and what we have to do, and this is a crucial time, stand up for open society. fight for the open society.
show that are better off with freedom, freedom of press, freedom of opinion, freedom of religion, the respect for human rights, the rule of law. so we have to speak up, that this is the better model for the future, than other proposals. i have to ask you now, turning to a personal matter, you gave birth to seven children, including one set of twins. and, you know, we have heard some talk and debate sometimes about senior female politicians, who haven't had children, like the british prime minister, theresa may, like angela merkel. do you think that is a reflection of societal prejudices, or do you think it is cheap political point—scoring? it's an absolutely unnecessary debate. so every single person, be they man or woman, brings along a certain biography, and a certain set of values. and we deal with them, and within this context. but i would never, ever reduce it to having children or not having children, never.
now, your admirers also talk about you as being a successor to chancellor angela merkel, whenever she decides to step down. what do you say to them? that every generation has a chancellor, and in my generation it's angela merkel. and i am very, very glad and proud that i can serve with her. so is that no or a yes, or is it ducking the question? ducking the question? it is ducking the question, isn't it? this is a nice term, i didn't know it before! so, elections in september, cdu are going to come top, and still be the government in germany?
yes, i think so. no shock outcomes, like we saw with brexit and the trump victory? no, we're working hard on that goal. there is a good probability we will be able reach it. ursula von der leyen, thank you for coming on hardtalk. thank you. hello. wednesday will start quite windy across northern and western parts of the uk, and continue that way. whereas into parts of southern england, the midlands, east anglia, it is troublesome fog once again. some freezing fog patches at that, dense in places. and that could be having an impact on travel again, so check the situation before you head out, you can see the fog showing up here. but, if you are in scotland and northern ireland, you can see the wind arrows indicating a strong, quite gusty wind in places, keeping the fog at bay, that is also into the far west of wales and the far
south—west of england. where we have the thickest fog is where we have the frost as well, and that could be giving the icy stretches on untreated surfaces. look at the strength of wind, though, into the far south—west into the western parts of wales. could be a few fog patches into the welsh marches, into a few spots in yorkshire. it is a windy picture through scotland and northern ireland, north—west england, too. plenty of cloud around, could be quite drizzly in places first thing. now, as we go on through the day, the fog will gradually lift into low cloud, but a cloudier, colder—feeling day into east anglia and the south—east compared with tuesday. some brighter skies, though, into much of south—west england, wales, parts of northern england, keep a fair amount of cloud in northern ireland and scotland. a largely dry picture, but the outbreaks of rain coming into northern ireland and scotland late in the day, and gusty winds. 11 degrees in stornoway, ten in belfast. just six, though, in london. now, as we go through wednesday night, there will be a frost developing again for many of us, and just a subtle shift in the wind direction, connecting with colder
air freezing continental europe, means we draw in some colder air to the uk for thursday, and quite brisk south—easterly winds, so it is going to feel quite raw. there could be a few snow flows around the beginning in some spots. a few icy stretches, too. many of us will improve the sunny spells. it won't help the feel of the weather on thursday in that brisk south—easterly flow, as temperatures for some will struggle to get above freezing, and if you add in the impact of the wind, it will feel like it is below freezing, for that raw feel on thursday. not quite so chilly on friday, but still chilly, definitely, down the eastern side of the uk. towards the south—west we bring in more cloud. the risk of getting a few showers as we go on through friday. it is a bit of a change heading into the start of the weekend. a weather disturbance coming our way. still a lot of uncertainty about the detail, but that could bring some heavier downpours into parts of england and wales at the start of the weekend. sunday, at the moment, looks quieter, more of us dry. so a risk of some showers, at least to start the weekend. some sunshine around.
less chilly at the weekend, but still the scope for getting some overnight frosts, and some fog patches around too. that's it, bye bye. i'm rico hizon in singapore, the headlines: china replies to donald trump and tells the us it's not needed in the south china sea. grave concern, the head of the un criticises israel's plans for 2,500 more settlement homes in the occupied west bank. i'm babita sharma in london. fans of sumo celebrate. for the first time in almost two decades, japan has a home—grown grand champion. the oscars shortlist is revealed, and the winner of the most nominations ever received is la la land. live from our studios in singapore