October 4th, 2015

Fareed Zakaria GPS: Renzi, Clinton, Soros on Europe’s refugee crisis, economic woes

Today’s CNN’s FAREED ZAKARIA GPS featured a panel interview with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, former President Bill Clinton, and philanthropist George Soros (Soros Fund Management) about during a session of the 2015 Clinton Global Initiative meetings in New York City.  Their discussion focused on Europe’s refugee crisis and enduring economic woes.

MANDATORY CREDIT for reference and usage: “CNN’s FAREED ZAKARIA GPS”



Fareed Zakaria, host, Fareed Zakaria GPS:  I have a real treat for you now: an all-star panel having a blockbuster discussion on Europe at the Clinton Global Initiative this week.

Joining President Clinton himself was the man who has been called Italy’s Bill Clinton, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, and the billionaire businessman and philanthropist George Soros.

It was a terrific, wide-ranging conversation. I want to show you the best parts.  I started off by asking Soros for an overall analysis of just how bad things look in Europe today.


GEORGE SOROS, FOUNDER, SOROS FUND MANAGEMENT: Unfortunately, Europe is in a state of disintegration. It started in 2008, and it continues to progress, and it’s actually become non-linear. The disintegration in the last two months has accelerated because you’ve got not one crisis but multiple — at least five or six crises.

ZAKARIA: What are the main ones?

SOROS: Well…

ZAKARIA: Describe the disintegration.

SOROS: –you start with the euro crisis, which is at the root of it all. It came to fruition in the Greek crisis at the beginning of 2010. Then you have the Ukrainian situation and, of course, now, the migration crisis. And the most important thing, of course, is that there is also an external threat, namely from Putin’s Russia. And the internal threats, or crises, are dividing Europe. This external threat ought to unite Europe, because everybody has to pull together to resist and to stand up to it.


ZAKARIA: The rising Russian bear on Europe’s borders and growling in so many different directions – I asked Prime Minister Matteo Renzi if Russian threats would cause Europe to find some common ground and common identity and coalesce and unite.


MATTEO RENZI, ITALIAN PRIME MINISTER: I think it could be a tragic mistake consider identity of Europe against Russia. I think we must defend integrity and the sovereignty of Ukraine. I think we must continue in a correct support to Poroshenko’s government.

But if we think the future of Europe is create an identity, not in our values and our ideals, but against Russia, I think this is a tragic mistake.

First, because I think we must involve Russia in every dossier — in Syria, in Libya, Mediterranean. Second, because I think it’s impossible for a place as Europe with a place in which in the past we won — we won only when we decide to open the borders, not close.

Europe — and President Clinton, obviously he’s here the number one to verify this point — Europe has the identity when the Berlin Walls fell out. Now, the risk of Europe is not the problem of Russia for me; is not the problem of austerity for me — is that Hungary build a new wall, because for my mother, the moment of identity of Europe was when Berlin Walls fell out. For my children, I really worried if I think between Hungarian and Croatia, we can build a new wall.

ZAKARIA: President Clinton, can you tell us what you think about the main crisis that has been in the news recently, which is the migration crisis. And it’s accelerated but, as you well know, you mentioned to me earlier, this year we have seen the largest number of displaced people since World War II, 60 million people. It seems to me we’ve gotten to a point where, because technology and media and a certain degree of means allows — allow people to see a better life and to find a way to leave their countries, they can’t get — they are not taken in anywhere and so you have 60 million people around the world trapped in this no man’s land.

How do we solve this? What happens?

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: Well, first, I’ll do my best to answer that, but if you think about what George said and what the Prime Minister said, it wasn’t until very long ago that Europeans were killing each other in large numbers. The European Union itself is a miracle.

The eurozone assumed great economic significance as long as the economy was growing. As soon as it turned down, the problems of the eurozone became apparent.

The world is no less interdependent than it was five years ago, 10 years ago. It’s more interdependent. But in times of insecurity, fueled by both political problems and the absence of economic growth, negative identity politics tend to trump positive identity politics.

The European idea requires a level of security, personal and collective security, to embrace. It doesn’t mean it’s not worth fighting for or that the battle’s over. You know, we didn’t repeal the laws of human nature. We didn’t all of a sudden elevate human consciousness overnight. This is a long battle. But I’m with you, it’s worth fighting — it’s worth fighting for. So…

ZAKARIA: Can I ask you one corollary?


ZAKARIA: Do you think that that issue of negative versus positive identity, when you have slow growth, is true in America, as well?

CLINTON: Absolutely. Absolutely. You get these — that’s the Republican presidential debates. You have people who live in coal country who lost 20,000 jobs before Barack Obama took the oath of office responding to Mr. Trump saying that if I just throw the immigrants out who are undocumented and stop the Chinese products from coming in, you will be hunky-dory.

But the truth is, they’re physically isolated in an industry where employment peaked in 1920 — 95 years ago. And nobody has done anything for them. It is a microcosm of what you see in Greece, what you see in parts of Italy, what you see in parts of Spain — the whole deal.

And we need to all just take a step back and say if this is worth fighting for, let’s just take this thing piece by piece.

But I don’t think you should give up on the European dream, nor do I think you can get it back as it was in the heyday of the ’90s overnight. You have to build it back, and you have to realize oh, this is really terrible — compared to what? What Europe was in the 1940s? I don’t think so. What it was in the 1870s? No. See, we just have to keep going.

We can’t get away from each other, so the world is going to be defined by positive identity politics or negative identity politics. In insecure times, the negative always has the advantage.  You have to fight it. And you don’t win in a day. You win a long, long battle.

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