in the malaysian capital. the white house spokesman sean spicer says the us president asked his chief adviser on national security, general michael flynn, to resign after his trust in him had eroded. and this video has been trending on bbc.com. it is a sight not seen in 50 years. normal, timetabled trains between settle and carlisle in england will be running on steam for three days, part of celebrations to mark the reopening of the line. that's all from me now. stay with bbc world news. now it is time for hardtalk. welcome to hardtalk. i am stephen sackur.
with so much focus on america's new president, it is easy to forget that europe is facing its own period of prolonged uncertainty: brexit negotiations are about to begin, the greek debt crisis is going through another convulsion, and it's a year of key elections, most particularly in the continent's dominant economy, germany. my guest isjens spahn, a rising star in angela merkel‘s cdu. is german politics going to reshape europe? jens spahn in berlin, welcome to hardtalk.
good evening stephen. hello to london. it is good to see you. let's start with trans—atlantic relations, as seen from berlin. i think we have to start with the impact of donald trump. how would you say germany perceives donald trump's administration right now? well, let's say that the way the president is twittering and the way he talks is very unusualfor germans. we are not used to that, kind of. but nevertheless, i think when it comes to the issues he brings to the table, and the administration brings to the table, when it comes to nato, the question if we do enough here in europe for our own defence, when it comes to trade, for example trade with china, we have some issues too. we just had this steel argument with the european union and china. when it comes to syria, there are issues on the table that actually we can work on together.
and i want to focus on those things where we can work on together, notjust do all these hysterical stuff we have seen in the past days. i certainly don't want to be hysterical, but i don't necessarily just want to focus on what you have outlined, either. i want to focus on what donald trump said about europe. he said brexit was the start of something bigger, that other nations would be the european union, and he clearly left the impression that he doesn't have much time to the european union. well, i would say it is up to the european union, now, actually, to grow up. we have two learn, obviously, that we have to do our things on our own, and i — but i do hope that from sentences like this, and the opinion that seems to be there — and by the way, it is not a new opinion, new stuff we hear from our american friends when it comes to the european union... oh, no, no, on the contrary, mr spahn, it's very new. i mean, i've spoken to many of barack obama's advisers
and their message was clear: they wanted to deal with a coherent, unified european union, they wanted a trans—atlantic trade and investment partnership — the so—called ttip deal that donald trump's walking away from. yes, but stephen, that is what i meant — we obviously need to become a strong europe. we are not right now. so we need to bring up these issues. a defence union, for example. we talked about it for decades, but actually nothing has happened. now, finally, we do the first concrete steps to build up something, new agencies, new working together on this areas. or when it comes to trade, for months, if not years, we have seen many people demonstrating against ttip. and we had all sorts of other problems with other arrangements. and i hope people learn right now that free trade is something very important for the european union and that we need to be strong on that. what i meant by growing up is, actually we need to learn as a union
to stand on our own feet. and i think that is what is changing in the trans—atlantic partnership. of course, the united states is our most important ally in the world. the tra ns—atla ntic partnership is crucialfor us. but nevertheless, the european union needs to grow up and become stronger. and then, i think, we will be taken more serious in washington. donald trump is in america first guy. and he is certainly not a free trader. he's a guy who, even in his inauguration address, he used the term "protection". we know he's going to do what it takes to change the trade dynamic between countries like his and yours. and when he looks at your trading surplus, which in 2015 was a staggering 250 billion euros, he sees a country, germany, which, in his view, is operating under fairly. what is unfair about our export of cars, actually, to the united states? that is a question we have to raise. on the other hand, i don't have
any german mobile left. so we buy those from other countries. germany is notjust one of the biggest exporters of the world, we are the third biggest importer, as well. and of course, if you believe in free trade, you need to make sure it is to the benefit of all. you say america first. my oath is germany first, too. if it is america first, we must be german first. but i do believe that i served germany first, the best, in working together with other countries, with our european neighbours and our tra ns—atla ntic partners. we need to make clear that america first, too, can mean working together and trading together to the benefit of both sides. that is what it is about. and by the way, the only government, or one of the only ones in the eurozone that is actually asking the european central bank to think about the low interest rates and the weak euro is the german one. it seems to me that in the course of this conversation, you have steadfastly refused to criticise donald trump in any meaningful way at all.
and yet in german politics, the spd, your rival for power, the centre—left party, is now led by a man, martin schulz, who has made no bones about his very strong criticisms of donald trump. and it's interesting that martin schulz, in germany, right now, is doing very, very well in the polls. it may be that your caution and angela merkel‘s caution about donald trump is not going to serve you well in german politics. well, first of all, i don't believe that this issue, the american issue, to call it that way, is the most important thing when it comes to the people when it comes to for whom they vote. but that's different if you are the chancellor of a country and have that responsibility than if you are just a party chairman like mr schulz is. and like i said, the united states are one of our important allies, the most important outside of the european union. of course there are things that can be criticised, and of course it is important. you cannot keep saying that, mr spahn, when the united states
is led by a man who, in so many different ways, whether it is on the european union, free trade, nato, or human rights issues, is doing things counter to what germany believes in! but stephen, do you think it makes things better to start insulting each other? we are doing that right now. what i believe in is working together. this new administration isjust an office for some few weeks — two or three weeks. and everyone in germany and europe seems to know already what all this is about. i want to talk to people first, before i come to final conclusions. and so, actually, what we try to build up is personal relations with our partners on the other side. of course, we do say what we like and what we don't like, but i prefer to start doing that in personal talks, not in front of the media. but private people do at the media does. what a party chairman like mr schulz does, that is up to them. but for a german government, it is a responsible position to say,
first of all, we want to speak to our partners in washington, and on the other side, and i made that clear, for example, we have explained that there is a difference between the current situation with china and europe. so we just don't let it happen. we comment on that, but in a way that i think is a very responsible way. 0k. in my introduction to this interview, i talked about uncertainty. i think it is fair to say that there is more uncertainty about german politics, now, than perhaps we would have predicted six months ago. as i mentioned, the opinion polls have changed. for the first time, just a few days ago, we saw a national, credible poll, which put martin schulz ahead of angela merkel in the race for the chancellorship in september's election. why do you think the political
mood is changing and, frankly, running counter to the interests of your party, the cdu? well, the social democrats in germany have the momentum of the new kids on the block right now. and no—one actually knows mr schulz, coming from brussels and into domestic politics, right now, and his positions on many issues like immigration, like security, like social issues. so this debate is about to start. but what we see is that a party like the social democrats, that actually have been in a kind of political depression in the past decades, or past years, let's say, past year, where they had no chance, actually, to win any national election. for the first time, they get a slight feeling that they might have a chance, this time. and of course, that sets free some energy. and that is our policy right now. and that shows, as well, by the way, as a christian democrat, that our party, the chancellor's party, this campaign will be different to the campaign that we have seen four years ago. yeah, it will be about content much more than the last one. everyone actually feels, right now, it is about the future of europe, about the future of our country, about the future of our actually
uniting or disuniting our society with the migrants and refugees that havejust come in. no doubt. no. and we'll want to make this one a more amazing campaign in the last one. she did — your boss, angela merkel, said it will be the hardest ever. and it may be one of the hardest, if not the hardest ever, because you, personally, have created some problems for her. when you have talked about her handling of the migration challenge and her decision to say "we can manage, our borders are open," and letting in many more thani million migrants over the past couple of years. you have commented on that, suggesting that it was a mistake. you edited a book that described the influx as a quote "failure of the state." you said the border cannot be secured, law cannot be enforced, and thousands of applications cannot be processed. so if you, yourself, have pointed at angela merkel
and said you made a terrible mistake, and the german people have read what you have said. no, no, no, i neversaid... no, i described the situation in my book. the book is from from november 2015, by the way. i described the situation we had in germany, and obviously in europe. we were not able, and in some parts we are still not able to secure our border. that is obviously what we need to do. and nobody was prepared, not in germany, in berlin, in europe, on what has happened. donald trump called it a "catastrophic mistake" on the part of angela merkel. and the german people are not going to forget that. no, but — you know what is actually the catastrophic mistake? we have made it as a european union as a whole. the whole schengen treaty. the freedom of movement
throughout europe. that only can work if we we are willing and able to secure our borders. we were not able to protect our borders, the mediterranean sea. we are getting better. that is what the last summit was about. we had to regain control and we have regained a lot of control already, but not yet everything that needs to done. and that is actually a debate that is to be done. i think if something like that is happening, like we have seen in the past two years... yeah, but, but, but... ..with the migrants coming into europe, then it is quite normal that you have a controversial debate in society and in a party. and ijust see a controversial debate in the party if you do at the right way, and with good arguments, and that is what we did in the christian democratic union in germany. yes, but politics gets in the way of — the reality is that we are just
two months on from a terrible terror attack at a christmas market in berlin that turned out to be the work of a tunisian individual, who the german authorities were aware of, he was legally in the country, but could not figure out how to deport him out of the country. and that makes political capital for rival parties such as the far—right afd movement in your country, who say, and i quote a recent leadership quote, "we cannot go on denying that there is a lin between merkel‘s migration policies and these attacks, or we will simply prepare the ground for more of the same attacks." that is the political climate today to your party. well, the political climate in germany is more polarised than it has been for many, many years. that's for sure. and i think that is quite normal, actually, after this situation we have seen in the autumn of 2015. we have never had a situation like this before, not in the european union, not in germany. now it is about regaining control. now it is about discussing security issues, of course,
fighting terrorism, and we have had terror attacks before this refugee influx of the past months. but it is about screening people who are coming to the european union. by the way, the terrorist of berlin, actually was a let out of a greek prison too early. so we need to find a european solution again on this as well. and ifind quite normal that you have controversial debates about this in a society and in an upcoming campaign, and because this is not an average issue, that is a fundamental question of the future of society and of europe. but by the way... you can see... if i may say so, is that why you are pandering to the far right for taking on, for example, the issue of the burqa in germany and describing yourself as burqa—phobic? is that your effort
to win far right votes? when i grew up, fighting for the rights of women was a liberal thing, a leftish thing. i wonder now that if you fight for the rights of women that they are able to show their faces, it's a very reactionary conservative religious approach that women are forced... wait a minute, what about the women who want to wear the burqa? crosstalk no stephen, sorry, i heard that all the time. since when is fighting for women and the rights of women and the equality of men and women, since when is that a very right wing approach? that's new to me. it used to be a leftish approach. every academic denounces... we have to fight for these women's rights. we have so many women in germany. everyday, fathers and brothers choose the man that women have to marry... a strange issue for you to fight on.
..if i criticise it, as i have done last weekend, people call me right wing. it used to be a very liberal approach and i keep on saying that. it is a strange issue for you to fight on. every academic analysis tells us there are only a few hundred women in the whole of germany who where the burqa. it is a very, very small issue that you have chosen to make into a big political issue. also, what if these women actually want to wear the burqa? where do you stand on women's rights then? actually, a woman that wants to wear at burqa might be wrong in our societies. these are open deliberative societies. every day, i have to see people i might not like and their opinions and that's normal, that is an open society. how would this interview be, stephen, if the two of us were just covered on our faces
discussing these issues? that's not our liberal, open society. that's not our western world. you might call it a symbolic debate. yes, it is symbolic. it is symbolic about the question of if we are willing to stand for our rights, values and principles. there are so many women actually affected. i say it so much here in germany. notjust by burqa but their fathers are choosing the men who they have to marry. little girls are not allowed to go to swimming lessons because of so—called religious reasons. we have to do this fight and to stand up for our values. this is about culture, by the way. so practically speaking, we know that the cdu wants to ban the burqa in public places in germany but there is a bigger issue. what you do with those whose asylum claims fail and you don't really know where to put them. angela merkel has said in recent days and again this might be political but she said "our policy
in future is about repatriation, repatriation and more repatriation." what are you going to do, are you going to send tens and possibly thousands of people to greece which is already struggling to cope with the tens of thousands of people it has in refugee camps already, you are going to send them back to greece because that was their first port of entry into the european union? no, it's not about sending them back to greece. it is about sending them back to their home countries, morocco, tunisia and algeria. in many cases, they won't accept them, as was the case with the market... that is why we are negotiating with these countries. less than i% of asylum seekers are from these countries and are recognised and refugees. many of them come for understandable reasons but not for reasons that make them a refugee because of the geneva convention. they have to be sent back. that is what the valletta summit was about. the people we rescue for the mediterranean sea, we need to bring them back to the coast from which they came.
we need agreements with these countries that they treat them well and that they give them shelter and food and all the other stuff and within weeks, this smuggler business will be ended and the dying in the mediterranean sea as well. we have to actually make clear, yes, refugees from syria and iraq, there is a chance to be in the european union. there is a chance to be in germany, we want to help them. but for people that come for other reasons and i say again, understandable reasons, but we can't solve this problem by letting them all come to the european union. i have to ask you about brexit because that is the other existential challenge facing the european union. after the brexit vote, angela merkel said the very survival of the european union is now at stake.
because she sees it like that, does that mean that you in germany ultimately do feel that britain has to pay a heavy price for brexit and that you will not exceed to the cherry picking desires of theresa may to both leave the single market but have preferential access to the single market? first of all, i still regret the united kingdom leaving the eu. the united kingdom always was and always will be one of our strongest partners. in europe and the world. so you will allow, to a certain extent, some cherry picking? a preferential trade deal to be... no! i was about to make the but. we want to have very strong relations economically, culturally and politically, but there can't be any cherry picking. whoever wants to have access to the internal market needs to accept the freedom of movement, for example. between the framework of the internal market and the wto
framework, there is so much room for compromise so we actually should start these negotiations. so far they haven't started. guy verhofstadt who is going to be talking for the european parliament in these negotiations, he says the divorce settlement needs to be dealt with first before talks can start on the new relationship, including the new trading relationship. they can't be simultaneous. is that your view? they are separate, that is right but you can start simultaneously. first of all, you have to settle the divorce, that is true. we are already about to talk about all of this. of course you can already start the talks about what is going to happen after but this will be the mother of negotiations, actually, one of the biggest
negotiations that ever has been between states. there is a lot of work to do and so we should start soon to get away this uncertainty for so many people and so many businesses that are affected by this. let's start this and let's find a way to have a very strong relationship, economically and politically. as i said, there is no cherry picking, but much, much room for compromises. in your opinion, how much will it cost britain in terms of its long—term economic prospects, leaving the eu? well, actually, that is very hard to say. that is very hard to calculate. you can only make assumptions. you can make every number if you want to, out of this. i think what is affecting most... my point is this.
president hollande said that britain has to pay a high price or other countries might want to follow. is that your feeling? no, that's not the german approach. we don't want to punish anyone. that's a free decision of a member state, that it wants to use an article that is in the treatise to leave the european union so we have to accept this decision. it is not about punishment. it is about not cherry picking but finding a good way for partnership afterwards. i am not so worried, by the way, about other countries leaving. mr trump might say it. others might say it. i see the eastern european countries having a big interest in good relationships. for example when it comes to defence. the defence union is something very important for our eastern european partners. i see that our south european partners love to be with us in the eurozone. actually, i see no other country living. we have to leave it there.
thank you very much, jens spahn, forjoining me from berlin. a pleasure. all the best to you. hello, there. we are looking at changes to the weather now. we've lost the cold, easterly grey weather. something milder coming from the south. in the next 2a hours and for the rest of this week weather will come in off the atlantic. that's what we're looking at overnight. weather fronts pushing up from the south, introducing more cloud and some rain across central, northern areas, which will clear northwards. then we have two areas of rain pushing toward southern england
by the end of the night. generally quite a misty, murky and cloudy night, but that will blanket in temperatures. anything from 5—9 celsius, but some chilly spots in northern scotland in the morning. we have rain pushing toward south—west england and towards south wales. heavy bursts mixed in. there could be a rumble of thunder through the morning. a mild start. elsewhere, dampness across the south—east, but generally cloudy and grey, misty and murky for england and wales. a bit of rain and showers affecting the irish sea coasts. some of it pushing towards northern ireland and south scotland. central northern scotland, a cold start here, perhaps a touch of frost in northern glens. but there you'll see the best of the sunshine. the same for northern ireland. further south, the weather front pushes northwards and eastwards as the day wears on and again some of it could be heavy towards the midlands and towards the south—east, potentially heavy bursts
for northern counties too. a mild feel to things. a little bit cooler further north, but you have the sunshine, so it will compensate. the weather front pushes towards the north sea. it turns dry for england and wales. the winds turn light. a cool night, maybe mist and fog to start thursday morning. low pressure will sweep to the north of scotland. this brings frequent showers to northern ireland and much of central northern scotland and strong, blustery winds. for england and wales quite a quiet day, with light winds and sunshine. feeling pleasantly mild. the low pressure pushes towards scandinavia. high—pressure nudges in for friday. that means with light winds and damp air we could start the day on friday with some dense fog patches around. but they should generally clear and lift to allow for sunshine to develop through friday afternoon. this is friday in more detail. starting with dense fog. through the day skies should tend to brighten up. feeling mild, temperatures in double figures.
but out west there will be strengthening winds and outbreaks of rain. into the weekend most of us stay mild. a little bit of rain forecast, but for most of us it should stay dry. i'm rico hizon in singapore. the headlines: confusion around the death of kimjong—nam: the half—brother of north korea's leader is killed at a malaysian airport. as millions of indonesians head to the polls, can the governor of jakarta keep his job amid a political scandal? we're live injakarta with the latest. i'm babita sharma in london. what did the president know and when did he know it? speculation mounts over the resignation of trump's security advisor. and we report on how pressure is mounting to end the sale of fake indigenous art to protect aboriginal culture.