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Hardtalk - - A World of Music




Hardtalk interviews newsmakers and personalities from across the globe.
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access_time1 day ago
The escalating violence between Israel and the militant Islamic groups in Gaza has the potential to inflict terrible bloodshed, but will it change any of the underlying realities in this seemingly endless conflict? Stephen Sackur speaks to Israel’s Ambassador to the UK Tzipi Hotovely
access_time3 days ago
We have reached the point in the Covid pandemic where the impacts of the virus are varying wildly. Here in the UK, infection rates have been contained and a rapid vaccine roll out is having its effect, but in many other countries the situation remains critical. In this patchwork pandemic how much scope is there for a resumption of travel and tourism? Stephen Sackur speaks to Greece’s Minister of Tourism Haris Theoharis.
access_time5 days ago
Zeinab Badawi interviews Fawzia Koofi, the first woman to lead a political party in Afghanistan, and is part of an Afghan delegation in talks with the Taliban. Yet, she is one of their fiercest critics, endures constant intimidation and has survived several attempts on her life. Why is Fawzia Koofi so worried about the future of stability of Afghanistan, and its women?
access_time8 days ago
Month by month US President Joe Biden is shifting away from Trump-era foreign policy positions. But how dramatic will the pivot be? In the middle east there are signs of a changed approach to the regions two oil rich adversaries Saudi Arabia and Iran; more pressure on the Saudis, more engagement with Tehran. Stephen Sackur speaks to the influential boss of Saudi Arabia’s Al Arabiya English news channel, Mohamed Alyahya. Have the Saudis forfeited America’s unstinting support?
access_time10 days ago
Stephen Sackur interviews Mohamedou Ould Slahi, a Mauritanian citizen who was once identified as a high value al-Qaeda terrorist, serving 14 years in America’s Guantanamo Bay prison. He was eventually released without charge, and now a film, The Mauritanian, has been released telling this remarkable story. What is the Guantanamo Bay legacy?

(Photo: Mohamedou Ould Slahi appears via videolink on Hardtalk)
access_time12 days ago
Gilbert Prousch and George Passmore first met as art students in London in the late 1960s and ever since then they've been together as a couple and as an artistic duo. From the beginning they’re own physical presence has been central to their work and they see themselves as living sculptures. They appear in most of their work, wearing their distinctive tweed jackets and ties. Their subject matter is the stuff of daily life in London, including the stuff other artists would never dream of using including bodily fluids, faeces and trash. Over the decades they’ve had work exhibited in many of the world's top modern art galleries and have sold works for millions of dollars. Now in London they’ve presented a collection of lockdown era work entitled New Normal pictures but is there anything normal about Gilbert and George?
access_time17 days ago
Stephen Sackur speaks to Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dmytro Kuleba. A few days ago, the Ukrainian Government was pleading for international help to confront the threat of a Russian military offensive from the East, but the feared assault never came. Russia declared its military exercise was over, and began to redeploy its forces. What did Ukraine and the outside world learn from this rattling of Russian sabres?

(Photo: Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dmytro Kuleba, appears via video link on Hardtalk)
access_time19 days ago
Russian troops are massing on Ukraine’s border, while China and the US are locked in Cold War-style hostility. Cyberwarfare makes states, systems and individuals feel newly vulnerable. Stephen Sackur interviews Sir Peter Westmacott - he was Britain’s Ambassador in Washington, Paris and Ankara. Does he think we are at peak geopolitical risk?
access_time22 days ago
The imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny describes himself as a walking skeleton. He’s refusing food in protest at his medical treatment and thousands of Russians joined protests to show their solidarity. The Kremlin seems intent on destroying Navalny’s movement irrespective of internal dissent or international condemnation. Stephen Sackur speaks to Vladimir Ashurkov, a key Navalny ally and executive director of his anti- corruption foundation. Is Putin about to eliminate his most dangerous opponent?
access_time24 days ago
President Biden is promising hundreds of billions of dollars to speed up the decarbonisation of the US economy – the White House wants cooperation with China to make good on the Paris agreement on emissions cuts. Stephen Sackur interviews Michael Mann, one of America’s leading climate scientists. He says a new climate war is unfolding. If so, who are today’s biggest climate enemies?
access_time29 days ago
Stephen Sackur interviews Silvia Foti, an American writer whose grandfather was a Lithuanian man hailed as heroic patriot who paid with his life resisting the Soviets. But according to his granddaughter, Jonas Noreika was no hero - he had the blood of thousands of Jews on his hands. She’s chosen to speak out, angering many in Lithuania. What happens when truth trumps family loyalty?
access_time1 month ago
An arch advocate for his family’s homeland, Armenia, his passionate views on genocide, war and corrupt governance have won him millions of fans and numerous enemies.
access_time1 month ago
Zeinab Badawi interviews playwright, novelist and filmmaker Tsitsi Dangarembga, one of Zimbabwe’s most influential and acclaimed cultural figures. Arrested for her political activism she says her art gives her a platform to call for change. Is she optimistic about her country's future? What are the prospects for better days in Zimbabwe, when every day is a struggle?
access_time1 month ago
If Afghanistan is to find a way out of seemingly never-ending war the next few weeks will be critically important. The Biden Administration is pressing the Afghan Government and the Taliban to accept a transition plan based on a ceasefire and power-sharing. It’s a tough sell, given the taliban has intensified its military campaign in recent months. But what’s the alternative? Stephen Sackur speaks to Afghanistan’s First Vice President Amrullah Saleh. Is the Afghan peace process running out of road?
access_time1 month ago
The Covid pandemic looks like a watershed moment in global economics. Big Government is back as the failsafe engine of economic growth, as the usual fears such as soaring debt and rising inflation have been pushed aside. Stephen Sackur interviews acclaimed US economist Ken Rogoff, once dubbed ‘the godfather of austerity’. Is he a convert to Bidenomics?
access_time1 month ago
The proportion of wealth owned by a super-rich elite continues to grow in societies around the world. The glaring disparity between the 'have-mosts' and the 'have-nothings' has fuelled a wave of political anger. Stephen Sackur speaks to the former newspaper columnist, editor, and one-time high society hostess Barbara Amiel, whose recent memoir, wittingly or not, paints an extraordinary, even grotesque, picture of the lives of the wealthy.
access_time1 month ago
Sir Vartan Melkonian began his life as an Armenian refugee in Lebanon, spending his early years in an orphanage outside Beirut, followed by living rough on the streets for many years. He is now a renowned musician, conductor and composer. Stephen Sackur hears his remarkable story.
access_time2 months ago
Porn is one of the biggest drivers of internet traffic and a generator of vast amounts of money, but also an industry in a state of flux. The biggest online porn platforms have been accused of profiting from criminality and abuse. Stephen Sackur interviews Erika Lust - pornographer, feminist and entrepreneur. Is there such a thing as ethical porn?
access_time2 months ago
Much of the art we love is presented via a medium - be it a canvas, a recording or celluloid. Stephen Sackur interviews Marina Abramović, an artist whose primary resource is her own body. In the course of a remarkable career, the world's most famous and garlanded performance artist has pushed herself to the very limits of physical endurance and stirred intense reaction from audiences confronting her eye to eye. Her art and life are one; so what do they tell us?
access_time2 months ago
The Covid 19 pandemic has presented the European Union with an unprecedented test of its cohesion and competence. Right now the scorecard looks decidedly mixed with many member states facing a third wave of infection while the vaccination roll out lags far behind that in post Brexit Britain. Stephen Sackur speaks to the former president of the European Commission Jean Claude Juncker. He once bemoaned a loss of collective EU libido but is the problem getting worse?
access_time2 months ago
It seems the Biden Administration is putting greater emphasis on human rights issues in its already fraught relationship with China. Will that prompt Beijing to think twice about the crackdown on pro-democracy activism in Hong Kong? Stephen Sackur interviews Regina Ip, Chair of the New People’s Party, member of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council and one of Beijing’s most loyal backers in the territory. Is the concept of ‘one country, two systems’ dead?
access_time2 months ago
The idea of a social contract between the individual and the state is a staple of political philosophy. But what happens when that contract is threatened by forces beyond the control of any government, like a climate crisis or, right now, a global pandemic? Stephen Sackur speaks to Baroness Minouche Shafik, director of the London School of Economics and former top official at the World Bank. Is humanity capable of collective action to meet global challenges?
access_time2 months ago
Millions of readers all over the world are drawn to fiction that explores our fears. Horror sells and no-one does it better or more prolifically than Stephen King. He’s written more than 60 books, sold close to 400 million copies - he is the master manipulator of dark places and the paranormal. If you're not a reader you may have seen the Shining, Carrie, Stand by Me - all films based on his stories. He's been writing for half a century – how has our appetite for fear evolved?
access_time2 months ago
The legacy of conflict and hate left behind after the collapse of Yugoslavia isn't easily overcome. They know that in Kosovo, which declared independent statehood a dozen years ago but has yet to make a lasting peace with neighbouring Serbia. Right now Kosovo is experiencing a major political shift. Stephen Sackur speaks to the country’s acting president Vjosa Osmani. She is part of a new generation of young, post-war politicians challenging the old guard of the Kosovar independence struggle. She promises clean government and a fresh start, but can she deliver?
access_time2 months ago
Stephen Sackur speaks to Adar Poonawalla, the CEO of the biggest vaccine producer in the world, Serum Institute of India. He went all-in on a production deal with Astrazeneca, and for many of us, the jab we get will have been made by him. He’s a super-rich vaccine visionary; is he driven by more than profit?
access_time2 months ago
Dr Sasa has a remarkable life story, which has taken him from a remote mountain village in western Myanmar to a place in the international media spotlight as a key spokesman for the political movement intent on reversing February’s military coup. He is from the Chin people - one of many minorities to have suffered long-term discrimination and persecution in Myanmar, or Burma as it was. He was the first child in his village to go to high school. He went on to train as a doctor and has devoted much of his life to improving medical and educational opportunities for the Chin people. For the past decade he’s been an activist in the National League for Democracy. He was with party leader and national figurehead Aung San Suu Kyi just hours before the generals mounted their coup on February 1. She was detained, along with many members of Myanmar’s Government and parliament. Dr Sasa managed to flee to a neighbouring, but undisclosed country. He’s since been appointed as UN representative of the Committee representing the ousted parliament, and is a leading voice in the pro-democracy movement. But with the military continuing to use lethal force against street protests what options do the opponents of the coup really have?
access_time2 months ago
A combination of personal testimony, leaked documents and satellite imagery points to a systematic policy of repression of the Muslim Uighur population of Xinjiang province in China. Jewher Ilham, a young Uighur woman, currently living in America, tells Stephen Sackur about her campaign to save her father who has been imprisoned for the past 7 years. The fate of the Uighurs has become a geopolitical issue - but is anything going to change?
access_time2 months ago
Despite losing the presidency and both Houses of Congress, Donald Trump still seems to have a chokehold on the Republican party. So what will Republican anti-Trumpers do next? Continue the fight from within the party or get out and create a new one? Evan McMullin is one of the most prominent American Republicans determined to loosen President Trumps grip on the Party and one of the key organisers and strategists behind the 'Stand Up Republic' group of unhappy Republicans.
access_time2 months ago
Mass protests against military rule across Myanmar have been met with increasing force - and the death toll is rising. Stephen Sackur interviews Khin Zaw Win, a prominent political prisoner under the previous junta. What do the people of Myanmar want now - and what are they likely to get?
access_time2 months ago
Stephen Sackur speaks to the European Commission’s Executive Vice-President with responsibility for the economy and trade, Valdis Dombrovskis. Protectionism and nationalism are on the rise in global trade. With the US and China locked in strategic competition, is the EU ready to aggressively defend its interests?
access_time3 months ago
Stephen Sackur interviews one of the UK’s top live music promoters, Harvey Goldsmith. One of the many costs of the Covid pandemic means that, in much of the world, we can’t gather to enjoy the arts live; the creative world we used to know may be hard to revive. Has the cultural cost of Covid been ignored?
access_time3 months ago
Maybe we shouldn't be surprised that a vast gulf is opening up between Covid vaccination rates in the richest countries and the poorest. But still the numbers are shocking. While the UK has given 27% of its population a first dose, many nations have yet to inject a single arm. Hardtalk speaks to Dr Seth Berkley, head of Gavi, the Global Vaccine Alliance and key driver of the effort to ensure the whole world gets Covid protection. It is a great ambition; is it achievable?
access_time3 months ago
How far does the Republican party need to go to reinvent itself following Donald Trumps defeat in the November Presidential election? Elizabeth Neumann, a former counter terror official in the Trump Administration says she saw America’s far right, white-supremacists as a growing security threat and she felt Donald Trump was fanning the flames of their extremism. In April 2020 she resigned. Now she says she is fighting for what she calls accountability in the Republican party - but has her stand come too late?
access_time3 months ago
Stephen Sackur speaks to Timothy Snyder, renowned American historian of totalitarianism and the Holocaust, about the Trump presidency. Professor Snyder believes the former US president and his movement brought America face to face with early stage fascism. Historical parallels may be seductive, but are they useful?
access_time3 months ago
Stephen Sackur speaks to the Booker prize-winning author Douglas Stuart. His novel, Shuggie Bain, centres on a boy growing up amid poverty, addiction and intolerance in Glasgow. There are deep parallels with his own life. How does he extract so much love from hardship?
access_time3 months ago
Thousands of Indian farmers are keeping up their long-running protest against farm law reform. Stephen Sackur interviews Yogendra Yadav, leader of the Swaraj Party and prominent backer of the farmers’ cause. But India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has faced down a host of opponents in the past. Is his government versus the farmers a defining moment for India?
access_time3 months ago
Right now the world is seeing two sides of Vladimir Putin’s Russia. The one he wants you to see is the scientifically advanced nation offering the world an effective Covid vaccine known as Sputnik V. The one he’d rather you ignore is the repressive authoritarian state that ruthlessly eliminates those who threaten the status quo. Stephen Sackur speaks to Kirill Dmitriev a Putin ally, the boss of one of Russia’s sovereign wealth funds and a key backer of the Russian vaccine.
access_time3 months ago
Stephen Sackur speaks to France’s Europe Minister, Clément Beaune. The European Union faces a huge Covid challenge. The vaccine rollout has been slow, internal free movement is a concern, and tensions with Britain post-Brexit have risen. Is the virus exposing weaknesses in the EU?
access_time3 months ago
Stephen Sackur speaks to American psychologist Professor Laurie Santos, whose work at Yale University on the science of happiness has won her an audience of millions thanks to her podcast and free online courses. With strict lockdowns in many countries around the world, isolation, economic insecurity, the absence of family and friends, Covid is putting enormous pressure on our mental health. Can we really learn how to be happy?
access_time3 months ago
Stephen Sackur speaks to Evan Medeiros, who was President Obama’s top adviser on China policy. Under Donald Trump, US-China relations soured dramatically. A potentially dangerous era of competition and even confrontation beckons. What should President Biden's strategy be towards China?
access_time3 months ago
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya says she won last year’s presidential election in Belarus, and she is still intent on toppling Europe’s last de-facto dictator, Alexander Lukashenko. After months of protests and brutal repression, has Belarus’s revolution stalled?

(Photo: Belarus opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. Credit: Reuters)
access_time3 months ago
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya says she won last year’s presidential election in Belarus, and she is still intent on toppling Europe’s last de-facto dictator, Alexander Lukashenko. After months of protests and brutal repression, has Belarus’s revolution stalled?

(Photo: Belarus opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. Credit: Reuters)
access_time3 months ago
The roll out of Covid-19 vaccines has boosted hopes the virus can be tamed. But it will have to be worldwide effort if it is to be effective, and right now the signs aren’t good. While tens of millions have already been vaccinated in the rich west, the world’s poor are facing a very long wait. The phrase ‘vaccine apartheid’ has already been coined. Stephen Sackur speaks to the Chief Scientist at the World Health Organisation Dr Soumya Swaminathan. Is vaccine inequity undermining the fight against Covid?
access_time3 months ago
President Biden has reportedly paused arms sales to Saudi Arabia as his administration reviews relations with its long-time strategic ally. But is there any prospect of external or internal pressure challenging the authority of Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman? Stephen Sackur speaks to exiled opposition activist Madawi Al-Rasheed. What next for Saudi Arabia, reform, repression, or maybe both?
access_time3 months ago
The new year sees Ireland facing the twin challenges of Covid and post-Brexit economics. How is the country coping? And is Dublin’s strategic vision of Northern Ireland’s future changing? Stephen Sackur interviews Ireland’s Europe Minister, Thomas Byrne.
access_time4 months ago
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is the most resilient opponent Vladimir Putin has ever faced. Navalny survived assassination by Novichok, returned to Russia and is now in a prison cell. Stephen Sackur speaks to Navalny’s chief of staff Leonid Volkov. The opposition movement has supporters willing to take to the streets in anti-Putin protests in Russian towns and cities; but do they have a strategy capable of forcing Putin out of power?
access_time4 months ago
Israel is leading the world in the roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine. More than a million Israelis have had their second dose, the prime minister claims the vast majority of adults will have been immunised by mid march, allowing the country to ease restrictions. Does the Health Minister, Yuli Edelstein, think Israel has shown responsible and ethical coronavirus management?

(Photo: Yuli Edelstein appears via video link on Hardtalk)
access_time4 months ago
Can and should anything be done to halt the inexorable rise of the western worlds global technology giants such as Amazon, Google and Facebook? Over the past decade we’ve seen these tech titans come to dominate data collection, cloud computing, retail, social media and publishing; but now there is push-back from anti-monopoly lawyers and sceptical politicians. Stephen Sackur speaks to the American lawyer Lina Khan who is in the vanguard of the movement to tame big tech. But whose interest is she serving?
access_time4 months ago
The Chinese government began this year by intensifying its crackdown on the pro-democracy opposition in Hong Kong. Amid mass arrests, the surveillance of the media and academia is there any safe space left for those fighting for Hong Kong’s political autonomy? Stephen Sackur speaks to long-time activist in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement, Kenneth Chan. Is the fight for freedom in Hong Kong lost?

(Photo: Keneth Chan appears via video link on Hardtalk)
access_time4 months ago
Some of the things the Covid pandemic has taken away are easier to quantify than others. The death toll and the job losses make headlines, but the closed arts venues, the lack of shared creative experiences, not so much. But make no mistake, the arts face an unprecedented crisis. HARDtalk's Stephen Sackur speaks to Tamara Rojo, the internationally renowned dancer and artistic director of the English National Ballet. Can the performing arts withstand the Covid calamity?