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HARDtalk

HARDtalk

In-depth, hard-hitting interviews with newsworthy personalities.

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Oliver McTernan: Is peace in the Middle East an impossible dream?

Sarah Montague speaks to former Catholic priest Oliver McTernan who has spent more than two decades working in conflict resolution in the Middle East. He is the director of the organisation Forward Thinking and was involved in negotiations that led to the release of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in 2011. While he has no formal role in the current talks over the war in Gaza, he regularly speaks to senior figures in both Hamas and the Israeli government. Given the history of this protracted conflict, does he hold any hope that it will ever be resolved?

2024-07-17
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Maria Butina: Is time on Russia's side?

Stephen Sackur speaks to Maria Butina, member of the State Duma for President Putin?s United Russia party. The war in Ukraine now hinges on strength of will and staying power: the fighting is attritional, the bloodshed horrendous, and Nato has just reaffirmed its commitment to Kyiv. Two and a half years after the invasion, is time really on Russia?s side?

2024-07-15
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Laurie Bristow: The West's failure in Afghanistan

Stephen Sackur speaks to Sir Laurie Bristow, Britain?s last Ambassador to Afghanistan who led a desperate evacuation when Kabul fell to the Taliban three years ago. What are his reflections on the significance of the West?s strategic failure in Afghanistan?

2024-07-12
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Ilya Ponomarev: How significant is Russian resistance to Putin?

Stephen Sackur speaks to Ilya Ponomarev, a former Russian MP who?s now a key leader of an anti-Putin armed resistance movement active both inside and outside Russia. As Putin?s assault on Ukraine grinds on, how significant is this Russian resistance?

2024-07-10
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Asma Khan: Can cooking change the world?

Stephen Sackur is in the heart of London to speak with Indian-born restaurateur and activist Asma Khan. She created the first all-female, high-end Indian restaurant in the world

2024-07-08
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Husam Zomlot: Is diplomacy dead in the Israel-Gaza conflict?

Stephen Sackur speaks to the top Palestinian diplomat in London, Husam Zomlot. As Israel?s military assault on Gaza approaches the nine-month mark, with the Palestinian death toll still rising, Israeli hostages still in captivity and ceasefire hopes seemingly dashed, is diplomacy dead in the water?

2024-07-03
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Anne Enright: Changing Ireland

Stephen Sackur speaks to Anne Enright, the Irish novelist whose fiction digs deep into the dynamics of family, motherhood, and sexuality. In the course of her long writing career, just how much has Ireland changed?

2024-07-01
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Fabrice Leggeri: What would a far-right victory mean for France?

Stephen Sackur speaks to Fabrice Leggeri, an MEP in Marine Le Pen?s National Rally party. The far right has high hopes of winning power in parliamentary elections in France over the next two weeks. The once unthinkable is now very possible ? what would it mean for France and Europe?

2024-06-26
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Sachin Pilot: Is India heading for consensus or chaos?

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi?s third term will depend on the reliability of two smaller parties in his ruling coalition. Stephen Sackur speaks to Sachin Pilot, a senior figure in the Indian National Congress party, which will lead a diverse opposition coalition. Is India heading for a period of consensual government or chaos?

2024-06-21
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Dmytro Kuleba: Ukraine war at critical juncture

Ukraine is under enormous pressure as Russia seeks new frontline gains and, in the diplomatic arena, some Western allies show signs of war fatigue. Stephen Sackur asks Ukraine?s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, whether Kyiv will be bounced into a deal on President Putin?s terms.

2024-06-20
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Mathieu Kassovitz: Where is France going?

Stephen Sackur is in Paris to speak to the acclaimed actor and director Mathieu Kassovitz. Three decades ago, his film La Haine (Hate) focused on inequality, racism and police brutality in a Parisian suburb. He has a powerful voice in French culture, so what is his take on where his country is now and where it?s going?

2024-06-19
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Akinwumi Adesina: Africa rising?

Stephen Sackur speaks to Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank. He wants massive international financial backing to turn his continent into a global economic powerhouse. But amid chronic poverty, debt and climate threats, will Africa get the support it needs?

2024-06-17
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Jean-Noël Barrot: A snap election in France

Stephen Sackur is in Paris to speak to the French Minister Delegate for Europe, Jean-Noël Barrot. President Emmanuel Macron has just taken the gamble of his political life, calling a snap parliamentary election in an effort to outsmart the extremes of right and left. If it backfires, what will it mean for France and Europe?

2024-06-14
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Eyal Weizman: The politics of architecture

Mishal Husain speaks to the architect Eyal Weizman. He works in what he calls ?forensic architecture?, where details of buildings and physical spaces ? and their destruction ? are used to highlight abuses and persecution. Is he right to see architecture as political ? a way in which human beings can oppress as well as create?

2024-06-12
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Mickey Bergman: What difference do hostage negotiators make?

Sarah Montague speaks to hostage negotiator Mickey Bergman, who has spent much of the last two decades working behind the scenes to help negotiate the release of Americans kidnapped or detained abroad ? either by criminals, political actors or governments. What difference do such ?fringe diplomats? make? Are they a help or a hindrance?

2024-06-04
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R. Derek Black: Renouncing white nationalism

Mishal Husain speaks to R. Derek Black, who was brought up in a family steeped in America?s white nationalist ideology, with a father who was a Ku Klux Klan leader. Then came exposure to a different world, and Derek?s journey to anti-racism. How did it come about, and what can we all learn from it?

2024-06-03
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Mohammad Shtayyeh: Will the Palestinian Authority work with Hamas?

Mishal Husain speaks to the former Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority Mohammed Shtayyeh. How does he see the Palestinian people?s future? Can he, and should he, work with Hamas?

2024-05-30
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Stephen J Shaw: Are falling birth rates a crisis for humanity?

Stephen Sackur speaks to the data scientist Stephen J Shaw, who argues that humanity faces a looming demographic crisis, with falling birth rates having dire economic and social consequences. But in an age of economic turbulence and ecological concern, do we really want to be promoting the idea that humans need to have more babies?

2024-05-27
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Espen Barth Eide: Why will Norway recognise a Palestinian state?

Sarah Montague speaks to Norway?s Foreign Minister, Espen Barth Eide. His country, along with Ireland and Spain, says it will recognise a Palestinian state. Israel says that decision sends a message to the world that ?terrorism pays?. Will the move help or hinder the path to peace in the Middle East?

2024-05-24
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Jim Skea: Are humans bungling our chance to avert disaster?

Stephen Sackur speaks to Professor Jim Skea, chair of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He is a key player collating the latest climate science and right now the situation looks grim; global emissions are still rising, so are temperatures and targets seem likely to be missed. Are humans bungling our chance to avert disaster?

2024-05-22
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Gillian Slovo: Has her writing exorcised demons?

Stephen Sackur speaks to Gillian Slovo whose acclaimed fiction, plays and memoirs reflect an extraordinary backstory. The daughter of South African parents whose struggle against apartheid brought prison and exile and in her mother?s case, assassination. Has her writing exorcised demons?

(Photo: Gillian Slovo in the Hardtalk studio)

2024-05-20
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Alexander Stubb: Has Nato membership left Finland stronger?

Stephen Sackur is in Helsinki to speak to the President of Finland Alexander Stubb. Russia?s invasion of Ukraine prompted Finland to take the strategically significant step of joining Nato. But is it wise for Finland to pick sides in the deepening conflict between Russia and the west?

2024-05-17
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Sir Ron Dennis: The need for speed

Stephen Sackur speaks to Sir Ron Dennis, founder of the McLaren Group and one of the most successful team leaders ever in Formula 1 racing. He was known as a technical innovator and perfectionist focused on marginal gains in every aspect of race car design. Sir Ron and his McLaren team won a host of F1 constructors' and drivers' world championships with some of greats of motor racing: Niki Lauda, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna and Lewis Hamilton. What fuelled his drive to win?

2024-05-15
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Bill Blair: Canada's defence strategy

Stephen Sackur speaks to Canada?s defence minister Bill Blair. When it comes to military spending, Canada lies well short of Nato?s target. But with fears of Russian aggression on the rise, not least in the Arctic region, are Canadians changing their attitude to defence strategy?

2024-05-13
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Gabrielius Landsbergis: Does Europe back Lithuania?

Stephen Sackur speaks to Lithuania?s foreign minister Gabrielius Landsbergis. He wants the West to ramp up support for Ukraine to defeat Putin; he?s infuriated China with his stand on Taiwan. He calls it values-based foreign policy, but is Europe backing him?

2024-05-08
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Jonathan Haidt: Should we be worried about children having smartphones?

Stephen Sackur speaks to Jonathan Haidt, the American social psychologist whose work focuses on how social and cultural change affects our minds and thoughts. How worried should we be about what smartphones and social media are doing to our children?s mental health?

2024-05-06
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Mihai Pop?oi: Is Moldova the new Russian battleground?

Stephen Sackur speaks to Mihai Pop?oi, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Moldova. The former Soviet Republic in south east Europe is now seeking EU membership. Just as in neighbouring Ukraine, Moldova?s western orientation has infuriated Moscow; is another conflict looming?

2024-05-04
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Paul Auster: 'We are divided in ways we have never seen before'

In 2021, Stephen Sackur is travelled to New York to speak to writer Paul Auster, who died this week aged 77.

2024-05-03
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Ami Ayalon: Is Israel fighting an unwinnable war?

Stephen Sackur speaks to Ami Ayalon, former director of the Israeli Security Agency, also known as Shin Bet, and now a fierce critic of Prime Minister Netanyahu's government. Is today's Israel ready to listen to the lessons of one of its ageing warriors?

2024-05-01
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Amin Salam: Can Lebanon's government avert catastrophe?

Stephen Sackur speaks to Lebanon?s economy minister, Amin Salam. After years of economic meltdown, Lebanon is once again threatened by escalating regional conflict involving Israel and Iran. Does the Beirut government have the will or the means to prevent a further slide into chaos?

2024-04-29
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Joan Donoghue: Has the ICJ ruling changed anything in Gaza?

In an exclusive interview, Stephen Sackur speaks to Joan Donoghue, who has just retired as president of the International Court of Justice. In January, the court found there was a plausible case for Israel to answer for alleged violation of the Genocide Convention. Has the ruling changed anything in Gaza?

2024-04-26
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Daniel Dennett: Philosophy and atheism

Another chance to listen to Stephen Sackur?s 2013 interview with American philosopher Daniel Dennett, who has died aged 82. Described as one of the Four Horsemen of New Atheism, Dennett wrote powerfully against religion. But do humans really want to live in a world where atheism rules and religion is dead?

2024-04-24
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Richard Haass: How should the US respond to global risks?

Stephen Sackur speaks to veteran US diplomat Richard Haass. Levels of geopolitical risk are sky-high; from the direct hostilities between Israel and Iran, to the continued conflict and suffering in Gaza, to the ramping up of Russia?s assault on Ukraine. How should America respond?

2024-04-20
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Arseniy Yatsenyuk: Could Ukraine lose?

If the West doesn't step up assistance for Ukraine, will the war be lost? Stephen Sackur speaks to former Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

2024-04-19
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Danny Danon: Will Israel listen to its allies?

Stephen Sackur speaks to Danny Danon, Israeli MP and former ambassador at the United Nations. Israel and Iran are on the brink of a war which could ignite the entire Middle East. Having neutralised an Iranian missile barrage, will the Israeli government listen to its allies and step back, or seek a new level of retribution and deterrence?

2024-04-17
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Eddie Marsan: Do the arts neglect working-class people?

Stephen Sackur speaks to the actor Eddie Marsan, whose ability to play troubled, sometimes violent characters has made him a staple on stage and screen. He?s a relative rarity, an actor with genuine working class roots. Is there a diversity problem in the performing arts when it comes to class?

2024-04-15
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Paul Caruana Galizia: Can his family get justice?

Stephen Sackur speaks to Paul Caruana Galizia, whose mother, Daphne, was a Maltese journalist who was assassinated for exposing endemic corruption and sleaze. Six years on, have her family won their fight for accountability and justice?

2024-04-12
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Job Sikhala: Is change possible in Zimbabwe?

Stephen Sackur speaks to Zimbabwean opposition politician Job Sikhala. He was recently released after almost two years in jail. Now he?s promising to build a grassroots movement to challenge the ruling Zanu-PF party. But amid economic crisis and political repression, is change possible?

2024-04-10
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Humza Yousaf: Is the SNP's supremacy in Scotland under threat?

Stephen Sackur speaks to Scotland?s First Minister Humza Yousaf. His first year in the top job has been tough. Is the Scottish National Party's supremacy in peril?

2024-04-08
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Naomi Alderman: Power and technology

Another opportunity to hear Stephen Sackur's interview with the writer and computer game creator Naomi Alderman. Her most recent novel - The Future - is a techno thriller set at the end of days. Is the apocalypse she imagines all too possible?

2024-04-05
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Tom Shakespeare: Redefining disability

Stephen Sackur speaks to the bioethicist, disability rights campaigner and writer Tom Shakespeare. Should we embrace difference, rather than use science to root it out?

2024-04-03
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Lila Rose: Could abortion be banned in the entire US?

Stephen Sackur speaks to one of America?s fiercest opponents of abortion rights, Lila Rose. The US Supreme Court has overturned Roe v Wade, but she wants to go much further - to a total nationwide abortion ban. Is that a step too far for the American public?

2024-04-01
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Mohamed Irfaan Ali: Is oil a blessing or a curse for Guyana?

Stephen Sackur speaks to Guyana?s President Mohamed Irfaan Ali. Vast offshore oil and gas reserves are transforming the Guyanese economy. But amid territorial tension with neighbouring Venezuela and environmental concerns, will oil prove to be a blessing or a curse?

2024-03-29
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On the road in Guyana

Stephen Sackur is on the road in Guyana, South America, home to globally significant ecosystems and now one of the world's biggest offshore oil and gas reserves. As Guyana experiences record economic growth, will its people feel the benefit?

2024-03-27
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Judith Butler: Gender and identity

Stephen Sackur speaks to philosopher Judith Butler, who has been at the centre of the fierce debate about sex, gender and self-identity for three decades. Their new book suggests those sceptical of gender fluidity and self-identity are part of a global authoritarian trend. Is that fair?

2024-03-25
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Luis Abinader: Will the Dominican Republic help Haiti?

Stephen Sackur speaks to the President of the Dominican Republic, Luis Abinader. His country?s economy is growing fast, as neighbouring Haiti sinks deeper into an economic and security crisis. Will the Dominican Republic help a neighbour in need, or put self-interest first?

2024-03-22
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Chris Mullin: Have lessons been learned from the Birmingham Six injustice?

Stephen Sackur speaks to the former politician and justice campaigner Chris Mullin. He did much to expose the miscarriage of justice which saw six men wrongly convicted of IRA bombings in Birmingham 50 years ago. Were the right lessons learned from that grave injustice?

2024-03-20
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Jan Egeland: Is the international community failing to protect the most vulnerable?

Stephen Sackur speaks to Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council. He?s just back from Gaza; before that, he was on the Chad/Sudan border. Hundreds of thousands of people are in life threatening danger. Is the international community failing to protect the most vulnerable?

2024-03-18
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Claude Joseph: Can anything save Haiti?

Haiti is on the brink; armed gangs are rampant, basic services are broken, millions of people are at risk. The prime minister is stepping down, and there are calls for armed international intervention. Can it be saved? Stephen Sackur speaks to Claude Joseph, the country?s former acting prime minister.

2024-03-14
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Leonid Volkov: Is the anti-Putin movement out of options?

Stephen Sackur speaks to Leonid Volkov, long-time ally and adviser to Russia?s late opposition leader Alexey Navalny. President Vladimir Putin is almost certain to be resoundingly re-elected in upcoming elections. His most dangerous political opponent is dead. Is it game over for the anti-Putin movement?

2024-03-13
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