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NEWS IN BRIEF – EUROPE

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18 Apr 14. The Turkish parliament on Thursday approved what both international and Turkish media described as a “controversial” new law widening the powers of the country’s National Intelligence Agency (MIT), a move that was widely read against the backdrop of ongoing efforts by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) to blunt public discussion of a graft scandal that has ensnared top AKP elites, including members of Erdogan’s family. UPI carried criticism from opposition parties and rights groups, accusing the Turkish leader of seeking to transform Turkey into a surveillance state and seeking to deploy MIT for his personal use. Hurriyet Daily News explained that control over Ankara’s sprawling security apparatus “is at the heart of a feud between Erdogan and Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen.” Erdogan and his allies blame Gulen-linked figures in the judiciary and police for the graft scandal, and have purged literally thousands of judges and police officers in response to revelations of deep-seated corruption. The heavy-handed tactics have taken a toll on perceptions of Turkey as an Islamist democracy. Analysts and journalists had for months been describing the AKP’s campaign – which, after the initial purges, escalated into shutting down social media platforms – as a threat to Turkish civil and human rights. In February over 80 top U.S. foreign policy figures called on President Barack Obama to check what they described as a downward spiral of “authoritarian impulses.” Last week a meeting between Turkish and European officials aimed at integrated Turkey into the Continent had to be pushed off, with an E.U. diplomat explaining that “there would [have been] too much bashing of Turkey around.” (Source: theisraelproject.org)

16 Apr 14. NATO To Deploy More Forces in Eastern Europe. NATO said Wednesday it will deploy additional air, sea and land forces in Eastern Europe in response to the worsening crisis in Ukraine and take further action if needed. “Today we have agreed a package of military measures,” NATO head Anders Fogh Rasmussen said after a meeting of ambassadors of all 28 members of the transatlantic alliance. “We will have more planes in the air, more ships on the water … and more readiness on the land,” he said, adding that NATO defense plans will be ‘reviewed and reinforced.’ The announcement came as Ukrainian and pro-Russian forces faced off and after President Vladimir Putin warned Ukraine was on the brink of civil war, stoking fears of outright Russian intervention. Rasmussen refused to detail what new forces would be deployed and where, but said there would be increased air sorties over the Baltic Sea, with additional ships there and in the eastern Mediterranean. The decision will be implemented “immediately” and “more will follow, if needed, in the weeks and months to come,” he added. As the Ukraine crisis has unfolded, NATO has taken a number of similar steps, with the United States sending fighter aircraft to the Baltic states and Poland to bolster confidence in member countries once ruled by Moscow. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which border Russia and have sizable ethnic Russian populations, have all sought reassurance, as have Ukraine neighbors Poland and Romania. Freed from Moscow’s Cold War grasp with the fall of Communism in the late 1980s, many Eastern Europe states have readily joined NATO. But Russia, especially under Putin, has regarded NATO’s eastward expansion as a direct security threat. The former Soviet states “are increasingly worried as they see the crisis getting worse by the hour,” said one diplomat. “So far, NATO?s response has been measured,” said another diplomat, noting that the allies had not

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