This Week in Europe: German police detains Puidgemont, Article 50 anniversary in Britain and more

, by Juuso Järviniemi, Radu Dumitrescu

This Week in Europe: German police detains Puidgemont, Article 50 anniversary in Britain and more

Members of the TNF team recount big events from Europe from the past week, and point attention to news that may have passed notice. What did we miss? Comment on our Facebook page at !

German police detains Puigdemont

Last Sunday, German police detained Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, following a European arrest warrant issued by Spain. Puigdemont was on his way back to Belgium from Finland when he was arrested. Back in Spain, the Catalan leader faces charges of rebellion and misuse of public funds. His arrest sparked widespread protests in Barcelona, with some of his supporters collecting money through crowdfunding in order to pay for his legal defense. With 60 days to decide on whether or not to extradite him, German authorities received a letter from Puigdemont’s lawyers asking them to refrain from extraditing him to Spain, accusing political motives from the Spanish courts.

Erdogan ally buys last independent media firm

This week, Turkish president Recep Tayyp Erdogan successfully secured the purchase of Turkey’s last semi-independent media company, Dogan media. Two of the country’s four biggest newspapers, Hurriyet and Posta, plus the TV channel CNN Turk, were brought under the control of one of the president’s men for $1.2bn. The owner of Dogan, Aydin Dogan, was pressured by tax inspectors for years, and some believe that he faced arrest had the sale not taken place. Ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections due next year, Erdogan and his allies own almost all the big media outlets, with 90% of the national circulation of newspapers in the hands of businessmen close to the government.

Pro-Union rallies in Moldova

On Sunday, tens of thousands of Moldovans gathered in Chisinau in order to express support for the country’s union with Romania. The demonstrations adopted a statement calling on the parliaments of both countries to receive their representatives. Ahead of parilamentary elections this November, the small country remains deeply divided between pro-Western and pro-Russian sides. Moldova became part of Romania after World War I but was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940 and remained part of the USSR until its collapse in 1991. A majority of Moldova’s population speaks Moldovan, a language virtually the same as Romanian. Moldovan president Igor Dodon condemned the rally as exhibiting expansionist ideas from Romania. A new Brussels-based think tank promoting Moldova’s reunification with Romania — the first of its kind — called the European Centre for Romanian Unity was also launched on Monday.

US and EU expel more than 100 Russian diplomats

Immediately following the elections in which President Vladimir Putin won his fourth term in office, Western nations expelled more than 100 Russian diplomats, all in response to the nerve agent attack in England. Accusing state involvement in the attack on the part of the Kremlin, the West successfully united its message of condemnation. 16 EU member-states also showed deep solidarisation with the United Kingdom, despite the ongoing Brexit negotiations. Earlier this week, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Slovakia, and Slovenia had yet to extradite any diplomat.

French Socialists pick new leader

On Friday, Olivier Faure was chosen as the Socialist Party’s first secretary. After having its presidential candidate defeated in the first round during last year’s elections, the party is looking for rebirth under the leadership of the former leader of the “New Left” parliamentary group in the French National Assembly. The party currently has fewer than 40 seats in the parliament and only 30,000 of the 102,000 members participated in the leadership vote.

Whistleblowers reveal Vote Leave malpractice before Article 50 anniversary

Thursday marked the anniversary of UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s invocation of Article 50, meaning that the United Kingdom is currently scheduled to leave the EU in a year. However, whistleblowers Christopher Wylie and Shahmir Sanni have revealed evidence suggesting malpractice by the pro-Brexit Vote Leave campaign, calling the legitimacy of the referendum further into question. The revelations concern the clandestine methods of data acquisition by the Cambridge Analytica company, and notable breaches of campaign funding regulations by the campaign.

“EU Supergirl” Madeleina Kay selected Young European of the Year

Madeleina Kay, pro-European activist from Sheffield in the United Kingdom, has been selected as Schwarzkopf-Stiftung’s Young European of the Year. Known for her EU Supergirl brand, she makes art and music, touring around the country with her dog, ‘Alba White Wolf’. On her vlog, Madeleina who is also Ambassador of JEF’s British section, Young European Movement UK, said: “I am determined to stop Brexit, but if we can’t, I will be leading the campaign to take us back into the EU”.

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