THE PRESIDENT OF KAZAKHSTAN has opened the parliamentary season of his country on September 2nd, 2019 with the State of the Nation Address. 

Mr. Tokayev was elected on June 9 with 70,96 % of the votes. He has extensive experience having served as Chairman of the Senate, Prime Minister and State Secretary of Kazakhstan. He has been also holding international posts such as the Deputy Secretary-General of the UN and Director-General of the UN Office in Geneva and Personal Representative of the UN Secretary-General at the Conference on Disarmament. 

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A satellite image dated 21 August 2019 shows several fires burning in the Brazilian states of Amazonas, Para, Mato Grosso and Rondonia. (Handout – NOAA/AFP/Lehtikuva)

THE EUROPEAN UNION must take action to fight the wildfires raging in the Amazon, Brazil, demand both Ville Niinistö (Greens), a Member of the European Parliament, and Petteri Orpo, the chairperson of the National Coalition.

Almost 73,000 wildfires have been detected in what is the largest rainforest in the world between January and August, representing an 84 per cent increase from the corresponding period in 2018.

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Late May in Almaty Kazakhstan, a crowd of international participants form 50 different countries is pouring in to the Ritz Carlton for a 3 day intellectual feast. This is the 2019 Eurasian Media Forum and the audience, at least those who have been here before, are not to be easily surprised by what the event may have to offer. The forum has been prominent and unique in hosting debates between representatives of a wide spectrum of opinion and conduct, but the panel discussion most expected this year was definitely the one opening the final day

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An article in a British newspaper argued that the UK is in need of its own Mannerheim (Image: Lehitkuva)

A WIDELY-READ ARTICLE published this week in the British newspaper The Telegraph attracted plenty of commentary for its comparison of WW2-era Finland to the current state of politics in the United Kingdom.  

The lengthy piece, written by a prominent historian, argues that the Finnish government’s response to successive crises should serve as a role model for a post-Brexit UK, concluding that the country “needs its own General Mannerheim”.  

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The Amazon wildfires can be seen from space. Image: NASA

Our biggest rainforest, Amazon, is on fire right now for the 19th day. The wildfires - roaring in an area of around 2254 sq. kilometres - are so big that columns of smoke can be seen from space. The Sky in São Paulo went dark on Monday at around 3 pm as the smoke from the fires reached the city. Residents have not experienced a similar phenomenon before; not even in the darkest days of the rainy season.

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An action shot from the recent World Hockey Championships, where Finland took first place (Image: Lehtikuva)

FINLAND CAPTURED THE ATTENTION of sports desks around the world this week following their stunning victory at the world hockey championship finals in Bratislava. Much of the focus was on how Finland managed to beat firm favourites Canada despite not having a single NHL player on their roster, something which has only happened once before in the history of the tournament.  

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Pictured: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a recent NATO summit (Image: Lehtikuva)

A MAJOR NEWS STORY in the international press this week concerned Thursday’s announcement that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be heading to Finland to participate in the 22nd annual meeting of the Arctic Council on May 7. 

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Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) and Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (R) pose for a photograph before talks at Bute House in Edinburgh during his visit to Scotland on July 29, 2019. - New British Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes his first official visit to Scotland on Monday in an attempt to bolster the union in the face of warnings over a no-deal Brexit. LEHTIKUVA / AFP

The UK’s post-study work offer, part of the new post-Brexit immigration system, compares poorly with international competitors, a new review has found.

The review found countries are increasingly developing competitive migration policies aimed at attracting and retaining international students.

The key findings of the analysis, commissioned by the Scottish Government, and undertaken by Dr Paulina Trevena of the University of Glasgow, conclude:

• The UK Government should introduce a more competitive post-study work offer taking into consideration ease of application and application timescales, programme length, work entitlement and opportunities for applying to the programme after leaving the UK.

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Deforestation in Eastern Finland (Image: Lehtikuva)

ONE WIDELY-SHARED ARTICLE in the world press this week came from a popular science magazine which revealed that despite Finland’s efforts to fight climate change, the country is actually warming up at double the global average rate. They also interviewed Finland’s former environment minister to get her thoughts on the looming ecological catastrophe.  

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Contestants at the Finland Body Fitness Championships in Helsinki Last Week (Image: Lehtikuva)

ONE OF THE MAJOR STORIES concerning Finland in the international press this week was the revelation that it is officially the fittest country in the world, according to the latest rankings by the World Health Organization.  

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A unique expedition vehicle will participate in many ecological projects happening and planned for the future in northwestern Russia that are part of the big Kolarctic CBC 2014-2020 EU program, which supports cross-border cooperation between Finland, Sweden, Norway and Russia.

In particular, the eco-mobile will be used in the ReARK project, the aim of which is to monitor the Paz, Indem and Vyala rivers in the above-mentioned countries in order to form a plan of action for ecological improvement and sustaining biodiversity.

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Elderly people in Helsinki (Image: Lehtikuva)

IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE ELECTIONS intense coverage has been afforded to the issues that Finland’s incoming government faces. While many publications have highlighted the falling birth rate as a major concern, this week one international outlet went as far as describing Finland as ‘Europe’s Japan’, stressing that decades of ‘stagflation’ and decline lie ahead if current trends continue. 

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The Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) is being held from April 25 to 27 in Beijing. President Xi Jinping attended the opening ceremony and delivered a keynote speech. He also chaired the whole leaders' roundtable. The theme of the Forum is "Belt and Road Cooperation, Shaping a Brighter Shared Future". The mainline is to promote the joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) for high-quality development. Heads of state and government from 37 countries attended the Forum.

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Rinne and his new government leaving a press conference on Thursday (Image: Lehtikuva)

MUCH OF THIS WEEK’S international coverage of Finland concerned the formation of the national government, which will be bringing the first left-wing prime minister in over 20 years into power. 

Much of the coverage from major publications concerned the progressive and ambitious policy proposals of the incoming government, as well as the fact that the majority of the cabinet is female.  

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A picture taken on May 9, 2019, shows Saudi cargo ship Bahri Yanbu waiting in the port of Le Havre. - French President defended his country's arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on May 9, 2019 as campaigners focused attention on a new shipment set to leave from the northern port of Le Havre. Human rights groups have regularly denounced France for continuing to supply the Gulf states despite allegations of war crimes and civilian deaths during their military operations in neighbouring Yemen. LEHTIKUVA / AFP

According to the EU’s reporting on arms exports, EU member states issued at least 607 licences worth over 15.8 billion euros to Saudi Arabia in 2016. The main European exporters of conventional arms to Saudi Arabia include the UK, France, Spain, Italy and Bulgaria. Between 2013 and 2018, Saudi Arabia accounted for nearly half of the UK’s and a third of Belgium’s arms exports. Other countries – including Germany, the Netherlands and Norway – have started to restrict weapons sales to the Saudi and UAE-led coalition.

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Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon makes a statement to the Scottish Parliament on Brexit and a second independence referendum, at Holyrood, central Edinburgh on April 24, 2019. LEHTIKUVA / AFP

FM outlines path forward amid ‘broken status quo’.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has today outlined the steps the Scottish Government will take to progress the debate on Scotland’s future in light of Brexit, and the action to be taken to protect the option for an independence referendum to be held within the current term of the Scottish Parliament.

In a parliamentary statement, the First Minister said it was time to build consensus in place of a UK Government system that clearly does not work in Scotland’s interests, and in the face of a constitutional ‘status quo which is broken’.

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