Face masks are mandatory or highly recommended in over 130 countries in the world, and over a hundred prominent academics, (including two Nobel prize winners) have signed a letter calling for masks to be required in public to slow the COVID-19 pandemic. Several studies suggest face coverings - when properly worn - help in limiting the spread of the coronavirus.

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Workers unload a container from a plane of Aeromexico airline carrying the second shipment of the Sputnik V vaccines against COVID-19 from Russian Gamalei laboratory, upon arrival at Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City on March 10, 2021. - Mexico received a shipment of 200,000 doses. LEHTIKUVA / AFP

As the number of laboratory-confirmed Covid-19 infections peek in Finland, the country is going into another shutdown. Over 400k people have already received the first shot of a two-shot vaccine, but the rate of vaccination has altogether been disappointing. Finland, with 12.38 administered doses per 100 people is in 23rd place globally, after countries like Lithuania and Slovenia.

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It is pretty common for The Centre Party to be the target of malicious comments in “Etelän media”, the media in southern Finland. The party is antediluvian, an anomaly, a special interest party that always betrays, and a treacherous negotiator that introduces last-minute proposal that favor them, to force the other’s hand. Already twenty years ago, it was said that The Centre Party was past its prime, but the party still managed to hold the fort.

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A family wearing face masks pose for pictures next to the figure of an ox in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on February 10, 2021, ahead of the biggest holiday of the year, the Lunar New Year, which ushers in the Year of the Ox on February 12. LEHTIKUVA / AFP

COVID-19 pandemic hit hard the global economy in the past year. The international community are going through the worst recession since the end of the Second World War. Industries and businesses of all countries have been mired in difficulties of varying degrees. Stability and economic recovery have become a common task for us all.

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A nurse displays a vial of Covishield, AstraZeneca's Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine made by India's Serum Institute, as she prepares to inoculate her colleagues at the KC General hospital in Bangalore. LEHTIKUVA / AFP

Background


It is a little more than a year that the coronavirus was first detected in the city of Wuhan in China. The first case outside China of a woman who had arrived from Wuhan was reported by World Health Organization (WHO) in Thailand on 13th January. This development should have set alarm bells ringing but the WHO kept maintaining that there was no cause for concern nor was there any need to stop flights from Wuhan/China as this would be tantamount to stigmatizing a country and its people.

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A nurse prepares to administer a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine to health workers at the KC General hospital in Bangalore on January 16, 2021. LEHTIKUVA / AFP

TRIPS waiver proposal from India, South Africa and other members

A proposal by India, South Africa and eight other countries calls on the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to exempt member countries from enforcing some patents, and other Intellectual Property (IP) rights under the organization’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, known as TRIPS, for a limited period of time.

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Supporters of US President Donald Trump sits inside the office of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi as he protest inside the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 6, 2021. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. LEHTIKUVA / AFP

The recent videos coming from The United States Capitol in Washington evoke memories of images from history books; the French or Russian revolution, when the mob storm the dwellings of power, and desecrate its symbols. The big difference is that the intrusion now happened in one of the world’s oldest democracies, and it was called for by a president who, to the very end, has refused to secede power.

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An overpass above the highway leading the Lebanese capital Beirut to the southern areas is pictured ahead of the first anniversary of the killing of Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander Qasem Soleimani (portrait), on December 31, 2020 / LEHTIKUVA / AFP

 

These days Iran honors the fallen hero, Martyr Major General Qassem Soleimani, the Commander of the Quds Force, an official branch of the armed forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran – and his companions, who were assassinated on the third of January 2020 at Baghdad International Airport.

For every Iranian and even those outside of Iran in countries who have suffered from terrorism, the name of General Soleimani signifies unmatched bravery, and selfless sacrifice against terrorism.

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Those who think that the drama in The United States ends January 20, 2021 are probably mistaken. When President Biden takes over, a four-year trial period is initiated for the American democracy, and the result determines if the United States has matured or if Trumpism has come to stay.

It is sad to have to keep this threat in mind now that we can rejoice that the presidency at least is occupied by a sensible person for the coming four years.

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When asked about racism towards foreigners in Finland, Finns answer in a culturally approved script: “We Finns are not racist”; “If there is racism in Finland it is not as bad as it is in other countries” and; “Racism is the fault of the foreigners who move to Finland with unrealistic expectations.” Such dismissals require wilful ethnic blindness to racism, which is banal and rife in Finland. When compared with other European countries, racism in Finland is more recent, but the point about foreigners arriving there with unrealistic expectations about racism is not something that we can entirely attribute to Finns.

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Finnish MEP Elsi Katainen (right), and Hungarian MEP Katlain Cseh are members of the Renew Europe group of the European Parliamen

Linking European Union funds to the respect of the rule of law is in the interests of all Europeans ‒ left, right or centre, net contributor or net beneficiary, East, West, North or South.

The EU’s new rule of law mechanism ‒ the decision to link EU funds to the respect of EU values ‒ is a significant achievement many of us in the European Parliament have worked for. Our political group Renew Europe was on the forefront of this fight.

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