President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö. LEHTIKUVA

THE OFFICE of President Sauli Niinistö has voiced its strong reservations about the notion of creating a position for a security policy advisor and dedicated security policy unit under the prime minister.

Citing the position adopted by the Parliament’s Constitutional Law Committee, the office stated that the majority of matters to be discussed at Nato have fallen and will continue to fall within the purviews of the Ministry of Defence and Ministry for Foreign Affairs, according to YLE.

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A Ministry for Foreign Affairs building in Katajanokka, Helsinki, in April 2020. Officials at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs have rejected the idea of setting up a security policy advisor role under the prime minister’s office, viewing that it could blur the division of foreign and security policy duties between ministries and the office. (Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva)

THE MINISTRY for Foreign Affairs has rejected the idea of setting up a position for a security policy advisor under the office of the prime minister, arguing that it would blur the division of responsibilities between the office and ministries responsible for security policy, reports YLE.

The position, it added, could also create uncertainty about a partial transfer of power from the ministries to the office of the prime minister.

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Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto (Greens) spoke to reporters in the Parliament House in Helsinki on Tuesday, 24 January 2023. Finland and Sweden, he assured, continue to look to join Nato at the same time. (Vesa Moilanen – Lehtikuva)

FINLAND and Sweden are continuing to work toward a simultaneous accession to Nato, assures Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto (Greens).

Haavisto on Tuesday stated in a press conference that he has discussed the recent hiccoughs in the accession process with both Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Tobias Billström and Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

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The Parliament’s Social Affairs and Health Committee re-convened to draft its report on a government bill to reform the trans act in the Parliament House on Thursday, 19 January 2023. The committee voted 11 for and 5 against in favour of the bill, after introducing some amendments to it. (Markku Ulander – Lehtikuva)

MEMBERS of the Finnish Parliament’s Social Affairs and Health Committee on Thursday approved a report on the government proposal to reform the trans act by a vote of 11 for and 5 against.

“One of the base provisions was amended and two [dissenting] opinions were attached to the report, one concerning underage transpeople and one sports,” Markus Lohi (Centre), the chairperson of the Social Affairs and Health Committee, was quoted saying to reporters in the Parliament House by Helsingin Sanomat.

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Markus Lohi (Centre), the chairperson of the Parliament’s Social Affairs and Health Committee, talked to reporters about the committee’s meeting on a bill to reform the trans act in Helsinki on Wednesday, 18 January 2023. Lohi declined to comment on why the committee could not finalise its report on the bill according to plan by Wednesday. (Antti Hämäläinen – Lehtikuva)

THE PARLIAMENT’S Social Affairs and Health Committee on Wednesday suspended its meeting on a draft bill to reform the trans act after concluding that it will not be able to finalise its report on the bill.

“We’re talking about thoroughly examining the piece of legislation in the committee. It’ll take the time it takes,” Markus Lohi (Centre), the chairperson of the committee, was quoted stating to reporters in the Parliament House by YLE.

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Chairpersons Riikka Purra of the Finns Party and Sanna Marin of the Social Democrats attended an election debate organised by Ilta-Sanomat in Helsinki on 10 January 2023. Helsingin Sanomat on Wednesday reported that the Finns Party has edged out the Social Democrats as the second most well supported party in Finland. (Markku Ulander – Lehtikuva)

THE FINNS PARTY has emerged as the second most popular political party in Finland, reveals the latest opinion poll commissioned by Helsingin Sanomat.

The populist right-wing opposition party, the poll indicates, would receive 19.1 per cent of the vote if the parliamentary elections were held today, signalling an increase of 1.2 percentage points from December.

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Chairpersons Petteri Orpo of the National Coalition and Riikka Purra of the Finns Party reacted at an election debate held by Maaseudun Tulevaisuus and the Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners (MTK) in Helsinki on 11 January 2023. Both Orpo and Purra appeared to question the reliability of carbon sink calculations published late last year by Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke). (Emmi Korhonen – Lehtikuva)

SCIENTISTS at Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) have expressed their surprise at comments from policy makers that question the credibility of their latest carbon sink calculations.

Petteri Orpo, the chairperson of the National Coalition, hinted last week during an election debate that the calculations may not be on a sound footing by drawing attention to what he described as “incomprehensible” variation.

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Jussi Halla-aho (PS), the chairperson of the Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, was photographed arriving for a committee meeting in Helsinki on 11 January 2023. Halla-aho on Monday told YLE that Turkish President’s demand that Finland and Sweden hand over 130 “terrorists” is not based on anything concrete. (Jussi Nukari – Lehtikuva)

TURKISH PRESIDENT Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday demanded that Finland and Sweden hand over around 130 “terrorists” in order to gain the support of Turkey for their bids to join Nato, according to media reports in Turkey.

“Unfortunately, they have yet to do this,” the president was quoted saying at a youth rally by state news agency Anadolu.

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Chairpersons Petteri Orpo of the National Coalition and Sanna Marin of the Social Democrats faced off at an election debate organised by the Finnish Association of Political Journalists in Helsinki on Friday, 13 January 2023. (Emmi Korhonen – Lehtikuva)

THE FINNS PARTY is “an openly racist party” based on the statements of some of its lawmakers, according to Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP).

“These statements have been racist. They’ve been genuinely hostile toward certain minorities. There’s no denying this. This is a fact,” she was quoted saying at an election debate in Helsinki on Friday by Helsingin Sanomat.

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Chairpersons Petteri Orpo of the National Coalition and Annika Saarikko of the Centre reacted at an election debate organised by Ilta-Sanomat in Helsinki on Tuesday, 10 January 2023. Orpo on Wednesday questioned calculations indicating that Finnish forests are unable to sequester as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as previously. (Markku Ulander – Lehtikuva)

PETTERI ORPO, the chairperson of the National Coalition, has questioned the reaction of decision-makers to the widely discussed carbon sink calculations made by Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), reports Helsingin Sanomat.

Orpo on Wednesday said it is puzzling how the calculations are subject to so much fluctuation.

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Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru (SDP) attended a plenary session in the Parliament House in Helsinki on 21 December 2022. Kiuru has repeatedly called for a 700-million-euro package to bring down the backlog in social and health care services. STT on Wednesday, though, reported that the value of the package may be as low as 200 million euros. (Vesa Moilanen – Lehtikuva)

THE FINNISH government has yet to narrow down the value of the funding package designed to bring down the backlog in social and health care services.

STT on Wednesday reported that a source familiar with the matter said the package is likely to be worth 200–700 million euros. Another source, similarly, stated that the range of outcomes remains wide, from “hundreds of millions” to “less than a billion”.

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