Here is a selection of what the international press has published about Finland in the last week:
With the triumph of the right, Finland’s Sámi people face bleak future
This article highlighting the concerns of Finland’s Sámi people following the victory of conservative and far-right parties in the 2023 Finnish elections was published in El País on May 17.
It into the concerns of the Sámi, the indigenous people of Finland, who are worried about the diminishing prospects of achieving increased self-governance in their ancestral lands.
In Finland, the Sámi people are represented by the Sámi Parliament (Sámediggi), a constitutionally recognized consultative body. However, there have been ongoing demands for reform of the Sámi Parliament Law, which governs the electoral rights and functions of the assembly. The article begins with the plight of the residents of Utsjoki, the northernmost municipality in the European Union, who are longing for salmon, a traditional and essential food that has become a luxury in the town. The fishing of salmon has been banned in the Teno River, which serves as the natural border between Finland and Norway, for the past four years. This ban has had a traumatic impact on the municipality, which is the only place in Finland where the Sámi, the last indigenous people in Europe, form the majority.
The scarcity of salmon in Utsjoki is occurring due to the rising temperatures caused by climate change. The article also emphasizes how prominent members of the indigenous community of Finland, backed by historians, jurists and various international organizations — have been demanding a reform of the Sámi Parliament Law, which regulates the active and passive suffrage of the assembly, in addition to its functions. “If [the law] isn’t modified, there will come a time when the Finns take control [of the chamber],” Leo Aikio, vice president of Sámediggi in the town of Inari, told El País. Without changes to the law, there are concerns that non-Sámi individuals could gain control of the chamber, jeopardizing the aspirations and interests of the true indigenous Sámi people.
Original story was published by El País on 17.05.2023 and can be found here.
Dozens of ‘frost quakes’ that shook Finland on single day may have been triggered by climate crisis
This article on occurrence of “frost quakes” in Finland, a rare weather phenomenon expected to be arising from climate change was published in Independent on May 15. Frost quakes are seismic events that happen when water freezes in saturated soils or rocks, resulting in a sudden release of energy resembling an earthquake. The article points out that frost quakes are believed to be increasing in frequency due to the climate crisis, according to a recent study.
In 2016, a swarm of frost quakes shook the sub-Arctic region of Oulu in central Finland, leading to damage in soil, building foundations, and roads. Researchers, including those from Geological Survey of Finland, have found that these quakes are triggered by a rapid decrease in air temperature, resulting in thermal stress on frozen soil, buildings, houses, and roads, leading to significant cracks. The study also highlights the disproportionate impact of global heating on the Arctic, which is experiencing faster warming compared to other regions on Earth, as shown in previous climate reports and studies.
“We show that origin of frost quakes was related to rapid decrease in air temperature from -12C to -29C that created thermal stress in frozen soil and roads which could not withstand the stress,” scientists wrote in the study.
Reports of frost quakes causing damage to infrastructure have surfaced in various parts of the world, such as Finland, U.S. and Canada. The article highlights that the occurrence of frost quakes has been linked to air temperature. The study focused on analyzing the connection between frost quakes and thermal stress, which is a measure of temperature-related strain.
Original story was published by Independent on 15.05.2023 and can be found here.
Finland should not participate in NATO nuclear weapons exercises, says group
The Nuclear Weapons Monitoring Group of Finland’s statement that Finland should abstain from participating in any North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) nuclear weapons exercises, was covered in an article in Euractiv.com on May 18. The article provides details of the recommendation by the group that Finland focus on discussing the risks associated with nuclear weapons and advocate for a ban on their first use. They also suggested promoting nuclear disarmament as a long-term goal.
The article mentions that the statement raised concerns about Finland's official alignment with NATO, as Finland had committed to participating in the military alliance's nuclear planning and support operation but prohibited the presence of nuclear arms on Finnish soil.
The Nuclear Weapons Monitoring Group of Finland, established earlier this year, is a collaboration between organizations such as Pugwash, Peace Union of Finland, ICAN Finland, Physicians for Social Responsibility and Technology for Life Finland. The group’s objective is to examine matters concerning nuclear weapons and NATO. Its members comprise individuals including anti-nuclear weapons activists and military researchers from the National Defence University. Former Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, is among the members of the group.
Original story was published by Euractiv.com on 18.05.2023 and can be found here.
Finland’s ‘visionary’ fight against disinformation teaches citizens to question what they see online
This article discussing Finland's proactive approach in fighting disinformation and teaching its citizens to question online content was published in Canada's National Observer on May 16. The article explores the efficiency of Finns in recognizing fake news and disinformation through consistent media literacy in the country.
The article looks into the example of disinformation in the aftermath of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Finland experienced a wave of coordinated messages on social media criticizing its ambition to join NATO. However, the viral slogan used grammatically incorrect language, raising suspicions among the Finnish public. Many believed it was an act of disinformation warfare orchestrated by pro-Kremlin actors using bots and influencers relying on Google Translate. Rather than causing panic, the incident became a source of amusement and memes in Finland, showcasing the public's ability to recognize foreign influence. The article highlights that this resilience can be attributed to Finland’s long-standing integration of media literacy education into its national curriculum.
Experts argue that this emphasis on media literacy has helped inoculate the population against fake news and disinformation campaigns. By teaching citizens to critically evaluate online content, Finland aims to empower individuals to discern credible information from manipulative narratives.
“Every teacher, whether they are teaching kindergarten or Grade 12, mathematics, geography or physical education … must think how to incorporate it into their own subject and teaching,” Leo Pekkala, director at the National Audiovisual Institute of Finland (KAVI) said.
Original story was published by Canada’s National Observer on 16.05.2023 and can be found here.
Finnish envoy to Japan calls security of Asia, Europe “inseparable”
The Finnish ambassador to Tokyo, Tanja Jaaskelainen’s call for closer relations between Japan and Finland following Finland’s accession to NATO was covered in an article published in Kyodo News on May 15. Jaaskelainen emphasized the interconnectedness of Europe and Asia’s security in the face of geopolitical challenges.
The article points out Jaaskelainen’s view that Europe can learn from Japan’s experience in dealing with the Pacific region and stated that Japan is in an excellent position in the region. “It is clear that the security environment in Europe and Asia is inseparable,” Tanja Jaaskelainen said in an interview with Kyodo News.
Jaaskelainen also mentioned the importance of building resilience based on knowledge. Finland joined NATO in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, abandoning its previous stance of military neutrality. NATO has been expanding its focus from Russia to include the Indo-Pacific region due to China’s military expansion. NATO’s plan to open a liaison office in Tokyo has drawn criticism from China.
Original story was published by Kyodo News on 15.05.2023 and can be found here.