Minister of Economic Affairs Vilhelm Junnila. LEHTIKUVA

Finland in the world press

Here is a selection of what the international press has published about Finland in the last week:

Embattled Finland minister quits amid new 'mass abortions for Africa' scandal

Vilhelm Junnila’s resignation as Finland’s minister for economic affairs was covered in an article by Euronews on June 30.

The article explains the reason of his resignation delving into the past comments made by Junnila that were associated with neo-Nazi ideology.

Junnila, a member of the far-right Finns Party, resigned shortly after assuming office as he faced mounting controversies surrounding his comments in parliament. Specifically, he had suggested that a solution to the climate crisis would be to increase the number of abortions among African women, referring to this concept as "climate abortions." These remarks were made during a parliamentary speech in 2019 when Junnila was a newly elected Member of Parliament.

“It would be justified for Finland to shoulder its responsibility by promoting climate abortions. Climate abortion would be a small step for a person, but a giant leap for humanity,” he said at the time.

Junnila maintained that he was resigning to spare Finland’s reputation, “despite the trust of the party and my parliamentary group.” The scandals, including Junnila’s false claims about his academic and business background, led to his resignation.

Additionally, Junnila’s association with neo-Nazi ideology and his participation in 2019 event in Turku attended by extremist right-wing organizations have also drawn criticism.

Original story was published by Euronews on 30.06.2023 and can be found here.

Finland is no paradise: Finnish education official tells North Rift counties, students

A Finnish education official, raising concerns over Kenyan recruitment agencies misleading students about real life in Finland, was covered in an article by Nation Africa on June 26. The article talks about the hardships Kenyan students face in Finland after they are promised a better life in Finland by recruitment agencies. Director of Tampere Adult Educational Centre, Peter Pertulla stated that students are given unrealistic hopes about Finland being a land of milk and honey. He explained that students have to struggle a lot even when the opportunities are present.

Perttula said that there was no honest assessment of real life in Finland before they were recruited. “We need to have an honest opinion about life in Finland and not just promise paradise to students who have ended their suffering here. Agencies have misleading Kenyans about the rosy life in Finland, which is not there in reality, leading to their suffering,” Perttula said.

“I don’t know why we are still listed as a happy country in the world. This is a country of struggle even when there are opportunities,” he said via Zoom during the International Forum on Improving Education in Finland.

This comes at a time when students from county governments of Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo Marakwet, and Nandi in Kenya sent to universities in Finland have encountered difficulties and are facing deportation threats. In April, a student from Uasin Gishu County tragically took his own life in Finland, citing frustration with his situation. The students have accused their county administrators of misleading them regarding the study opportunities abroad.

Original story was published by Nation Africa on 26.06.2023 and can be found here.

Will Finland ban smartphones in schools?

The new government’s plan to ban the use of smartphones in schools as part of an effort to reform the education system and improve academic performance was covered in an article by TheMayor.EU on April 27. The article focuses on the shift in the country’s mobile-friendly culture, which is known for being the birthplace of Nokia.

Finnish students’ scores in math, science, and reading have declined since 2006, and authorities believe that the proliferation of smartphones in classrooms is a contributing factor. “We will make the necessary legislative amendments to enable more efficient restrictions in cases such as the use of mobile devices during the school day so that pupils and students can better concentrate on teaching,” the government statement reads.

A citizen initiative calling for the prohibition of phones in schools received over 30,000 signatures. The government intends to grant principals and teachers more power to address disruptions caused by mobile devices. The specifics of the phone ban will be determined by legislators, while a 200-million-euro funding grant is also promised to support basic education and core skills development.

Original story was published by TheMayor.EU on 27.06.2023 and can be found here.

Finland boosts defence budget as it joins NATO

This article about Finland increasing its defence expenditure to strengthen its military forces and enhance cooperation with NATO was published by Air force Technology on June. 27. The article explores the need of advanced defence capabilities amid security concerns in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The Finnish Navy, Air Force, and Army are expected to receive significant funding from the rising defence budget, which is projected to reach $6.3 billion in 2023. It marks a substantial growth from $3.5 billion in 2019.

The Finnish Navy aims to upgrade its surface fleet with Pohjanmaa-class corvettes, while the Air Force is replacing its fighter aircraft with 64 F-35A stealth fighters. The F-35 program, valued at $4.3 billion, forms the largest sector in Finland’s defence market, providing industrial benefits to the country.

The Army’s priorities include acquiring the Common Armored Vehicle System (CAVS) and the K9 Thunder 155mm self-propelled howitzers to strengthen its armoured and artillery capabilities. Finland’s increased defence budget reflects its commitment to modernize its military and address evolving security challenges.

Original story was published by TheMayor.EU on 27.06.2023 and can be found here.

World’s new largest cruise ship Icon of the Seas sails in Finland

The world's largest cruise ship, named Icon of the Seas, embarking on its inaugural sea trials near the Meyer Turku Shipyard in Finland was covered in an article published by New Zealand Herald on June 29. The article gives details of the of the cruise ship built by Finnish shipyard which was constructed for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.

The ship is around five times the size of the Titanic. It requires a crew of 2,350 workers, surpassing the famous liner. The vessel, spanning 20 decks and measuring 365 meters in length, will accommodate up to 7,600 guests upon its arrival in Miami later this year.

One of its standout features is a 25-meter-tall glass structure called the 'Aquadome,' which houses the tallest waterfall at sea. The ship is divided into eight "neighbourhoods," including a Central Park area featuring a landscaped green space, and offers a choice of 40 different dining options throughout its districts.

“Icon of the Seas is the culmination of more than 50 years of delivering memorable experiences and our next bold commitment to those who love to vacation,” Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, said earlier this year.

Original story was published by New Zealand Herald on 29.06.2023 and can be found here.

Finland to Become the Leading Hydrogen Economy in Europe – H2 Cluster Finland Publishes a Hydrogen Economy Strategy

Finland’s new Hydrogen Economy Strategy with the aim of becoming the leading hydrogen economy in Europe was covered in an article published in Business wire on June 28. The article gives details of the programme which is based on Finland becoming a powerhouse of clean energy.

“It Is the most important industrial and climate action of the decade, and it is based on hydrogen economy,” Kai Mykkänen, Minister of the Environment and Climate commented.
Leveraging its competitive advantages, Finland plans to produce 3 million tons of hydrogen annually by 2035, generating €33 billion in new annual revenue. By 2030, Finland could produce over 14% of emission-free hydrogen in the EU.

The strategy emphasizes the importance of hydrogen economy for reducing dependence on imports, strengthening self-sufficiency and energy security, and creating up to 115,000 new jobs by 2035.

The government intends to promote hydrogen economy by expediting permitting processes, incentivizing diverse electricity production growth, and adopting carbon capture and utilization.

The strategy was developed in collaboration with officials, industry unions, and companies involved in the hydrogen value chain, with a focus on leveraging Finland’s unique opportunities in the hydrogen sector.

Original story was published by Business Wire on 28.06.2023 and can be found here.