Here is a selection of what the international press has published about Finland in the last week:
Mannerheim, Marshal of Finland — nation-builder and Nazi partner
The role of Finnish statesman, Gustaf Mannerheim, in the nation-building and his influence over the 20th century Europe is discussed in the article by Financial Times on July 28. The article delves into Mannerheim’s contributions to Finland during perilous times while also shedding lights on his flaws.
Henrik Meinander’s biography, “Mannerheim: Marshal of Finland,” translated fluently by Richard Robinson, looks into the history intertwined with Mannerheim’s career. While Mannerheim had some flaws, like his initial reluctance towards representative democracy, he remains significant in Finland’s history.
After Finland’s short civil war following the Bolshevik revolution, Mannerheim led conservative forces to victory. While Meinander suggests that his objective was not solely securing Finnish independence but also curbing communism and potentially overturning the revolution in Russia, Mannerheim’s memoirs focus on his unbreakable will to fight for Finland’s liberation.
In Mannerheim’s career, one controversial episode involves Finland’s military alliance with Nazi Germany against the Soviet Union during the 1941-1944 period. The official narrative claimed that Finland was forced into this alliance by Hitler, but Meinander’s research reveals that Mannerheim played a significant role in shaping the brotherhood-in-arms with Germany.
Original story was published by Financial Times on 28.07.2023 and can be found here.
Finnish government living on borrowed time
The recently revealed controversies around the new government in Finland has been covered in an article by Euractiv on July 17. The article discusses how the new right-leaning government in Finland has been facing a tumultuous start, with ministerial resignations and crisis meetings becoming frequent occurrences.
The government's position has been further threatened by the exposure of old racist writings from members of the Finns Party. Finance Minister Rikka Purra faced controversy for her past remarks, and despite Prime Minister Petteri Orpo’s announcement of the government’s dissociation from racism, demands for concrete action against racism and antisemitism have been voiced by some government members.
Inside the National Coalition Party, which is part of the government, some members are divided between liberal and conservative perspectives. The Swedish People’s Party expressed concerns about the government’s ability to function effectively and decided to grant Prime Minister Orpo time to assess the situation and hold discussions with other party leaders.
The opposition has been capitalizing on the government’s vulnerability, urging the Parliament Speaker to suspend the summer recess to discuss the government’s policies and future given the potential harm to Finland’s international reputation. However, the Speaker rejected the request, emphasizing the need to protect the parliament’s independence from external pressures, including social media and certain media outlets.
Original story was published by Euractiv on 17.07.2023 and can be found here.
Sweden, Finland and Switzerland are considering security links with US National Guard, general says
This article about Finland, Sweden and Switzerland contemplating joining the U.S. National Guard’s security partnership program was published in The Independent on July 27. The article explains how the move will strengthen American military connections in Europe following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
The interest shown by Switzerland, Finland, and Sweden in the U.S. National Guard’s security partnership program highlights their changing stance on military nonalignment due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Each of these nations has taken steps indicating a shift away from their long-standing policies of neutrality.
Finland and Sweden have sought NATO membership, with Finland joining in April and Sweden awaiting approval. Additionally, Switzerland has been considering easing export controls on sending weapons to active war zones, showing a potential departure from its traditional neutral position.
The U.S. National Guard’s security partnership program offers foreign militaries an opportunity to align their operations with Western military organization and equipment. This alignment is considered essential for Eastern European nations seeking to adopt NATO standards and enable multinational military cooperation in joint operations.
Original story was published by The Independent on 27.07.2023 and can be found here.
How Finland’s Energy Market is Embracing the Circular Economy
Finland’s initiatives towards a sustainable future by embracing the circular economy in its energy market was covered in an article in EnergyPortal.eu on July 31. The article explores how the country aims to eliminate waste and promote the continual use of resources, reducing the environmental impact of human activities.
The article highlights the Finnish government's ambitious goals for carbon neutrality and the growing global demand for clean energy solutions, that are driving this transformation. With a focus on efficient resource utilization, Finland's leadership in renewable energy, including hydropower, wind, and bioenergy, has led to innovative technologies and business models that support the circular economy in the energy sector.
The article points out that one of the key aspects of the circular economy is the efficient use of resources, which is particularly relevant in the energy sector. Local communities are increasingly adopting this approach, where they produce and consume energy within their region using locally available resources like solar panels, wind turbines, and bioenergy plants. By generating their electricity and heat locally, these communities reduce their reliance on energy imports and long-distance transmission, leading to lower carbon footprints and supporting local economic growth.
Original story was published by EnergyPortal.eu n 31.07.2023 and can be found here.
Biden's Cold Reception
This opinion piece about the supposedly cold reception received by U.S. President Joe Biden in Finland was published in City Journal on July 27. In this piece, the author talks about how Helsinki residents appeared unimpressed with the American leader during his visit.
The visit coincided with Deputy Prime Minister Riikka Purra’s controversy over past comments about immigrants. While some Finns voiced concerns about immigration, the city also saw protests against U.S. military bases on Finnish soil.
Biden’s arrival prompted tight security measures, including closing airspace and waterways. Finnish media covered the visit, noting Biden’s short stay and his meeting with President Sauli Niinistö. The Finnish tabloid published an unflattering cover photo, describing Biden as either rude or grumpy. Despite the media attention, no reports mentioned Biden visiting local sights.
While some experts believed the visit wouldn’t significantly boost Biden’s popularity, a humorous advertisement from a lakeside city, Joensuu, invited him to retire there.
The author, Dave Seminara is a writer and former diplomat. He is the host of the DeSantisland podcast.
Original story was published by City Journal on 27.07.2023 and can be found here.
In Finland, people get prizes for their unwanted textiles
The innovative pilot programme, Textile Deposit Scheme, started by the city of Lahti was covered in an article by Inhabitat on August 1. The article how the programme has been encouraging textile recycling.
Inspired by the successful deposit system for beverage containers, the Textile Deposit offers citizens small rewards, such as coffee vouchers and pool passes, for recycling textiles instead of disposing of them in landfills.
During the pilot program, textile returns increased by 500% due to the incentives. Lahti aims to become a zero-waste city by 2050, and the success of the Textile Deposit could lead to a nationwide deposit-based recycling system for textiles in Finland and across the EU by 2025.
“The textile deposit is a great example of an everyday innovation that directly aims to minimize the amount of waste and showcases the potential of discarded textiles as a raw material for industries and design,” said Veera Hämäläinen, the communications director for the City of Lahti.
Original story was published by Inhabitat on 01.08.2023 and can be found here.