Finnish President Sauli Niinisto addresses the 78th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York City on September 20, 2023. LEHTIKUVA / AFP

Finland in the world press

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

Finland’s President, no stranger to Russia, warns Europe about complacency

Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö cautioning European leaders and citizens against complacency, regarding the risks of escalation in Russia-Ukraine conflict was covered in an article by New York Times on September 17. This long interview with Niinistö provides insights into the president’s perspective and the evolving situation, including the risks of nuclear weapons.

In the interview, Niinistö described Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a “wake-up call” for Europe and NATO. “Well, it was ringing loudly in February 2022,” Niinistö told New York Times. “But do you hear it anymore? That clearly? That might be a good question — whether all Europeans realize that this is a European issue.”

Niinistö highlighted the significant risk associated with large-scale warfare. Speaking about the recent incident involving debris from a suspected Russian drone landing in Romania, Niinistö said, “We’re in a very sensitive situation. Even small things can change matters a great deal and unfortunately for the worse. That is the risk of such large-scale warfare.” He added, “The risk that nuclear weapons could be used is tremendous.”

President Sauli Niinistö expressed the importance of understanding the caution exercised by leaders amid the significant risks in the Ukraine conflict. He particularly addressed critics who view President Biden and Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany as being overly cautious in providing Ukraine with advanced weaponry like long-range missiles and drones capable of targeting Russian-occupied Crimea and Russia.

“Also, in Finland, we hear voices that America should do that or that. And I just wanted to point out that if there’s escalation to a big war, that’s world war, so then the nuclear risk becomes clearly bigger.” He urged everyone “to understand the position of those who have responsibility.”

Original story was published by New York Times on 17.09.2023 and can be found here.

Can you protect us from Russia? Finns have one question for their next president.

This article about voters facing the task of choosing new President in Finland was published in Politico on September 15. As Finland's presidential election campaign begins, a central question arises: Who do Finns trust to handle relations with Russia? With Sauli Niinistö reaching the end of his maximum two six-year terms, the article explores the significant role of a Finnish president in shaping foreign policy, and diplomatic efforts, amid the country's recent decision to join NATO and a period of strained relations with Russia due to Ukraine conflict.

Opinion polls suggest that the leading candidate in Finland's presidential election is Pekka Haavisto, a Green Party lawmaker and former Foreign Minister known for his diplomatic experience. Alexander Stubb, a prominent political figure, is leading the center-right charge. Other candidates include Olli Rehn, a former European commissioner, and Mika Aaltola, a foreign policy think tank director.

“The president is the face of the country,” Tommi Vaurio, a 37-year-old nurse told Politico. “It is very important for me that they have a composed presence, that they are trustworthy and don’t have a load of shady things in their history, that they are reliable,” Vaurio added.

All four leading candidates have strong foreign policy backgrounds, favoring closer ties with Western allies and increased defense spending. However, there are also notable non-mainstream contenders. Far-right figure Jussi Halla-aho, known for his criticism of immigration and Russian foreign policy, could make it to a second-round runoff. Additionally, the traditionally NATO-skeptical Left Alliance may nominate Li Andersson, broadening voter choices.

“There has been an early favorite in the form of Pekka Haavisto, but now other names are emerging and it looks set to be very competitive,” said Åsa von Schoultz, a political scientist at the University of Helsinki.

Original story was published by Politico on 15.09.2023 and can be found here.

Finland and Sweden will reinvigorate NATO’s navies

This article about the impact of addition of Finland and Sweden as NATO’s permanent members in bolstering the organization’s maritime capabilities was published by U.S. Naval Institute in its September issue. The article highlights how the move could provide NATO with a crucial advantage in the Baltic Sea and North Atlantic, thanks to the strong naval technology, strategic locations, and improved interoperability of these Nordic countries with NATO navies.

The article points out that Finland, working closely with Sweden, has embarked on significant modernization efforts within its navy. This includes the upgrade of its Hamina-class fast-attack surface combatants, incorporating advanced features like variable-depth sonar and torpedo integration to strengthen undersea warfare capabilities.

Additionally, Finland’s government has greenlit the construction of four Pohjanmaa-class corvettes in 2015, set to replace older minelaying and missile craft. These larger and more advanced Pohjanmaa-class corvettes are expected to enhance the Finnish Navy’s combat capabilities and versatility in the Baltic Sea region.

The article also mentions that the addition of Finland and Sweden to NATO would be instrumental in countering potential threats from Russia’s Baltic and Northern Fleets. These fleets heavily rely on two primary supply routes through the Kola Peninsula: the Kola Motorway and the Kirov Railway. Finland’s geographical proximity to these routes, running parallel to its border, offers NATO a strategic advantage. It allows for the potential of actions from Finnish territory or waters to disrupt the Northern Fleet’s vital supply lines, acting as a powerful deterrent and limiting the Russian Navy’s reach in the Arctic and North Atlantic.

Original story was published by U.S. Naval Institute on its September issue and can be found here.

The amount of imported products and meat in the Finnish diet has the most significant impact on global biodiversity loss

This article about a recent study suggesting that the negative impact of the current Finnish diet on biodiversity can be reduced by transitioning to a more plant-based diet, was published in on September 15. This article reflects how the impact primarily stems from imported products when assessed globally for species loss.

The study, conducted by the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), used two life cycle assessment (LCA) methods to evaluate the impact of the current Finnish diet and four alternative diets on global biodiversity loss. These assessments considered factors like production area requirements, species richness, and the presence of local species in production areas. The results were notably influenced by the composition of each diet.

The study analyzed various diets, including the current one based on the FinDiet 2017 survey. Alternative diets, aligned with nutrient recommendations, progressively reduced meat consumption, eventually reaching a vegan diet. In the current diet, poultry meat stands out as the product group with the most substantial impact on global biodiversity loss.

“Adverse impact on biodiversity decreased significantly in proportion to the decreasing amount of meat in diets. A vegan diet had the lowest impact, only 30 percent of the impact of the current diet. This is a similar, although even clearer, trend than in previous assessment of climate impact,” Venla Kyttä, Research Scientist at Luke, said.

Poultry meat has a significant impact on biodiversity loss in the Finnish diet due to the use of soy-based feed, leading to expanded production areas. Fish also contributes to biodiversity loss, primarily because of imported fish used as feed. Soy as feed causes biodiversity loss through land-use changes, while coffee and cocoa affect biodiversity due to long-term agricultural land use. Beef, while having a substantial climate impact, plays a smaller role in biodiversity loss.

Original story was published by on 15.09.2023 and can be found here.

Supermarket in Finland welcomes dogs, with special carts for canine customers

Kesko chain’s grocery store in Tampere introducing a “Koirakärry” or dog cart, allowing dog owners to shop with their pets, was covered in an article by Euronews on August 26. The article provides details of the the initiative, which aims to welcome more dog-owning customers, breaking from the usual policy of permitting only service animals inside. The store even features an official golden retriever that tests dog treats and shares the results on Instagram.

These specially designed carts feature a dog bed at the bottom and a clip for attaching leads or harnesses. While owners are currently encouraged to lift their dogs into the cart, there are plans to potentially include a small ramp in future versions to allow dogs to enter on their own.

“The idea is already used in some countries, but not in Finland, and we have a lot of dog owners nearby,” Matilda Tistelgren, who has been operating the supermarket with her partner Joona Pesonen, told Euronews.

“We have a golden retriever ourselves, and if we go out jogging with the dog and forget something from the store, we don’t want to go home, leave the dog, then have to return to the store ourselves, we want to be able to take the dog with us,” Matilda said.

Matilda and Joona, who manage the supermarket in Tampere’s Kissanmaa neighborhood, meaning “Cat’s Land,” have introduced several pet-friendly initiatives. Their retriever, Tove, stars in “Tove Tastes” videos on Instagram, where she tries various dog treats.

Original story was published by Euronews on 26.08.2023 and can be found here.