Research Director of the Finnish Defense Forces, Engineer Colonel Jyri Kosola (left), and NATO Research Director, Dr. Bryan Wells, at the Headquarters in Helsinki on September 18, 2023. Wells is participating in the NATO Research Conference hosted by Finland. LEHTIKUVA

Finland in the world press

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

Finland raced to join NATO. What happens next is complicated.

This analytical article about the challenges for Finland about integrating into NATO was published by The New York Times on September 25.

The article explores the complex financial, legal, and strategic aspects of Finland’s integration into NATO.

Finland recently joined the NATO alliance a year after Russia-Ukraine conflict, marking a significant departure from Finland’s long-standing military nonalignment. The article highlights how joining NATO and supporting Ukraine come with substantial costs and requirements. NATO expects member countries to meet military spending goals and fulfill specific demands related to capabilities, armaments, troop strengths, and infrastructure.

The article also points out that Finland's integration into NATO will require challenging and costly decisions from government and military officials. They must adapt their forces and capabilities to meet the alliance's requirements, which may involve moving troops and equipment to neighboring countries like Norway, Sweden, or the Baltic States for reinforcement purposes. Additionally, Finland may consider participating in NATO tasks such as patrols in Kosovo or the Mediterranean.

Despite these adjustments, Finland’s officials and analysts have maintained the country remains committed to defending its own territory, especially given its extensive border with Russia. Unlike some NATO countries sharing borders with Russia, Finland is not expected to request a rotating presence of allied troops, as it believes it can maintain self-defense capabilities independently.

“The whole security and foreign-policy establishment believes that no such troops are needed now, but it’s not a categorical no,” Matti Pesu of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, told The New York Times.

The author, Steven Erlanger is The Times’s chief diplomatic correspondent in Europe, based in Berlin. He previously reported from Brussels, London, Paris, Jerusalem, Berlin, Prague, Belgrade, Washington, Moscow and Bangkok.

Original story was published by New York Times on 25.09.2023 and can be found here.

Sanna Marin, film star? Ex-Finnish PM signs with talent agency

Former Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin signing with the entertainment and talent management company Range Media Partners, was covered in an article by Politico on September 28. The article gives details of Marin’s new opportunities in various aspects of media and entertainment, including TV, film, audio, and brand partnerships.

Range Media Partners, known for working with Hollywood stars like Bradley Cooper, Tom Hardy, and Keira Knightley, offers management and representation services to performing and recording artists, directors, writers, professional athletes, and others in the entertainment industry.

Sanna Marin has taken on a role as a strategic counselor at the Tony Blair Institute earlier in September. In this capacity, she will provide advice to political leaders on their reform programs. Marin, who became Finland’s youngest prime minister in 2019 at the age of 34, stepped down in April following her party’s third-place finish in the national election.

During her time in office, she faced scrutiny over breakfast expenses and, in August 2022, passed a drug test after a leaked video showed her dancing exuberantly at a party with friends.

Original story was published by Politico on 28.09.2023 and can be found here.

‘This is not just Putin’s war’: How Finland’s top diplomat sees Ukraine

This article featuring interview of Finland’s Foreign Minister Elina Valtonen was published in The Washington Post on September 25. The interview piece looks at how the new center-right government maintains its support for Ukraine and the Western resistance against Russia’s invasion.

Valtonen has emphasized the importance of Western unity and investment in defense. Valtonen also highlights concerns about Russia’s long-term intentions and the impact of sanctions on ordinary Russians.

“There are these Russian narratives around that NATO is a threat or NATO enlargement is a threat, but it’s important to realize that NATO in and of itself doesn’t enlarge. It’s the free people in democratic societies who vote or choose to join, and that was the case for Finland and Sweden, as well, once they are let in. We were pretty close to NATO anyway so in a way it was just a natural step. Our military was almost 100 percent interoperable with NATO as it was,” Valtonen said.

“In democracies, the political climate can always change, but I am confident that our core values and the future that all of us as individuals here in the free West are driving for [mean that] it really pays off to help Ukraine. Aiding Ukraine is not charity. It’s standing up for the European way of life, in this case, Western values and of course, it’s the [country’s] sovereignty, territorial integrity, and those are the values that we share. What would happen if we let go of Ukraine or stopped helping them? Perhaps there wouldn’t be Ukraine, but there certainly would be a very empowered Russia. And I don’t think anybody benefits from that, especially not neighboring countries,” Valtonen highlighted.

Finland, like its Baltic neighbors, implemented sanctions on Russian vehicles entering the country, despite recognizing that sanctions can hurt ordinary Russians. However, they see it as a necessary measure in response to Russia’s actions.

The minister mentions in the interview that Finland feels more secure as a NATO member and emphasizes that they are net contributors to NATO, meeting the 2 percent of GDP target for defense spending.

Original story was published by Washington Post on 25.09.2023 and can be found here.

Racism?? In Finland!!??

This article about the issue of racism in Finland, a country known for its positive global image and ranking as the world’s happiest nation was published in The Nation on September 26. The article discusses how despite this reputation, Finland faces a growing problem of racism that has been exacerbated by the rise of the far-right party in the government.

The article mentions the Finns Party in the new government , which opposes non-white immigration while welcoming Ukrainian refugees, leading to concerns about human rights violations and economic consequences. It further says that the presence of such an openly racist party in government is unique among EU nations, except for Italy.

The article highlights instances of racist remarks and ties among government officials, including neo-Nazi associations and derogatory comments about immigrants. Despite public outrage and protests against racism, the government’s anti-racism agenda is criticized for its lack of concrete measures.

“People who have consistently made racist statements are now running government departments. This could lead to normalizing racist views,” Aleksi Neuvonen, cofounder of Demos Helsinki, said.

During the new Parliament session in Finland, the Prime Minister spoke about the need to combat racism, but some MPs, like Jani Mäkelä, the leader of the Finns parliamentary party, did not address the issue. Instead, Mäkelä criticized immigrant gangs and what he called a “woke culture” that he claimed labeled many things as racist, including board games and Eskimo ice cream bars.

The rise of racism and xenophobia in Finland has raised concerns among multinational corporations, potentially affecting investment plans. Protests against racism have gained momentum in the country, marking an unusual shift in a nation known for its calm political climate.

The author, David Kirp is professor emeritus at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California-Berkeley, co-author The Education Debate: What Everyone Needs to Know, and a resident of Finland.

Original story was published by The Nation on 26.09.2023 and can be found here.

6G tech & autonomous cars combine in Finland

This article about a research project called “6G Visible” commencing in Finland was published in ITS international on September 29. The article provide details of the project, aiming to explore the integration of 6G technology with autonomous cars.

The project, set to continue until May 2026, is a collaboration between the University of Oulu, renowned for its 6G research, and the Finnish Meteorological Institute. It is funded by Business Finland’s 6G Bridge program and involves the university’s Empirical Software Engineering in Software, Systems, and Services (M3S) research group, one of Europe’s largest software research units.

“In the research, our aim is to find out how to combine the various sources of expanded traffic situation information and the most efficient data transfer methods as well as information processing to enable autonomous driving,” said Kari Liukkunen, project leader and adjunct professor at M3S.

The project not only focuses on deploying 6G technologies for autonomous and semi-autonomous driving but also aims to develop use cases that benefit Finnish automotive-related software businesses. It is also working on testing and integrating various sensors and environments.

The project emphasizes the critical role of software, communication, and computing solutions. It seeks to assess how these solutions and software architectures can be tested in both virtual and real traffic situations. Additionally, the Finnish Meteorological Institute is working on customized road weather services tailored for autonomous driving applications.

Original story was published by ITS international on 29.09.2023 and can be found here.

A new museum in Finland marries green design and gilt-framed paintings

Finland’s new Chappe museum showcasing both ecological design and a collection of 19th- and early 20th-century paintings was covered in an article in Financial Times on September 29. The article explores how the museum blurs the lines between art and design.

“The differences are no longer that important anyway. Little by little in Finland, artists are co-operating with researchers, scientists and other professionals. So we have this cross-discipline approach going on here.” Pia Hovi, the curator of the museum said.

The museum aims to help visitors appreciate both disciplines and reframe ecological design as a vital tool for preserving the natural world. Through the juxtaposition of paintings and ecological design, the museum highlights the urgency of designers’ work in addressing environmental challenges.

The Chappe museum In Finland showcases design works that are often referred to as “climate art.” In the museum’s inaugural exhibitions, visitors can view thought-provoking creations like a prototype lightweight mobile office attached to a bicycle and abstract sculptures made from a durable macroalgae material, offering an alternative to plastics. These contemporary design pieces coexist with the museum’s permanent collection of traditional oil paintings, funded by the Albert de la Chapelle Art Foundation, named after a Finnish genetics professor.

Original story was published by Financial Times on 29.09.2023 and can be found here.

Typhoon road landing: Nato trial Finland’s highways as airstrips

Finland, recently serving as a testbed for NATO dispersed air force operations, was covered in an article by Airforce Technology on September 27. Two Royal Air Force (RAF) Typhoon aircraft conducted the first landing of the airframe on a civilian road in Tervo, Finland. The article highlights how these operations demonstrate the ability to use unconventional landing sites for military aircraft.

Additionally, an F-35A, flown by Royal Norwegian Air Force pilots, executed a conventional landing on a motorway in Tervo on September 21, followed by a “hot-pit” refueling operation, marking a significant milestone for the Norwegian Air Force, Nordic countries, and NATO.

“Fighter jets are vulnerable on the ground, so being able to use small airfields – and now motorways – increases our survivability in war. In addition, this is also a demonstration of the exciting development we have initiated within the military-air cooperation in the Nordic region,” Major General Rolf Folland, Chief of the Royal Norwegian Air Force, said.

“With Finland’s entry into Nato and Sweden’s imminent membership, the Nordic countries have a particular responsibility for developing and coordinating NATO’s deterrence in the northern regions,” Norwegian Defense Minister Bjørn Arild Gram, said.

Finland utilizes a dispersed operations combat method that involves road base landings, which are tested annually during Exercise BAANA. In the most recent iteration, BAANA 23, aircraft from allied nations participated for the first time, indicating international cooperation and the integration of these methods into wider military exercises.

Original story was published by Airforce Technology on 29.09.2023 and can be found here.