Cars queue at the prematurely closed Vaalimaa border check point between Finland and Russia in Virolahti, Finland on December 15, 2023. LEHTIKUVA

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

From Finland to Germany, why do some airports cope better with snow than others?

Helsinki airport’s capabilities in dealing with snowy winter was covered in an article by Euronews.travel on December 11.

The article discusses varying snow management capabilities at airports, highlighting Helsinki Airport’s efficiency in clearing runway snow in 11 minutes.

Munich Airport faced disruptions due to heavy snow and freezing rain, prompting passengers to suggest learning from Helsinki’s success. The question is posed: why can’t airports in the UK and Germany consistently match Helsinki’s swift snow clearance?

Munich Airport attributes its snow management challenges to the distinct weather conditions in Germany. Near-freezing temperatures result in wet snow that turns to slush and ice, making it harder to clear. In Nordic countries like Finland, consistently lower temperatures create drier, firmer snow, facilitating more effective removal. The article notes that winter weather, including ice and snow, poses challenges for air travel, leading to issues such as runway skidding and low visibility. Freezing rain, as experienced in Munich, is highlighted as particularly problematic.

Freezing rain, where supercooled water freezes upon impact with surfaces like runways and airplanes, is identified as one of the most challenging elements for airport maintenance. A spokesperson from Finavia, responsible for maintaining Finland’s airport network, emphasized on the difficulties associated with this weather phenomenon.

“When supercooled water rains on a runway or on the surface of an airplane, it freezes immediately. You can see the same phenomenon on your car's windshield in winter,” the spokesperson said.

Original story was published by Euronews.travel on 11.12.2023 and can be found here.

‘Too much sadness’: asylum seekers in Finland caught in geopolitical drama

The plight of asylum seekers, who took a route from Russia to Finland, amid the recent closure of borders, covered in an article by The Guardian on December 11. The article describes the helpless of asylum seekers as they moved to Finland to seek safety in the European Union. The sudden influx of over 900 arrivals prompted Finland to close its land border with Russia, accusing Moscow of using migrants in a “hybrid operation.

The article narrates the journey of a 36-year-old Syrian man named Salami, who initially planned to travel from Syria to Poland via Belarus to seek safety for himself and his family in the European Union. However, upon reaching Moscow, he was informed by a Telegram smuggler about a supposedly safer and easier route to Finland for $3,000. The smuggler claimed to have an agreement with the Russian military.

Although skeptical about the military agreement, Salami followed the instructions given by the smuggler. He successfully crossed the Russia-Finland border, in Arctic conditions on a bicycle, joining over 900 others from conflict-ridden countries caught in a growing geopolitical drama.

This closure has raised concerns among NGOs and the United Nations, challenging the right to seek asylum. Amnesty Finland expressed concerns about undermining the rights of asylum seekers and the increased risk of human rights violations at the border. Despite these concerns, the Finnish Ministry of the Interior stated that the closure was a necessary measure to stabilize the situation and ensure internal security in Finland.

The Finnish Immigration service and the Finnish Red Cross faced difficulties providing information and access to asylum seekers, and the overall situation remains complex, with ongoing negotiations between Finnish and Russian border guards.

Original story was published by The Guardian on 11.12.2023 and can be found here.

Closure of Finnish-Russian border sparks protest

This article about protests against the closure of all border crossings between Russia and Finland by the Finnish government, was published in DW on December 8. The closure was ordered citing security concerns and a rise in illegal border entries. The article highlights how the closure prompted protests, particularly from Finland's Russian-speaking population, constituting about 100,000 people out of a total population of five-and-a-half million.

Russian speakers often commute between Finland and Russian cities like Vyborg or St Petersburg. The closure has affected various individuals, including Viktoria Ilyina and Yevgenii Koshchevnikov, who had to postpone their son’s operation in Russia due to the border closure. The article notes that this closure has also raised concerns about potential violations of refugee rights, with critics suggesting that people’s access to asylum may be jeopardized. The Finnish government justifies the closure by pointing to a deliberate influx of migrants by Russian border officials.

The closure has sparked political and social tensions, leading to protests, including a one-man protest by Ivan Devyatkin, a Russian-speaking Finn living in Finland for 12 years. He expressed feeling betrayed and emphasized the impact of the decision on citizens with ties to both countries. “It was like a stab in the back. A betrayal on the part of the Finnish government. That we were not taken into account, as if we, the Russian-speaking minority in Finland, didn’t have our own interests,” Devyatkin said.

The article also mentions a media tour organized for journalists at the Raja-Jooseppi crossing, the northernmost border crossing between Finland and Russia. Finnish border guards guided the journalists through the crossing, explaining the typical flow of migrants and explaining the challenges faced by authorities. The tour included a visit to a container where vehicles, including bicycles, were stored, now considered property of the Finnish state. Journalists were also shown a heated hangar where migrants awaited debriefing, identification checks, and asylum processing.

Original story was published by DW on 08.12.2023 and can be found here.

Russian Railways calls Finland’s train seizure unlawful

Russian Railways accusing Finland’s state-owned railway company, VR, of unlawfully seizing four trains co-owned through a joint venture, was covered in an article by Reuters on December 15. The article gives details of the dispute between Russian Railways and VR, which adds another layer to the strained relations between the two nations.

VR had announced the seizure of Allegro trains, which used to operate between Finland and Russia, after over 18 months of unsuccessful negotiations. The suspension of passenger trains between the two countries occurred in March 2022, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

VR claimed the Russian government neglected financial obligations toward the joint venture, leading to the redemption of loans and the subsequent train seizure. Russian Railways, in response, contends that the transfer of trains was not agreed upon, and it accuses VR of unlawful actions leading to the insolvency of Karelian Trains. The disagreement has resulted in lost income for Russian Railways and an inability to fulfill obligations.

“Repeated proposals from Russian Railways to resume operation of Allegro trains within the framework of existing agreements were not accepted by the Finnish side,” Russian Railways said.
“Thus, the unlawful actions of VR and the Finnish management of Karelian Trains led to the insolvency of the latter,” Russian Railways said.

Original story was published by Reuters on 15.12.2023 and can be found here.

Finland: A trailblazer in the fight against poverty

Finland’s reputation as a global leader in the fight against poverty, was covered in an article by Gillett News on December 17. The article provides an insight to the Finnish model, which has showcased success through its comprehensive welfare system, progressive policies, and the implementation of universal basic income (UBI).

The article highlights the country's commitment to social welfare, providing citizens with essentials like unemployment benefits, healthcare, and education, which has significantly mitigated the impact of poverty.

Finland’s groundbreaking UBI experiment, offering unconditional cash payments to all citizens regardless of employment status, has shown promising early results, improving financial security and quality of life. The UBI experiment has garnered international attention, with early results indicating positive outcomes, including increased financial security and improved quality of life for participants.

The article also notes that despite ongoing challenges, Finland’s achievements serve as an inspiration for other nations to prioritize social welfare and pursue a more inclusive future.

Original story was published by Gillett News on 17.12.2023 and can be found here.

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