Finnish soldiers during The Nordic Response 24 military exercise in Enontekiö, Finland on March 9, 2024. In the drill a joint division of Finnish and Swedish forces attacked from Finland to Norway. LEHTIKUVA

Finland in the world press

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

Sweden and Finland join NATO’s biggest military exercise in decades

Sweden and Finland have joined NATO’s Exercise Steadfast Defender, the alliance’s largest since the Cold War, was covered in an article by BBC on March 11.

The article provides details of the exercise, aiming to deter Russia and test NATO's new military plans for rapid troop deployment.

Steadfast Defender is also the inaugural trial for NATO’s new military strategies, aimed at swiftly deploying troops and resources to support any ally facing aggression. Additionally, the exercise reaffirms NATO’s fundamental principle that an attack on any member nation will trigger a collective response from all members.

The article highlights that Nordic nations, like the Baltic States, are now more alert to the threat from Russia due to their proximity and historical experiences.

There’s a perception among military leaders that Russia could target a NATO country in the next decade, necessitating strengthening of NATO forces. “I’m sure Russia is a threat, yes, and we need to be stronger in the coming five to 10 years,” Lieutenant General Carl-Johan Edstrom said.

Furthermore, the Nordic states’ tradition of conscription and high defense preparedness is noted, distinguishing them from other European countries.

Original story was published by BBC on 11.03.2024 and can be found here.

A cool reception at Finland-Russia border

Finland’s new temporary law restricting asylum applications from individuals entering the country via its border with Russia, was covered in an article by Euro Weekly News on March 16. The article looks into the new legislation introduced in the aftermath of, what Finland calls, a “Russian hybrid attack”.

The legislation, once enacted, can be in force for a maximum of one month at a time, allowing Finland to maintain the border open for other traffic. Prime Minister Petteri Orpo emphasized the need to control the national border and its immediate vicinity to safeguard Finland’s sovereignty and national security.

“We must be prepared for the situation to worsen as spring arrives,” Orpo told the media. According to official figures, approximately 1,300 asylum seekers from countries such as Kenya, Morocco, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Syria arrived in Finland via its eastern border during the months of November and December 2023, as well as January this year. Helsinki accused Russia for this notable increase.

The article also highlights Finland’s previous steps to address security concerns along its border with Russia. It mentions the closure of border crossings in November last year and the subsequent influx of asylum seekers, which Finland attributes to orchestrated efforts by Russia.

Original story was published by Euro Weekly News on 16.03.2024 and can be found here.

Backlash from Finland transport strike brings supply chain chaos

This article about a widespread two-week transport strike in Finland, causing supply chain chaos, was published by The Loadstar on March 15. The article gives the gravity of the strikes that led to the suspension of wages for workers in impacted industries.

The strike, which has shut down ports and halted manufacturing, had prompted business associations to take action, with implications for various sectors including logistics. Its economic impact is estimated to cost the Finnish economy €320 million if sustained for the full duration.

The article highlights the disruption in rail freight operations and delays in cargo shipments, affecting both domestic and international trade. The strike emerged due to the disputes over austerity measures and labour market reforms proposed by the government.

“Consumer goods that do not spoil, such as bicycles and clothing, could be delayed by the strike by a few weeks to a few months”, Vesa Marttinen, the port of Helsinki’s director of freight said.

Original story was published by The Load Star on 15.03.2024 and can be found here.

Finland pitches ‘Preparedness Union’ to prop-up Europe against future crises

This article about Finland urging the European Union and its member states to enhance crisis management capabilities was published by Euractiv on March 15. The article explains the idea of  “Preparedness Union” pitched by Finland to prevent being caught off guard by future crises, emergency discussions, and potential divisions within the bloc.

Despite enduring challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the conflict in Ukraine, and the energy crisis, the European Commission has remained resilient.

“We ask the Commission to develop and publish the first EU Strategy for a Preparedness Union, [which] should be based on a whole-of-society approach, where the needs and contributions of all policy sectors are taken into account,” Prime Minister Petteri Orpo told the European Parliament.

“Preparedness for crises is one of the cornerstones of security,” Orpo said.

The document obtained by Euractiv outlines 50 areas where the EU could coordinate crisis management and prevention efforts, covering traditional security concerns as well as newer challenges like cyber threats and disinformation.

Key elements of the proposed strategy include intelligence gathering, risk analysis, readiness assessments, and joint capacity development. It also suggests appointing a vice-president of the European Commission to oversee the implementation of the strategy.

The document highlights Ukraine’s experience in dealing with crises and suggests leveraging this knowledge for EU preparedness efforts. However, the article also mentions that the idea of a ‘Preparedness Union’ could lead to tensions among member states, particularly those with well-established national strategies and concerns about Brussels encroaching on their competences.

Original story was published by Euractiv on 15.03.2024 and can be found here.

Only Iceland, Finland, and 5 other countries had clean enough air to meet a global safety standard: data

This article about Finland meeting the global safety benchmark for air quality was published in Business Insider on March 19. The article gives details of the 2023 World Air Quality Report, which shows that only seven countries and two territories met that benchmark with Estonia, Grenada, Iceland, Mauritius, Australia, and New Zealand along with Finland.

Data from Swiss company IQAir revealed that 92.5% of nations worldwide exceeded the World Health Organization’s recommended levels of PM2.5 pollution, with Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India having the highest exposure levels.

The report also highlighted Canada as the most polluted country in North America in 2023 due to wildfires, while only 9% of cities surveyed met WHO’s guidelines for PM2.5 concentrations.
IQAir compiled an annual ranking using data from 7,812 locations across 134 territories. This data was collected from ground-level air monitoring stations operated by governments, educational institutions, and nonprofits.

Original story was published by Business Insider on 19.03.2024 and can be found here.

Finns prohibited from doing business at home may be allowed to do so in Estonia

This article about 46 Finnish entrepreneurs who are prohibited from conducting business in Finland, still operating in Estonia was published by ERR News on March 17. The article highlights how despite receiving bans in Finland, these entrepreneurs continue their activities in Estonia, where such bans are recognized.

The Estonian Ministry of Justice noted that since prohibitions on business may not cover all aspects of entrepreneurial activity, operating in Estonia may not be considered illegal.

“This means that if a person banned from doing business in Finland comes to Estonia and wants to become a member of a company’s board, the court will check for both Finnish and Estonian business bans. If they see that the person has a valid business ban in Finland, then the court will not confirm this person as a board member,” Heddi Lutterus, deputy secretary general for legal policy at the Ministry of Justice, said.

While a business ban in Finland restricts an individual from being a board member, it doesn’t prohibit them from being a shareholder or employee of a company. According to the Estonian Ministry of Justice, engaging in business activities in Estonia may not necessarily violate the Finnish ban, as it primarily pertains to board membership.

However, there’s a possibility that these individuals could still influence significant decisions within the company, making it challenging to determine their actual level of involvement.

Original story was published by ERR News on 17.03.2024 and can be found here.

Child care is affordable and guaranteed in Finland, but a ‘ridiculous struggle’ in Australia

Finland’s affordable childcare, and its comparison with the expensive childcare in Australia, was covered in an article by ABC News on March 13. The article contrasts Australia’s market-based child care system, characterized by availability and affordability issues, with Finland’s publicly-managed approach, where child care is integrated into the public education system and guaranteed from a young age.

Accessing child care in Australia, particularly in regional areas like Broome, proves to be a significant challenge for many families, often leading to financial strain and sacrifices in employment opportunities. It highlights the struggles of families, where limited availability forces parents to resort to desperate measures like informal babysitting arrangements. This scarcity not only impacts parents’ ability to work but also exposes them to potential scams and exploitation by unscrupulous individuals promising child care solutions.

“There are just too many families that have to engage in ridiculous struggles to try and find a place for their children. And some of them just give up because it’s too expensive or too hard,” South Australian premier Jay Weatherill said.

Contrasting Australia’s market-based system, the article discusses Finland’s approach, where child care is predominantly managed by local governments. In Finland, access to child care is guaranteed, with affordable monthly fees based on income levels. Additionally, proximity to child care facilities is often convenient for families, ensuring easier access to essential services.

“So in Finland, we have a subjective right for children to get early childhood education, which means that the parents are guaranteed a placement for the child in early childhood education whenever there is a need,” Heidi Harji-Luukkainen, professor of education at the University of Jyväskyla said.

Original story was published by ABC News on 13.03.2024 and can be found here.