Tag Archives: Finland

Estonian PM against Russian tourists

Brussels 24.08.2022 Estonia joined calls of Finland and Latvia to the EU to close its borders to Russian tourists, echoing a warning from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“Stop issuing tourist visas to Russians. Visiting #Europe is a privilege, not a human right,” Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas tweeted, a day after Zelensky urged the West to opt for a travel ban.

“The most important sanctions are to close the borders — because the Russians are taking away someone else’s land,” Zelenskyy said in an interview with the Washington Post published Monday, adding that Russians should “live in their own world until they change their philosophy.”

Finland Prime minister Kallas pointed out that most easy enter to the EU through the bloc’s eastern border with Russia, putting a burden on Estonia, Latvia and Finland as the “sole access points.”

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said that her “personal position is that tourism should be restricted,” and that she expected the issue to be discussed at upcoming EU leaders’ summits.

“It’s not right that at the same time as Russia is waging an aggressive, brutal war of aggression in Europe, Russians can live a normal life, travel in Europe, be tourists. It’s not right,” she told Finland’s national public broadcaster Yle.

World Report: Happy Finns

Brussels 15.08.2022 The European Union’s member-state Finland was crowned the happiest country in the world for the fifth consecutive year, with a score significantly ahead of its peers in the World Happiness Report 2022 ranking.

The other EU member-state Denmark kept its second place, the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network said on Friday, August 13. Iceland bypassed Switzerland to take third place and the Netherlands concluded the top five. The U.S. ranked 16th, up three places from 2021.

“The lesson of the World Happiness Report over the years is that social support, generosity to one another, and honesty in government are crucial for well-being,” Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, said.

“World leaders should take heed,” Sachs said. “Politics should be directed as the great sages long ago insisted: to the well-being of the people, not the power of the rulers.”

Over the ten years the report has been published, the biggest gains in happiness have taken place in Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania, and biggest declines posted in Lebanon, Venezuela and Afghanistan. The authors detected, on average, a long-term moderate upward trend in stress, worry, and sadness in most countries, as well as “a slight long-term decline in the enjoyment of life,” they wrote.

The report uses global survey data to report on how people evaluate their own lives in more than 150 countries around the world, with the ranking based on a three-year average. Key variables that contribute to explaining people’s life evaluations include gross domestic product per capita, healthy life expectancy, generosity, social support, freedom to make life choices and perceptions of corruption.

NATO endorses new Strategic Concept

Madrid 30.06.2022 NATO heads of state and government meeting in Madrid on Wednesday 29 June 2022 approved a new Strategic Concept for the Alliance, setting out the priorities, core tasks and approaches for the next decade. The concept describes the security environment facing the Alliance, reaffirms our values, and spells out the NATO key purpose of ensuring our collective defence. It further sets out NATO three core tasks of deterrence and defence; crisis prevention and management; and cooperative security.

The document defines Russia as the “most significant and direct threat” to Allies’ security, while addressing China for the first time and the challenges that Beijing poses toward Allies’ security, interests and values. The documents also states that climate change is “a defining challenge of our time”. The Strategic Concept is updated roughly every decade and is NATO’s second most important document. It reaffirms the values of the Alliance, provides a collective assessment of security challenges and guides the Alliance’s political and military activities. The previous version was adopted at the NATO Lisbon Summit in 2010.

Ahead of the Summit thousands of protesters marched in Madrid on Sunday,Juin 26, against a NATO plans to launch a new arms race.

Leaders of member countries meet in Madrid on June 29-30, amid tight security, as the organisation faces the unprecedented challenge of Russia refusal of NATO expansion further to the East to Ukraine and Georgia.
However, in spite of Russian opposition to the NATO plans, Finland and Sweden have started the process of joining the Alliance.

NATO: Turkey opens perspective to Scandinavians

Madrid 29.06.2022 Turkey Sweden and Finland signed a trilateral memorandum on Tuesday, 28 Juin, in view of the perspective of the Nordic countries’ NATO membership process after an important meeting in Madrid in which Ankara has framed its demands, especially in the field of terrorism.

Turkey “got what it wanted” from the talks with Sweden and Finland talks, the Turkish presidency said in a written statement, underlining that full cooperation was agreed on with Turkey on fighting the PKK terrorist group and its affiliates.

Solidarity will be demonstrated towards Turkey in its fight against all branches of terrorism, it said. Furthermore, Sweden and Finland also agreed not to support the PKK organization’s Syrian wing, the YPG, as well as the Gülenists Group (FETÖ), all of them regarded as extremists in Ankara.

“As prospective NATO Allies, Finland and Sweden extend their full support to Turkey against threats to its national security,” the trilateral memorandum read.

“To that effect, Finland and Sweden will not provide support to the YPG/PYD, and the organization described as FETÖ in Turkey” the document continues.

“Finland and Sweden reject and condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, in the strongest terms,” it continued, highlighting that Finland and Sweden condemn all terrorist organizations perpetrating attacks against Turkey, and express their deepest solidarity with Ankara.

“Finland and Sweden commit to preventing activities of the PKK and all other terrorist organizations and their extensions, as well as activities by individuals in affiliated and inspired groups or networks linked to these terrorist organizations,” the memorandum said, adding that Finland and Sweden will address the issue of Turkey’s pending deportation or extradition requests of terror suspects expeditiously.

However, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto told reporters after the meeting that the trilateral memorandum does not list individuals for extradition but rather describes principles for extraditions related to terrorism, not individual citizens.

NATO leaders will formally invite Finland and Sweden to join the alliance Wednesday, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said during the membership process.

“I’m pleased to announce that we now have an agreement that paves the way for Finland and Sweden to join NATO. Turkey, Finland and Sweden have signed a memorandum that addresses Turkey’s concerns, including around arms exports, and the fight against terrorism,” Stoltenberg said Tuesday after crunch talks in Madrid.

The Turkish presidency added that the Nordic countries have also agreed to lift their embargoes on weapons deliveries to Turkey, which were imposed in response to Ankara’s 2019 operation into Syria.

The two countries will ban “fundraising and recruitment activities” for the PKK, and “prevent terrorist propaganda against Turkey.”

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted Sweden and Finland to abandon their long-held nonaligned status and apply to join NATO. However, Turkey had opposed the move on the grounds that these two countries were supporting terrorist organizations.

The agreement comes at the opening of a crucial summit dominated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. U.S. President Joe Biden and other NATO leaders arrived in Madrid for a summit that will set the course of the alliance for the coming years. The summit was kicking off with a leaders’ dinner hosted by Spain’s King Felipe VI at the 18th-century Royal Palace of Madrid.

Diplomats and leaders from Turkey, Sweden and Finland earlier held a flurry of talks in an attempt to break the impasse over Turkey’s opposition to expansion. The three countries’ leaders met for more than two hours alongside Stoltenberg on Tuesday, Juin 28, before the agreement was announced.

Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson hailed the “very good agreement” with Turkey and said the move would make the alliance stronger.

“Taking the next step toward a full NATO membership is of course important for Sweden and Finland. But it’s also a very important step for NATO, because our countries will be security providers within NATO,” Andersson told Agence France-Presse (AFP) in an interview.

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also hailed Turkey’s agreement to drop its objections to Finland’s and Sweden’s membership of NATO.

“Fantastic news as we kick off the NATO Summit. Sweden and Finland’s membership will make our brilliant alliance stronger and safer,” Johnson wrote on Twitter.

On the other side, a U.S. official said on the same day that Turkey did not demand concessions from Washington to support Finland and Sweden.

“There was no request from the Turkish side for the Americans to make a particular concession,” a senior administration official told reporters.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official called Turkey’s decision a “powerful shot in the arm” for NATO unity, Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah writes.

Finland joins NATO without delay

Brussels 12.04.2022 Finland announced it would apply to join NATO “without delay”, with Sweden expected to follow suit, suggesting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will bring about the very expansion of the Western military alliance that Vladimir Putin attempted to prevent.

The decision by the two Nordic countries to abandon the neutrality they maintained throughout the Cold War would be a giant shift in European security structure in decades. Finland’s announcement provoked indignation from the Kremlin, which called it a direct threat to Russia and promised an unspecified relevant response.

The announcement by President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin means that Finland is all but certain to join the Western military alliance, though a few steps remain before the application process can begin. Neighbouring Sweden is expected to decide on application for NATO membership in coming days.

“NATO membership would strengthen Finland’s security. As a member of NATO, Finland would strengthen the entire defence alliance,” Niinisto and Marin said in a joint statement.

“Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay,” they said. “We hope that the national steps still needed to make this decision will be taken rapidly within the next few days.”

Finland considers joining NATO in weeks

Brussels 13.04.2022 Finland will take a decision about whether to apply to join NATO in the next few weeks, Prime Minister Sanna Marin (pictured) said on Wednesday, April 13, underlining a shift in security perspectives since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We have to be prepared for all kinds of actions from Russia,” Marin told journalists during a news conference in Stockholm with her Swedish counterpart.

The head of government said the option to join NATO had to be carefully analysed but that everything had changed when Russian forces invaded Ukraine in late February.

“The difference between being a partner and being a member is very clear and will remain so. There is no other way to have security guarantees than under NATO’s deterrence and common defence as guaranteed by NATO’s Article 5,” Marin added.

Finland and fellow Nordic state and neighbour Sweden are close partners with NATO but have shied away from joining the 30-member alliance, founded in 1949 to counter the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

52 percent of Finnish Swedes say yes to NATO membership, shows a recent survey Swedish Yle and the think tank Magma commissioned. This is a smaller proportion than in Finland as a whole.

Today, Wednesday, the Government is expected to approve and present the defense policy report. It will be discussed in the Riksdag next week.

At the same time, a new survey shows that Swedes in Finland express greater uncertainty regarding NATO membership than the general population does. Survey has been commissioned by Svenska Yle together with the think tank Magma.

The survey shows that Finnish Swedes’ NATO support is lower in Finland overall. 52 percent of Finnish Swedes say yes to NATO membership, compared with over 60 percent in Yle’s latest NATO survey for the entire
population.

“I won’t give any kind of timetable when we will make our decisions, but I think it will happen quite fast – within weeks not within months,” said Marin, whose country shares a 1,300-km (810-mile)-long border with Russia to the east.

She said it was important to reach consensus in Finland, which fought Soviet invaders during World War Two and has been militarily non-aligned since then, and that political parties would have internal talks and in parliament in coming weeks.

Finland and Sweden way to NATO

Brussels 11.04.2022 Sweden and Finland may join NATO as early as this summer, the Times newspaper reported citing its sources. (Image: Sandra Marin Prime minister of Finland).

According to the news outlet, it is expected that Finland will apply for its membership in June and Sweden will follow.

The governments of Sweden and Finland are co-operating on reaching consensus on the matter domestically, however, the final decision will be made by each country independently.

Earlier, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that the possible NATO membership of Sweden and Finland became one of the most debated subjects during the April 6-7 meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels.

FINLAND: husky at risk of cull

In Lapland (Finland) husky dogs culling are ahead if the post-coronavirus situation continues to degrade, said Pasi Ikonen, an entrepreneur from Hetta Huskies in Enontekiö, in an interview with Helsinki Sanomat newspaper.

Ikonen explained that the assessment is based on his own situation being an owner of 250 dogs.

“We basically don’t kill dogs. If the situation gets so bad that the number needs to be reduced, we try to get their elder to find homes for them. We already have a fairly extensive adoption program. ”

IKOSEN’s food costs for dogs are about 50,000 euros a year and veterinary costs less than 20,000 euros. The dogs are guided by two salaried employees. The total cost is about 120,000 euros per year.

“According to the law, the owner can abandon his dog whenever he wants, there is no obstacle, but it is certainly morally questionable to do so. If there is an emergency situation and there is no other solution, then dogs cannot be kept if they cannot get food and care for them. ”

Ikonen reminds that putting down dogs can be short-sighted. An ordinary draft dog costs 300-400 euros, but a top-class guide dog can cost thousands of euros.

“If the company’s goal is to continue the dog business, then stopping the dogs is a bad idea. Getting a working group of dogs back is difficult. For many, it is a way of life and not a business and the decision to put down dogs is a tough one.”

TRAVEL COMPANY Harriniva’s CEO Niina Pietikäinen says that in her company the number of dogs will be reduced by one hundred dogs in two years. This is accomplished by interrupting puppy production.

The company has 500 sled dogs in two kennels in Muonio. The natural elimination is about 50 dogs a year, Pietikäinen says.

“It’s the only measure right now. Of course, we are already thinking about the next season, ie winter 2021–22. Dogs are as important to us as human workers. They then suddenly do not appear anywhere: they are long-educated, valuable animals. ”

According to Pietikäinen, it is now assumed that this year’s expenses will be covered.

“It’s more than half a million euros. The big question is who would get us here to move them. The inherent feature of a sled dog is to pull and run. It could run a hundred miles a day. ”

PIETIKÄINEN thinks that the worst situation is for a company that only has a dog sled business. He also hopes that Finns will find the dog sled hobby a nice way to move around in nature now that the share of foreign tourists is collapsing.

However, Harriniva plans to continue the dog business.

“But I’m genuinely worried about the thousands of sled dogs in Lapland. It is the kind of breed that is not brought but adopted as a domestic dog. It’s such an energetic dog.”

Malta ambassador resigns after verbal assault

Malta’s Ambassador to Finland has resigned after comparing German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Adolf Hitler in a public message in the context of Europe remembering the end of World War II.

Malta government ensured that the official apology will be send to Berlin.
The Maltese high diplomat to Finland resigned after comparing German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Adolf Hitler.

Michael Zammit Tabona’s anti-Merkel Facebook entry, posted on May 8, which was removed later.

The Foreign affairs minister Evarist Bartolo informed he had accepted the resignation of the Maltese businessman appointed as Malta’s ambassador to Helsinki in 2014.

In his message on Friday, the 75th anniversary of the end of World War Two in Europe, Zammit Tabona had posted: “75 years ago we stopped Hitler. Who will stop Angela Merkel? She has fulfilled Hitler’s dream! To control Europe.”
Maltese media reported May 10 that the offending post had since been deleted, and that Zammit Tabona could not be contacted for comment.

The Times of Malta newspaper said Zammit Tabona’s posting had been as non-residential and quoted Bartolo as saying he had instructed the ambassador to remove the comment “as soon as I was alerted to it.
The newspaper also quoted Maltese opposition leader Adrian Delia as saying that Zammit Tabona’s Facebook post was “unbecoming of an ambassador.”

Delia told the newspaper Angela Merkel had consistently backed Malta on various issues, describing her as a source of stability in Europe — seven decades after the defeat of Nazi Germany.

Malta’s Chamber of Commerce, in a statement also carried by the newspaper, said Zammit Tabona’s remark had harmed the country’s reputation. It welcomed his resignation.
All persons holding public office and diplomats no less, should take extra care when expressing themselves, as the country’s reputation is no one’s to put in compromising situations,” the chamber reportedly said.

Relations between the two EU nations, Malta and Germany, are becoming increasingly complex over Mediterranean migrant flows and Eurozone debt.

Merkel predicts “difficult” EU budget Summit

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that talks to set the European Union’s budget for the coming seven years will be “very difficult” at an extraordinary summit beginning February 20 in Brussels.

We think our concerns are not sufficiently addressed on many points, and I therefore see very tough and difficult negotiations ahead,” Merkel told reporters at a Berlin press conference with Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin (pictured).

Germany and Finland belong to the circle of mainly northern European EU members that pay more into the EU budget than they get out, known as net contributors“.

EU heads of state or government will discuss the EU’s long-term budget for 2021-2027 during a special meeting of the European Council on 20 February 2020.

In his invitation letter, the President of the European Council Charles Michel said: “The time has come to reach an agreement at our level on the multiannual financial framework.”

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