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Finn report
by Euro Reporter
2015-05-03 13:12:41
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Finland sent letters to 900,000 military reservists reminding of what to do in a 'crisis situation'

Finland's military has sent letters to the country's entire 900,000 strong reservist force outlining what each individual should do in the event of a "crisis situation," Newsweek reports citing local Finnish media. The potential mobilization of 900,000 people in Finland would be a massive undertaking. With a population of only 5.2 million citizens, conscription would extend to one sixth of the country's entire population and would include citizens between the ages of 20 and 60. Finish defence minister Carl Haglund has insisted in the Finnish press that the move has nothing to do with rising tensions in Europe over Russia's annexation of Ukraine and aggressive Russian deployments in northern Europe. Instead, the move is simply intended to keep Finnish reservists informed of their potential duties. 

finland_400_01“The aim of this isn’t to give out sort of message at all [to Russia],” Haglund said. The timing is nevertheless notable. On April 28, the Finnish navy dropped six small depth charges against an underwater vessel suspected of being a Russian submarine within its territorial waters. The charges were not meant to damage the possible sub, but were instead intended to aid in the search for the vessel or force it to surface. Earlier in April, Finland announced it would enhance military ties with the other Nordic countries due to concerns over Russia's aggressive actions in the Baltic and the Arctic. 

"Russia's actions are the biggest challenge to the European security," the defines ministers from the Nordic nations said in a joint declaration. "Russia's propaganda and political manoeuvring are contributing to sowing discord between nations, and inside organizations like NATO and the EU. There is increasing military and intelligence activity in the Baltics and in our northern areas," the declaration said. "The Russian military is challenging us along our borders and there have been several border infringements in the Baltics." Russia and Finland share an 800-mile border. As part of its push to militarize the Arctic, Russia has reopened a military base only 30 miles outside of Finnish territory. Since Finland is not a member of NATO, it would not be able to count on military assistance from the alliance in the event of an invasion.


Government must protect Finland's workers

Lauri Lyly, head of Finland’s trade union giant SAK says the politicians that take the helm of Finland’s new government next week must keep the interests of Finland’s working class at heart in all of its decisions. Lyly also said he would like to see the Social Democrats included in the next coalition, as they would best represent labour in the government agenda negotiations.  Finland’s largest trade union confederation SAK represents 21 different trade unions in Finland and carries a great deal of weight in national labour discussions. SAK’s current president Lauri Lyly appeared on Yle’s morning programme Saturday to remind Finland’s future decision makers that any so-called social contract they may forge cannot be made at the working class’ expense. The call for flexibility, he says, should extend to everyone involved.

Lyly says that from SAK’s viewpoint, that the most important component of the incoming government’s programmes will be how well they have considered the employee’s perspective. “For us, it is vital that any social contracts that may be drawn up or adjustments that are made aren’t carved from the backs of Finland’s working class. All of the pre-election speeches called for more flexibility and initiative from the labour camp. I would respond that I would like to hear what the other players are willing to put in the basket, if we truly are trying to build a common agreement,” the union leader says.

He says the new government agenda will determine if Prime Minister-designate Juha Sipilä will be able to make good on his promised new social contract. “Once we see the government agenda, we will know if it is a package we can be on-board with,” he says. Lyly says which political parties are in the government is not important, as long as the workers’ perspective is taken into account. Social Democratic Party inclusion in the next coalition, however, strikes Lyly as a good move.


Finland told IMF intervention a risk as election gets closer

The head of one of Finland’s biggest business park operators says the government is running out of time to fix the ailing economy and even warns it may need international support further down the road. “I’m expecting to see a full-blown budget crisis and a full-blown fiscal crisis with a significant debt problem for Finland unless somebody steps up to the plate,” Keith Silverang, chief executive officer of Technopolis Oyj, said in an interview. The Nordic nation has “two to three years, unless something major happens. Then we’ll be negotiating with the International Monetary Fund.”

After standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Germany through Europe’s debt crisis, Finland has emerged as a struggling economy unable to replace the industries it once relied on for growth. Finnish output will expand just 0.8 percent this year, or about half the pace of the rest of the euro zone and far less than economies like Spain and France, the IMF estimates.

Business leaders blame an environment that makes investment risky, with a lack of clarity on key areas such as tax legislation. Companies face a “costly bill” if politicians don’t come up with a clearer tax policy, said Harri-Pekka Kaukonen, CEO of Sanoma Oyj, a Finnish media company. Kaukonen faults what he calls a “cheese-slicer approach” that supports “mediocrity and the lowest common denominator.” It’s led to an environment in which “both Finnish consumers and companies are currently very careful with investments,” he said in an interview.



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