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Tuesday's papers: Jet sales, inter-party pressure, wolverine felled

This Tuesday dailies delve into fighter jet manufacturers setting up for the biggest military purchase in Finnish history, SDP bigwigs vocally criticising the Finns Party and the first wolverine killed in the country in 35 years.

Ruska-harjoituksessa lennetään yli 50 koneella tällä viikolla.
Riders on the storm: Five companies are competing for a 10-billion-euro contract. Image: Ilmavoimat

Finland's top daily Helsingin Sanomat features a main headline this Tuesday about military hardware manufacturers gearing up for a four-year process that will culminate in the biggest military purchase the country has ever seen.

The HX fighter replacement programme aims to replace Finland's Hornet fighter jets with upgraded planes in 2021. The run-up to the eventual decision involves five advanced systems manufacturers with global reach, all of whom want to sell fighters to Finland's military. The deal is potentially worth some 7-10 billion euros, and far more when factoring in the 30-year upkeep of the jets, HS writes.

The companies gunning for the top sale are Boeing and Lockheed Martin from the United States, Saab from Sweden, Dessault Aviation in France and the British-European BAE Systems. Before the actual offers are made next spring, consultants and communications agencies also stand to make a killing in the meanwhile. No one openly admits to playing the lobbyist, HS is careful to note.

"It's no use trying to reach me with lobbying speeches," says Defense Minister Jussi Niinistö. "The Defense Minister does not take meetings with lobbyists, which they themselves understand well enough. The ministry's employees may have contact with manufacturing representatives, but only as a normal part of their duties."

The paid representative for Lockheed Martin is former air force commander Ossi Sivén, who says in the paper he is a soldier and aeronautical specialist.

"I get it if a specialist counts as a lobbyist in the public eye, I'm not offended by it," he says.

SDP vs. Finns Party

Meanwhile, tabloid Ilta-Sanomat features a potential schism in domestic politics in the form of two Social Democratic Party representatives speaking out against future government collaboration with the populist Finns Party.

Newly appointed SDP party secretary Antton Rönnholm is reported to have discredited the idea of continued cooperation with the less popular of his party's two coalition partners, citing different values as a hindrance.

"Personally, I currently have trouble seeing the SDP in the same government with the Finns Party," the exact quote runs. Rönnholm's original interview was with Helsingin Sanomat.

On Monday, IS writes, SDP vice chair Sanna Marin released a statement expressing her support of her fellow party member. Marin says that a general dissatisfaction with the Finns Party is prevalent within the SDP, mentioning the populists' "broken promises" among the reasons for discontent.

The Finns Party's own party secretary, Riikka Slunga-Poutsalo, expressed wonder at the SDP line and spoke in hunting metaphors in IS to say that the two SDP players should not get ahead of themselves, as the next parliamentary elections are in 2019.

Finns Party chair Timo Soini also used colourful metaphors in the tabloid to question whether Rönnholm's and Marin's stance is the official SDP party line. SDP chair Rinne could not be reached for comment.

First wolverine felled since 80s

An article in local Tampere paper Aamulehti reports on an historic bit of nature news. A troublesome wolverine (Gulo gulo) has been shot with a license in Sallivaara, Lapland, the first wolverine to be felled since the species was protected in 1982.

Licenses for the felling of eight wolverines were issued by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry on Feb 10, and one male individual has now been shot dead. Some 100 wolverines live in the area.

Wolverines have been responsible for the deaths of nearly 200 reindeer last year in the Sallivaara reindeer grazing association's territory alone. The association proposed the local population be culled by one fourth, but some organisations feel that especially wild individuals could simply be transported from one area to another to avoid losses, AL writes.

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