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Tuesday's papers: Getting off Russian gas, majority of MP's support Nato, and royal visit

Left leader Andersson wants European countries including Finland to stop funding Vladimir Putin's war.

Yleiskuva, jossa näkyy lähinnä jalostamon piippuja, torneja ja putkia poutaisena talvipäivänä.
An oil refinery in Moscow. EU countries have already paid Russia over €20 billion for oil, gas, and coal since February 24. Image: Maxim Shipenkov / EPA
Yle News

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has shifted the conversation around energy in Finland, given that much of Finland's energy needs are procured from Russia.

Li Andersson, chair of the Left Alliance and Minister of Education, spoke to Iltalehti about the paradox of Finland funding the Russian war machine.

"Europe will continue to fund Putin's military operations and the Putin regime as long as dependence on fossil fuels from Russia is as high as it currently is in Europe," Andersson stated to Iltalehti.

Andersson pointed out the hypocrisy in Finland spending 1.7 billion euros on purchasing new arms acquisitions, while still financing Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"We must work to get rid of Russian energy, which finances this war, as soon as possible. It is not sustainable for Finland to strengthen its own defence with one hand, and to finance Russia's war with the other by purchasing fossil fuels from them," Andersson told Iltalehti.

According to Andersson, an estimated 20 billion euros has flowed from the EU into Russia since the invasion began on 24 February.

In April, the Finnish government announced a 700-million-euro energy and green transition package.

"Reducing dependence on fossil fuels is also a security policy issue in these times. It is really important that Finland now invests heavily in giving up Russian energy and strengthening its energy self-sufficiency," Andersson explained to Iltalehti.

Andersson also emphasised that Fennovoima's project with Rosatom, the Russian state-owned nuclear firm, should not be built. The planned nuclear plant in Pyhäjoki has been shelved in the midst of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, however the project site still remains.

"Today, the Fennovoima project is a big elephant in the room for Finnish decision-makers," Andersson added.

Simple majority of MP's support Nato

Over half of Finland's members of Parliament now support Nato membership, according to an article published by Helsingin Sanomat.

Of Finland's 200 members of Parliament, 105 expressed support for Nato accession according to a Helsingin Sanomat analysis. The analysis relied on a compilation of various different sources including HS polls, Yle polls, and MPs' press releases.

In the analysis 13 MPs did not support Nato membership, 36 MP's were unable to say, and the remaining 46 were unknown or unsure at the moment.

Parliament will begin discussing the report examining Finland's changed security policy as it convenes on Tuesday from the Easter holiday.

There is uncertainty over whether a simple or two-thirds majority in Parliament would be required for Nato accession. Speaker of Parliament Matti Vanhanen (Cen) has established a coordination group to deal with this and other questions surrounding the progress of any Nato membership bid. In order to reach the two-thirds majority, 134 MPs would need to support Nato accession.

The initiative to apply for Nato membership would be taken by the President and the Government, and in principle, could be taken at any time.

Finland gets royal treatment

Ilta-Sanomat reported that Prince Michael of Kent is in the midst of a three day trip to Finland. The royal visit is organised by the British and Commonwealth Chamber of Commerce in Finland (B3CF).

"This visit's purpose is to promote investment and trade relations between Britain and Finland. The prince is coming to our country as a patron of the Genesis initiative," President Garry Parker of the B3CF stated to Ilta-Sanomat.

An active freemason, Prince Michael is one of the few royals not to receive taxpayer subsidy via the UK's Civil List, but does have use of an apartment at Kensington palace.

The Genesis Initiative is a UK program promoting discourse on economic matters for small and medium enterprises (SME's) and encourages development and cooperation between Britain and its international partners.

Prince Michael last visited Finland in 2017 and recalled that he had fond recollections of the country.

"My last trip to Finland left me with many positive memories," Prince Michael told Ilta-Sanomat.

During his speech at a gala in 2017, the prince said that he liked the openness and kindness of the Finns.

The royal itinerary includes a trip to Tampere where he will visit a few companies and the recently built Nokia Arena. The prince will end his trip in Helsinki, visiting local companies, along with a gala at Svenska Klubben. The gala dinner will host 100 people, kantele performances, and Sir John Stuttard will present the prince his book Pre-War Rolls-Royce Motor Cars with a Finnish Connection.

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