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Tuesday's papers: Energy crisis postponed, Erdoğan's choice and mental health treatment crisis

Turkey could further delay Finland's Nato membership — but does that matter?

Electricity supplies are expected to be sufficient this winter, partly thanks to consumers on spot price contracts. Image: Mikko Stig / Lehtikuva

Helsingin Sanomat has a leader article (siirryt toiseen palveluun) suggesting that the expected energy crisis, brought on by Russia's attack on Ukraine and the subsequent disruption of gas supplies to Europe, has been postponed.

As COP27 pursues solutions to climate change this week it is perhaps ironic to note that the milder conditions this autumn are one of the reasons Europe is expected to manage its energy supplies better.

Another is consumer action to manage consumption, and the paper also carries a piece (siirryt toiseen palveluun) on electricity pricing trends that sheds some light on that.

The piece says that some companies in Finland will now only offer spot price-based contracts to new customers. 

Where they are available, fixed-term fixed-price contracts are prohibitively expensive in Finland now, meaning that increasing numbers of consumers now have a heavy incentive to use electricity when demand is lowest: during the night, or at least outside the morning and evening peak times. 

Erdogan's choice

As Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson heads to Turkey to discuss ratification of Sweden (and Finland's) application for Nato membership, Iltalehti has analysis (siirryt toiseen palveluun) that is fundamentally pessimistic about prospects for a rapid resolution.

The piece argues that Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan holds all the cards, and he has no pressing reason to give them up. 

He has already forced Finnish and Swedish governments to talk in a 'Finlandised' manner about Turkey's concerns about terrorism. That's a big shift from Sweden's previous rhetoric about human rights in Kurdish regions, and both countries' now-rescinded pause on arms shipments to Turkey.

The IL piece says that this helps Erdoğan demonstrate political strength ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections next summer. 

There's no pressing reason for him to relent and allow the Nordic countries to join Nato, so we could expect this state of affairs to continue for some time.

Whatever happens, it is likely that Erdoğan will emerge looking like a winner. If he ratifies the applications he can point to changed rhetoric on Kurdistan and new rules on arms shipments as concrete 'wins' ahead of the election. If he continues to deny membership, he is showing his electorate he is a powerful figure on the world stage.

In any case, IL says that Nato membership is not quite as pressing for Finland as previously thought. The Russian military's shambolic performance in Ukraine, and new security guarantees from the United States and the United Kingdom, give Finland a little more reassurance than it had in the spring. 

Mental health crisis

Tampere daily Aamulehti leads with an article on long queues in the city's mental health services (siirryt toiseen palveluun)

The crisis is seen in particular at the Pitkäniemi psychiatric unit in Nokia, which is the region's largest unit and in October reported itself to the local Regional State Administrative Agency noting its excessive load of patients and its staff shortage.

"Some patients have slept overnight in chairs in reception," said Hanna-Mari Alanen of Tampere University Hospitals' psychiatric division. "There is no human dignity in this. It is a matter of time before the parliamentary ombudsman intervenes."

Alanen adds that the staff shortage has consequences. The emergency department at Pitkäniemi often deals with patients in extreme distress, with police accompanying the patient in the ambulance. Some 30 percent of the personnel say they experience fear at some point in their shift. 

Non-acute patients are also feeling the strain. Those with mental health issues can wait up to a year for their first appointment, and the queue currently stands at more than 1,800 people. 

That is partly down to the Pirkanmaa region's population growth, with 500 referrals a month now coming in — previously the number had been 400. 

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