Southwest daily Turun Sanomat from Turku carries results of a new TNS Gallup survey of 1001 Finnish residents that indicates that the majority look fairly positively on Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s proposed ‘social contract’ with Finland’s trade unions. Almost fifty percent of respondents were in principle at least somewhat in support of the current government’s efforts to gain conciliations from the unions to ease the country’s decades-old collective bargaining system; a move the country’s new cabinet claims will improve Finland’s competitiveness.
If a deal can be struck, Sipilä’s cabinet has agreed to cut one billion euros from the earned income tax and cancel 1.5 billion euros in austerity measures in return. The survey showed that only one-fifth of those polled oppose the proposal, with the elderly, executive employees and entrepreneurs showing the most support. One-quarter of people belonging to opposition parties relate to the idea favourably, compared to two-thirds of government party supporters.
Does the OSCE have a future?
One of Finland’s leading tabloids Iltalehti continues with an interview from Pekka Haavisto, a Green Party MP and former two-time minister. He has been attending the 24th Annual Session of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Parliamentary Assembly, taking place in Helsinki from July 5 to 9, as a member of the OSCE’s General Committee for Political Affairs and Security. A veteran of many OSCE conferences, Haavisto couldn’t disguise his disappointment with this year’s proceedings in Helsinki so far when contacted for comment late Tuesday evening.
Haavisto said the meeting was overshadowed by the fact that none of the Russian delegation’s initiatives can be considered, because their representatives are not there. The crisis in Ukraine is also a central issue, inspiring many fiery debates, but real progress is ruled out in Russia’s absence. He says Finland made a mistake when it prohibited the Russian delegates from participating and that the meeting should have been moved to a country where the sanctions ban would not have been an issue. He says the entire future of the OSCE has been called into question in this year’s proceedings. “Ukraine is a textbook example. Our OSCE observers have been denied entry everywhere there. Is the OSCE what we intended any longer? There was nothing the OSCE could do in Crimea, for example,” he says.
He says the Helsinki meeting of 2015 will go down in history for its visa problems, hardly the way to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the organisation’s founding. The theme for this year's session is "Recalling the Spirit of Helsinki," a reference to the OSCE's founding document, the Helsinki Final Act, which was signed in the Finnish capital in 1975.
Finnish defence manufacturer loses out
The next item in today’s headlines is from Finland’s leading newspaper Helsingin Sanomat. The paper reports on the breakdown of plans for the Finnish defence industry company Patria to supply the US Marines with a fleet of Havoc armoured modular vehicles. Patria had produced one of several prototypes for the Marine Personnel Carrier competition in association with its US partner Lockheed Martin, but now the Havoc has been dropped from the project. The Havoc AMV is an 8×8 multi-role military vehicle that is highly mobile. Had the deal gone through, it would have been a billion-dollar success for Patria and a breakthrough in the US market. Patria head Mika Kari said that investments such as this are huge projects and require a massive amount of resources. Three years ago, after many twists and turns, the US Marine Corps chose the Havoc as one of four wagon types to be developed and 3.5 million dollars was allotted for this purpose. The Polish military has used the Finnish-made Havoc AMVs successfully in combat conditions in Afghanistan.
Look out for killer slugs!
And finally, the tabloid Ilta-Sanomat reports on “killer slugs that can’t be stopped”. The highly invasive Spanish slug has spread to larger areas in Finland in recent years, and Anne Koivunen of the Museum of Natural History says it is unlikely that anything can be done to stop it. Contrary to some people’s hopes that the cold weather would stop its encroachment, some of the nasty leaf crunchers were seen as far north as Rovaniemi last summer.
Reddish-brown in colour and 8 to 14 centimetres long, Arion vulgaris inhabits cultivated habitats of any kind, as well as natural habitats such as river and lakes, forests, valleys and meadows. It spreads with the transfer of saplings and soil. Most adult slugs die in the autumn, but their eggs survive the winter. The slug is a serious horticultural pest in large parts of Europe. Hedgehogs and some birds, including many breeds of domestic ducks, feed on slugs, often enough to control their numbers. Koivunen says the “most humane” way to get rid of any Spanish slugs you may find in your garden is to douse them in boiling water.