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Tuesday's papers: Nato speculation, food price optimism and school meal innovation

Finland might soon have to make a decision on joining Nato without Sweden.

Finlands och Natos flaggor.
Yle News

With Finnish and Swedish foreign ministers meeting in Helsinki on Tuesday, Helsingin Sanomat iterates (siirryt toiseen palveluun) on the ongoing Nato discussion in Finnish public life, with comments from senior MP Jussi Halla-aho (Finns). The former leader of his party, who now chairs the Foreign and Security policy committee in parliament, weighed in on whether Finland has decided it should join Nato without Sweden.

On Monday Iltalehti had reported (siirryt toiseen palveluun) that Finland's security policy elite had discussed the issue in the last week, and that a consensus was emerging that Finland could join without Sweden.

Anonymous sources informed IL that "party leaders, the national leadership and other key politicians" had been involved in talks to chew over Turkey's intransigent stance on Sweden's desire to join the military alliance.

That reporting is overblown, according to Halla-aho. There's no policy line to that effect, and it cannot be decided without parliament or without the committee he chairs.

He did add, however, that he had always said Finland should not condition its bid for Nato membership on Sweden being accepted as well.

His committee is meeting this week to discuss its position on the Nato law itself.

Publicly, it's been reported that Sauli Niinistö called party leaders to his official residence to emphasise that they must be ready to move quickly on Nato membership — even in the period after planned elections on 2 April, when government formation talks will be in full swing.

PM Sanna Marin (SDP), meanwhile, has suggested that a minority government might be formed after the election to make rapid decisions regarding Nato membership.

The All Points North podcast examined the issue of whether Finland could, or should, join Nato without Sweden.

Food inflation slowdown?

Iltalehti carries a story (siirryt toiseen palveluun) about food inflation that has a little bit of optimistic news for those concerned about the price of groceries.

Year-on-year inflation hit 14.5 percent in October, thanks to poor harvests and trade disruptions caused by Russia's war on Ukraine.

Jyrki Niemi of the Natural Resources Institute (Finnish acronym Luke) says that this year prices should stabilise at least towards the end of the year.

"If we have normal harvests globally, the second half of the year should see a halt in food inflation, in practice," said Niemi. "It's too early to forecast the timing of a fall in food prices, but by the end of the year we won't see prices rise."

The year-on-year comparison for the end of the year is a relatively high price level, making further inflation less likely.

IL reports that meat and dairy prices are expected to rise 3-4 percent at the start of the year, but the prices of fresh fish and grain products have already stabilised.

Tampere schoolkids get to choose their food

Vegetarian food in schools has been a culture war issue in Finland, with the idea of a vegetarian day — when all food is vegetarian and no meat is available — proving particularly incendiary to a certain demographic of online commenter.

Aamulehti reports (siirryt toiseen palveluun) that Tampere is trying out a solution to that issue. Since the turn of the year children in Tampere schools no longer have to request vegetarian food as a special diet option, they simply see it as an option in their canteen and can choose it if they like.

That lowers the threshold for trying out vegetarian food and, according to the product development team at the school meal provider Voimia, will encourage children to taste meat-free options.

There has been no increase in food waste either, according to Voimia.

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