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Wednesday's papers: Regional focus, chemical weapons dump, high winds

Morning papers report a new study showing most Finns want more foreign affairs cooperation with Nordic and Baltic partners.

The Baltic Sea off Kotka.
Around 50,000 tons of chemical weapons are thought to have been dumped in the Baltic Sea at the end of WWII. Image: Kalle Purhonen / Yle
Yle News

Many morning papers, including Kuopio's Savon Sanomat, carry a review of a new survey by the Finnish Business and Policy Forum (EVA) showing that a growing number of Finns want to see more focus on cooperation in international affairs with other Nordic and Baltic countries.

Sixty-four percent of those surveyed said they think that cooperation with the Nordic countries should have more emphasis in Finland's foreign policy.

According to EVA's head of research Ilkka Haavisto, it seems that the Finns would like the Nordic countries to act as a more united front in foreign policy than at present.

"Traditionally, the Nordic countries have cooperated on many issues, but have rarely appeared as a unified block, because the countries' foreign and security policy solutions have not been aligned," Haavisto points out.

Slightly more than half of respondents were of the opinion that cooperation with the Baltic countries should be given more weight more in Finland's foreign policy, as well.

Greater willingness to cooperate with the Baltic countries is related to the Nato alliance and the fact that the foreign policy of the Baltic countries is increasingly valued in Finland, according to an EVA's press release quoted in the article.

"Russia's attack on Ukraine showed that the Baltic countries assessed Russia correctly," Haavisto says.

A similar annual values and attitudes survey has been carried out by EVA since 1984. This poll includes responses from more than 2,000 people who took part in a Taloustutkimus internet panel at the beginning of this year.

Danger below the Baltic waves

It is estimated that around 50,000 tons of chemical weapons and at least 200,000 tons of conventional munitions lie on the bottom of the Baltic Sea, the agricultural sector paper Maaseudun Tulevaisuus reports.

The weapons include bombs, artillery shells, mines, grenades and other munitions dumped by the Allies at the end of the Second World War. They are known to contain mustard gas, adamsite and an arsenic compound called clark1, among other deadly chemicals.

The paper says that studies have shown that toxins leaking from corroding ammunition casings end up in sediments and aquatic organisms. Hanna Niemikoski, a chemist at the Finnish Environment Institute (Syke) says that small concentrations have been found in, for example, cod, flounder, lobsters and shrimp.

More research is needed on whether the small concentrations of toxins found in seafood affect the people who eat them.

However, Professor Paula Vanninen, who heads Finnish Institute for Verification of the Chemical Weapons Convention, told the STT news agency that the threat to the marine environment and consumers is real.

One reason that the the issue of dealing with World War II-era chemical weapons dumped in the Baltic is topical is the fast pace at which offshore wind farms are being built in the region.

Reining in onboard parties

Helsingin Sanomat tells readers that shipping lines operating ferries between Finnish and Swedish ports have taken steps to curb partying by passengers in cabins and corridors.

It notes that, for example, some of the ships have no plugs in the sinks in cabins. This is to prevent passengers from filling the sinks with cold water to cool drinks.

Cruise passengers are prohibited from bringing their own alcoholic beverages onto Tallink Silja and Viking Line ships. It is also forbidden to consume alcoholic beverages bought from the ships' stores on board. The consumption of alcohol is limited to bars and restaurants.

Viking Line rules says that any passenger who causes a disturbance in cabin areas can be ejected from the cabin and fined 120 euros.

Both shipping companies have limited alcohol purchases from tax-free shops on certain departures and the contents of some passengers' bags are checked before boarding. Among the items confiscated are not only alcohol, but also sound-system speakers and power tools.

Hazardous gusts

Iltalehti warns of increasingly difficult driving conditions in many parts of the country on Wednesday because of heavy rains and high winds.

It points to an advisory from Fintraffic's road traffic centre saying that hazardously high gusts of wind, up to 20 metres per second, are expected in Kymenlaakso, South Karelia and South Savo.

Heavy rains will also affect driving conditions in Uusimaa, Häme and North Karelia.

The Fintraffic advisory reminds drivers to maintain safety distances of the season, and to be especially careful when it is dark.

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