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Thursday's papers: Finland suspends arms exports, unhealthy wood smoke, and Catholic church child sex abuse

Finland stops arms exports to Turkey, wood burners spark debate, and a Catholic child sex abuse scandal reaches Finland.

Unfiltered wood-fired stoves emit health-damaging pollutants. Image: Lauri Rautavuori / Yle

Most of the newspapers cover Turkey's incursion into Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria, with the main Swedish daily scooping its rivals when Defence Minister Antti Kaikkonen told Hufvudstadsbladet (siirryt toiseen palveluun)that Finland will suspend arms imports to Turkey. The move follows an attack by Turkish troops (siirryt toiseen palveluun) on Kurdish militia in northeast Syria on Wednesday.

Just three weeks ago, the government granted Tampere-based unmanned aircraft system company Robonic the right to export drones to Turkey. The Peace Union of Finland has deeply criticised Robonic's permit, saying the decision to issue it signalled an "inconsistent" foreign policy and "weak" human rights approach.

That said, Finland’s Foreign Ministry states (siirryt toiseen palveluun)that “through its own actions, Finland seeks to strengthen the international arms control agreements and arrangements.”

In 2018, Finland exported defence materiel worth 128 million euros, a 17 percent increase over the previous year, according to the Defence Ministry.

Wood burners spark debate

With the weather cooling, hundreds of thousands of residents are burning wood to heat their homes. However Finland pays little attention to the particle pollution the practice generates, writes Helsingin Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun).

Jarkko Tissari, a researcher specialised in wood burning emissions from the University of Eastern Finland, told the paper that there’s been no driving force or regulation in Finland to limit these types of emissions even though HS estimates they contribute to 200 premature deaths annually.

Particle-capturing filters are common in houses in central Europe and the United States, but in Finland only industrial buildings are required to install them.

One expert told HS that the cost of fitting homes with filters was likely a deterrent to widespread use.

Catholic church sex abuse

The Swedish-language daily HBL also reports that Finland’s Catholic Church is calling for any possible sex abuse victims (siirryt toiseen palveluun) to come forward, saying a priest who worked in Finland between 1993 and 2003 has been accused of child sexual abuse in the United States.

The priest was ordained in Norway and worked closely with Finland’s Catholic Vietnamese community, according to the Helsinki diocese.