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Wednesday's papers: Another Nato poll, unpaid farm bills, Olympics super day

A fresh poll shows 43 percent of respondents in favour of Finland joining Nato, if key national leaders were to give their backing.

Finland's women's hockey team faces off against Switzerland for the bronze in Beijing on Wednesday. Image: Lehtikuva

A poll commissioned by the daily Helsingin Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun)shows that 43 percent of Finnish voters support joining Nato, if the president and the prime minister considered membership in the alliance to be in Finland's best interests.

Of the 1,066 people responding to the poll, 27 percent said they would oppose membership even under these conditions, while 30 percent were undecided.

Respondents were also asked about their reasons for supporting or opposing Nato membership. The most cited arguments in favour of membership were the provision of Nato troops in the event of an attack on Finland, and membership as a deterrent in crisis situations.

The main argument against membership was the concern of deteriorating relations between Finland and Russia.

Sakari Nurmela, research director at pollster Kantar TNS, told Helsingin Sanomat that Nato membership is a major and complex issue for the ordinary citizen.

"Therefore it is only natural that more people will take a positive stance on Nato if the political decision-makers, the president and the prime minister, say that this is a good thing for us," Nurmela pointed out.

According to Nurmela, there is a hard core of both support for membership and for opposition to it. Then there are a large number of people who take a more pragmatic approach.

He said that Finns see both opportunities and threats in Nato membership, and this poll reflects the kind of hopes and fears people have.

"What stands out the most is the security Nato would provide on a bad day, and how to manage [relations] with Russia if we are members. It makes you think," said Nurmela.

In January, Helsingin Sanomat published a poll in which the question of membership in Nato was posed without preconditions, that is without considering the position of the president and prime minister. In that poll, 28 percent of respondents were in favour of NATO membership.

Farmers' debts

As noted in Tuesday's media, the cost of food has risen steeply in recent months, with statistics from the Natural Resources Institute of Finland suggesting the prices of food products are expected to rise by 2-2.5 percent this year.

Maaseuden Tulevaisuus (siirryt toiseen palveluun) reported Wednesday that farmers are having tough times, especially young farmers and those running large farms. According to MT, more than 5,000 farms, nearly 10 percent, are struggling with unpaid bills.

According to MT's survey, the most difficult situation is on poultry farms and among egg producers.

The paper assumes that many, if not most, farmers having trouble paying their bills have recently made investments in production.

The purchase prices of agricultural equipment increased by more than a fifth during the last quarter of 2021 compared to the previous year, Statistics Finland reported on Tuesday.

At the end of the year, fertilisers cost more than double, energy a third more and animal feed just over a fifth more than the year before.

Tampere test kits

Aamulehti reports (siirryt toiseen palveluun)that Tampere is expected to receive nearly 200,000 Covid home test kits next week from the National Emergency Supply Agency for distribution to the city's some 39,000 students and school staff.

According to Kristiina Järvelä, director of Basic Education at the City of Tampere, the city is hoping that the tests will be available for distribution before the winter holiday in Pirkanmaa which begins on 28 February.

"Considering the [Covid] situation, they are a little late," Järvelä . "Of course, though, this can help ensure a return to school after the winter holidays. We think it will be useful."

Winter holiday weather

With winter school holidays starting in the south of the country, Iltalehti (siirryt toiseen palveluun)provides readers with a look at an extended weather forecast.

The outlook is for colder temperatures this week in southern and central parts of the country, but increasingly mild weather the week beginning 21 February.

The paper quotes Foreca meteorologist Anna Latvala as saying that snowfall is likely to continue until the middle of March in much of the country.

Periods of cold weather are likely to be short-lived at the end of February and in early March. Increasingly long days mean that statistically the coldest period of the year is now behind us.

Olympic events

Ilta-Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun)is looking forward to what it calls a "super day" for Finnish athletes at the Bejing Winter Olympics.

Iivo Niskanen and Joni Mäki are competing for medals in the cross-country skiing men's team sprint classic while Krista Pärmäkoski and Kerttu Niskanen are in the women's event.

Suvi Minkkinen, Mari Eder, Erika Jänkä and Nastassia Kinnunen will be skiing and shooting in women's 4x6km biathlon relay.

The Finnish men's hockey team will face Switzerland in the quarter-finals.

The day in Beijing for Finnish contenders wraps up with the women's hockey team playing for bronze.