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Friday’s papers: Finns staying in Iraq, PM to Estonia, pup bums a ride

Press reports that Finnish troops to remain in Iraq, Sanna Marin is headed to Estonia and Swedish speakers are healthier.

Suomalaisia sotilaskouluttajia Irakissa Puolustusvoimien päiväämättömässä arkistokuvassa.
Members of the Finnish contingent in Iraq with local military, shown in an undated Finnish Defence Forces photo. Image: Puolustusvoimat

The main daily in the southwestern city of Turku, Turun Sanomat, is among the papers reporting that the chair of the parliamentary defence committee told the media on Thursday that Finnish troops engaged in training operations in Iraq will remain at their posts.

Finland has had a unit of 80 soldiers in northern Iraq since 2015. During that time the unit has trained around 5,000 Kurdish fighters and 700 Iraqi army troops.

Following an extraordinary meeting of the committee, its chair, Ilkka Kanerva, said that a withdrawal from the training operation would strengthen the position of Isis in the region and be a waste of a decade of efforts there.

Kanerva noted out that both the EU and Nato are to hold meetings on the status of the international operation in the Middle East on Friday. He pointed out, however, that Finland will continue to make its own independent decisions about participation.

He described the operation at Erbil, northern Iraq, as the most dangerous situation in the history of Finnish peacekeeping and crisis management. Kanerva added that he expects that there will be an increase in requests to take part in such operations in the future.

PM to Estonia

Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin will be in the Estonian capital Tallinn on Friday, the second official foreign visit of her term in office, following a visit to Sweden earlier this week.

Ilta-Sanomat tells its readers that there is a long agenda for Marin to get through during her stay, but that the most important part of the visit is likely to be the chance to get acquainted with her Estonian counterpart Jüri Ratas.

Talks will cover bilateral relations, including energy issues, digitalisation, and tourism.

Estonia is an elected member of the UN Security Council for 2020-21, so international affairs, including conflicts in the Middle East, are also likely to be high on the agenda.

While in Tallinn, Marin will also meet with Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid. Last month, Kaljulaid issued an apology after the Estonian Minister of the Interior referred to Finland's PM as a "salesgirl" and another minister as a "street activist and uneducated person".

Schools getting crowded

The capital's Helsingin Sanomat looks at the potential for overcrowding in the city's upper secondary schools.

The paper notes that the number of elementary schools pupils has been on the rise for years. Meanwhile, the number of youngsters opting to go to upper secondary schools has been increasing and is likely to continue on an upward trend for the next decade. This coming autumn, there will be 200 more spots made available in Helsinki public upper secondary schools.

And this is just the beginning, says Helsingin Sanomat. Projections are for there to be 5,600 more young people in the 16-18 age group by the year 2032.

The good news, writes HS, is that more schools have been renovated and construction of new schools is underway in many parts of the city.

As the paper points out, the upper secondary school network in Helsinki is unusual in that many of the schools are privately operated. For this reason, the city will have to work in close cooperation with private schools to ensure that the growing number of students can be accommodated.

Healthier Swedish speakers

Finland's largest circulation Swedish-language daily, Hufvudstadsbladet, carries a review of new research showing that members of the Swedish-speaking minority on average enjoy better health than the Finnish-speaking majority.

The study, carried out by researchers at Åbo Akademi, the University of Turku and Stockholm University, found that Swedish speakers take significantly less sick leave and are generally healthier than the population at large.

However, the project leader, Professor Jan Saarela of Åbo Akademi, told the paper that the results are not as black and white as they may appear to be.

He said that the study highlights a strong importance of family ties to health. There are noticeable health disparities both between and within the language groups, and the differences are largely explained by the importance of social relationships.

Doggy style

Police in Turku on Thursday evening were called to remove a passenger riding a city bus without a ticket, reports Iltalehti.

Item continues after tweet.

doggy style link

According to a posting on the Southwestern Finland Police Department's Twitter account, a large dog hopped on a bus alone at a stop in the city, failed to purchase a ticket, and calmly took a seat and a long ride.

The driver contacted police who picked up the well-behaved pooch and later posted "photo evidence of the day's ticketless passenger", playfully berating the canine for not reading the rules, and informing the public that the dog had been safely conveyed to a shelter.

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