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Friday's papers: President's speech, Baltic beautification and skating season specials

The newspapers on Friday cover the state opening of parliament, our contributions to pollution in the Baltic Sea, and a guide to skating out in the fresh air.

Potkukelkkailua Kallaveden jäällä
It's time for skating in Finland as lakes and rivers freeze over. Image: Helmi Nykänen / Yle

All the print editions cover President Sauli Niinistö's speech at the state opening of parliament on Thursday. Niinistö focused on threats to western values, among other topics in a wide-ranging speech, and reaction was largely positive.

Left Alliance MP Paavo Arhinmäki told Helsingin Sanomat he'd have liked more focus on Donald Trump and the very specific changes in the international community that Trump's election brought. Ilta-Sanomat asked Niinistö directly why he didn't mention Trump, and were told that the president did not name-check anyone else either.

He told the tabloid that recent events have forced everyone to ponder what is meant by 'western values', as the phrase has often been assumed to indicate a certain coherent and unified set of viewpoints.

His dancing around the Trump issue, while indicating clearly that Finland still holds true to free trade and international co-operation, was lauded by veteran MPs. Eero Heinäluoma of the SDP and the Centre's Matti Vanhanen both said it was a skillful piece of international politics, while Centre Party MP Seppo Kääriäinen said that it was a serious and 'Niinistönian' speech.

Aamulehti picked up on Niininstö's criticism of 'social media politicians', which could be taken as a view on Trump but is more likely directed at the many Finns Party politicos who court controversy by posting aggressively antagonistic thoughts on social media.

His thoughts were echoed by chair Maria Lohela, a Finns Party MP doubtless mindful of her colleague Teuvo Hakkarainen's recent conviction and subsequent reprimand for vitriolic online comments about Muslims.

Baltic balance

Helsingin Sanomat carries a wide-ranging report on the state of the Baltic Sea with a new and interesting twist: it challenges customers to think about their own impact on the waters around Finland. Every summer there is a sludge of blue-green algae on the country's shores, and it is caused by phosphates. They can come from sewage, or fertiliser run-off from farms, and so consumer behaviour has quite a big effect on phosphate levels.

Traditionally coverage in Finland has focused on other countries around the sea, as Finland cannot carry out a complete cleanup on its own. HS, meanwhile, has a calculator designed to assess your own personal phosphate discharge based on your diet and consumption habits.

The result is an index detailing the extent of each individual's impact on the Baltic Sea, with the average set at 4034. A vegan who uses public transport gets a very low score (1614 in the example we performed), and produces some 53 'buckets of algae' along the beaches and shorelines of Finland each year.

Those who drive and eat meat are considerably more responsible, according to HS, for the sickness-spreading green stuff that engulfs pristine beaches each summer.

Get your skates on

It's January, and cold, and in Finland that means you can very easily find a place to skate in the open air right now. Both Aamulehti and Helsingin Sanomat run special reports on skating, with a wealth of tips on where you can enjoy this traditional winter pastime.

HS's Nyt supplement asked figure skating pair Juulia Turkkila and Mathias Versluis to test the capital's many outdoor rinks. they suggest that serious skaters might like to forego the tiny, expensive rink outside the city's central railway station, and instead head north to Oulunkylä, where there's more space and better-maintained ice.

Aamulehti, meanwhile, takes a more adventurous approach and tests the Tampere region's many lake-based skating options. The story is more factual than the Nyt effort, offering reviews, videos and beautiful photos of five tracks in all. Their verdict was that Pirkkala offered the best all-round lake-skating experience.

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