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Monday's papers: Economic woes, clearcutting ban, hit on Mannerheim

Slowing economic growth, a ban clearcutting, and wartime assassination attempts featured in Monday’s newspapers.

Avohakuuta ja jatkuvan kasvatuksen metsää
An example of forest clearcutting. Image: Mikko Savolainen / Yle

Finland's largest circulation daily, Helsingin Sanomat, writes that Finnish politicians and economists have a habit of praising Germany and Sweden as economic role models.

The economic structure of those two countries is more diverse than Finland's and they have seen a longer period of economic growth.

The situation started changing last spring, however, says Helsingin Sanomat. The German and Swedish economies began a downturn and are no longer helping Finland's economy.

Germany is Finland's largest export market, and Sweden it its second largest.

Together these two countries account for around 25 percent of Finland's exports. When they buy less, it almost certainly means an increase in unemployment here.

The paper quotes Meri Obstbaum, a senior adviser in the monetary policy and research department at the Bank of Finland as describing the current situation for German industry as "gloomy".

The chief economist of the Confederation of Finnish Industries, Sami Pakarinen, told Helsingin Sanomat that economic confidence in Finland's industrial sector declined during the summer and autumn months and that while Finnish industries have shown relatively good growth, a fall in orders for the export sector is evident.

The paper concludes that German, Sweden and Finland are all suffering because of the same factors - the US trade war on China, uncertainties over Britain's exit from the EU, and structure stagnation at home.

Clearcutting ban

This week, parliament will begin debate on a citizens' initiative which if passed will in practice mean a total ban on forestry clearcutting on state-owned lands in Finland, reports Turun Sanomat.

The initiative, signed by more than 50,000 citizens has the backing of a wide range of nature conservation groups.

The Finnish Forest Industries organization opposes the initiative, claiming that the proposed ban is too unconditional and that more research on forest re-growth projects is needed.

Most clearcut forest harvesting on state lands is carried out in northern parts of the country.

A comprehensive clearcutting ban would have a much broader impact. The state-owned enterprise reasonable for forest management on state-owned lands, Metsähallitus, clearcuts around 18,000 hectares of forest annually. When clearcutting on private and industry-owned land is added, that figure in 2018 was 170,000 hectares.

Wartime assassination attempts

The tabloid Iltalehti looks at a new history book that contains revelations about two planned, but failed, attempts on the life of Finland's wartime military leader, Marshal Carl Gustaf Mannerheim.

During the war, Mannerheim was known for casual walks in the town of Mikkeli, where his general staff headquarters was located, and for his disregard for personal bodyguards. Even so, he was closely watched and guarded.

A new book by Mikko Karjalainen, an assistant professor at Finland's National Defence University, describes two planned assassination attempts targeting Mannerheim.

In 1942, two Russian agents parachuted into the country were captured 16 kilometres north of Mikkeli. Their primary mission was to spy on train traffic in the area. Their secondary mission was to kill Mannerheim, if possible.

In March of 1943, three Russian military agents were captured near Mikkeli. One of them, an Estonian named Karl Vahteri, has been specifically assigned to assassinate the Finnish leader.

The author says that with the large numbers of troops in the area, a foreign agent in Finnish uniform could have had a chance, at least in theory, to get into the city where Mannerheim took his daily strolls.

Warm, wet week

Looking ahead at the week's weather forecast, Jyväskylä's Keskisuomalainen reports that temperatures are expected to remain unseasonably high along the south coast, with the thermometer topping 10C on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Nationwide, Monday should be mostly dry with periods of sunshine and temperatures ranging from 7C in the south to a few degrees below freezing in Finnish Lapland.

But, according to the Finnish Meteorological Institute, a low pressure area moving in from the west on Tuesday will bring snow and sleet to the north and some rain to other parts of the country.

The report quotes FMI meteorologist Helena Laakso as saying that Wednesday should be again fairly dry before rain, sleet and snow spread out across northern regions again on Thursday.

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