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Monday's papers: Split on bailouts, holiday fatalities, advice to Trump

A poll by the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat shows Finns divided over government help to struggling businesses.

Niinistö naureskelee Trumpin kanssa.
Finland's President Sauli Niinistö and US President Donald Trump in Helsinki 16 July 2018. Image: Kimmo Brandt / EPA

Helsingin Sanomat carries the results of a poll showing that a majority, 59 percent of Finns surveyed, think that the overall level of government measures dealing with the economic effects of the coronavirus have been about right. However, it reports that 14 percent say that financial supports have been too little and the same number who see them as being too much.

The Gallup Forum poll, carried out in mind-June, interviewed 1,040 people on the topic and has a 3 percentage point margin of error. 13 percent of those surveyed expressed no opinion.

As the paper writes, the pandemic has hit the Finnish economy hard. Last Tuesday, the Finance Ministry forecast that the economy will shrink by six percent this year.

Earlier this month, the Bank of Finland projected a 7 percent decline in the economy, with the unemployment rate rising to as much as 9 percent.

The government has rolled out four supplementary budgets, totalling 5 billion euros, aimed at easing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. This figure does not include increased public sector spending such as extra financial support for municipal governments.

As for aid targeting private companies, only 42 percent said they think enough has been done. 22 percent said that the government has done too little, while 17 percent think it has provided too much financial help to the private sector.

Weekend fatalities

Kuopio's Savon Sanomat is among the morning papers reporting the holiday weekend death toll.

According to this paper's tally, 12 people lost their lives in accidents over the weekend, and there was one life lost in an apparent homicide.

Eight people were reported drowned, including one member of the crew of a Coast Guard patrol boat that sank in the Gulf of Finland off Loviisa on Saturday evening.

As of Sunday evening, two traffic fatalities had been reported.

Two people died in fires, one in Hamina, and one at Kärkölä in Päijät-Häme.

Late Thursday, a man in Iisalmi died of a gunshot wound. Police have a suspect and are investigating the incident as an apparent homicide.

Advice to Trump?

Most morning newspapers, including the Oulu-based daily Kaleva, carry a STT Finnish News Agency report that a new book by US President Donald Trump's former National Security Adviser John Bolton says that Finland's President Sauli Niinistö coached Trump before his summit meeting with Russia's Vladimir Putin in Helsinki in July 2018.

According to the report, Bolton claims that during talks at the residence of the Finnish president before Trump met with Putin, President Niinistö advised the US president on dealing with his Russian counterpart.

It says that the book contains a passage saying that Niinistö reminded Trump that Putin was a fighter and Trump should therefore hit back if attacked. Second, Niinistö stressed the importance of respecting Putin, and if trust were established, he might be more discrete. Finally, "again as if preparing for a boxing match, Niinistö warned Trump never to provide an opening or give even one inch".

STT based its report on a copy of the manuscript obtained online that has not been compared to the text of the book which is scheduled for release on Tuesday.

The agency requested an interview with President Niinistö on Sunday for comments on the report, but received no response before publication.

According to STT, Bolton's book also says that Trump asked Niinistö if Finland wanted to join NATO. Bolton writes that the Finnish president gave an involved response, saying neither yes or no, but leaving the door open.

Still no to the Swedes

The Helsinki Swedish-language daily Hufvudstadsbladet carries a review of an interview with Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo published in the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet in which she said any decision to allow Swedes to enter Finland again will cover residents of all of Sweden.

Despite calls to open the order to Swedes in some areas, for example in the Tornio river valley, Finland will not go in for any special arrangements. The border issue has become particularly inflamed in Lapland where locals are used to free movement across the border.

Ohisalo stated that Finland is ready to help its western neighbour in every way possible, including the use of intensive care facilities and test capacity. "We are here for you," she said in the interview.

Hufvudstadsbladet stated that the interview contained nothing more concrete about Finnish assistance in the fight against the coronavirus. "Instead, it is largely about the hurt feelings resulting from Finland not allowing most Swedes to come to Finland," wrote Hufvudstadsbladet.

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