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Monday's papers: Summit speculation, military recruits, bothersome seals and restless reindeer

Today's papers report on the possible Trump-Putin summit agenda, new conscripts, an animal threat to fishing trade and how bugs are driving Lapland's reindeer mad.

Räkkä ajaa porot tielle
Image: YLE / Sauli Antikainen

With one week to go before the Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki, Oulu-based daily Kaleva speculates on the topics that the two presidents will focus on during the meeting.

According to the paper, Syria, the Ukraine and the new START-treaty to limit the use of nuclear weapons are likely to feature on the agenda.

So far, the Kremlin has announced that Putin will discuss anything but the Crimean situation. In turn, the White House has stated that the US will not recognise the annexation of Crimea as part of Russia, Kaleva says.

Long-term foreign policy expert, former diplomat and serving National Coalition MP Pertti Salolainen says Putin likely wants to discuss the economic sanctions which are an essential part of the Crimean situation. According to him, the most serious concern for Europe would be a scenario where Trump and Putin start to decide on matters between themselves.

“Europe is getting bullied from the east and the west. The European Union is facing the most serious challenges since its existence. At the same time, Brexit happens and the Union is hampered by the refugee crisis and the stubbornness of the East European countries. This is a dangerous situation,” Salolainen says.

New conscripts

In other news, Kaleva reminds readers that 12,200 new conscripts will enter the Finnish defence forces today. Of them, 600 are women who take part in the military service voluntarily.

In May, defence minister Jussi Niinistö proposed women should be kicked out of the military for cost reasons.

Finnish military service lasts for 165, 255 or 347 days.

Fish-stealing seals

Daily Turun Sanomat reports that commercial fishing along the Archipelago and the Sea of Bothnia is under threat from an increased seal population.

The damage to fish and fishing nets caused by seals is so significant that many fishers have quit their trade altogether, the paper says. Vesa Karttunen from the Finnish fishing industry association says the financial losses brought about by the growing seal population amount to half a million euros annually.

In his view, the most effective way to deal with the problem would be to grant more hunting licenses. However that may be easier said than done, as the number of shooters skilled enough to hunt seals has decreased over the years. Moreover, the European Union prohibits the sale of seal products.

According to Karttunen, the ban is driven by emotions - not facts.

“Seals are cute so they should not be hunted,” Karttunen laments.

In contrast, the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation says the industry should develop deterrents and better fishing traps that the seals cannot damage. Tapani Veistola from the association says it would be dangerous to start culling the seal population as it has finally recovered from the lows of 1970s.

“Hunting should target the troublemakers which usually are old and wise males,” Veistola adds.

According to estimates, there are about 10,000 grey seals and 20,000 ringed seals in the Finnish sea areas, Turun Sanomat reports.

Restless reindeer

In other animal news, Iltalehti warns motorists is Lapland to watch out for reindeer, which move aimlessly to escape mosquitoes, blackflies and other pestering insects.

The Lapland Police says a large number of reindeer are loitering around the roads, increasing the risk of collision with cars and motorcycles.

According to Iltalehti, over the weekend there were 21 accidents involving a motorcycle and a reindeer, but fortunately nobody was seriously hurt.

After mid-summer, Lapland experiences a so-called "bug time" (räkkäaika) when a vast number of blood-sucking insects appear to make life difficult for reindeer and others too.

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