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Thursday's papers: A well-deserved beer, possible summit pay-off and forest fire in the west

Today's Finnish media features a presidential pint, speculation on how the Trump-Putin summit can boost Finland's image, and a fire in the southwest.

Melania Trump, Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Sauli Niinistö ja Jenni Haukio
President Niinistö and his wife had a high-stress day on Monday. Image: Aleksey Nikolskyi / AFP

The country's widest-read daily starts out this Thursday with the headline: "This is Finland:" and a story on the Finnish President Sauli Niinistö having a beer. The feature was prompted by a photo that popped up on the chat app Jodel of Niinistö and his staff enjoying a well-deserved pint on the sunny terrace of a local bar after the Trump-Putin summit wrapped on Monday.

Niinistö has made it clear over the last few days that he felt that organization of the summit was a success, and he thanked all of the Finns who chipped in by working in the hot sun or showing patience with the traffic disruptions the high-profile meeting caused.

HS points out the huge contrast between the US and Russian Presidents' massive armoured motorcades and the fact that the Finnish President walked across the street to Kanavaranta after the summit to "have a beer just like any other Finn after a tough day on the job".

"It was an informal shared moment between the President of the Republic and members of his cabinet on a pleasant summer night, at the end of a long day. No more comment," said the presidential office's communications director, Katri Makkonen.

The paper adds that security guards are naturally on hand at all times to keep an eye on the president. In a 2013 interview with Yle, Niinistö said that he couldn't even leave the grounds of his official Mäntyniemi residence to walk his dog Lennu without a security person on his tail.

Summit was great PR

Tabloid Iltalehti continues analysis of the Trump-Putin summit to talk more about the potential marketing value the meeting had for Finland. Despite the million-euro price tag for arranging the meeting, many business sectors in the country expect the exposure to reap benefits far into the future.

"It's only been a few days, so it's too early to estimate the effects, as June and August see a lot of tourist demand in Finland anyway," Scandic hotel chain's commercial director Christian Borg tells IL. "But in the long run, the meeting has surely increased interest in Finland, especially because the weather has been so nice and people now have the impression that we are up to the task of arranging large events."

Timo Lappi, CEO of the Finnish Hospitality Association MaRa, tells the tabloid that no marketing campaigns could have brought the level of visibility the summit did. He says he is confident that the money that was invested in the summit will end up returning to Finland many times over, thanks to all of the media content praising the Nordic country and its capital of Helsinki.

Tarja Virmala from the MTL association of marketing and communication professionals agrees that the event brought better exposure than the best marketing and communications efforts can buy.

"Opportunities like this to clarify Finland's image to the world only come along rarely. We took the ball and ran with it, and we handled the whole thing brilliantly," she told IL.

Dangerous fire in the southwest

And the Turku-based paper Turun Sanomat has news of a forest fire in the southwest municipality of Pyhäranta.

Some 200 firefighters have battled the blaze in the Santtio area through the night, but it is now thought to have spread to 70 hectares. Dozens of households in the area have been evacuated.

Fire chief Kari Alanko tells TS that his crew has created a water line around the perimeter of the fire, but that the blaze is still burning, and there are several smouldering areas that his team has been extinguishing round-the-clock.

"There are many burning pockets and bits of dry forest that haven't been hit, so there's still a risk that the fire could spread," he says.

Dozens of rescue service units are on the scene, and they are being assisted by the local police. Border Guard and Defence Force helicopters are helping to survey the fire from the air. A temporary shelter has been set up in Santtio to house the people who have been unable to return to their homes.

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