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Thursday's papers: Embassies' alcohol letter, Yle's new boss and Tallinn tunnel competition

Thursday's papers include stories on a letter from embassies in Finland lauding government efforts to liberalise alcohol laws, coverage of the decision to appoint Jouko Jokinen as Yle's head of News and Current Affairs, and some competition for the tunnel to Tallinn.

Juomapulloja Alkon hyllyssä.
Booze might be easier to come by if a proposed alcohol reform is passed by parliament. Image: Emmi Korhonen / Lehtikuva

Finland's alcohol law went to parliament this week, with much discussion of its merits and demerits. The proposal would see drinks with as much as 5.5 percent alcohol would be available in licensed shops, up from the current limit of 4.7 percent.

That would still leave plenty of products restricted to Alko, the state-owned monopoly retailer, but advocates of change generally saw it as a step in the right direction.

The Uusi Suomi website on Wednesday published news that those advocates include the embassies of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Italy. Portugal and Spain, whose ambassadors signed a joint letter commending the government for the reform.

The ambassadors state that the reform will help the European single market to function better, "though it is understood that important stocks will remain covered by the ALKO legislation". The full text of the letter is available here.

Jokinen checks in

On Wednesday Yle announced the appointment of its new Editor-in-Chief of News and Current Affairs, Jouko Jokinen. The commercial media covers the news extensively, interviewing the new boss and speculating on how he might lead the public broadcaster.

Jokinen's current employer Aamulehti observed that jokinen's chances had not been hurt by the so called 'sauna uproar', after Jokinen penned a tongue-in-cheek editorial in which he appeared to blame Finland's low birth rate on young people's obsession with social media.

Social Democrat paper Demokraatti pointed out, somewhat unkindly, that Jokinen has no broadcast experience. Other reaction was more positive, with HS lauding Jokinen's experience and speculating on what kind of Yle he might lead. While his predecessor Atte Jääskeläinen led an organisation increasing its market share, the HS analysis piece suggests Jokinen's Yle will not seek market share for market share's sake.

Tallinn tunnel competition

Helsinki has long planned a tunnel to Tallinn. The idea is to link up with the forthcoming high speed Rail Baltica line, linking the Baltic countries with Poland and Germany and helping speed travel to western Europe.

The project has taken steps forward recently, but HS on Thursday reports that it might have a competitior. Angry Birds mogul Peter Vesterbacka, who heads up games maker Rovio, reckons that the suburb of Espoo would be a better jumping off point for the subterranean link to Estonia.

Vesterbacka plans a link from helsinki-Vantaa Airport via Espoo to Tallinn, and he's already looking for international funding for the project. A Chinese delegation is coming to Helsinki later this year, and if talks go well, Vesterbacka claims construction could start next year.

In contrast to the Helsinki-Tallinn project, which seeks municipal, national and transnational (ie European Union) government funding, the Vesterbacka project would be entirely financed by private investors.

It would be ready by 2023-24, and the investment would be repaid within 37 years, according to his projections.

Vesterbacka has support from Espoo municipal leaders, and has even learned Mandarin because "if you are going to ask the Chinese for 15 billion euros, it's polite to do it in their own language", HS quotes him as saying.

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