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Thursday's papers: Finns Party showdown, EU plan for cyber threats, strawberry shortage

Today's papers focused on the heated debate expected at this weekend's Finns Party convention, a European Commission paper on shared security and defence, and an impending field strawberry shortage.

Nainen haukkaa mansikkaa
Image: Roland Weihrauch / EPA

The Finns Party is due to vote for a new chairman this weekend. Aamulehti published a Q&A interview with both frontrunners, Sampo Terho and Jussi Halla-aho.

Terho would not entirely rule out NATO membership, but says Finland cannot join without the support of the majority of the nation. Halla-aho on the other hand discussed how he would be willing to take the Finns out of government if the party's agenda is threathened. Halla-aho would also not allow Foreign Minister and Finns Party Chair Timo Soini to continue as minister. 

In other party news, a poll by Lännen Media revealed 46% of party members support Party Secretary Riikka Slunga-Poutsalo’s bid for another term.

Tabloid Ilta-Sanomat reports that security measures have been beefed up for the weekend’s party convention in Jyväskylä.

The Party says it is not expecting anything out of the ordinary, but the tight race between Terho and Halla-aho is expected to cause heated debate. Terho is supported by party influencers, while Halla-aho is expected to gather support from social media and party members. The convention is expected to draw 3,000 party members.

Commission paper stirs defence debate

In an interview with daily Helsingin Sanomat, Vice-President of the European Commission and former Finnish PM Jyrki Katainen says the EU needs a solidarity clause to combat cyber threats and hybrid war.

According to Katainen, the security clause would be useful in the event of an emergency, such as a power blackout.  EU countries would know who to contact and what to do. A solidarity clause would also ensure quick action. Katainen hopes that Finland could be a driving force in pushing this initiative.

The European Commission published a reflection paper on Wednesday that strives to solidify defence cooperation between EU countries. The paper suggests security and defence measures should be supported by 1.5 billion euros from the EU’s annual budget starting from 2021.

The paper suggests three courses of action. EU countries can cooperate, share or have common security and defence. The latter option would mean a deal similar to NATO’s fifth article. This does not mean the EU would be starting an army, Katainen was quick to emphasise.

The Commission’s reflections were met positively by Finnish leadership. Prime Minister Juha Sipilä said the policies were expected and would benefit of Finland but stated thta a solidarity clause was not a necessity. Sipilä said he would lean towards a model which deepened cooperation.

Finnish strawberry fields forever

The cold spring weather plaguing Finland has taken its toll on domestic strawberries. Ilta-Sanomat reports crops have been dismal this season, and sellers at the Helsinki Market Square expressed concerns they could not cater to all their berry-craving customers. 

The next few weeks will be crucial for the fate of field strawberries. Strawberry season could be stunted to just a few weeks if temperatures stay low. Last year’s strawberry season lasted three weeks, which resulted in a price hike: at best, five litres of strawberries fetched 90 euros a box.

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