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Thursday's papers: Reason for May snow, Niinistö denies policy spat and Posti shifts mailboxes

This Thursday, the print press in Finland asks a meteorologist why the spring has been so darn cold, talks with the President about a supposed tiff over security, and airs the angry retorts of letterbox owners in Helsinki.

Postal carrier Posti may move your letterbox soon. Image: Ronnie Holmberg / Yle

Thursday's press review begins with an article from Aamulehti out of Tampere, asking a meteorologist for a reasonable explanation for the unreasonably cold weather Finland has had to endure this spring. Erik Saarika of the Finnish Meteorological Institute says the reason lies one kilometre above us in the atmosphere, where temperatures have been colder in April and May than they were last winter.

"Atmospheric temperatures are topsy-turvy. At this time of the year, the warmth of the sun is so abundant that it compensates for the air's coolness, but the cold has still made itself manifest as snow, even in the afternoon. In the winter it was so warm that it rained instead," Saarika told the paper.

This strange situation has led to it being impossible to tell what time of the year it is by looking out the window. Is it fall, winter or spring? In Tampere, the paper states, the average temperature on New Year's Eve was 3.6 degrees Celsius, and on May 8, it was 1.7 degrees.

And even if the sun can potentially warm things back up, heavy clouds have persisted in blocking the sun in the last few months. Saarika says that many mornings have started off clear, but the skies have turned more overcast as the days have progressed, often bringing precipitation.

Sunshine statistics from the Institute show that Finland had 20 hours less sunshine in April 2017 than the 30-year average. But the weather service assures the shivering masses that things will get better: next week should see daytime temperatures of over 15 degrees Celsius in the south.

"No disagreement, not in the least"

Next, the tabloid Ilta-Sanomat spoke with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö about the recent frenzy over supposed differences of opinion on Finland's foreign policy objectives. Niinistö dismissed a story in the paper's rival Iltalehti tabloid this past weekend that claimed that the Parliament and the president did not see eye-to-eye on defence. The President says he last met with the parliamentary defence committee just two weeks ago for their normally scheduled meeting.

"I asked that more questions would be presented to me there than have been in the past, but we had no disagreement, not in the least," Niinistö told IS from Oslo.

Among other things, Iltalehti claimed that President Niinistö would have wanted more military assistance for Estonia.

"We can't extend any security guarantees to Estonia, because we don't have any ourselves. To me this is 100 percent clear," he said.

Niinistö told IS that his position on Finnish support for Estonia has never been concealed, nor has it changed. He recalls former Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves' 2009 comments about Europe's 'obligation to help' in the event of an emergency, under the Lisbon Treaty.

"I have consistently responded that Finland will provide assistance that goes beyond just 'rice and potatoes', but we can't give any security guarantees."

Finland has yet to pass its own legislation confirming the Lisbon Treaty, which has limited its support in helping with, for example, submarine sightings off the coast of Sweden and police reinforcement after the Paris terrorist attacks. The draft of the law is moving ever closer to the parliament floor, but Niinistö says it has nothing to say on Estonia in particular.

"If NATO's security guarantees aren't enough for Estonia, then there's not much more that Finland's assistance would be able to do," said the President.

Moving mailboxes without consent

And the country's largest circulation daily, Helsingin Sanomat zeros in on national postal carrier Posti's plans to consolidate letter boxes for single-family homes in the metropolitan cities of Helsinki and Vantaa. Residents are up in arms about confusing notices about moving the boxes and Posti's wooden markers deciding for the residents where the new multi-box sites should be located.

The campaign is part of Posti's drive to improve efficiency, as the logic goes that fewer letterbox locations would allow the postal carriers to deliver the mail more quickly. Last year the company consolidated over 80,000 letterboxes into centrally-located groups of three or more, and this year the operation will continue to 50,000 more households.

HS spoke to residents of the residential district of Paloheinä in Helsinki, who were irritated that the company did not bother to ask their input about where the new locations would established, calling the decisions "arbitrary" and "inequitable". The Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority stipulates that the distance from the front door to the mailbox cannot be more than 50 metres in urban areas.

The drive to consolidate letterboxes affects Posti's daily mail deliveries to residential areas, but does not affect occupants of apartment buildings. People who are dissatisfied with Posti's mailbox grouping proposals can appeal to their city's public works department or talk about changing the placement with Posti. Kimmo Kallio, Posti's distribution manager, says there is room for negotiation.

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