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Thursday's papers: Stubb urges EU-US "new deal," Oulu gets IoT research centre, neo-Nazis plan Independence Day march

In Finland's newspapers on Thursday, we learn what the former Finance Minister Alexander Stubb thinks Europe should do in response to both the election of Donald Trump and the Brexit vote. A newly-acquired firm of the Sony Corporation is setting up an Internet of Things research facility in the city of Oulu. The Finnish branch of a Nordic neo-Nazi group is planning a march in Helsinki on December 6.

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Image: Yle

Daily national tabloid Ilta-Sanomat reports that Finland's former Finance Minister and current MP Alexander Stubb says that Europe and the United States need to forge a new deal in light of the UK's decision to leave the EU and Donald Trump's victory in the US presidential elections. He made the comments in a column published Wednesday in the London-based business paper the Financial Times.

"2016 will be remembered as the year when liberal democracy turned its back on liberal internationalism," Stubb writes. "And unless something is done, it will also be remembered as the year of severance between Europe and the United States, including the demise of the West."

Citing the UK referendum last summer which set the country on a path to leave the EU and the election of the divisive Donald Trump as US president, Stubb writes that the time for Europe to plan ahead is now.

"Will we opt for policies of disengagement or co-operation? I propose we do the latter. We should forge a New Deal between Europe and the US and it should be based on three pillars."

"First, security. Europe needs to listen to what Donald Trump has to say on the cost of Nato. This means that European countries need to beef up their military expenditure whilst at the same time continue to develop the EU’s security and defence capabilities in close co-operation with Nato.

Stubb writes that the EU and United States should find a way to engage Russia in a principled way, and given the recent history of the country's conflicts in Georgia, Ukraine and Syria - all of which he characterised as violations of international law - he concedes "it will not be easy."

Stubb also says that a transatlantic trade agreement is essential to keeping Europe above water economically.

"No matter how unpopular a transatlantic trade agreement might be in the eyes of the populist left and right, there is overwhelming evidence that it provides growth and jobs on both sides of the Atlantic. If a deal is not struck, the economic situation will deteriorate, populist movements will grow and someone else will set the standards of world trade," Stubb writes.

Access to the Financial Times requires a subscription, but Stubb posted a version of the column on his own website.

MP Stubb's parliamentary attendance

Meanwhile, Iltalehti reports that Stubb recently clarified why he has only attended just over half of the parliamentary sessions since the summer break.

According to the paper Stubb has only attended some 17 out of 32 plenary meetings during the autumn, and said the Uusi Suomi newspaper had first raised the subject.

The MP defended his absence in a Facebook post, saying that he had been travelling abroad; in an effort to keep Finland's voice heard on the international stage, the paper writes.

Sony-owned IoT research centre setting up in Oulu

Iltalehti reports that the Israeli communications firm Altair - which was recently acquired by Japanese conglomerate Sony Corporation - is opening a research centre in Oulu, with plans to develop LTE technologies for the Internet of Things (IoT). 

According to a site promoting commerce in the northern city, businessoulu.com, Altair's CEO Oded Melamed says that Oulu is an ideal place for the company to grow its engineering capabilities.

Melamed said that Oulu is already well-known as an information and communications tech centre, that companies and research institutes in the area are focused on technologies like 5G, IoT, wearables and other innovations in business models.

"With 13 000 professionals working in companies of various sizes and backgrounds, the city is one of the true hotspots when it comes to wirelessly connecting people and businesses," the site writes.

Nordic neo-Nazi group plans Independence Day demo in Helsinki

Citing the KSF Media wire, the Swedish-language newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet reports that the Finnish branch of the Nordic Resistance Movement neo-Nazi group plans to march through the streets of Helsinki on Finland's Independence Day, December 6.

The paper writes that the some 700 members of the group's division in Sweden took part in a demonstration in Stockholm last weekend. The group, waving their green, black and white flags marched through the city centre - but were also met by protesters along their parade.

The Finnish group is reportedly planning to demonstrate in Helsinki on the afternoon of December 6, which is Finland's Independence Day, the paper writes.

The extreme right wing group staged a demonstration outside Helsinki Central railway station which, following an assault, resulted in the death of a man in September.

One of the neo-Nazi demonstrators, Jesse Torniainen - who is also one of the founders of the Finnish arm of the extreme right-wing group - stands accused of involuntary manslaughter and assault following an attack on a bystander during the demonstration.

Finns Party councillor defends migrant emergency shelters

Also in HBL, it is the Finns Party councillors who are mostly opposed to plans to set up emergency shelter for homeless, undocumented migrants in Helsinki.

But, in an emotional appeal, Finns Party councillor Harri Lindell said helping the migrants was absolutely necessary.

"[Earlier] I was critical of immigrants but these people who are in trouble have become closer to me. I have met them and think that we should help them. We must help them," Lindell said.

The statement received a standing ovation, with one person shouting "Lindell sä oot äijä!" ("Lindell, you're a real man!"), the paper reports.

Lindell was responding to statements in the exact opposite direction by fellow Finns Party councillors Mari Rantanen and Nuutti Hyttinen's hard line, according to the paper.

"Should we take the money from education?" Hyttinen asked.

"Why should I, who works for a living, take care of these people?" asked Rantanen.

The debate in Helsinki about how to address the issue of undocumented foreigners living on city streets during the cold winter months began last January, according to the paper.

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