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Tuesday's papers: Amping up Supo, more good news for Turku shipping, embassy black market and traffic zoning in Tampere

Tuesday's print press focuses on proposals to expand the mandate of Finland's intelligence services, three new ship deals for Meyer Turku, exact numbers for the Finnish Embassy in Stockholm's questionable trade in tobacco and alcohol, and plans for new roads and rail connections in the southern city of Tampere.

Ilmakuva Meyerin Turun telakalta
Image: Meyer Turku

Tuesday starts with a story  from Finland’s top-selling newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat, on plans to widen the scope of Finland’s state intelligence service known as Supo.  A working group has recommended in a report published today that the service’s intelligence gathering power be expanded significantly both domestically and abroad.

The Finnish Security Intelligence Service (Supo) is a national police unit operating under the Ministry of the Interior, and its core functions are counterintelligence, counterterrorism and security work. Supo operations are currently overseen by the parliamentary ombudsman, the data protection ombudsman and the chancellor of justice.

In its appraisal, the civilian working group proposes that state and military intelligence operations be appointed a new legal administrator. Under this new overseer, Supo would then have unlimited access to information and unfettered rights to conduct inspections. Supo would be able to step up its monitoring of national security threats, but in exchange it would be subject to enhanced supervision. The new system would also require that Supo’s operations become more transparent, as Finnish citizens would be granted better access to their Supo files.

Expanding intelligence

Among other things, Supo is already authorised to track people, tap phones and monitor other communications in order to follow up on suspicions of terrorism, espionage and treason. In future, the working group suggests that the intelligence police be granted the right to conduct intelligence without requiring previous suspicion of a crime.

The change is significant, the paper writes, because it would signify a change from Supo’s traditional role of revealing, preventing and investigating crime to proactively collecting intelligence about potential national security risks. The second major change proposed by the working group is to give Supo the right to conduct full-scale intelligence on people’s backgrounds and follow technical trails abroad, something the service has not been able to do to date. All in all, the paper writes, the changes would place a lot more power in the hands of the Supo director in the future.

More cruise liners!

The Ilta-Sanomat tabloid confirms the good news that the Meyer Turku shipyards in Turku have once again nabbed a lucrative contract, when it signed a memorandum of agreement with the world’s largest cruise ship operator Carnival Corporation for three new cruise ships for delivery in 2020 and 2022. Ilta-Sanomat says this latest order has been given the name Icon and represents 1.6 billion euros, mimicking a similar deal that Meyer Turku signed with Carnival in September.

The ships will be powered by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), another step towards “green cruising” ship design. With the company’s order book reaching now to 2022, Meyer Turku is planning to invest in its facilities and people. CEO of Meyer Turku Jan Meyer says the shipyard has created more than 350 jobs since 2014. As of September, the shipyards in southwest Turku employed 1,550 people.

Tens of thousands of smokes?

Next an article from the Oulu-based paper Kaleva, which reports on a Swedish Svensk Presstjänst (SPT) story revealing more about the Finnish Embassy in Stockholm’s handling of tobacco and alcohol products. In this latest article, Kaleva says the SPT reports the embassy passed on tens of thousands of cigarettes and more than a hundred litres of wine, beer and spirits. SPT calculates that the Swedish government was stripped of some 20,000 euros in tax revenue annually, due to the under-the-table embassy deals.

The Finnish news agency STT revealed two months ago that the Finnish Embassy in Stockholm had dodged taxes by relying on their diplomatic status, trafficking alcohol and tobacco products to other employees that are not entitled to tax-free perks. STP interviews Turku University law professor Seppo Koskinen in the piece, who calls for an internal investigation by the Finnish Foreign Ministry. He says the number of cigarettes alone warrants an investigation, as it clearly indicates that the embassy was working as a go-between to external buyers.

Transport plans for Tampere

And finally to the Tampere-based newspaper Aamulehti that features a story on the development of the Tampere region.

City planners have unveiled plans to create a second ring road around Tampere, south of the current ring road. This second overpass would run from the Tampere-Pirkkala Airport via Sääksjärvi and Hervanta to Lentola, and possibly all the way to motorway 9. A marshalling yard for the transport of dangerous goods is slated for between Lempäälä and Tampere, and a stop for personal traffic has been proposed for the Lakalaiva-Rautaharko area.

Other plans include a western railway connection linking the Pirkkala Airport with Ylöjärvi, which would cut down on cargo traffic moving through the city. In the future, this rail connection could be extended to connect Ylöjärvi, Pirkkala, Lakalaiva and Linnainmaa.

The plans may sound daunting, Aamulehti says, but the principle behind the city plan is an expected population growth of 120,000 new residents by the year 2040 in the Tampere region. The plans will be on display at the Pirkanmaa municipal offices and at the Tampere city service hub in Frenckell from October 10 to November 11. Comments are also welcome to pirkanmaan.liitto@pirkanmaa.fi.

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