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Tuesday's papers: EU asylum transfers, Brexit bemusement and eternal Finnish records

Tuesday's newspapers have a summer feel to them, with EU business, asylum seekers and Finnish athletics taking centre stage.

Simo Lipsanen, Ruotsi-maaottelu 2016.
Simo Lipsanen is Finland's bright new triple jump hope. Image: Tomi Hänninen

Finland's position on asylum seekers has occupied politicians' minds this spring, as one government party split largely over the question of immigration policy. So it's no surprise to see most papers carrying a report on Foreign Minister Timo Soini's trip to Brussels this week, during which he insisted to his EU counterparts that Finland won't take any more transfers of asylum seekers from other EU countries.

Soini's position is that the old agreements on transferring asylum seekers must be enacted, with 160,000 applicants currently in Greece and Italy distributed throughout the union. That is unlikely to happen as Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic have refused to accept any transfers.

Other government ministers have suggested that it's possible Finland could both accept new transfers in the autumn, if requested, and raise the quota of UN-recognised refugees it accepts each year. There may yet be some back and forth between the National Coalition and Centre parties on the one hand, and the newly-minted Blue Reform/New Alternative faction on the other.

Baffled by Brexit

Business daily Kauppalehti leads with an editorial on the bizarre Brexit talks that lasted less than an hour on Monday. It's a huge issue for commerce across the continent, including in Finland, and KL is concerned that there's a lack of clarity on what one side wants.

"The reason for the slow start to negotiations was Britain's parliamentary election in June," reads the article. "In the elections Prime Minister Theresa May sought a stronger mandate, but after catastrophic losses is now weaker than before. That inevitably will have an effect on the negotiations. Brexit talks are affected by the Brits' unclear stand on key issues, and the government's internal disagreements."

Kauppalehti's view, which chimes with that of much of the political class in Finland, is that the EU has no choice but to take a firm stand in Brexit negotiations.

Long-standing records

Finnish athletics is not in the best shape right now, and both Ilta-Sanomat and Helsingin Sanomat publish articles on Tuesday looking at Finnish records that seem to be unbreakable.

The spur was Simo Lipsanen's mighty leap on Sunday to break  a triple jump record that had stood since 1968. The holder of that record, Pertti Pousi, had to retire at the age of 23 but his achievement stood for 49 years--and it's not the only one.

The oldest Finnish record is now the 400m set at the Munich Olympics by Markku Kukkoaho, while others dating back to the 1970s are held by such luminaries as Lasse Virén, Martti Vainio and Ari Paunonen.

In 1984 Vainio tested positive for steroids, and rumours of blood doping followed Viren all through his career. HS raises the issue (IS doesn't), but asks former steeplechaser Jukka Keskitalo whether it may have played a role. He doesn't want to speculate, but does say athletics is now cleaner than it ever has been and that's good for Finnish athletes.

Even so, Keskisalo reckons some of the old records will still stand in 40 years' time.

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