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Tuesday's papers: Expanding intelligence service, Trump's trade war, anniversary flyby

Among the items in the morning paper's are a look at plans to expand the Finnish Security Intelligence Service, the possible impact of a US-inspired trade war, and celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the Finnish Air Force.

The Midnight Hawks, the aerobatic team of the Finnish Air Force.
The Finnish Air Force’s Midnight Hawks aerobatics team flying in formation. Image: Anssi Leppänen / Yle

Today's Helsingin Sanomat takes an in-depth look at how a bill before Parliament is likely to expand operations by the Finnish Security Intelligence Service Supo.

In a nutshell, the paper says that it will mean, "more money, more duties, more civilian personnel".

Foreign intelligent gathering will be Supo's next "big step", if Parliament passes the bill, Helsingin Sanomat writes.

Current legislation restricts the Service's operations to Finnish soil. "Finland would have needed foreign intelligence gathering, for example, for getting intelligence from the region of the Syrian conflict," Supo chief Antti Pelttari told the paper.

Pointing to a recent recruitment ad for IT specialists, it notes that Supo, primary staffed by police, is already hiring more civilians than new officers. Government figures show that a full 70% of new hires are civilians.

This is because expanded powers will bring new fields of operation. Supo's main work will no longer be the investigation of crimes, rather intelligence gathering, analysis and reporting. This requires civilian personnel with the right academic training and knowhow.

These changes also mean more money. Since 2014 Supo's budget has grown annually by 10%-20% to approximately 42 million euros for the current fiscal year. New legislation is expected to boost this to over 50 million a year, nearly three times what it was in 2011.

Supo's character has changed and is continuing to change.

"Nowadays we are security police and are transforming more into a security service, and then an intelligence service. This is the Finnish model," Pelttari explained.

The Finnish Security Intelligence Service will continue to be known as "Supo" in Finnish, but a change is being considered in its English-language name. "In the future we will be the Finnish Security and Intelligence Service. This would be more logical," said Supo chief Antti Pelttari. The "and" may be added to stress the agency's intelligence gathering role.

Trade war poison

Late last week, senior Finnish politicians cautioned that a US plan to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium could start a trade war and slow down global economic growth.

This morning, Turku’s main daily, Turun Sanomat, was among the papers that carried a syndicated Lännen Media report with more reaction to US President Trump’s tariffs.

Interviewed for the report, the director for industrial policy for the Technology Industries of Finland, Matti Mannonen, explained that Trump's tariffs are likely to make US steel and aluminum more expense and drive prices down in Europe as producers seek alternative markets.

This will benefit European engineering industries and other sectors that use steel, making them more competitive than their American counterparts.

However, according to Mannonen a development like this would be short-lived as tariffs could soon be expanded to cover other goods. A trade war could lead to a situation that would, in Mannonen's words "be poison" for export-dependent Finland.

University strike talks

Tampere's Aamulehti reports that efforts are continuing to avert strikes scheduled to start Wednesday by personnel at Aalto University, the Hanken School of Economics, the University of the Arts Helsinki, the University of Tampere, Tampere University of Technology, and the University of Vaasa.

A comprise proposal was tabled on Monday and the parties to the dispute are to file their acceptance or rejection by 2 PM Tuesday afternoon.

If the actions go ahead, they will start with an overtime ban and a ban on shift replacements as of Wednesday morning.

The University of Helsinki saw a one-day strike last Wednesday.

Anniversary flyby

The Finnish Air Force is marking its 100th anniversary today, Tuesday, and the freesheet Metro reports that, weather permitting, residents of the capital region will be treated to a brief air show this afternoon.

Four planes from the Air Force’s Midnight Hawks aerobatics team will perform flybys over parts of Vantaa, Helsinki and Espoo, first streaking over Helsinki-Vantaa Airport at around 1:40 PM, and flying off Helsinki’s Kaivopusto Park at around 1:50 PM.

The high point of events marking the 100th anniversary of the Air Force will be an air show at Tikkakoski on the 16th and 17th of June.

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