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Tuesday’s papers: Hong Kong Finns, regional rejection and the eagle owls look ahead

The press on Tuesday finds a Finnish angle on an international story.

Teemu Pukki iski Suomen avausmaalin 27. minuutilla.
Teemu Pukki scored in a 2-1 loss to Greece. Image: AOP

Helsingin Sanomat looks at the unfolding drama in Hong Kong, where hundreds of protesters have been holed up inside the city’s Polytechnic University as police surround the campus ready to arrest them.

The current escalation follows months of protests in Hong Kong sparked by a bid to ease extradition to mainland China.

HS reports that Finns it spoke to in the city are now considering their options. Annika Payn has lived there for 12 years, has two children, but says the current situation is making life difficult.

She has to check where demonstrations are planned ahead of time and her small children have been off school because of the unrest. If it carries on much longer, she says, she’ll have to consider leaving.

Heini Laakso, an exchange student at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, is in a slightly different situation as a temporary resident.

Her campus was occupied for four days earlier in the year, so she upped sticks and stayed elsewhere. She’s now leaving the country as her academic year has ended ahead of schedule.

She does tell HS that she recognises her privilege, however: she is tall and blonde and not targeted by police, and can leave at any time.

Many Hongkongers are not so lucky, and are therefore not keen to abandon their protests.

Regional policy problems

Finland has long practiced so-called ‘regional policy’, in which resources and public sector jobs are divided around the country in an effort to avoid the depopulation of small, remote settlements.

Defence Minister Antti Kaikkonen, of the rural Centre Party, has announced that he is looking into the possibility of dispersing military jobs around the country.

Iltalehti publishes analysis of the move on Tuesday, suggesting that there is not much the Defence Forces can do.

Less than ten percent of their employees are in the capital city region, and they currently have personnel in 28 municipalities from the very far north to the south-western tip of the country.

So why has Kaikkonen announced his inquiry? IL suggests that it’s partly down to politics. The Centre lost a lot of support in April’s election, partly thanks to the previous government’s policies.

Regionalisation is a popular move among the party’s base. And the Defence Forces themselves stress they are going to primarily look into remote working, rather than moving jobs from one place to another.

The failed attempt to move the Finnish Medicines Agency’s staff to Kuopio, which was announced in 2009 and abandoned in 2017 thanks to the difficulty of persuading enough highly-educated people to move to Savo, is held up by IL as a cautionary tale for the government.

Football focus

Finland’s men’s national team are still celebrating their progression to next summer’s Euro2020 tournament, the first major tournament they have ever qualified for.

Although the draw is not until 30 November, the location of the Eagle Owls’ games could become all but certain on Tuesday.

That’s because of the myriad rules and seedings around the draw.

Finland lost 2-1 to Greece on Monday so they will be in ‘pot 4’ for the draw, and because many of the host countries have qualified and because Russia cannot play Kosovo or Ukraine in the group stages for political reasons, Finland are extremely likely to play in Denmark and Russia’s group.

Ilta-Sanomat reports that the group will almost certainly consist of Finland, Russia, Denmark and Belgium. The games will be in Saint Petersburg and Copenhagen, the two closest host cities to Finland.

This could change after Tuesday’s games, in the unlikely event that Slovakia or Wales qualify for the tournament.

The Finnish squad comes to Helsinki on Tuesday for a celebration of their historic achievement, with thousands of fans expected to converge on the centre of the capital.

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