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Wednesday's papers: Åland's separatists take heart, housing market warning and pig farm vaccinations

Wednesday's papers include stories about the Åland independence movement, a warning about property investors and surprising problems from the pig industry.

Ahvenanmaan lippu ja merta.
Might Åland say goodbye to Finland? Image: Markku Ojala / AOP

Events in Catalonia have been high on the news agenda this week, and attention has inevitably widened to potential independence struggles in other restive regions across Europe and the world.

While Scotland, Occitania and the Basque Country might be sexier regions for gallivanting journalists, Finland has its very own secessionist movement with a respectable 10 percent of the vote in Åland's parliament. Uusi Suomi went to meet Axel Jonsson, the leader of the pro-independence 'Åland's Future' party to ask how he saw the archipelago's relationship with Finland.

Democratically, it turns out. He doesn't see a need for a referendum until a majority in the Åland parliament support a vote, and at present his party has only three seats out of thirty. Jonsson reckons some 25-30 percent of the current representatives would support independence, however--it's just not the main issue for them and so they're in other parties.

The main reason for independence, according to Jonsson, is language. He says Finland promised in 1921, when Åland's status was settled, that independent Finland would 'speak Swedish to Åland'--and to him, the mainland now seems like a monolingual country.

"The current relationship between Swed....Åland and Finland would be much better if we were good neighbours rather than a quarrelling married couple, which we are now" said Jonsson. "We have a lot of squabbles over language and money."

Property fund risks

Ilta-Sanomat features a warning from Hypo, a mortgage lender (that was originally reported by Yle), about the large-scale entry of investment funds into the property market. Hypo's chief economist Juhana Brotherus says that low interest rates have tempted many property funds to load up with debt and buy dozens of flats off-plan in single developments.

That means that their ability to pay maintenance fees is more important to the building than other individual apartment owners. Most Finnish apartment buildings are run as companies, with flat owners effectively owning their property through shares in that company.

If any single owner is unable to pay the maintenance fees required of all shareholders, then that obligation falls to the other shareholders--and in the case of an institutional investor with multiple flats in the same building, those obligations could be quite substantial.

Brotherus points out that the stability of many investment funds is an open question, with some not reporting their results in Finland at all. If one collapses, the impact could be serious for owners of flats in the same building.

Pig farmers lack vaccines

Pharmaceutical distribution firm Oriola has had extreme difficulties in supplying medicines recently, and that's had some unexpected effects. Kauppalehti reports on Wednesday that shareholders are 'in the dark' about the firm's difficulties, and that pig farmers are also up in arms about the problems.

Piglets need to be vaccinated very quickly to ensure they can be reared without using antibiotics, but supplies have run low in some places. Bigger farms have received special deliveries, but smaller ones have relied on vets' reserves.

This has increased work for everyone, as supplies have to be actively managed and Oriola has to make special deliveries to the locations with the most acute needs. But according to the pig industry, production hasn't been affected.

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