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Wednesday’s papers: Baghdad ambassador, working women, and a Nazi bar

Newspapers on Wednesday looked at foreign women working to help each other into working life in Finland, among other stories. 

Irakilainen mielenosoittaja hyppäsi tuk-tukin kyytiin mielenosoituksessa.
As protesters fill the streets and the government launches a bloody crackdown, Finland is sending an ambassador to Baghdad. Image: Murtaja Lateef / EPA

When is it safe to travel somewhere? The best way to check is looking at a Foreign Ministry’s website, and in Finland that source has long advised against travel to Iraq.

The ministry is set to ignore that advice now, reports Helsingin Sanomat, as it sends Vesa Häkkinen to be its first ambassador in Baghdad since 1991.

The news comes as the country is swept by a wave of protests, and a bloody crackdown by the authorities, but Häkkinen is stoical about his task.

The mission, says Häkkinen, is to help Finnish businesses export to Iraq and to assist in ensuring the country is stable in the years to come.

There’s also a political mission, as then-Foreign Minister Timo Soini made clear a year ago when he announced that an ambassador would be stationed in Iraq.

That’s to negotiate the deportation of Iraqis in Finland whose asylum claims have been rejected.

HS says that last year more than 20,000 Iraqis received negative decisions on their asylum claims, and those people are for now in limbo. Finland wants to return them, but Iraq is refusing to accept forced deportations.

Working women

Kauppalehti covers a Facebook group founded by foreign women in Finland looking to advance their careers or even just find a job.

The move was, according to founder Chiara Costa-Virtanen, a response to negative media coverage of highly-educated foreigners’ chances of getting appropriate work in Finland.

Some 1,700 women have joined the closed group to exchange experiences and network. The group also holds ‘after work’ events that attract between 30-70 people each time.

Costa-Virtanen says that networking is key, because ‘80 percent of job openings are hidden’, or not advertised.

Group member Caroline Bondier moved to Finland from France 16 years ago, and now works in a senior position at lift-maker Kone.

“It’s important that firms communicate clearly their desire to hire foreign-background workers,” Bondier tells KL. “Lots of them are interested, but maybe they don’t know how to do it. This group can help with that.”

Nazi sign draws ire

This week has seen a ‘military’ pub in the village of Lappila draw criticism from breweries and social media users after a story by local news site Seutu4 revealed the pub displays an ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ sign on its wall.

The phrase, which translates as ‘work makes you free’, was displayed at the Auschwitz concentration camp as the Nazi machine conducted its genocidal business.

On Tuesday the Auschwitz Museum weighed in via Twitter, stating that ‘"Arbeit macht frei" was a false, cynical illusion the SS gave to prisoners of the #Auschwitz camp. Those words became one of the icons of human hatred. It's painful to see the symbol misused this way.

The pub also saw brewery Sinebrychoff had given owner Juha Koskinen an ultimatum to remove the sign. He refused and the brewery stopped beer deliveries this week, according to local paper Etelä-Suomen Sanomat.

“Everyone thinks differently,” Koskinen told Iltalehti. “I haven’t had any negative feedback from customers.”

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