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Wednesday's papers: PM in America, Nato support and Finns Party Christmas fest

Wednesday's papers report on PM Juha Sipilä's visit to the US, waning support for Nato and why the Finns Party parliamentary group will forego alcohol at this year's holiday festivities.

Joulupöydässä kanelitankoja, glögiä ja omenoita.
Image: Comstock

Prime Minister Juha Sipilä will meet US Vice President Mike Pence in Washington on Wednesday, reports Helsingin Sanomat.

”I look forward to meeting Vice President Pence very much. I believe we will have an interesting discussion on bilateral issues as well as the relationship between the EU and the United States, which is a very important matter to Finland,” Sipilä said in a statement.

He will also meet with US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and Jared Kushner, who serves as senior advisor to his father-in-law Donald Trump, HS said.

Sipilä has been on a three-day working visit in Washington since Monday, accompanied by representatives of Finnish businesses.

This is Finland’s first bilateral meeting with a US vice president since 2012.

Support for Nato falls

In other news, daily Karjalainen writes that 23 percent of Finns support the country’s possible membership in Nato, while half are opposed to it.

A survey conducted by the Finnish Business and Policy Forum (EVA) shows that support for joining the US-led military alliance has waned in the past few years, falling by four percentage points since 2015, the paper reports.

Backing for Nato rose significantly since Russia’s occupation of Crimea in 2014 and has hovered above 20 percent since then, Karjalainen says.

Eight percent of respondents said they consider a military attack on Finland a threat, while a quarter said any such threat is non-existent. In contrast, almost half of those surveyed view climate change as the most serious threat facing Finland, the paper said.

Finland and Sweden are both members of Nato's Partnership for Peace, and 600 Finnish troops recently took part in Nato's military exercise in Lapland.

No booze for Finns Party MPs

Meanwhile, tabloid Ilta-Sanomat writes that no alcohol will be served at the Finns Party’s Christmas gathering at Parliament this year.

According to Leena Meri, who chairs the populist party’s parliamentary group, the decision to stick to non-alcoholic beverages was based on the events at last year’s celebration.

“We all agreed there is definitely room for improvement from last year,” Meri said.

At the time, a heavily intoxicated Finns Party MP, Teuvo Hakkarainen, attempted to kiss a fellow MP, Veera Ruoho of the conservative National Coalition Party, by grabbing her neck to pull her towards his face.

The incident resulted in Hakkarainen receiving a fine for assault and sexual harassment. Hakkarainen said he was so drunk that he had no memory of the events.

“It seems to me that Hakkarainen has learned his lesson and will no longer imbibe at Parliament,” Meri told IS.

In contrast, the opposition Social Democrats will continue to serve booze at their holiday party, the tabloid writes. The party’s parliamentary group head, Antti Lindtman, said spiked glögi (mulled wine) will be offered to invitees.

“We haven’t had any problems in the past and saw no reason to change the guidelines,” Lindtman said.

Parliament’s Christmas festivities will take place on Thursday.

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