Finnish ski scandal
Member of Parliament Pentti Tiusanen, who turned out to be a former Stasi (East German secret police) informant, is nowadays not the only thing that resembles the former East Germany in Finland.
At the Nordic World Championships in Lahti, six Finnish skiers, both men and women, tested positive for banned plasma volume expanders. The entire team was tested after two skiers tested positive. After days of covering up, it turned out that the team's head coaches, doctors and at least six athletes were all in on the secret. The main explanation was something like "we were not supposed to get caught."
Minister of Culture Suvi Lindén, also responsible for sports affairs, promised that the illegal incidents will be thoroughly investigated. The Ministry of Education officially requested that the police investigate the actions of the Ski Association.
Not surprisingly, the Association has lost most of its main sponsors.
Prodi wants Food Authority to be in Luxembourg
The President of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, does not want the European Food Authority to be located in Helsinki.
According to Prodi, the EU organs should not be spread out into too many countries. Thus, he favours Luxembourg, rather than Finland, as the ideal location for the Authority.
In an interview by the Finnish Broacasting Company, YLE, Prodi maintained that he would not change his view, which he reached after long and careful consideration. However, Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen is still hopeful that the Food Authority, which is to begin operating in 2002, will be located in Finland.
So far, the decision on the location has been delayed several times. Finland hopes that the decision would be reached at the Stockholm Summit in March.
Poland wants to speed up enlargement negotiations
Polish Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek said in Helsinki on Saturday that Poland wants to speed up talks on accession to the European Union. He said he was dissatisfied with the lax progress of the negotiations, stating Poland believes it will be ready for EU membership in 2003.
Furthermore, Buzek stated that a transition period, for instance, for the free movement of labour is not necessary. Germany, for one, has proposed a longer transition period for the free movement of labour because it is afraid of a large Polish immigration to the better-paid German job market. Buzek said that the strengthened Polish economy takes care of this fear. However, if Germany's proposal is accepted, Poland will start to restrict Germans' right to work in Poland.
Despite the difficulties, Sweden might propose that the Gothenburg Summit decide on a timetable for the enlargement.
ATTAC group formed in Parliament
The Finnish Parliament is getting its own ATTAC group, which will be part of an international movement for promoting global financial democracy. The umbrella organisation was established in 1998, and it now has operations in 18 different countries.
Following the terms of the ATTAC international declaration, the MPs stated their goal as the restoration of democratic control to the areas in which money has taken it away.
The group aims to combat international currency speculation through tighter taxation of income from capital, abolition of tax havens, prevention of the spreading of private pension funds, promotion of publicity of investments in developing countries and support of demands that developing countries be excused their debts.
ATTAC is best known around the world as an organiser of demonstrations. ATTAC demonstrations are also awaited during the upcoming EU Stockholm Summit.
General Hägglund running to chair EUMC
Finland has nominated General Gustav Hägglund, the Commander of the Defence Forces, for the chair of the European Union Military Committee (EUMC).
Portugal and Italy have also nominated candidates. However, it now appears that Britain, France and Germany are unlikely to run candidates. Germany supports Hägglund, and Finland hopes that Germany might manage to persuade other large EU countries to also back Hägglund.
The EUMC serves as the top advisor to EU leaders in military matters, and the term of the position is three years. The EU is to build up its crisis management forces during the upcoming term, and the Committee is to oversee the process. The choice for Chairman will be made at the end of March.
And in other news...
- In Sweden, fear of mad cow disease (BSE) declined after further testing was conducted. Tests indicated that a cow slaughtered in southwest Sweden had not fallen sick with BSE, as had been feared.
- Also a Finnish cattle farm was placed in quarantine over suspicions that it might contain a case of BSE. The farm reportedly had one cow that had neurological symptoms of the type associated with the disease. The cow was slaughtered for tests, and the results showed no signs of BSE. Many other diseases exhibit the same kinds of symptoms as BSE.
- The HEX Group, which owns the Helsinki Stock Exchange, announced that it plans to acquire ownership of over 50 percent of the Tallinn Stock Exchange. It is possible that HEX may also make offers for the Riga and Vilnius Stock Exchanges.
- According to the Finnish Banker's Association, the year 2000 was a success for Finnish banks. The net income from financing operations, which depicts the developments in the basic banking business, rose to FIM (Finnish markka) 16.1 billion (USD 2.5 billion) from the previous year's FIM 13.5 billion (USD 2.1 billion). Furthermore, credit and guarantee losses continued to decrease last year.
- The Finnish national airline, Finnair, is considering measures for dealing with passengers who cause disturbances. Passenger hooliganism has been on the rise around the world in recent years. Last week, a Finnish passenger tried to force his way onto the flight deck. The man was successfully subdued but only after an intense struggle.
- The number of suspected money laundering cases reported to the National Bureau of Investigation last year was three times as high as in 1999. The number has increased steadily in recent years.
Aleksi Vakkuri, 2 March 2001
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