Friday’s papers: Blinken urges allies, TikTok elections and wind turbine ships

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Aamulehti from Tampere (siirryt toiseen palveluun) was one of many newspapers about the US that put pressure on NATO allies.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blink said the US is urging the last remaining NATO members to ratify Finland and Sweden’s bids to join the alliance. Turkey and Hungary have yet to ratify the membership of Finland and Sweden.

Blinken discussed the matter with the Finnish foreign minister Pekka Haavisto (Green) and Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom Thursday by phone. According to a statement from the US State Department, Blinken assured his Nordic counterparts that the US supports Finland and Sweden’s NATO membership and believes they are ready to join the alliance.

“We look forward to welcoming Finland and Sweden to NATO as soon as possible,” Blinken continued Twitter (siirryt toiseen palveluun).

Blinken also assured both foreign ministers of strong bilateral relations between their countries.

The implementation of Finland and Sweden’s NATO membership is pending ratification by Turkey and Hungary.

Hungary has promised to ratify membership in early February, but Turkey has not given a timetable for ratification. Turkey has set several conditions that Finland and Sweden must meet before ratification, the most recent being the extradition of 130 individuals it considers to be terrorists.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu met with Blinken in the United States on Wednesday, where Cavusoglu was trying to speed up sales of F-16 fighter jets.

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According to media reports, the US government is ready to sell the fighter jets to Turkey. However, it is believed that the US wants to use the sale as leverage to get Turkey to allow Finland and Sweden to join NATO.

TikTok Election Anxiety

Helsingin Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun) reported on concerns surrounding the social media platform TikTok and the upcoming parliamentary elections in April.

The China-based social media platform has already caused a stir in the US over alleged threats to democracy, privacy and national security.

HS noted that there has been very little discussion of TikTok in Finland leading up to the election, despite its popularity. There are nearly 1.2 million people in Finland using the service, according to social media marketing company Trot.

“Politicians have used new media platforms and their mechanisms throughout the ages. I would be surprised if they don’t try to use them in the current election.” Matti Nelimarkka, a researcher at Aalto University and the University of Helsinki, told HS. He has studied algorithms and political power in the digital environment.

HS pointed out that when searching TikTok with the keywords “Finnish politics,” the most popular videos are those dominated by the Finnish opposition party. The Nationalist Party Prime Minister Sanne Marine (SDP), recently characterized as “openly racist”, was the second most popular among likely voters in a recent Yle poll.

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It’s unclear exactly how TikTok’s algorithm works, but it’s been known that a user with just a few followers can post a post that potentially garners millions of views.

That kind of “viral” exposure of a video can lead people viewing the content to think that the creator of the video is some sort of authority on politics or other topics, the paper said.

HS then posed the platform’s moral question, that even if someone just watches a video, they can subconsciously help to increase the profile, even if they disagree with the content.

‘Hundreds of ships loaded with wind turbines’

Ostrobothnia-based document Ilkka-Pohjalainen (siirryt toiseen palveluun) reported on Wednesday the arrival of the first ships with wind turbine components in the port of Kaskinen. Shipments include turbine blades from Spain and turbine towers from Turkey.

The small port on Finland’s west coast was bustling with activity as crane operators carefully unloaded materials.

Historically, Kaskinen has typically been a port dominated by the export of Finnish sawmill products, but the CEO of the port Patrick Helman said last year was a historically bad year for the port’s timber trade because of the war in Ukraine.

According to Hellman, the number of export ships transporting Finnish timber dropped to 287 for the full year, down about 100 ships. He attributed the decline to the effects of the war in Ukraine and was optimistic that more than 300 ships would leave Kaskinen this year filled with Finnish timber.

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However, Hellman noted that projects in Finland’s “wind belt” have brought a significant amount of business to the port.

Wind energy in Finland has increased (siirryt toiseen palveluun) in the past year when the country was looking for alternatives to Russian energy and fossil fuels and the port of Kaskinen is smack in the middle of Finland’s densest wind farm area, on the country’s west coast.

The turbine parts in the most recent shipment will be transported to a wind farm owned by energy companies Fortum and Helen in Närpes. For now, however, the parts will be stored until they can be moved to the construction site, probably in March.

“Because of this project there will probably be 40-45 wind turbine ships in total, depending on the size of the ships. The next project is right after that in Kurikka, and most likely those turbines will come through here as well. Within the next 18 months there will probably be about 100 of these wind turbine ships come here,” Hellman said.

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