Finland. In March, Minister of Care Liisa Hyssälä proposed that the alcohol tax should be raised again. In the spring of 2004, Finland lowered the alcohol tax to reduce the import of cheap liquor from Estonia, but the result was increased consumption of liquor and more steering wheel sobriety. However, Hyssälä’s proposal was rejected by Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen.
According to countryaah, Helsinki is the capital and one of the major cities within the country of Finland. The Finnish Human Rights Alliance stated in its annual report in March that racism and ethnic discrimination are common phenomena in Finland. The number of racist crimes is high, and Roma in particular are subject to discrimination in society, according to the report. Unemployment among foreigners in Finland was 29% in 2003.
- Also see abbreviationfinder.org for how the acronym FI stands for the country of Finland and other meanings of this two-letter abbreviation.
In the spring, an emotional debate was underway on the treatment of Finnish deserters during the Second World War. There are reports that hundreds of deserters were executed in 1944 during the so-called continuing war between Finland and the Soviet Union and that these are in mass graves in Lappeenranta in southern Karelia. Researchers want to carry out excavations at the site.
A major conflict in the paper industry broke out during the spring. Overtime blocked and strike met from employers by blockade. The conflict lasted for seven weeks and affected about 24,000 employees in Finland, and sympathy measures were in Sweden. The Finnish union did not want to accept parts of the new collective agreement, which included This meant that operations would be underway during major holidays such as Christmas and Midsummer. In the settlement at the end of June, however, the union was forced to concede on that point. The conflict cost the forest company Stora Enso the equivalent of SEK 1.8 billion, and Finland’s GDP was also negatively affected during the second quarter.
In June, the Social Democrats elected party secretary Eero Heinäluoma as new party leader after the departing Paavo Lipponen. During the fall, Heinäluoma was appointed new finance minister in the unity government, led by center party Matti Vanhanen.
Finnish food became the subject of international debate during the summer, after Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi expressed his disdain for Finnish cuisine. Berlusconi’s comments were made in conjunction with the inauguration in Italian Parma by the EU Food Authority, an institution that Finland tried in vain to get. Berlusconi also upset Finland’s political leadership by claiming that he had used “playboy tactics” to convince President Tarja Halonen that Finland would not have the Food Authority. The Italian ambassador was called to the Foreign Ministry in Helsinki and demanded an explanation for Berlusconi’s language usage. Things got worse when French President Jacques Chirac joked that Finnish cuisine was the worst in the world. The Finnish government declared that it would respond with a campaign for Finnish food.
Finland had greater international success in peace diplomacy. During the first half of the year negotiations were held in Helsinki between the Government of Indonesia and the GAM rebels in Aceh Province. With Finland’s former president Martti Ahtisaari as a mediator, a preliminary peace agreement was signed in June, which was then signed in August. It ended three decades of conflict in Aceh, which is estimated to have claimed more than 12,000 lives.
In the autumn, Ahtisaari was given the UN mission to lead the expected difficult negotiations on Kosovo’s future political status.
In August, 14 people were killed when a helicopter from the Finnish company Copterline crashed in the Gulf of Finland off the coast of Estonia. The helicopter was on its way from Tallinn to Helsinki when, according to preliminary investigations, it was hit by a technical error. Finland’s most talked about murder case was reopened during the year and became the subject of much media attention. It involved a triple murder of tormenting youth in 1960. The three murdered comrades, who in all years were regarded as an innocent victim, had by means of new DNA technology been now suspected as a probable murderer and prosecuted at the Espoo District Court. But the court did not believe the existing evidence was sufficient, and the more than 60-year-old man was released.