Morning headlines: Wednesday 19th September 2018

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Defence Minister moves on weapons exports

Defence Minister Jussi Niinistö (Blue) says in future the government will have to “think deeply” on a “case by case” basis before approving orders to export military materiel to countries involved in conflict. He gave his comments to state broadcaster Yle last night, after a News Now Finland investigation uncovered the first evidence of Finnish-made Patria vehicles, some armed with heavy Russian weapons, deployed in parts of Yemen where the United Nations says war crimes are being committed. Finland exported the Patria vehicles in two large orders in 2008 and 2015 and says there were no concerns about conflict at that time. However,  twice this year – in January and July – Finnish ministries approved the sale of spare parts for those Patria vehicles, despite warnings from the UN and aid agencies about a huge humanitarian crisis involving 22 million people, repeated evidence of civilian deaths, and despite other European countries taking steps to restrict military exports to any country involved in the brutal war. You can read our full original investigation here.

PM to Brexit summit in Austria

Juha Sipilä (Centre) is joining other EU leaders for talks in Salzburg Austria. On the agenda for today is EU security and migration. But the main focus is crunch talks on Brexit, as the deadline for agreeing terms and conditions of Britain’s exit from the European Union approaches rapidly. There are numerous sticking points in the negotiations, including the UK’s continued access to the single market, customs union, freedom of movement and the EU’s land border with the UK between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. On Tuesday, Finland’s Ministerial Committee on EU affairs had a meeting and re-affirmed the importance of finalising the UK’s withdrawal agreement by the European Council meeting in October. “So far, little progress has been made in the initial talks on the future relationship” says a statement from the Finnish government.

Nuclear exercise takes place today

Authorities on the west coast will be carrying out an exercise at the Olkiluoto nuclear power station near Rauma and Eurajoki today. It will simulate an emergency situation at the plant, and personnel from different services will be involved in the role-play scenario. The exercise is due to end later this afternoon, but there will be some disruption to roads in the vicinity of the nuclear power plant while it’s underway.

End of the line for Turku landmark

A landmark of Turku’s city centre skyline comes to an end today. Work begins to dismantle the historic Hamburger Börs building, which was originally built back in 1895. The current owners of the hotel and restaurant say they considered renovating the historic building but decided that it was more cost effective to tear it down and build something new: another hotel will spring up to take its place and be completed by 2021. It’s not the first time the Jugend-style building has been demolished – it was torn down in the 1970s and rebuilt a few years later.

Wednesday morning weather

It’s a sunny start to the day in the south and south west of the country, including the capital city region. But cloudy and rainy along the eastern border, cloudy in central Finland and increasingly foggy moving north from central Finland into Lapland where the temperature struggles to get above freezing this morning.

Finnish Meteorological Institute forecast for Wednesday morning 19th September 2018 / Credit: FMI