Finland. At year-end, the Finnish currency, land, was replaced by the euro. For a few months, both coins were used in parallel, but from March only euro was accepted in the trade.
After extensive public discussion at the beginning of the year, the government decided to allow the construction of Finland’s fifth nuclear reactor. The decision divided the five-party coalition into two camps, ten ministers voted in favor and six against, and both the general and the parties were divided on the issue. Only the Green League stood united in its opposition. The Riksdag conducted a long and hard debate before in May, with 107 votes against 92, decided to approve the private power company TVO’s license application for the reactor building. The final approval of the building permit will be given by the government that accedes after the parliamentary elections in 2003. The new reactor is expected to be completed in 2010. In protest of the nuclear power decision, the Green Union left the government, which, however, still had a satisfactory majority with the Social Democrats, the Socialist Party, the Left Union and the Swedish People’s Party.
According to Countryaah website, national day of Finland is every December 6. Finland’s future relationship with NATO was discussed during the year. Defense Minister Jan-Erik Enestam from the Swedish People’s Party said during a visit to Stockholm that Finland could conceivably join NATO, even if Sweden does not. On a visit to Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen (s) declared that Finland will maintain its military alliance freedom for at least two more years. In 2004, a new security and defense policy report will be submitted to Parliament, and the question of possible NATO membership will be considered. Former President Martti Ahtisaari became the first top politician to openly advocate that Finland should join NATO.
In March, telecom company Sonera agreed with Swedish Telia on a merger of the companies. The deal was greeted with relief in Finland, where there was great concern over Sonera’s growing debt. In July, the company found that its investments in so-called UMTS licenses for 3G telephony in Germany and Italy were worthless. Sonera therefore discontinued its mobile operations in these countries, despite the fact that in autumn 2000, EUR 3.6 billion, close to SEK 40 billion, was paid for the licenses. In a book with anonymous authors published on the Internet during the summer, it was claimed that the government had been informed and gave the go-ahead to the UMTS investments. The state was the majority owner in Sonera when the licenses were purchased. The Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance denied that the UMTS licenses were processed by the government, but several of Sonera’s former board members stated that the then chairman of the board received the government’s approval. The Chancellor of Justice opened an investigation into the case and Parliament’s Finance Committee also conducted an investigation.
The downturn in the telecom giant Nokia continued during the year and the company announced new layoffs. But Nokia’s half-year results were in line with the stock market’s expectations and it turned out that Nokia had taken additional shares of the mobile phone market.
In June, the government decided on a proposal for a new language law that was expected to strengthen Sweden’s position in Finland. Less than 6% of the population, almost 300,000 Finns, speak Swedish as their mother tongue. in the judiciary, the availability of Swedish-speaking officials is reduced. An evaluation during the year showed that pupils in Finnish-speaking schools are poorly learning Swedish. The National Agency for Education therefore decided to reform the teaching.
In October, seven people were killed and over 60 injured when a bomb exploded in a shopping mall in a suburb of Helsinki. It was the worst act in Finland of its kind since the Second World War, and it was practiced by a young Finnish.