President Sauli Niinistö talked about the idea behind closing the Finnish-Swedish border in a recent interview with Swedish news agency TT.

From left: Jarmo Lindberg, the former commander of the Finnish Defense Forces, Margot Wallström, the former defense minister of Sweden, Carl Haglund, the former defense minister of Finland, King Carl Gustaf of Sweden and President Sauli Niinistö. The group was observing an EU crisis management military exercise at the Santahamina military grounds in Helsinki in February 2015, during a visit that focused on enhancing Finnish-Swedish cooperation. Photograph: Tony Öhberg/Finland Today
From left: Jarmo Lindberg, the former commander of the Finnish Defense Forces, Margot Wallström, the former defense minister of Sweden, Carl Haglund, the former defense minister of Finland, King Carl Gustaf of Sweden and President Sauli Niinistö. The group was observing an EU crisis management military exercise at the Santahamina military grounds in Helsinki in February 2015, during a visit that focused on enhancing Finnish-Swedish cooperation. Photograph: Tony Öhberg/Finland Today

President Sauli Niinistö compared closing the border to Sweden to the time in early spring when Uusimaa region was isolated from the rest of the country.

“We did this because we saw that the infections were spreading across Uusimaa region in a different way than in other parts of the country,” President Niinistö said in the interview with the Swedish news agency TT.

On June 15, the internal border control was lifted in Finland for Norway, Denmark, Iceland and the Baltic countries, and more travel bans are going to be lifted July 13, but the border stays closed to Sweden, with 71,419 confirmed coronavirus infections and 5,420 deaths (July 6).

President Niinistö did not comment on Sweden’s strategy against the pandemic, where bars and borders have stayed open. “There are significantly more infections there [Sweden] than here and that’s why a comparison with our decision regarding Uusimaa is justified,” he said. “It’s not against Sweden, it’s against the infection,” Niinistö added.

President Niinistö believed that the temporary entry ban will not affect the relations between the countries, which go back a long time in history; a few months of closed borders will not make any difference.

Tony Öhberg