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Finnish president Niinistö thanks Finns on Facebook after summit

After the summit President Niinistö had a drink with his staff, went under the knife and opened up on social media.

Niinistö naureskelee Trumpin kanssa.
Presidents Niinistö (right) and Trump met on Monday in Helsinki. Image: Kimmo Brandt / EPA

After welcoming the presidents of the US and Russia to Helsinki, President Sauli Niinistö had a few things to do. First he went for a drink with his staff in a local bar (a photo appeared in Jodel, a community app and featured in Helsingin Sanomat, who pointed out how rare that is for a head of state), then he went into hospital for a routine operation, and finally he took to Facebook to offer Finns a summary of the last few days.

In the Facebook update Niinistö said how relieved he was that all the practicalities went according to plan, thanking all those involved in making it a success.

"I pay tribute to all those thousands who played their different roles in making this a success on a tight timetable," wrote the president. "A lot of people roasted in suits and uniforms, many of them helping to distribute information in a hectic environment, accommodating and transporting guests and so on."

Niinistö also noted that demonstrators around the summit put forward good ideas, and even helped him make his points to the two leaders.

"It was a lot of help to me, I didn't need to jab my finger at the guests—it was enough to refer to the demonstrations and say that they were making good points," said Niinistö.

Final results

Niinistö said that before the summit many people had stressed the risks over hopes for a good result. Niinistö met both leaders separately, putting him in a unique position at the historic meeting.

"As a result I got a lot of messages and pleas to fend off the threats and push transatlantic and European security, or Ukrainian, Baltic and Finnish security questions or indeed to emphasise the rules-based global system," said Niinistö.

"In particular one US Senators' words stuck in my mind, continued Niinistö. "'You're the last leader to speak to Trump before he meets Putin. It's on you.'"

Operating theatre secrets

Niinistö said that his worst fears were not realised, and that was a huge relief. According to the president, the results were clear.

"The absence of negative [results] is a positive," said Niinistö. "The channel of communication has been created and there'll now be work on the discussion topics. Arms control and disarmament as well as strategic stability were the topics that raised the most hopes."

On Tuesday morning Niinistö underwent routine surgery at Jorvi Hospital in Espoo. His office said the procedure went well and he has already returned home, with his full rehabilitation expected to take a week.

"This morning yesterday's events were still in my mind when I woke from the anaesthetic, hopefully I didn't talk too loudly—at least about secrets," joked the president.

His discussions with world leaders continue in August, when he will travel to Russia to meet President Vladimir Putin.

Edit: Updated at 3.20pm to clarify that a photo of the President relaxing over a drink with staff first appeared in the community app Jodel.

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