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PM Marin says she didn't know about coronavirus document denial

The government promised earlier in the year that all coronavirus papers used in decision-making would be made public. 

Sanna Marin saapumassa presidentti Niinistön isännöimiin Kultaranta-keskusteluihin Helsingissä.
Sanna Marin is off work this week with a cold. Image: Vesa Moilanen / Lehtikuva

Prime Minister Sanna Marin has said she did not know her office had withheld documents related to coronavirus when reporters asked for them

She said officials should be as open as possible, and also weighed in on forthcoming talks about an EU crisis fund in an interview with the news agency STT on Monday.

The premier had intervened on Saturday to ensure STT received documents from the coronavirus coordination group it had requested from her office after officials had declined to hand them over.

Only the agenda from the meetings had originally been provided.

The coordination group has discussed the strategy recommended by the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), access to PPE, testing capacity, the situation at airports and on the western border and the blockade of Uusimaa.

The coordination group was established in February, and led by Marin's senior official Mikko Koskinen.

Openness in the government programme

Marin said she had no knowledge of the information request when it was denied.

"These are not the kind of things that ministers or the government handles," said Marin.

She did intervene on Saturday to order her staff to release the documents, however. In Monday's interview she said that open government is an important principle for her government.

The government had previously said that in principle all documents related to the pandemic would be available.

"Openness should be implemented as broadly as possible, because these questions affect everyone and people have the right to know relevant background to issues being decided," said Marin.

Constructive criticism for EU bailouts

In the same interview Marin also made clear Finland would push for conditionality to be part of the 500 billion euro fund proposed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and France President Emmanuel Macron.

More details about the fund are due to be released on Wednesday, but Finland has decided to be constructive in any criticism.

"When there are such big changes in the operative environment, we have to be ready to discuss new kinds of solutions," said Marin. "In any case it is important that these tools are limited and transparent. In Finland parliament decides in the end whether or not we can join any particular instrument."

Parliament's Grand Committee sets the parameters of any Finnish government's negotiating hand in EU talks, but it has not yet discussed the Merkel-Macron proposal.

It was announced on Monday evening that Marin will be off work for a couple of days with a cold.

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