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What did the Helsinki Trump-Putin summit cost?

With the summit frenzy starting to fade, many Finns are starting to wonder who will foot the final bill for the meeting.

A special edition of the All Points North podcast breaks down the issues and fallout from the summit with special guest Charly Salonius-Pasternak. Audio: Yle News

Prime Minister Juha Sipilä on Tuesday said the government—that is the Finnish taxpayer—is absorbing all the costs of the meeting between presidents Trump and Putin.

Sipilä remains tight-lipped on what the actual damage has been, but continues to praise the ”cheap” PR Finland gained for playing host. Foreign Minister Timo Soini, whose ministry ran the show, has echoed Sipilä’s views. The premier did not want to give an estimate of the final price tag to Finnish news agency STT, but he did reiterate that the event had served as an image builder for Finland.

With both the US and Russia having brought massive delegations, and the world media in town accompanied by engineers and technicians, Helsinki’s hospitality and restaurant industry is assumed to have benefited greatly, according to city official Tommi Laitio.

PR benefits worth costs?

Juha Sipilä said the presence of 1,500 foreign journalists in Helsinki was an affordable way to export Finland’s image abroad. That said Finlandia Hall, which served as the international media press centre, was strategically turned into an attractive window on Finland.

Between meetings journalists could nosh on Finnish cuisine and conveniently sit back in Marimekko-accented recliners to watch a reel promoting Finland as the best place on Earth. The looped film featured many aspects of the Finnish welfare state, from the now world-famous baby box to coding skills taught in Finnish schools.

ASEM bill: 12 million euros

The 2006 Asian-European ASEM meeting staged in Helsinki is the closest budgetary comparison to the Putin-Trump summit. That conference, which brought together 38 heads of state, raked up costs of 11.8 million euros, according to the City of Helsinki.

But that was over a decade ago. Last month when Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met mano-a-mano in Singapore the BBC reported that the damage to the city-state was some 12.5 million euros.

Here in Finland, police overtime--officers from Lapland were even sent down to the capital to reinforce the police presence--and other costs to secure the city will add to the government's final bill.

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