The Spanish Ambassador to Finland, Luis Tejada Chacón, has sent a letter to his compatriots residing in Finland in which he explains the current situation that the country is going through due to the spread of the coronavirus (koronavirus, in Finnish) and its possible consequences.
In his letter, dated 20 March, the diplomat warns the Spaniards that, in the current legal context, conflicts with public officials and the health authorities may occur.
The three-page letter encourages Spaniards residing in Finland to contact the embassy in the event of a coronavirus-related problem.
A common question received at the Spanish mission these days -explains the Ambassador- is if the Spanish people should stay in Finland or return to Spain. "My opinion and that of my authorities is that tourists should return to Spain as soon as possible and permanent residents in Finland stay in this country and not travel."
On a possible repatriation by the Spanish state of his nationals, the diplomat is categorical: at the moment it does not seem that it will be possible. For that reason, he encourages all tourists and temporary residents to "make sure that they at least have valid plane ticket ".
He asks other temporary residents with rental contracts (for example students) to ask the owners of the apartments about a possible extension of the contracts. "A very difficult situation can arise if for a few days, once the temporary residence permit expires, you cannot find a flight and you do not have accommodation."
The Ambassador does not rule out the occurrence of some incidents between Spaniards and Finnish authorities during the State of Emergency:
-"In general, the behavior of the police and other Finnish public officials is correct and abides by the norm. But we are in a State of Emergency and the representatives of the State have wide powers and discretion and some uncomfortable situations may arise. Although we do not expect abuses and we always recommend that the instructions of agents of the State be followed, an incident cannot be ruled out."
The Ambassador also mentions the possibility that Spaniards in Finland may encounter difficulties in accessing health care and, in particular, hospitalization. And he insinuates that, if this happens, the Embassy will not be able to help:
-"It is very doubtful that these authorities grant us any authority for health matters, and even less in an emergency situation like the current one. As you have seen, in Finland hospitalization is rare, and now even more exceptional. It is only agreed in very rare cases. They are currently assisting people by phone and, when symptoms are not considered serious, they advise people to stay home and coronavirus tests are not carried out."
Difficulties to be treated correctly
Luis Tejada Chacón also anticipates that there may be an increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in Finland. And with it, more difficulties to be treated correctly.
-"When (the number of) cases go up, the difficulties of being treated as considered correct may increase. If our support is required, we will try to intervene, but I can already anticipate that I think it is unlikely that we will be able to alter medical decisions, and even that we may get any response. If discriminatory treatment before Finns cannot be demonstrated, consular protection has no place, although, as I say, we will not stop trying to manage it. "
The ambassador's letter has been circulating on Facebook groups of Spaniards in Finland, where it has received both support and criticism. Support for saying things clear and criticism for anticipating that the Embassy will not be able to help the Spanish people who may catch the coronavirus.
-"The Finnish medical system is not on the same level as the Spanish one. We are used to receiving attention that simply does not exist here. If you want to be treated like in Spain, it is best to go to Spain. Because if you stay in Finland you will receive the same treatment as the Finns and the embassy can do nothing to get better medical treatment for the Spanish," one user said.
-"Here they have no idea of the size of the problem. If tests are not carried out, the real number of infected cannot be known," another adds.
-"With this and the management of the situation by the Finns we are really screwed."
-"What I have understood is: if you have any problem, solve it yourself because we are not going to help you. (Nothing new).
-"I liked the letter of the Ambassador. It is direct and sincere. It's not full of empty words (...) And as for his appreciation of the (Finnish) healthcare system, he is right. Here you are not hospitalized even when you are dying...)."
-"He says it very clearly. Finns go first..."
-"Well, if the ambassador suspects that this will be the case, then what he has to do is denounce the competent authorities, it is his duty and his obligation as ambassador. And if he does not, then he lies in what he says or does not fulfill his functions," another user concludes.