Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde is struggling to improve her country’s reputation abroad after Swedes were declared persona non-grata by fellow European Union member, Cyprus.
Last week, the island said nationals from 19 European countries could enter its borders from June, based on a risk assessment of “basic epidemiological indicators.”
Sweden is among a handful of states that didn’t make the cut while Israel and Norway did make the cut.
In an interview with Bloomberg News, Linde said she was hoping for “a proportional reaction. We don’t want discrimination”.
As other European countries begin to ease restrictions, Sweden once again finds itself in the spotlight over its decision to keep much of society open since the onset of the pandemic.
The country’s Covid-19 mortality rate is now among the highest in the world, at 39 per 100,000.
Though the foreign minister said she understands some of the frustration around Sweden’s laxer virus response, she argued that it’s wrong to “just look at death rates during a certain week.”
Linde, who plans to raise the issue with Cyprus at a meeting of EU ministers on Friday, said it’s her hope that such decisions be based on facts, and not be treated as “political markers aiming at showing strength at home.”
Cyprus is opening up to 19 countries based on their coronavirus data – along with Sweden – its two biggest markets the UK and Russia are also not on the list.
The government says the epidemiological data is constantly being evaluated and will be updated while pointing out the choice is based on risk and no other consideration.
Sweden is the island’s sixth-biggest tourist market with 144,605 visiting last year, a 6% drop on 2018. (source Bloomberg)
Category A countries allowed in from June 9
Low-risk countries with a transmission rate lower than 1
Category B countries allowed in from June 20
Higher risk countries with a transmission rate higher than 1