Estonia's participation or otherwise in Expo 2025 in Osaka, Japan, is not solely down to a decision by Minister of Economic Affairs and IT Tiit Riisalo (Eesti 200), but is one for the entire cabinet, Minister of Foreign Affairs Margus Tsahkna (Eesti 200) says.
As thing stand, Estonia is the only EU member state not to be represented in Osaka in 2025, after Minister Riisalo said that soaring costs and the fact Japan is not a top 10 trading partner was behind a decision to stay away.
While opinions were in any case divided when that announcement was made at the end of last month, the foreign minister said Wednesday that the matter is not one for Riisalo unilaterally, and would be on the table at the regular Thursday cabinet meeting this week.
Appearing on ERR webcast "Otse ujustemajast" on Wednesday, Tsahkna said: "If we look at things from the point of view of business, maybe it doesn't particularly make sense to attend the expo in such a faraway country. At the same time, we are talking about foreign policy, and whether or not the country is represented at one of the most important world exhibitions, one which lasts the entire year. Herein lies the conflict."
"The estimated cost is five million euros of taxpayers' money, so I also well understand Tiit Riisalo, who then has to take this funding from other export subsidies," he added.
Tsahkna did not outline his own specific stance on the matter, but indicated that he would like to see analysis of both potential economic benefits and costs of the project.
"If I say, when wearing the foreign minister's hat, that we must go wherever Estonia needs and is able to go, we then need to examine our options and any possible practical benefits," Tsahkna added.
Expo 2025 World's Fair is to be held April to October in Osaka, Kansai region.
The 155ha exhibition area will be housed on an under-construction artificial island, Yumeshima.
Minister Riisalo informed Japan's Ambassador to Estonia Matsumura San on May 9 that Estonia will not be taking part in the event in 2025, on the grounds of a need to rein in state budget costs.
Riisalo at the time put those costs at around €3-4 million.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Aleksander Krjukov