President Alar Karis, who is on a visit to South Korea with a business delegation this week, believes that Estonia could participate in the 2025 Osaka EXPO alongside neighbors Latvia and Lithuania in a joint Baltic Pavilion.
Minister of Economic Affairs and IT Tiit Riisalo (Reform) told Japanese Ambassador to Estonia Matsumura Yukihiko on May 9, that Estonia will not participate in the 2025 Osaka EXPO. The reason given was the desire to save money.
According to Priit Lomp (SDE), chair of the Riigikogu's Economic Affairs Committee, which discussed the issue in August, Estonia would still be able to take part in the World EXPO as part of a joint Baltic pavilion, which would also reduce the cost of participation. The committee wanted to discuss this possibility with Riisalo.
Speaking in South Korea, President Karis told ERR that the idea of the Baltic countries taking part in the EXPO together is not a bad one.
Karis also said that if the government were to take such a decision, it would also mean that businesses have to be ready to contribute as well. According to the Karis, it is now clear that there is interest among businesses.
"Then maybe it's worth rethinking," Karis said, recalling that he himself once suggested the Baltic states might participate in an EXPO together, though not in the context of the one in Japan. "But the time was probably not right then."
"Maybe now is the time when we can do it together with the other Baltic countries. It will be cheaper in some ways and we can each be more visible during the EXPO and highlight our differences," Karis said.
On Wednesday, the president was in the South Korean capital Seoul to open the Estonian Embassy and business center. However, this comes against the backdrop of the recent decision by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to close the Estonian Consulate General in New York in order to cut down on costs.
Commenting on that decision, President Karis said that some concerns about the closure of the consulates had also been communicated to him.
"Certainly the consulate in New York has a certain symbolic significance and perhaps, if pressure comes from the outside and within, then it [the decision - ed.] could be reviewed. However, it will still be up to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It can't be decided by somebody else from outside," Karis said.
Editor: Michael Cole