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Why President Meri held press conference in airport toilet

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PHOTO: Lennart Rikk

Tadahiko Yoshino-san knows the total and detailed background to «toilet conference» once held by President Lennart Meri.

PHOTO: Peeter Langovits / montaaž
PHOTO: Raigo Pajula/Postimees

In March 1997, Mr Meri was visiting Japan with a business delegation from Estonia. At a business seminar held in Osaka, Mr Meri put it before the Japanese, point-blank: what more might Estonia do to enhance interest in foreign investors?

By that time, Yoshino-san had been to Estonia a whopping four times and undergone the shock therapy at the toilets sported by airport toilets. He looked within, quickly, to determine whether to say it or not. And blurted that the toilets could be a good place to begin...

Instantly red in the face, Mr Meri initially uttered something in Estonian. To be followed by a vow to go personally inspect the toilets in question, and to give a first interview in toilets for the gentlemen. Troubled in soul and deeply troubled by what he had said, Yoshino-san just had to go and apologise before Mr Meri. The President put him at ease, saying it was not the one pointing out the problem, but him and the Estonian nation that needed to be embarrassed. The shocking press conference triggered modernisation of the Entire Tallinn Airport.

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