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Statement of the President of the Republic on the death of President Meri March 14, 2006 on Estonian Television

Dear fellow countrymen,

It is with deep sorrow that I have to announce the death of President Lennart Meri.

When on the occasion of today's Native Language Day we hoist our national flags, let us also think of Lennart Meri, who as a statesman and as a writer appreciated the beauty of the Estonian language and taught others to do the same. A politician and a visionary, whose diverse legacy will stay in the life of our state and our people, has left us.

In his youth, Lennart Meri found his calling as a writer. His travel books, as well as his later films, were born out of his interest in the culture of small nations and the roots of Estonians. His creation helped to preserve and fortify Estonian identity under the conditions of a foreign totalitarian regime.

In his mature years, Lennart Meri became recognised as a politician. At the time of the restoration of the independence of the Republic of Estonia he worked as Foreign Minister to whom we have to give credit for restoring the foreign service of our state. Being the President of the Republic, Lennart Meri worked in the name of securing the international position of our state. His goals were Estonia's accession to NATO and the European Union, and building up a reliable state.

As the President, Lennart Meri, during nine years, had to carry the task of restoring the presidency as well as building up the Republic of Estonia in its broadest sense - the Estonian idea and value. Lennart Meri will stay in the memory of Estonian people as an outstanding personality.

I express my heartfelt condolences to the family of Lennart Meri and to all those close to him.

Arnold Rüütel

© 2006 Office of the President l tel: + 372 631 6202 l fax: + 372 631 6250 l