CEURUS to train Estonian MFA staff
The University of Tartu (UT) and the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) have signed a memorandum of cooperation to strengthen the capacity of the Estonian foreign service. The agreement includes collaboration in the fields of R&D, applied research as well as degree studies and training courses.
The agreement, which focuses above all on international relations and security, international law, as well as regional studies (Russia, Asia, and Africa), was signed in December 2019. Given the priority areas listed, the main UT units involved are the Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies (a hub for CEURUS activities), the School of Law, and the UT Asia Centre.
Rainer Saks, Secretary General of the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, explained that the ministry is interested in benefitting from the UT’s expertise. “Estonian companies, and therefore also the state, are widening their reach in Asia and Africa. Thus it is crucial to learn more about the local cultures, languages and business traditions. We must also ensure that our knowledge about our neighbourhood is up-to-date,” said Saks. The memorandum aims to address these needs.
Cooperation between the UT and the MFA was launched during the Estonian Presidency of the EU Council in 2017 when the Skytte Institute held a winter school for junior diplomats from EU member states. This was followed by an extended, one-and-a-half-year training programme in Russian studies for the Estonian foreign service. The programme comprises various topics from the history and culture of Russia to its politics and society, and additional language training is provided by the University of Tartu Narva College. The programme is run by the academic staff of the Skytte Institute and Olga Bogdanova, Vice Director for Academic Affairs of the institute.
In November 2019, Bogdanova received recognition from the Estonian MFA for the development of relations between the UT and MFA. According to her, the memorandum of cooperation presents a good example of sharing expertise and knowledge beyond the university. “We appreciate the fact that our expertise is recognised by the ministry,” said Bogdanova.
The university’s cooperation with the MFA spans across multiple domains. The MFA is a popular traineeship institution for students of International Relations and Political Studies, the ministry and the institute organise joint conferences and training courses and the students’ research topics often stem from the needs of the ministry. Moreover, the MFA provides scholarships for the Master’s programme “Contemporary Asian and Middle Eastern Studies”. Research results are shared through graduation theses or joint events.
For more information, please contact Ms Olga Bogdanova, Vice Director for Academic Affairs of the Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies and Manager for Strategic Development of the UT Asia Centre, +372 5665 6776, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Research Communication Specialist
Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies
University of Tartu
+372 737 6584