Another official visit in Kiel: precisely one week after Kiel University had the honour of welcoming the Israeli President Reuvin Rivlin, his Estonian counterpart, President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, visited the capital city of Schleswig-Holstein today (Wednesday, 20 May). He was accompanied, among others, by the Estonian Ambassador in Germany, Kaja Tael. The official visit, upon invitation by Federal President Joachim Gauck, was completely focussed on science. In addition to the official reception by Minister President, Torsten Albig, the visits to Kiel University and the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel formed the central point of the time spent in Kiel.
At Kiel University, President Ilves and his delegation exchanged views with representatives of the university about the possibilities for strengthening German-Estonian university cooperation. This took place at Kiel University's Centre for Molecular Biosciences (ZMB). The Estonian delegation was especially interested in an exchange in the field of Natural and Life Sciences, after the cooperation in other scientific disciplines has proven itself for a number of years now. Kiel University has a particularly strong position in Life Sciences with its interdisciplinary centre "Kiel Life Science". The Estonian guests were informed of the content and possibilities of the research in this field in Kiel via a presentation and a tour of the lab. President Toomas Ilves corroborated the good relations between the Estonian universities and Kiel University: "Research in Natural Sciences and Life Sciences will be of increasing importance in scientific competition in the future. This also applies for our universities in Estonia. Thus, we greatly appreciate Kiel University as a strong partner and we are seeking to intensify scientific cooperation in this field.”
University President Professor Lutz Kipp welcomed the official guest and described the relations between both countries and universities as living proof of European integration. Kipp: "I myself was in Tartu a while ago and was impressed by how successfully they implemented the construction of scientific buildings and set up research infrastructures using EU funding. I can really imagine this for Kiel, too."
The Estonian delegation, Kiel University management and the Natural and Life Science scientists involved then exchanged ideas about further options for cooperation. Professor Volli Kalm, Director of the University of Tartu, provided the Kiel hosts with an overview of the status of Life Science research at his university. This was followed by the presentation of the corresponding possibilities at Kiel University, using the example of the Centre for Molecular Biosciences (ZMB), represented by Professor Thomas Bosch and Professor Philipp Rosenstiel. "In the Baltic region, research and economy is increasingly focussing on Life Sciences - good contacts to this region are therefore becoming more important to us. We as Life Scientists from Kiel look forward to a productive exchange with our Estonian colleagues", emphasized Bosch, spokesperson for the Kiel research focus "Kiel Life Science" and deputy managing director of the ZMB, on the positive signals from Estonia.
Upon special request by the Estonian President, a discussion with Estonian students in Kiel was also part of the programme. Exchange students Evelin Pihlap and Eliisa Univer from the University of Tartu, reported to their President about their experiences at Kiel University on behalf of their fellow Estonian students.
The cooperation between universities in Estonia and Schleswig-Holstein looks back over a tradition extending to the end of the Soviet era: Since January 1989, Kiel University has been linked to the University of Tartu through a partnership agreement. Since October 1990, there is also a corresponding agreement with the then Tallinn College of Education, which has today developed to become Tallinn University. The City of Kiel, too, supports the German-Estonian university cooperation: Evelin Pihlap is a recipient of this year's 'Stadt-Kiel-Stipendium' (scholarship from Kiel), for example. With this scholarship, the City of Kiel enables six foreign students each year to complete a period of study at one of Kiel's universities.