Article originally appeared in University of Tartu magazine (07.09).
It is extremely difficult to succeed in Asia without knowing the local language and culture. University of Tartu Asian Centre brings together Asian expertise which has until now been rather dispersed in Estonia, shares its experience and uses contacts of an international cooperation network to help the private and public sector, organisations or private persons with matters related to Asia.
The centre’s work is not limited to China, Japan, Korea or India, it also includes Middle Eastern countries and Turkey.
Acting Head of UT Asian Centre Elo Süld said that they wish to initiate discussion in society about the migration crisis and the functioning of Asian financial markets, initiate joint projects and participate as advisors and mediators of experts between the public sector, state structures and businesses.
“The centre can mediate the required expertise more efficiently, for example, the competence of researchers who have knowledge about the Arabic language and culture and Islam, which tends to be dispersed otherwise. This way it does not require much effort to find competent people, this information more visible and accessible,” explained Süld.
Süld added that already now there is interest in various workshops and consultations: “These topics are important for state institutions but also on the level of international communication,” she said, referring to the opening of the Estonian embassy in Beijing. China has an important role for Estonia in several areas, including export and logistics.
Elo Süld stressed that without knowledge of the local language and culture it is extremely difficult to manage in Asia, let alone to establish cooperation relations (research cooperation or developing entrepreneurship) or representations (also for tourism). “Money alone is not enough to work in that environment because the English language does not dominate in Asia yet,” she said.
All four UT faculties have contributed to creating a sustainable and internationally recognised centre of competence for Asia in Estonia. The initiators of the idea for an Asian centre include Professor of International Business and Academician Urmas Varblane and Professor of Pathophysiology Sulev Kõks who together with several other Tartu researchers are involved with Saudi Arabia, Korea, China and Vietnam through long-term research cooperation.
UT allocated 150,000 euros for the establishment of the Asian Centre.
Elo Süld, Acting Head of UT Asian Centre