The Office had somewhat of a precursor organization, the multilateral project “EuroFaculty”, which operated from 1993 till 2005 and aimed to build an academic exchange between other European countries and the newly formed states of the Baltics*. The new states were in need of a basis of civil servants qualified in administration and law to thrive as successful democracies on their own.
The year 2002 saw the first formulation of the new idea, with the “Baltikums-Gespräch” taking place in Greifswald. It aimed to evaluate existing scientific ties of Germany to the Baltic States and Latvia in particular. Representatives from several German government institutions and organizations were involved.
The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), who introduced the idea to the other involved institutions, named this project the Baltic-German University Liaison Office (Baltisch-Deutsches Hochschulkontor) for a multitude of reasons. On the one hand, the aim was to show, that even though the new project was settled in Latvia as the central country, Estonia and Lithuania shall be involved in the long-term as well; on the other hand, the German term „Kontor”, which has its roots in the Hanseatic trading language, was chosen to remind of the existing and continuing close relations between the Baltic States and Germany. Then as well as now, a “Kontor” was not only a place for the trading with goods but also with ideas. Through the diverse work of the Baltic-German University Liaison Office this historical relationship between the Baltic States and Germany shall be strengthened again, and create a space as well as a platform for connections and encounters.
The concept of the Baltic-German University Liaison Office was welcomed by the Ministry for Education and Science of Latvia as well as by both of Riga’s major universities. In July 2004 an agreement was signed regarding the establishment of the Baltic-German University Liaison Office. It was determined that it will be administered together by the three founding institutions – the DAAD, University of Latvia and the Riga Technical University. At the ceremonial opening of the Baltic-German University Liaison Office in June 2005 the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture of the German federal state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania was added as a fourth partner to this project and additionally, the memorandum regarding the Baltic-German University Liaison Office was signed.
The scientific events which are organized by the Baltic-German University Liaison Office during the university semesters show a high popularity. By participation in seminars, lectures, theme evenings and symposiums, interested persons can take part in different approaches to scientific topics. A big emphasis is put on the lecturers, meaning that a German lecturer as well as at least one Baltic lecturer can examine the chosen topic from different perspectives, so that a broad overview is guaranteed. Another focus is put to the diversity of the event locations, by organizing events in different Baltic cities, including a local lecturer. In the last 13 years, over 240 events with more than 11.500 participants were organized.
Since 2010 scientific institutions can apply for funding of a project idea twice a year in multiple scientific fields. For evaluation of submitted applications, which have to have at least one cooperation between a German and Baltic institution, an Advisory Board has been convened, which consists of German, Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian professors. In the past 10 years 178 projects have been funded by the Baltic-German University Liaison Office and implemented successfully. Many of them springing conferences and seminars, publishing scientific literature or making headway for the scientific community in some other way, while also attempting to make the results accessible for the interested general public.