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CEI Ministerial Meeting on Science in Trieste: SEEIIST project – the finest example of science diplomacy after CERN and SESAME

CEI Ministerial Meeting on Science in Trieste: SEEIIST project – the finest example of science diplomacy after CERN and SESAME
Published date: 13.12.2019 14:38 | Author: Ministry of Science

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At the invitation of the Minister of Education, University and Research of Republic of Italy, Prof. Lorenzo Fioramonti, Minister of Science of Montenegro Dr. Sanja Damjanović participated in the Ministerial Meeting on Science held in Trieste, Italy, within the Italian Presidency of the Central European Initiative (CEI).

The Ministerial Meeting, supported by the Ministry of Education, University and Research of the Republic of Italy, the Central European Initiative and the Italian National Institute of Oceanography and Experimental Geophysics, covered a wide range of topics with a focus on innovation, higher education, scientific research, and the promotion of multilateral scientific cooperation. The goal of the event, which was attended by six ministers and twelve heads of delegations from CEI countries, was to strengthen the cooperation of member countries and identify options and solutions to important regional and European challenges. In this regard, the ministers and heads of delegations of the CEI member countries discussed a comprehensive strategy for an efficient, open and sustainable research and innovation system, identifying possible solutions through which effective multilateral scientific cooperation mechanisms would be established. In the plenary session, the event covered various topics such as: science diplomacy and capacity building, Sustainable Development Goals, blue economy, artificial intelligence, etc., after which a ministerial plenary discussion ensued on promoting regional science and technology cooperation for sustainable development in CEI countries. Finally, CEI ministers adopted the Declaration on Science, which expressed, inter alia, support for the regional project of South East Europe International Institute for Sustainable Technologies (SEEIIST), pointing to the importance of science and large-scale international research infrastructures as a basic tool for connecting countries of the region.

Ministry of Science

As part of the plenary discussion entitled “Science Diplomacy and Capacity Building”, Minister Damjanović presented the SEEIIST project. In line with the theme of the session, and given that the project activity related to SEEIIST was nominated as one of the events to be implemented during the upcoming Montenegrin Presidency of the CEI, Minister Damjanović stressed that the project provided a unique opportunity for the region to utilise, for the first time, science diplomacy means within an effort to achieve a goal that would represent a significant scientific and technological breakthrough for the entire region.

“Due to its multidisciplinary nature, the project would enhance the cooperation of the sectors of science, technology and the economy and would present a platform for professional development of scientists, engineers, and technicians based on the transfer of knowledge and technology from European centres such as CERN and others. Furthermore, it would stimulate the development of complementary technologies, such as the use of alternative energy sources, development of advanced digital systems, etc.”, Minister Damjanović said.

Ministry of Science 

In the light of its upcoming Presidency of the Central European Initiative, Montenegro will be committed to strengthening good-neighbourly relations, constructive exchange of views and ideas, as well as to promoting dialogue and project-oriented cooperation among CEI member countries. Implementation of defined priorities and fulfilment of planned activities in key areas of regional cooperation will further promote the role of the Initiative as a relevant regional and global actor.

Ministry of Science 

On the sidelines of the Ministerial Meeting, with a view to strengthening bilateral scientific cooperation in the coming period, Minister Damjanović met with the Minister of Education, University and Research of the Republic of Italy, Prof. Lorenzo Fioramonti. The topics discussed included promotion of cooperation in the field of science and innovation between the two countries, as well as the support provided by the Italian science community and relevant scientific institutions in the process of implementing the SEEIIST project. Minister Damjanović also stressed the importance of the political support of Italy, as an EU Member State, in establishing the SEEIIST. Minister Fioramonti expressed his full support for the project and indicated that he would communicate with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in this regard. Damjanović informed her counterpart about the current status of “Projects of Great Importance” between Montenegro and Italy, and it was agreed to open new calls for applications in the field of mobility and cooperation with the renowned National Research Council of Italy (CNR).   

Ministry of Science 

Finally, Minister Damjanović met with Dr. Atish Dabholkar, newly appointed Director of the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), to discuss the possibilities that can be offered by the Institute in terms of capacity building for future SEEIIST users, based on the recent support received for training through the Technical Cooperation Programme 2020-2021 by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) – worth EUR 0.5 million. The possibility of holding a special expert meeting at ICTP on science diplomacy within the second phase of the SEEIIST project was discussed, under the auspices of Montenegro’s Presidency of the Central European Initiative, which will commence next year. Dr Dabholkar also pointed to the possibility of a three-month training programme at ICTP for Montenegrin students in the field of engineering and natural sciences, for which the Minister was particularly thankful given that it was a great opportunity to train young physicists, engineers, and mathematicians from Montenegro.

The text of the Declaration is available here.