SEE countries announce joint declaration on science policy

November 30, 2012, Friday/ 16:56:00/ E. BARIŞ ALTINTAŞ

Southeast European countries agreed to collaborate to reach common goals in science, technology and innovation at a ministerial meeting held in Bosnia and herzegovina in late November.

Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Turkey signed a joint declaration following a roundtable meeting on Nov. 23, 2012, in Sarajevo, an event co-organized by the Ministry of Civil Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Venice office.

The roundtable event followed an expert meeting held the previous day at which problems experienced by the 11 countries were discussed. The experts highlighted a regional need for improved research policy and funding strategies as well as to embrace a new attitude more open to change. Participants also discussed the poor quality of science news in the region and recommended measures to improve overall science literacy and encourage better and more honest coverage of science news in each country's national press.

Among other points, the ministries agreed to strive to increase budgets for science, technology and innovation; to ensure gender equality and social inclusion when shaping science policies; and to improve progress assessment methods.

However, whether all participant countries will embrace the newly adopted agreement remains open to question. A week after the meeting, it became evident that Turkey had, without even notifying its own scientists, decided to abandon its plans to become a full member of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), simply because it found the annual membership fees to be too expensive. Moldova also decreased its science-related budgets for 2013, according to a story published on Nov. 29 by Balkan Science Beat, a blog on science news in Southeast Europe.

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