EU and Middle-East Building Bridges through Science Diplomacy
Brussels, 13 April 2015
The EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation Carlos Moedas took today a new step towards strengthening cooperation in the Middle East through science diplomacy. To mark the EU's engagement towards building bridges between nations through research and innovation Commissioner Carlos Moedas participated in a high level conference on "Addressing shared challenges through science diplomacy: the case of the EU –Middle East Regional Cooperation" and visited the Synchrotron light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East (SESAME) in Allan (Jordan). SESAME is a unique international endeavour launched in 2003 under UNESCO auspices by Eastern Mediterranean countries to enhance scientific and technological excellence and build a culture of cooperation and peace in the broader Middle East.
Those initiatives represent a further element to confirm the excellent EU-Jordan relationships and endorse the role of Jordan as an important partner in the European Neighbourhood Policy.
Commissioner Carlos Moedas said: "Cooperation in research and innovation with our Middle East partners is a priority for the EU. SESAME is a powerful example of how science and research can bring diverse nations together. Jordan's active engagement in regional science diplomacy in hosting SESAME is extremely valuable. I am also very pleased that the EU was granted SESAME observer status with unanimity."
The Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East (SESAME) is expected to have a broad socio-economic impact in Jordan and the region. It can be used for a wide scope of applications from imaging of diseases, designing pharmaceuticals, solar cell enhancements to CO2 capture and assessing archaeological artefacts. The EU has played a major role in the development of the initiative through technical and financial assistance provided by several EU Members States and the European Commission, amounting to more than EUR 12 million. EUR 5 million have been granted by EU 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development. Owing to SESAME's nature as widely-available 'scientific user facility', the EU will provide further support to training needs and staff exchanges with other European synchrotron infrastructures.
Although it is not new in the EU context science diplomacy remains an emerging concept with a largely untapped potential. It has a particular added value in the EU - Middle East cooperation as many research and science initiatives in the region bring together countries and entities often at odds such as Iran, Israel, Palestine, Turkey and Cyprus. Being one of the EU's research priorities science diplomacy is considered instrumental in rebuilding trust, fostering understanding in the region and reaching out to youth, talent and creativity.
In the framework of his visit Commissioner Moedas opened, together with HRH Prince Hassan bin Talal, a high-level conference entitled "Addressing shared challenges through Science Diplomacy: The case of the EU – Middle East regional cooperation". Among the speakers of the conference were other distinguished personalities such as Rolf Heuer – the Director-General of CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, Laszlo Lovasz – Chairman of the World Science Forum, HRH Princess Sumaya Bint El Hassan, HRH Princess Basma bint Ali, Dr Tracey Elliott for the Royal Society, 2014 Science Diplomacy Award Holder Zafra Lerman and others.