Speech by Minister of State Cornelia Pieper at the opening ceremony of the “Science Tunnel” science exhibition in Moscow

10.04.2013 - Speech

-- Translation of advance text --

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great honour and pleasure for me to open the new Max Planck Science Tunnel here in Moscow today. This unique scientific exhibition, which will also be shown in St. Petersburg, is undoubtedly an absolute highlight among the wide variety of engaging events marking the Year of Germany in Russia. A number of high-profile events have taken place since June 2012, not only in Moscow and St. Petersburg but also in different regions of Russia. We are delighted at the enthusiastic response that has greeted them.

At this point I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to all those who have contributed to these projects’ success. I would particularly like to mention the Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations and the Goethe-Institut, as well as our Russian partners. The Year of Germany is not a one-way street: at the same time, Russia is hosting a Year of Russia in Germany featuring a series of equally impressive events.

This year of cultural exchange is an expression of the quality and depth of our relations. Our cooperation with Russia today is broad-based and varied; our societies and economies are closely intertwined. Russia and Germany are also strategic partners. We share many common interests; we can only resolve the conflicts and crises in today’s world if we work together.

Exchange between the citizens of our countries is the key to further intensifying our bilateral relations. A thriving network of civil society contacts has blossomed in recent decades.

Intensive ongoing dialogue has grown out of this network: dialogue between countries, cities and towns; between NGOs, churches and associations; and between pupils, students and scholars. Difficult topics are also tackled; differences of opinion are discussed openly. Only through unhindered free exchange can an open democratic society continue to burgeon. Only through opening-up and exchange can we harness the opportunities of globalization for our citizens and companies. The Year of Germany in Russia is intended to contribute to these endeavours.

Our joint motto is “Germany and Russia – shaping the future together”. Education and science play a vital role in shaping the future, and our bilateral relations in this area have a long tradition to look back on. In the eighteenth century German scientists were among the founders of the Russian Academy of Sciences; conversely, renowned Russian scientists such as Mikhail Lomonosov and Sofia Kovalevskaya lived, studied and researched in Germany for many years. Today German-Russian cooperation in education, research and science is a cornerstone of our partnership.

Impressive numbers offer ample proof of this. 13,000 Russians are studying at German universities, and 2600 of them hold German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) scholarships. We hope that in return more and more German students will also decide to study in Russia. There are currently some 600 higher education cooperation programmes, and the number is growing every year.

Russia is our most important foreign partner in major international research projects such as the European X-Ray Laser Project XFEL in Hamburg and the FAIR accelerator facility in Darmstadt. Russia has also made a substantial financial contribution of some 500 million euros to the two projects.

German scientific institutions are an important contact point for Russian students, scientists and research institutions. The German Academic Exchange Service, the German Research Foundation and the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres have had their own offices in Russia for years. The German Historical Institute in Moscow has been researching both countries’ history since 2009.

Today the German scientific organizations in Moscow reside – still virtually – in the German Science and Innovation House in Moscow.

Through the German Science and Innovation Houses, Germany is creating beacons of research and academic relations policy at selected locations around the world. They serve, on one hand, to showcase Germany as a location for research and innovation. On the other hand, they enable us to use our network in the fields of science, research and academic training even more constructively to the benefit of both countries. The German Science and Innovation Houses foster expert exchange and dialogue in their host countries through joint events and projects, as well as being a key source of advice for German and non-German researchers and businesses.

Although the German Science and Innovation House in Moscow is still in the planning stage, the consortium under the leadership of the German Academic Exchange Service is already doing noteworthy and high-profile programming work. I am confident that we will also find a good solution to the issue of finding a physical location.

We’ve come together here today to open the new Science Tunnel, a project which is an excellent form of promotion for the ever-closer cooperation between Germany and Russia in the areas of innovation, technology and research. The new exhibition is the third generation of the Science Tunnel, which is the only project of its kind in the world.

Globalization and internationalization are important touchstones for the new Science Tunnel. This multi-media exhibition informs viewers about the significance of science and innovation for our global future. At the same time, it presents a kaleidoscope of high-level German research. Fascinating insights from cutting-edge research are combined with sophisticated design to show us that Germany is a dynamic and vibrant place of science, a place that attracts young talent both from within and from abroad.

Our future needs more creative thinkers: young people who are driven by curiosity to advance the boundaries of our knowledge ever further and enter into uncharted scientific territory. Our task is to constantly reawaken this thirst for knowledge. What science means above all today is cross-border cooperation. That is why the joint development of our scientific relations with Russia is especially important to us.

I am pleased that the new Science Tunnel 3.0 is making its first international appearance here in Moscow. Moscow is the ideal first site for this exhibition in Russia – not only as the capital and hub of higher education and scientific institutions, but also because the Artplay exhibition centre is a well-chosen site in terms of reaching creative minds. I would like to thank all the participants whose great dedication made this exhibition possible, especially – of course – the Max Planck Society. Thank you too to the German companies Siemens and Volkswagen, who have clearly done a lot for this project.

I hope we will all greatly enjoy viewing the exhibition. Thank you very much for your attention.

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