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Austria to join ESO on 1 July 2008

Today, at a ceremony in Vienna, the Austrian Minister for Science and Research, Johannes Hahn and the ESO Director General, Tim de Zeeuw, signed the formal Accession Agreement between Austria and ESO, paving the way for Austria to join ESO as its 14th member state by 1 July this year.

"This will not only give the high-quality Austrian astronomical community full access to ESO's facilities, it will give Austrian scientists a say, together with their colleagues from the other member-states, in shaping the future of our science," said Tim de Zeeuw.

The signing of the Agreement followed the unanimous approval by the ESO Council during its meeting in Prague on 3 June and the decision by the Austrian Government on 25 June.

At the ceremony, Minister Hahn emphasised that the accession of Austria to ESO is a strong commitment to fundamental research and particularly to astronomy. "This sustainable investment enables Austrian science to gain access to a leading, international research infrastructure, and provides an important impulse for the attractiveness of Austria as a place for research," he said. "With the signature of the agreement today we bring a long discussion to a happy end and Austrian astronomy to new horizons."

Since the Agreement means accession to an international convention, the agreement must now be submitted to the Austrian Parliament for ratification.

"It is not possible to plan for radical changes, but ideal conditions will be created by this accession, which will strengthen Austrian and European astronomy. It is now for the scientists to use this opportunity," concluded the Austrian Minister.

Henri Boffin | alfa
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