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Commission confirms support for International Science and Technology Centre

The European Commission has confirmed its support for the International Science and Technology Centre (ISTC) in a Communication adopted on 8 January 1997. The Communication provides an overview of the success and achievements of ISTC during its first two years of operation and...
The European Commission has confirmed its support for the International Science and Technology Centre (ISTC) in a Communication adopted on 8 January 1997. The Communication provides an overview of the success and achievements of ISTC during its first two years of operation and calls for, among other things, sustained funding for ISTC under the TACIS Programme, cooperation between potential EU industrial partners and the civilian and former military industries of the Russian Federation and the New Independent States (NIS), as well as the deployment of further human resources.

The ISTC, based in Moscow, grew from a German initiative, launched in 1991, aimed at creating an international programme to provide financial support to scientists in the former Soviet Union. The Centre itself was established by the end of 1992 in a joint collaborative effort between the United States of America, the European Union (replacing the individual participation of Germany), Japan and the Russian Federation. It has since expanded to include other East European countries, namely Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

The break up of the USSR brought an abrupt halt to activities in the development of weapons of mass destruction. This left many of the scientists and researchers working in this field virtually redundant and led to fears of an exodus of these scientists to rogue countries eager to exploit their know-how for the development of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.

The ISTC finances and monitors science and technology projects involving scientists from the former Soviet Union, especially those with expertise in developing weapons of mass destruction, thus giving them opportunities to adapt their skills and redirect their talents to civilian activities. These activities include the development of improved methods for the management of nuclear waste, vaccines for bacterial and viral diseases, new treatments for cancer and heart disease and new concepts for energy production in the future.

Figures in October 1996 showed that, after two and a half years of operation, the ISTC had provided ECU 96 million to fund 324 projects benefiting some 15,000 scientists directly, of which 3,000 had been hard core military researchers. The average size of an ISTC project is ECU 300,000, most of which goes directly towards paying the research teams salaries in hard currency.

The European Union plays a very important role in this initiative, not least in its financial contribution, which almost matches that of the United States. Since 1994, the European Union has provided the ISTC with some ECU 45 million through the TACIS programme, which provides know-how to foster the development of market economies and democracy in the New Independent States (NIS).
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