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Speeches, Statements

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

RA Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan’s Remarks at the Annual Meeting of RA National Academy of Sciences

Honorable RA President,
Esteemed NAS President,
Dear Colleagues,

The annual meeting of the National Academy of Sciences is a unique opportunity to discuss questions of research development and enter into dialog with the public at large. This dialog was initiated by the President of the Republic of Armenia at last year’s annual meeting. The problems raised by the President and put up for public discussion remain high on agenda.

What is awaiting the National Academy of Sciences in future? Opinion is expressed that universities rather than academic institutions should be the forefront of research. Fundamental research is said to be a too heavy burden for Armenia, preference is given to applied sciences. There are several negative phenomena in the field of fundamental research which need quick response. Some Institute are said to be inefficient in terms of promoting economic and social development in the country.

Together, we must find exhaustive and practical responses to these questions. As noted by the President of the Republic of Armenia at the latest meeting, academic institutions’ and each researcher’s performance must be assessed with international criteria.

Summing up, we can say that the modernization of the National Academy of Sciences is a task of nationwide importance. And the President’s directive on the drafting of a corresponding bill is vivid evidence thereof.

The following five postulates may help find a solution to the problem:

1. We live in a quickly changing world, therefore we must foretell developments, and reforms should respond to these changes.

What will be the new crisis-generated world be like? Has the National Academy of Sciences the capacity of forecasting situation changes? We should be well aware of social development laws, chief areas for research development and Armenia’s specialization.

Does the Academy have an idea of scientific developments on a global scale and what is the place reserved for us? And if so, what prevents us from properly presenting it to the international community?

I feel the Academy should assume responsibility in this matter. It is understood that we cannot have research capacity in all the areas of fundamental research. The response of the National Academy of sciences must live up modern challenges.

We look forward to having your support of our efforts for determination of domestic science development priorities for 2009, scheduled for public discussion in the month of September.

2. We live in a fast-contracting world which means that we are increasingly more influenced from the outer world. Scientifically speaking, this means that our strengths and weaknesses may be subject to ever greater exposure.

It seems to be obvious that the level of research is higher in Armenia than in other countries with the same rate of development.

In some areas of research, we lag far behind the modern developments, while in others we still enjoy some comparative assets.

In a fast-contracting world, the NAS should become a knowledge integrating power which means that all research operators have to be provided with appropriate cooperation tools and mechanisms.

Moreover, the NAS should be integrated with the world’s best academic centers in order to get the possibility of drawing upon our competitive assets. A key achievement is the creation of a Diaspora section within the National Academy of Sciences with 78 scientists elected as NAS foreign members from the Diaspora.

Intellectual activity is a basic process in today’s world. This means that knowledge should be at the heart of our social and economic system. Scientific achievements are present in any field of public life. Improved living standards should be fostered not only by foreign-knowledge-based, but also by home-knowledge-based products. Can Armenian scientists help us better one or another activity area, and which one specifically? Which way can our academic institutions intervene in the research-production-consumption chain? The global experience shows that fundamental research and marketing must go hand in hand. This means that the NAS ought to enter into dialog with economic entities. The preservation of spiritual and cultural assets is the most reliable way for any nation to survive in the modern world. Ethnic identity maintenance calls for most serious research in today’s globalized world. Based on social and cultural typological studies, the reassessment of our history, the preservation and development of our language and national identity are among the key problems of domestic humanities. It seems obvious that Armenology must remain a scientific priority for the Government and the NAS.

Self-expression and self-realization are the legitimate requirements of a modern man. This means that a research-friendly environment has to be created in Armenia. Any citizen desirous of getting engaged in scientific activities should be offered such opportunity. Together, we must design functional mechanisms allowing access to science for talented young people so as academic activity is no longer perceived as a means for skirting army service.

Thus, the National Academy of Sciences shall address the following five tasks:

1. Identification of development trends in this quickly changing world and determination of scientific priorities.
2. Armenian science should live up to global standards in this fast-contracting world. The NAS must serve as a pipeline between domestic research centers and the best academic institutions worldwide.
3. In an effort to promote knowledge-based society and economy, the NAS must provide the public with contemporary tools and methods of intellectual activity by adding a link of research on the chain of added value.
4. Safeguarding spiritual and cultural assets shall be a priority for the NAS.
5. Modern man’s drive for self-expression and self-realization should be attended with corresponding facilities. Effective mechanisms for transfer of knowledge have to be created within the NAS, including the ones supported by state-of-the-art information technologies.

In conclusion, I would like to prioritize those 3 objectives formulated by the President of Armenia:

1. Today cross-border competition implies competition between scientific capacities, first of all. Only those nations with powerful research potential will triumph in this race.
2. Success is conditional on appropriate environment to be created by the Government.
3. The Government shall ensure that science is perceived as an asset and vital necessity by the society.

I am convinced that only through joint endeavors we will be able to mobilize the nation’s scientific potential to bring about a breakthrough in this field.

Let we all succeed in our efforts.

Thank you.