Southeast European Networks launched within the Venice Process
In 2003, Prof. Alexander Boksenberg of Cambridge University (UK) undertook an expert mission to the main centres of astronomy in the region, on behalf of UNESCO. This resulted in a programme entitled Enhancing Astronomical Research and Observation in Southeast Europe and Ukraine, with financial support from the Italian government. Within this programme, the most important telescope in Southeast Europe was upgraded with financial support from UNESCO’s Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe (BRESCE) in Venice. Today, the Astronomical Observatory of Rozhen in Bulgaria which hosts the telescope has become a major research facility shared by researchers throughout the sub-region.
A Southeast European Astronomical Research Network has also been created with statutes drafted by its members. The network has since established a coordination mechanism for astronomical research, the Sub-regional European Astronomical Committee, which has a rotating presidency and secretariat. A large number of astronomical events in the region have been organized within this framework, some of which have benefited from financial support from UNESCO’s Venice office.
Galvanized by this success story, the Venice office went on to support the creation of a Human Genetics and Biotechnology Network which met for the first time in March 2006 at the Research Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in Skopje (Bulgaria).
The Venice office also spearheaded the establishment of a sub-regional network for Risk Assessment and Mitigation in 2007, co-ordinated by the Institute of Geodynamics in Athens (Greece), and a sub-regional Mathematical and Theoretical Physics Network, hosted by the Faculty of Science and Mathematics at the University of Nis (Serbia).