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Staatssekretär Prof. Dr. Ingolf V. Hertel: Greetings on behalf of
the Senate of Berlin
Deutsch-Chinesisches Symposium der DFG "Impact of National Goals on Basic Research", Monday, 22.3.1999, Magnus-Haus Berlin
Respected Presidents, Ladies and Gentlemen,
it is a great pleasure and honour for me to welcome you here on behalf of the Senate of Berlin. Your bi-national meeting has a very challenging title: Impact of national goals on basic research. A theme of vivid political interest at the present time when every public activity in the highly industrialised nations is regarded in the light of globalisation.
You could not have picked a better location for discussing such a topic:
the Magnus-Haus in which we are convening today is not only one of the
last well conserved Barock townhouses, built in 1760 - the time of the
great Prussian King Federik II., but also a very remarkable place in
the history of science. In the 18th century the famous founder of analytical
mechanics, J.L. Lagrange worked here and in 1840 the house was bought
by Gustav Magnus, then Professor of Physics and Chemistry at Berlin
University. He did set up here a private physics laboratory, which was
also open to university teaching and which is now considered the oldest
physics lab in Germany. The regular physics colloquia which he initiated
here in 1845 formed the basis of the German Physical Society.
It is said that during one of these early Physics colloquia, about 150 years ago, in 1846 or 1847 Werner von Siemens, the brilliant engineer and Johann Georg Halske, the talented Craftsman met here for the first time. Siemens had an ingenious idea and Halske the means to put it into realisation. As a result of this kind of technology transfer (as we would call it today) the Company Siemens & Halske was founded in 1847 - a success story as we all know. It is this very kind of pioneering sprit, which we want to revive in our New Berlin. Berlin is on its way to become one of the global cities of knowledge production, knowledge communication and education.
This kind of vision for the New Berlin is indeed characteristic for the big national goals. Our most promising natural resources are based on science and technology combined with the talents, the knowledge and the skills of our people whom we must give the best possible education we can - and I believe this is also a goal of the Peoples Republic of China, in spite of the many other natural resources you have and we lack.
The organisers of this symposium, I imagine, want to illuminate this theme from the perspective of two countries with very different, but both very rich, cultural tradition and a very different history of science and knowledge. If this attempt is successful then both sides will not only have learned about each other a lot, they will at the same time also have understood more about themselves. It is this very spirit in which foreign cultures should communicate and thus profit from each others wisdom and experience.
International relations are particularly important for Berlin while developing into a modern metropolis in a world without boundaries. If you remember the recent history of this city you will understand that we are rather proud of our present international immersion and connectednes, in particular in the field of science, research and education. We have, in comparison to other German states (Länder), with 12% a rather large fraction of foreign students at our 3 universities and 12 other colleges. We want to further increase this number of foreign students since we feel that educating young people is the best way to create long lasting good and peaceful relation among nations. Consequently, our scientists and scholars are involved in more that 400 international co-operations and thus are interwoven with the world. 15 of these agreements are with institutions in China and we trust that this number will further increase. The city hosts more than 80 institutes, colleges, learned societies, archives and museums which are involved in one way or other with foreign cultures, languages and international affairs. This extraordinary density and plurality is an essential asset for this city in its new role as the German capital and metropolis in the middle of Europe. Politics, business and industry expect from Berlin as a capital this kind of interface and knowledge about foreign countries and cultures. - We have to compete here with New-York, London, Paris and Tokyo - and more and more so with Bejing and Shanghai.
The impact of national goals on basic research! Should politics try to influence the directions for basic research? Should it control the output? And if yes: which parameters should we measure and try to optimise? Which instruments are needed to allocate public funding most effectively?
I trust that you will address all these questions which I certainly cannot answer in an opening address. Just let me make a few remarks.
In this spirit I wish you a successful meeting.
Prof. Dr. Ingolf Hertel, e-Mail: Hertel@mbi-berlin.de
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