On Wednesday 14 April, Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš and Director General of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) Fabiola Gianotti, signed an Agreement on Latvia's accession to CERN as an Associate Member State. Minister for Education and Science Ilga Šuplinska also participated in the signing of the Agreement. In the light of epidemiological safety requirements, the signing of the Agreement took place in a virtual ceremony.
“Latvia's membership in CERN is an important step towards growth. It is our opportunity to use the scientific and technological experience gained through this cooperation in the further development of our economy and wellbeing of our citizens. For Latvian scientists, the status of the Associate Member State will widen the possibilities for participation in CERN scientific projects. This is a really important day for both the Latvian science and CERN, so I would like to thank all those who worked actively to ensure Latvia’s admission to this citadel of science, especially the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Education and Science, as well as Professor Toms Torims of Riga Technical University,” says K.Kariņš.
“A new phase has begun for the Latvian science after Latvia’s admission into CERN as an Associate Member State. Cooperation with global research centres is essential to develop scientific excellence in Latvia. CERN is at the forefront of development of new technologies, so active and targeted participation in CERN programmes and projects will open up new opportunities not only for the new generation of physicists, but also for Latvian technology entrepreneurs, physics teachers and pupils who are only taking their first steps in the endless world of kernels and particles,” says I. Šuplinska.
As an Associate Member State, Latvia will be able to participate in all CERN scientific projects, as well as training and educational programmes, and industry procurement.
“CERN is also becoming our laboratory – we will be full-fledged players at the prestigious science club where top scientists from around the world work, and where global major innovations are developing, which are changing the world significantly,” says Toms Torims, Latvian representative in CERN and Professor of Riga Technical University (RTU).
The Agreement will enter into force after its ratification by the Saeima and the completion of other necessary legal requirements. Latvia is expected to become an Associate Member State of CERN in the summer, 1 July this year.
By acquiring the status of the Associate Member State, Latvia will benefit from CERN, both in the field of education, science, economy and business. Latvia will participate in work of the Council – the organisation's top decision-making body, as well as work in CERN Finance and Science Committee. The Latvian scientists will be able to enter into employment contracts with CERN by participating in the Centre's scientific projects, while future scientists – doctoral students – will be able to develop their doctoral theses at CERN and also participate in CERN summer schools, gaining valuable experience and the opportunity to work with the world's most outstanding scientists.
Latvian pupils and teachers will be able to participate in educational programmes – visit CERN and complement their knowledge about high energy physics and the most diverse technologies. The industry will also benefit as they will be able to participate in CERN procurements by supplying the goods and services needed for the Centre. In order to help entrepreneurs, Latvia will also have its co-ordinator for cooperation with the industry whose duty will be to provide Latvian businessmen with the necessary information about CERN procurements.
In order to become an Associate Member State of CERN, Latvia had to meet a number of criteria, demonstrating that:
- Latvia has political will and adequate financial instruments that ensure meaningful participation in CERN's scientific programmes in the long term.
- The country has a strong high energy physics community, and it is sufficiently funded to fully participate in CERN’s scientific projects.
- The Latvian industry has the appropriate capacity to allow it to participate successfully in CERN procurements.
Latvia's compliance with the three criteria was assessed over five years, as well as its future outlook – what is the country's potential with regard to these criteria in the short and long term.
Latvia progressed towards its membership in CERN in a target manner, by improving the studies in the field of high energy particle physics and research in the country. In cooperation with Riga Technical University and the University of Latvia, scientists from both universities participate in CERN experiments, a new doctoral programme “Particle Physics and Accelerator Technologies” is being developed, as well as a State research programme in high energy physics and accelerator technologies has been launched.
CERN is already working with scientists from Riga Technical University, the University of Latvia and Riga Stradiņš University, by participating in important science projects, such as an experiment aimed at observing and detecting new physics phenomena using the Large Hadon Collider.
In order to coordinate the cooperation of Latvian scientific institutions, government and businessmen with CERN, an interdisciplinary national working group has been set up. Cooperation at regional level has also been developed, together with the Estonian and Lithuanian universities, by establishing the CERN Baltic Group in 2018, in cooperation with CERN and by strengthening the high-energy particle physics community in the region.