Inauguration of the NEESPI Focus Research Centre for Non-boreal Eastern Europe - rector's opening ceremony speech

24-04-2009

Dear Guests, Ladies and Gentleman,

 

As the rector of the University of West Hungary, I welcome with pleasure all our guests from Hungary and from abroad. We have gathered for a very special event. This is the formal inauguration of the NEESPI Focus Research Centre for Non-boreal Eastern Europe.

I don’t want to talk about the institution behind the future research centre, the NORTH EURASIAN EARTH SCIENCE PARTNERSHIP INITIATIVE and its goals, because other speakers will cover this issue. Instead, I would like to talk about the potential interaction between the centre and our university and the moral and professional support which our university will provide for the new centre.

Many of you may have wondered why this NEESPI centre will be located in Hungary, at a university far from the capital. This decision was made by representatives of NEESPI at Odessa, Ukraine, in August, 2008. The decision was not made by chance. The development of the idea to specifically deal with the problem of continental Southeast Europe goes back to professor CSABA MÁTYÁS, who is a prominent representative of our university to this group. He pointed out that this region has several negative characteristics, which makes it hard to adapt to the quickly changing conditions. Among these factors are numerous economical, societal, ecological, and climatological peculiarities. The economic and political events of the past few months clearly highlighted the vulnerability of this region. Two examples are Hungary and the Ukraine.

NEESPI does not directly deal with social and economic problems. It would be, however, a mistake to forget that in Southeast Europe, due to a relatively dense population, the impact of human activities influence many aspects of earth sciences, for example the changing of climate, of the surface albedo, and of the carbon cycle.

 

Dear Guests,

The University of West Hungary has centuries’ old traditions about the wise use of the natural resources, and how natural sciences can be utilized to support the development of sustainability. This is, why we accept this Southeast European Centre as an appropriate enrichment to our profile. The practical application of earth sciences was one of the reasons that this university was founded. The initial training was in mining, metallurgy, land surveying, and forestry. They all serve the wise utilization of natural resources. The institution was founded in 1735, and its activity has been relocated to Sopron, since 1919. Since then it has become the sixth largest university in Hungary. Its ten faculties serve more than 16,000 students who are taught by a highly qualified staff of nearly 500 professors. From the original founding disciplines only forestry and land surveying have remained. Newly joined faculties greatly enlarged the spectrum and at present we teach and research in the widest spectrum of sciences.

It is natural to ask whether our faculties will give enough support to the coordinating activity of the Centre. I am sure that the answer is “yes.” The current structure of the university and its activities cover all the professional areas of NEESPI’s profile such as from geography to environmental sciences, and from hydrology to climatology. Most of the institutes which may take part in this cooperation belong to the Faculty of Forestry and the Faculty of Geoinformatics. Other faculties such as the Faculty of Natural and Technical Sciences and the Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences may also take part. The Faculty of Pedagogy will be able to add its experience in developing environmental awareness.

 

At this point I have to mention the close education and research relations with the Geodesy and Geophysics Research Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, located also in Sopron. This institution was separated from our university a long time ago, and has become a well-known base of its profession worldwide. This is demonstrated that the institution will organize the World Congress of the International Association of Geomagnetizm and Aeronomy (IAGA) this August. The preparations are directed by Professor LÁSZLÓ SZARKA.

 

Ladies and gentlemen,

You may agree with me that the professional conditions of the cooperation are given from our university’s side. From the human side, I am sure; Professor CSABA MÁTYÁS – who is member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences – was an excellent choice, since he has great experience in directing international cooperative work. In the past, he has managed European projects and international research organizations successfully. His wide intellectual horizon and cooperative personality are a real help in the work.

 

And finally Ladies and Gentlemen,

As the rector of the university, I will support him and the new centre in their work, because it is my firm belief that the challenges of the 21st century will be served by the new Focus Research Centre of NEESPI in the interest and welfare of the countries of the whole region.

 

Thank you for your attention!

 

 

Professor Dr. Sándor Faragó Rector