Working visit of the President Armen Sarkissian to the Swiss Confederation
President Armen Sarkissian, who is in Switzerland on a working visit, on June 24 in Zurich participated at the opening ceremony of the STARMUS science and art international festival. The festival, which unites scientists, astronauts, musicians, and Nobel Prize Laureates, strives to inspire and educate a new generation of researchers.
The STARMUS 5th festival this year is attended by 7 astronauts - participants of the Apollo space shuttle program, 12 Nobel Prize Laureates and famous representatives of the arts who discuss in particular issues related to microbiology and biochemistry, astrology, and neuroscience.
The festival was opened by the author of the idea and main organizer, the Armenian astrophysicist Garik Israelian who is working at the Astrophysics Institute on the Canary Islands.
The EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Carlos Moedas made a statement.
The President of Armenia in his welcoming remarks assessed the festival as a fantastic event which unites scientists and artists. “People think that this is no place for us, politicians. But I am here for a couple of reasons. I will name the first one a “dream”, because Garik is a dreamer. He is dreaming of wild things and they become true,” President Sarkissian said.
Speaking about another component of the STARMUS – art, particularly about the impact of music, he noted that the Berlin wall and other walls were way too low to stop music. “I believe that music had enormous influence on the world, in changing Soviet Union, in making many nations, including my own nation, free and independent.”
He named «STARMUS and Armenia» as the most important reason for attending the festival. “I invite the next, sixth STARMUS to come to Armenia. We will be happy to see you all – scientists, Noble Laureates, astronauts, musicians, artists, and political figures- in Armenia,” President Armen Sarkissian underscored and noted that Armenia is one of the most ancient civilizations of the world. “I will be happy to show you special educational sites because your topics – technologies, music, education, bring science closer to the people.” The President spoke also about Yerevan, which is more than 2800 years old, as well as about the Metsamor – the observatory from the Urartu period and noted in particular, “Armenian were looking into the sky 4500 years ago and registered the data on the stones. I would also like to show you the famous Byurakan observatory. Armenians appreciate science and education.”
Armen Sarkissian presented new presidential initiatives. One of them is called ATOM (Advanced tomorrow) and will have several components. It is planned that the initiative will include also a science and technology city where major international organizations will be represented, as well as research centers and universities, along with the Museum of the Future which will be not about the science and technologies of the past but of the future. Another “Big Explosion” initiative is a new presidential award.
President Sarkissian noted that it would be awarded annually for the achievements in the areas of innovation, science, technologies, and education which would have the effect of an explosion for the 21st century. President Armen Sarkissian invited the founders and members of the STARMUS – renowned musicians, scientists, and astrophysicists to become members the Board to select the winners of the next year award.
In the framework of the festival in Zurich, during the special ceremony the names of the Stephen Hawking medal winner for year 2019 were announced. The medal named after the world-famous British theoretical physicist is awarded to those who contributed to the science, made scientific achievements and disseminated science through arts.
President Armen Sarkissian in Zurich, in the framework of the STARMUS science and art international festival conversed with the renowned American theoretical physicist, Noble Laureate Kip Thorne.
The interlocutors exchanged views on the role of science in the contemporary world and trends in technological development.
President Sarkissian invited the world-famous scientist to visit Armenia in the framework of the STARMUS 6th Festival.
In framework of STARMUS science and art international festival in Zurich, President Armen Sarkissian conversed with the EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation, and Science Carlos Moedas.
They spoke about Armenia’s integration into the European research realm, becoming a direct participant to the scientific research on the global level, and on Armenia’s opportunities to play an active role in the research and works aimed at the resolution of the contemporary social challenges. They also discussed possibilities of a wider cooperation in the framework of the EU Horizon 2020 program which is aimed at the development of research and innovation areas.
President Armen Sarkissian, who is in Switzerland on a working visit, in the framework of the International STARMUS festival in Zurich met with the founder and General Director of the Kaspersky Laboratory company Evgeni Kaspersky.
The interlocutors discussed opportunities of expanding cooperation between Armenia and the Kaspersky Laboratory, including the idea of establishing a joint venture. In pertains in particular to the President’s new initiative ATOM (Advanced tomorrow). It is envisaged that in the framework of this initiative, which comprises several components, a science and technology city will be created where major international companies will be represented, as well as research centers and universities, and the museum of the future.
President Sarkissian, who is in the Swiss Confederation on a working visit, participated in Zurich at the panel discussions held in the framework of the STARMUS international festival of science and art. World-famous scientists, astronauts, Nobel Laureates presented their views on the agenda items. In his statement Armen Sarkissian said in particular, “To live a full life, we need to learn something new every day, need to discover, to love and be creative. Any mission begins with a dream, then it becomes a strategic plan which in its turn becomes a mission for the entire nation. I am confident that we have a mission to make our country a technological, scientific and educational center: We have all prerequisites for that.” In the framework of the STARMUS festival.
President Sarkissian also had meetings with some of the participants.
Armen Sarkissian met with Francisco Sanchez, Director of the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands and discussed opportunities of cooperation with the Byurakan observatory.
With the renowned Canadian physicist, 2018 Noble Prize winner Donna Strickland President Sarkissian spoke about the role of science and current development trends.
The interlocutors underscored the importance of encouraging and inspiring the young people who work in science. As an example, the President of Armenia highlighted scientific achievements of Donna Srickland and assessed as outstanding her contribution to the area of pulsed lasers. Scientific and technological progress as well as the cooperation with Armenia where the main topics of the President’s conversation with the founder of the Nest Labs company Tony Fadell. Tony Fadell received the 2017 RA Presidential Award for his global contribution to the area of information technologies.
After the meeting, responding to the questions related to the importance of STARMUS, President Sarkissian noted that bringing together world-famous scientists, Nobel Prize Laureates, over a dozen of astronauts (particularly astronauts of the famous Apollo mission) and renowned musicians is a means of making science more popular and attractive. “The STARMUS festival is a venue where art, science, astronomy, great scientists, great musicians come together,” President Sarkissian said.
“The exploration of the universe, along with the scientific value, forms and methods, which are being employed to understand it, has another kind of beauty. Thus, it is also an art and in a sense has an absolute harmony which can be found also in music.”
In the framework of the scientific and technical development discussions, the President of Armenia said in particular, “When a nation has a mission, it gathers all its potential in one place to achieve that goal. I believe that our nation has a goal to become a technologically and scientifically advanced country.” He noted with satisfaction that many children in Armenia want to be software engineers. “I wish they would dream of becoming not only software engineers but also scientists – mathematicians, physicians, chemists, biologists, or experts of artificial intelligence because the future belongs to them. To make these professions attractive, much should be done by the president, by the government, and by the state in general,” Armen Sarkissian said. He viewed as important for the young people to get excited and understand that scientific work is not a duty. “Working in science or technology areas should be a pleasant thing. At the same time, they should feel that are engaged in the most contemporary, most interesting activity which enjoys everyone’s deep respect,” President Sarkissian said. “The Nobel Prize is one of the world’s greatest award in science; However, there are individuals present in this hall who are famous artists, musicians. And they bow to the world’s greatest scientists.”
Speaking once again about the proposal-invitation to hold the next STARMUS in Armenia, Armen Sarkissian noted that it would be another opportunity to present our country to the international community. In this way, Armenia will become a meeting point for the world-famous scientists, Nobel Prize Laureates, astronauts, and great musicians. “I hope that the 6th STARMUS will inspire our young people to engage not only in music and arts but also in science,” the President of Armenia said.
The meeting was organized by the Geneva Chamber of Commerce, Industry, and Services. The Director General Vincent Subilia noted that Armenia has great ambitions to become a leading country in technology and innovations. “It’s a great honor to receive the President of Armenia in the Geneva Chamber of Commerce which for 115 years has been providing counsel to the business community,” the Director General of the Chamber said. “Last year, I had the honor to visit your country and listen to your wonderful speech at the TUMO center, at the economic forum which took place in the framework of the Summit of Francophonie. It was pivotal for comprehending what Armenia can offer to the world.”
Vincent Subilia added that he read carefully President Sarkissian’s interview to Financial Times and is confident that Armenia is truly a startup country of the 21st century. According to Mr. Subilia, a meeting with the President of Armenia is a unique chance to listen to him and to speak about opportunities of the two countries and perspectives of cooperation.
“Please feel at home here, in Geneva. You are a scientist, and now you’re at the internet’s native land; you are also a gifted diplomat while Geneva is the center of global governance. And I am confident that because of these two factors you can call Geneva your home,” Director General Vincent Subilia said. In his remarks President Sarkissian stressed the importance of having a mission for peoples, nations, and countries in this world and noted in particular, “A nation or a person with no mission is lost. Missions bring people together to achieve success.” In this context, speaking about Armenia, President Sarkissian said, “I, for instance, have a mission to work together with UNESCO to make the Matenadaran – the institute of ancient manuscripts, the greatest international center of ancients cultures and manuscripts. Another mission is to rebuild the second city of Armenia, Gyumri which was devastated during the 1988 earthquake. I would like to bring it back to life, to boost tourism because Gyumri is a wonderful city which has a unique culture.”
The President of Armenia told about two more initiatives. One of them aims at making Armenia a hub for new technologies and science. “The future in every area – agriculture, space, food production or watch making will be based on new technologies,” President Sarkissian said. “I wish, I dream, I have a mission to make Armenia a hub for artificial intelligence and new technologies. In this, we can be successful. The other program is called ATOM. It will be in a form of a scientific park where children will come. Another part of it is the Museum of the Future.” President Sarkissian said that a tentative agreement has been reached with a number of leading companies – Dassault, Thales, and works are underway with Safran, Leonardo, Elettronica, universities of Heidelberg, Cambridge, and Skolkovo. President Sarkissian’s another mission is to make Armenia a food security hub.
“It doesn’t mean that we will be producing much good but rather will become a hub where food can be assembled. Armenia is a member to the EUEA, logistical conditions are being created with China in the framework of the One Belt, One Road program,” President Sarkissian said. The participants of the meeting discussed the opportunities of cooperation with Armenia during the ensuing Q&A session.
Crans Montana Forum is a prestigious platform which is cooperating with the UN, UNESCO, EU, NATO, Council of Europe and other international organizations.
The main topics of the 30th session of the Crans Montana Forum are peace, current challenges to development and stability, and encouragement of the efficient cooperation to thwart them. Just like every year, the session is attended by the heads of state and government, ministers, MPs, representatives of international organizations, diplomats, entrepreneurs, and experts from over 100 countries.
Meetings held in the framework of the Forum present the entrepreneurs and state representatives with the opportunity to network and strengthen partnership relations. In his opening remarks, the founder and Honorary Chairman of the Crans Montana Forum Jean-Paul Carteron addressed the President of Armenia: “It’s a great honor to have you here, because you are one of those who know what to do to improve the situation in the world and to take efficient steps for the peoples.”
In his speech, President Armen Sarkissian thanked for the invitation to participate at the prestigious Forum and noted that for the last 30 years it has been gathering under one roof prominent state figures, analysts, leaders, and entrepreneurs to discuss the world’s current and future challenges. “Thirty short years but also a huge period of time,” President Sarkissian said. “In these thirty years, the world has undergone great changes: Empires collapsed, new countries appeared. In these 30 years, we have probably lived one hundred years’ life. Thus, my congratulations for the Forum’s achievement – 30 year of practical policies, and I hope that one day this wonderful Forum will be held in Armenia.” Speaking about the key issue of the Forum – whether peace, development, and stability are becoming just a dream – President Sarkissian said that the answer is no. “For peace, development and security to be a reality and not a dream, we all need to become part of them, need to believe that every day we are moving towards peace, that development is irreversible, stability is attainable. I believe, we ourselves need to change first to come back to peace, development and stability; we need to understand one simple thing – the world is different. It is different from what it was 30 or 50 years ago. It is different not only because the Berlin wall was torn down, the Gold War ended, or there were financial crises or a number of significant events. It is different because we entered the 21st century. Some would call it the fourth industrial revolution but I would call it the era of a rapid evolution when technological revolutions are taking place every day, every month, every year. Our life will be changing very fast.”
President Sarkissian noted that in fact we were entering a new world where technologies were changing and developing rapidly. “We are standing at the gateway of a new world where 7 billion people have 55 billion connections. Each of us has on average 7-9 internet connections. Tomorrow it might become 10, then 15… This is a world where entertainment occupies a greater space. The rules of the game have changed. We need to think how to live in a new world because many of the fundamental ideas entertained by us through the years and which pertain to human rights, democracy should be treated as entertainment and not because they are less valuable but because of the changes that have taken place. We live in a world where democracy is used not only during elections but every day through Facebook and Twitter. And societies respond to it every day.”
According to Armen Sarkissian, the world, which we are entering, will be totally different, thus we need to change ourselves, we need to clarify our human values in the 21st century. “When we have done that, we won’t be afraid of the everyday changes, of the unpredictable world because it will allow to understand what to anticipate and how to act in the new world,” the President of Armenia said and added, “My message is the following: Let’s accept that the world is different now. It will be different every day. The value, which will be important for us, is the adaptability to the changes. We need to change not every decade or centennial but every day – that’s the command of the world.
Not only as the President of Armenia but also as an Armenian and just a human being, I am confident that small, too, can be successful especially in the new world where the major companies are not those engaged in natural resources but Apple, Facebook and many IT companies. We are entering an era where a startup idea can be even more powerful than anything else.
We are a small country but a global nation. We are ready for the 21st century because we have a global network. Armenia is a country of hardworking people, people which can bring new technologies to our country. I am confident that the 21st century can be the time not only of superpowers but also of successful small states. Countries like Armenia have to have a mission. It unites the nation. One of my country’s mission is to become a world leader in the area of artificial intelligence and technologies. Small can be beautiful. Armenia is a beautiful country; it can also be successful. I am optimistic.”
President Armen Sarkissian, who is in Switzerland on a working visit, met with Gert-Jan van den Akker, the President and Executive Director of Cargill - one of the world leaders in food production.
President Sarkissian stressed the importance of a possible arrival of the economic giants such as Cargill to Armenia and noted that our country possesses adequate potential and capacities for the cooperation in the area of food production and food security.
President Armen Sarkissian, who is in Switzerland on a working visit, met with the Head of the Geneva Red Cross Matteo Pedrazzini.
President Sarkissian expressed his gratitude to the Geneva Red Cross for the humanitarian activities and programs implemented in our country which are targeting mainly the vulnerable groups.
They also discussed the Red Cross charity fundraising, which will take place come October in Geneva, whose proceeds will be channeled towards the implementation of humanitarian programs in Armenia and other countries of the world.
President Armen Sarkissian, who is in Switzerland on a working visit, met in Geneva with a delegation of the Global Leadership Foundation (GLF) which comprised the former President of Switzerland Micheline Calmy-Rey, US Permanent Representative to the UN in 1989-92 Thomas Pickering, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations for 2011-2017 Hervé Ladsous, and the GLF Projects Director Amitav Banerji.
The representatives of the GLF assessed as useful and important the recent visit to our country, which they had conducted at the invitation of President Sarkissian, during which through different meetings, discussions, and exchange of opinions they were able to get informed how and in what areas they could assist Armenia in its advancement.
Stressing the importance of strengthening democratic institutions and values in the process of the country’s development, President Sarkissian noted that with this regard the counseling of the Global Leadership Foundation can be useful and valuable.
The Global Leadership Foundation is an independent structure which assists political leaders all over the world, bringing to them the experience of former heads of state and government, high-level officials, and renowned figures.
Since its establishment in 2004, the GLF has been providing counseling in many areas. Members of the Foundation are former high ranking officials and leaders. President Armen Sarkissian was a member of the GLF Board in 2006-2013.