Turkey calls for free movement of scientists

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Scientists should be free to move between the EU and Turkey, according to Turkish Minister of State Mehmet Aydin.

Speaking at a meeting in Brussels yesterday (January 29), Aydin said Turkey wants to become more attractive to researchers and has eased the administrative and legal restrictions on foreign scientists. 

“We would like to see the abolition of barriers to the freedom of movement of researchers, which is also considered to be the Fifth Freedom of the EU. Turkey is open to this and we strongly encourage the EU to implement necessary regulations in this respect,” he said. 

European Commissioner for Science and Research Janez Potocnik, who also addressed the conference, argued that strengthening research ties can help move the accession process forward. 

“Increased research cooperation can be a good pre-accession tool,” he said, adding that the chapter on science and research policy was one of the first to be opened and provisionally closed during EU accesssion negotiations. 

The commissioner offered a combination of praise and criticism for Turkey’s efforts to integrate into the 7th Framework Programme (FP7) for research, describing Turkish policy in this area as “already well in step with us”. 

However, he said improving Turkish participation in FP7 would requires research to become more firmly established on the national agenda. Turkey aims to invest 2% of its GDP in research by 2010, half of which will come from the private sector. This contrasts with the 3% target set for EU member states. 

The meeting, under the banner ‘Turning Turkey into a Global Attraction Centre for Research’, was hosted by the Turkish Research and Business Organisations (TuR&Bo) and the ALDE Group of liberals in the European Parliament. 

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