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Published by: European Southern Observatory on May 07, 2009
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No. 87 \u2013 March 1997

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Chile, Mr. Miguel Insulza, and the Director General of ESO, Prof. Riccardo Giacconi, signing the instruments of ratification on December 2, 1996, in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Santiago.

Important Events in Chile
R. GIACCONI, Director General of ESO

The political events foreseen in the December 1996 issue of The Messenger did take place in Chile in the early part of December 1996. On December 2, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Chile, Mr. Miguel Insulza, and the Director General of ESO, Professor Riccardo Giacconi, exchanged in Santiago Instruments of Ratification of the new \u201cInterpretative, Supplementary and Amending Agreement\u201d to the 1963 Convention between the Government of Chile and the European Southern Observatory. This agreement opens a new era of co-operation between Chilean and European Astronomers.

On December 4, 1996, the \u201cFoundation Ceremony\u201d for the Paranal Observatory took place on Cerro Paranal, in the presence of the President of Chile, Mr. Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, the Royal couple of Sweden, King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia, the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Chile, Mr. Jos\u00e9 Miguel Insulza, the Ambassadors of the Member States, members of the

of the ESO Executive, ESO staff and
the Paranal contractors\u2019 workers.

The approximately 250 guests heard addresses by Dr. Peter Creo- la, President of the ESO Council, Professor Riccardo Giacconi, Direc- tor General of ESO, Foreign Minis- ter Jos\u00e9 Miguel Insulza and Presi- dent Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle. The original language version of the four addresses follows this introduction. (A translation in English of the Span- ish text is given on pages 58 and 59 in this issue of The Messenger.)

A time capsule whose contents are described in Dr. Richard West's article was then deposited by Presi- dent Frei with the works being bless- ed by the Archbishop of Antofagas- ta, Monsignor Patricio Infante.

Both the formal and informal
parts of the Ceremonies were de-
noted by great warmth. The event is seen as initiating a new period in the relations between ESO and its host country
Chile and the harbinger of closer scientific co-operation between Chilean and European astronomers.

The ESO Council meeting took place in Santiago on December 5 and 6, 1996. Mr. Henrik Grage was elected President of Council as of January 1, 1997, and Dr. Bernard Fort as Vice-President as of January 1, 1998, at the end of Dr. Jean Pierre Swings' term.

The Council approved the ESO 1997 budget as recommended by the ESO Finance Committee and discussed in the December 1996 issue of The Messenger. More detailed discussion of this and other Council actions will appear in the June 1997 issue of The Messenger.

Ruiz-Tagle, your Majesties, King and Queen of Sweden, Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia, Minister of Foreign Af- fairs, Don Jos\u00e9 Miguel Insulza, Se\u00f1or

Intendente of the II Region, Don Cesar Castillo, honourable Congress- men, Senators, Ambassadors, au- thorities, Members of Council, friends

Paranal, December 4, 1996
Your Excellency President of the
Republic of Chile, Don Eduardo Frei
Paranal, December 4, 1996

Your Excellency, President of the Re- public of Chile, Don Eduardo Frei Ruiz- Tagle, your Majesties the King and Queen of Sweden, Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia, your Excellency, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Don Jos\u00e9 Miguel In- sulza, Se\u00f1or Intendente of the II Re- gion, Don Cesar Castillo, honourable Senators, Ambassadors, authorities, colleagues of the ESO Executive and the ESO Council; friends, ladies and gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to welcome all of you on Cerro Paranal, the site of the world\u2019s largest optical observatory.

Our organisation\u2019s life in Chile started 33 years ago when the original agree- ment between ESO and its host country was signed under the government of President Jorge Alessandri Rodriguez, agreement which was to be supplement- ed later under President Eduardo Frei Montalva, who inaugurated in 1969 the La Silla Observatory with his son, now President of the Republic. For us it is then a special honour to welcome today members of both presidential families.

Nine years ago, in a historical meeting at the ESO headquarters in Garching, Germany, the 8 Member States of ESO united in the Council took the momen- tous decision to construct the Very Large Telescope. This decision followed a period of several years of intense discussions in the European Scientific Community; as well as in the various ministries and science committees of the ESO Member Countries.

The decision was not an easy one. Never before had a ground-based astro- nomical project of this size been pro-

posed. Never before had the scientific community of Europe, together with the funding authorities, dared to consider a ground-based research facility to study the cosmos of this complexity and cost. The positive decision to engage in this project for the 21st century started a highly elaborate process on many fronts. Within ESO a gifted group of scientists and engineers began to work on the technical implementation, invoking the latest technologies available anywhere in the world. In many cities all over Europe, industrial engineers and technicians be- gan the construction of the complex parts which would later come together as the VLT at the Paranal Observatory. In the ministries in the Member Countries, we began the long process of ensuring the steady funding and political support for this European flagship project.

Now, 9 years later, we are close to the goal of our common dreams. Despite many obstacles, we have succeeded in keeping to the plan and in just a year from now, the first of the four 8.2-metre VLT telescopes will open its eye towards the sky.

This project would not have been possible without the close and contin- ued, extremely positive collaboration, not only between the individual ESO Member States but, in particular, with the host country of this organisation, the Republic of Chile.

Mr. President, thanks to your personal support, the continued efforts of your government and of many other authori- ties in Chile, we have succeeded in transforming this mountain into what will soon become the world\u2019s most modern optical observatory. This process has not been easy, many areas have been

interlinked, and there were some stones on the road, pebbles as well as rocks, but we are now certain that soon Chilean scientists, together with their European colleagues, will reap the fruits of our joint labours. Thanks to this unique project, at the limit of today\u2019s technologies fron- tiers, Europe and Chile have come clos- er together than ever before.

The presence of ESO in Chile has given European scientists access to the clearest skies in the world and has provided Chilean scientists with the pos- sibility to interact continuously with their colleagues in the front line of research and technology. We now look forward to the first exciting results from this collab- oration at the Paranal Observatory. As I hear, there are already many discus- sions going on between European and Chilean researchers about how to best use this unique facility for the benefit of all involved.

The Members of the ESO Council and I are happy to be here today and to sense the enthusiasm which is evident in all quarters. We have no doubt that it was a wise decision by our countries to build the VLT and support this great project. The fruits will be not only in the fields of science and technology but, equally important, the understanding among peoples and nations will be fur- thered. It is a uniting aspect of all cul- tures to look up from our home planet towards the universe to admire its won- ders and to grasp its origin and destiny. Our countries may be far apart in a geographical sense, but within this project we will labour together and thereby open new horizons for all of humanity.

Muchas gracias.
Speech by the President of the ESO Council,
Dr. Peter Creola
Speech by the Director General of ESO,
Prof. Riccardo Giacconi
and colleagues, ladies and gentle-

It is a great honour for us to welcome your Majesties on this very special occa- sion: There are certain events in the development of science, which mark important achievements, or a new prom- ising departure towards, as yet, unex- plored regions.

More than 30 years ago, I had the privilege of being part of an astronomical project that soon thereafter succeeded in opening the X-ray sky for scientists.

More recently, I was fortunate enough to be associated with the development and launching of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Today, I have a feeling of excitement equal to that on those occasions, as the ESO Very Large Telescope becomes a reality. No other project in ground-based astronomy has been more ambitious, more complex and, indeed, more de- manding in resources. Few other projects in the history of astronomy have had a scientific potential of similar dimen- sions. Just one year from now, the first unit telescope of the VLT goes into operation and astronomers of the world will begin to open new vistas in this fundamental science. The VLT will deliv- er sharper images than any other optical telescope and, thanks to the enormous area of its mirrors, it will collect more photons and, therefore, reach fainter and more distant objects than any existing

facility, either on the ground or in space.

As we are now approaching the end of the construction phase, astronomers in Europe, Chile and elsewhere, are pre- paring the exciting research projects they will soon undertake with their new observatory. Many of these will take us way beyond current horizons and will enable us to search for the answers to some of the deepest questions mankind has ever posed. The VLT has the capa- bility of looking so far out in space and, therefore, so far back in time that we will ultimately reach the period, soon after the big bang explosion, when the matter in the universe had just begun to con- dense in the space islands we now observe as galaxies. The VLT will make it possible for us to look into the mysterious centres of galaxies where processes of unimaginable violence take place. The VLT will help us to understand the birth of stars, deep inside dense and, otherwise, impenetrable interstellar nebulae, ena- bling us to watch the processes that were the base of our own distant origins, 4.5 billion years ago. The VLT has the best potential of any telescope to search for, hitherto, unknown planets around other stars and, if they exist, to help us to discover other abodes of life in space.

The science of astronomy is a never- ending process which has drawn on the experience and ingenuity of countless individuals during the past millennia. Throughout the ages, scientists and en-

gineers have put their faith in the latest technology and the VLT is no exception from this. We, as scientists, are deeply thankful to all those in- and outside ESO who have helped to realise this project and, in particular, to those authorities who have provided political and financial support for this project. Without their foresight, this moment would not have been possible.

During the coming years, it will be our privilege to share with them and the rest of mankind the excitement of new dis- coveries which will be made with the Very Large Telescope. The comprehen- sion of our cosmic surroundings is one of the noblest goals of the human race. It enables us to understand and appreci- ate our niche in space and time, and it opens our minds towards fundamental truths which unite us all.

Las circunstancias me han llevado a leer el idioma de Chile, y hoy voy a aventurar algunas palabras en cas- tellano.

Quiero decirles que nuestra organiza- ci\u00f3n no solo quiere hacer ciencia sino tambi\u00e9n participar en la vida cultural de Chile. Queremos apoyar el gran esfuer- zo del gobierno del Presidente Frei para el desarrollo de la educaci\u00f3n \u2013 en par- ticular en la Segunda Regi\u00f3n. Regi\u00f3n donde la Cordillera, el desierto y su gente vive en una relaci\u00f3n mas \u00edntima con nuestro universo.

Muchas gracias.
Speech by the Minister of Foreign Affairs,
Mr. Jos\u00e9 Miguel Insulza
Paranal, December 4, 1996

Se\u00f1or Presidente de la Rep\u00fablica, don Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, sus Ma- jestades los Reyes de Suecia, Karl XVI Gustaf y Reina Silvia, Se\u00f1or Presiden- te del Consejo de la Organizaci\u00f3n para la Investigaci\u00f3n Astron\u00f3mica en el He- misferio Austral, Se\u00f1or Director Gene- ral de ESO, Se\u00f1ores Senadores, autoridades civiles, militares y ecle- si\u00e1sticas, Se\u00f1ores miembros de la de- legaci\u00f3n de Suecia, Se\u00f1ores miembros del Consejo de la ESO, Se\u00f1oras y Se\u00f1ores,

Para mi constituye un alto honor re- presentar al Gobierno de Chile en esta ceremonia y compartir con todos uste- des la satisfacci\u00f3n y la esperanza que nos produce estar aqu\u00ed participando en esta significativa ocasi\u00f3n por medio de la cual se inaugura el centro de obser- vaci\u00f3n de la ESO en Cerro Paranal. Esta satisfacci\u00f3n se origina, en primer lugar, en la importancia del proyecto que hoy inauguramos. El telescopio

VLT/VLTI ya descrito por el Presidente del Consejo y el Director de ESO cons- tituye no s\u00f3lo una expresi\u00f3n de la m\u00e1s moderna tecnolog\u00eda puesta al servicio de las ciencias astron\u00f3micas, sino tam- bi\u00e9n una oportunidad de selecci\u00f3n para profundizar en el conocimiento del Uni- verso y responder as\u00ed a las interrogan- tes que han preocupado a la humani- dad desde sus or\u00edgenes. En este senti- do, m\u00e1s all\u00e1 del considerable valor eco- n\u00f3mico de la inversi\u00f3n que hoy inaugu- ramos, es evidente que nos encontra- mos participando en un hito en el desa- rrollo mundial y nacional de la astrono- m\u00eda.

Este sentimiento de satisfacci\u00f3n des- de luego se acrecienta si consideramos el largo, y no siempre f\u00e1cil, camino por el que debimos transitar en los \u00faltimos a\u00f1os para llegar hasta este lugar y hasta esta ocasi\u00f3n. Todos conocemos las difi- cultades heredadas de las incompren- siones hoy felizmente superadas que en un momento amenazaron la concreci\u00f3n de este proyecto.

Sin embargo, creo que es importante se\u00f1alar que en todo este proceso, el Gobierno mantuvo, permanentemente, su apoyo a la ESO y a la posibilidad de que esta Organizaci\u00f3n continuara des- arrollando y expandiendo sus activida- des en Chile. Lo hicimos no s\u00f3lo por- que se trataba de un compromiso inter- nacionalmente asumido por el Estado en lo cual nuestro pa\u00eds tiene una tradi- ci\u00f3n de respeto riguroso a las obliga- ciones emanadas de tratados interna- cionales que comprometen el honor de la Rep\u00fablica, sino tambi\u00e9n porque apreci\u00e1bamos que el desarrollo de las actividades de la ESO en nuestro pa\u00eds, en un marco jur\u00eddico claro, no s\u00f3lo beneficiar\u00eda a la ciencia mundial, sino tambi\u00e9n al desarrollo cient\u00edfico de Chile y de importantes regiones de nuestro pa\u00eds.

La veracidad de este an\u00e1lisis queda hoy demostrada, pues el Centro de Observaci\u00f3n de Paranal servir\u00e1 no s\u00f3lo a las actividades de la ESO, sino que redundar\u00e1 tambi\u00e9n en beneficio de los

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