Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to have the opportunity to deliver congratulatory remarks on behalf of the Ambassadors present here today.
My special thanks go to Minister Choi Ki-young for his kind invitation to this event. We appreciate your invitation because I assure you other ministries do not take good care of the diplomatic corps as your ministry does.
For the past several decades, we have witnessed how fast the Republic of Korea has transformed itself to become a world leader in trade, in new technologies, and culture.
The globalisation of science, technology and innovation is not a new phenomenon, but it has become more and more important and visible.
In the EU, we believe in open, inclusive research programmes. We believe that the cross-fertilisation of the most brilliant researchers (not only Europeans) will accelerate research, for the greater benefit of humankind.
This is why the EU R&D Framework programme (Horizon 2020, and tomorrow Horizon Europe), endowed with close to EUR 100 billion, is open to cooperation with the rest of the world, notably through the "association" scheme.
Let me give you one example of cross-country research cooperation:
In April 2019, the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project captured 4 images of a black hole for the first time in history. EHT consists of a huge number of universities, research organisations and affiliated institutes across the world, and this outstanding result came from their joint efforts over years. I may add proudly that EU funding for the lead scientist contributed greatly to this multilateral success story,
In addition we need cross-fertilisation of multi-disciplinary approaches, especially as the 4th Industrial Revolution is at our doorstep. Therefore we will need disruptive research, breakthrough innovations and a focus on education.
New technologies will drastically modify people's expectations, product development, organisational forms, and the way we live.
Just think about smart factories, self-driving vehicles, smart cities, digital healthcare, smart homes, and smart kitchens.
This technological transformation will make our life more comfortable and wealthy, but at the same time, whole new challenges we have never experienced and expected might appear. We will have to prepare ourselves also mentally and from the point of view of morality, values in order to make sure, that science and technology can be instrumental in influencing and improving international relations and stability, opening channels of communication and contributing to building trust. Good international relations may, in turn, facilitate effective cooperation in research and innovation.
It means there are many things we, as diplomats, should do. 'Science diplomacy' has become part of diplomacy in its own right.
As Ambassador of the European Union, I try to keep science and technology very high on my agenda, and I have never been disappointed!
There is no doubt that the Republic of Korea is a very important cooperation partner in science, technology, research and innovation, not only for the European Union but also for many other countries represented in this assembly.
Therefore I appreciate the initiative to organise today's event. I trust it will be very informative and help us to better understand how the Republic of Korea is approaching challenges through science, technology, research and innovation. I am sure it will open avenues for further joint scientific cooperation.
Once again, congratulations on your great success in organising this wonderful and meaningful event.
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