The Management Committee of Belspo (Belgian Science Policy Office), composed of ten federal scientific institutions (RMI, RBISA, ROB, KBR, State Archives, RBINS, RMCA, RIAP, RMAH and RMFAB) Belnet and the central administration, joins the numerous expressions of support from the Belgian and international scientific community regarding the armed conflict in Ukraine.
We wish to express collectively our full and complete solidarity with the Ukrainian scientific and cultural community, which, like the whole of Ukrainian society, is already today a victim of the illegal armed operation conducted by the Russian Federation since 24 February.
We would also like to express our regret and our concern to the scientific community and the Russian people, who do not show solidarity with the decisions of their current government, which is solely responsible for this. In addition to the absolute priority which must be given to the human lives which are currently at stake, we also call for the cultural and natural heritage, as well as the collections of Ukrainian and Russian museums and scientific institutes, to be respected and protected in the ongoing conflict.
However, the implementation of cooperation contracts with Russian bodies, institutions or researchers has been suspended as of today due to obvious operational and administrative difficulties. We regret this decision, which runs counter to the spirit of an international scientific community geared to the overall progress of our societies, but we owe it to ourselves to protect both our own staff and the financial interests and assets of the institutions and services that make up the Belgian Federal Science Policy, as well as those of our partners.
We hope, of course, that as soon as the geopolitical situation allows, we can re-establish constructive and open scientific and cultural relations with the Russian people, in a spirit of exchange that can only promote a free and democratic debate on ideas for the benefit of all.
The Belgian Science Policy Office will also be in solidarity with the positions and decisions of the international bodies with which it has been cooperating for years, including ESA or the European Union.
The Belgian Science Policy Office is currently examining how Ukrainian refugees and dissident Russian citizens can have easier access to research positions in our scientific institutions, so that they can continue to exercise their profession in decent and safe conditions.