Press Release

Finland to join ESO

9 February 2004

Finland will become the eleventh member state of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) [1]. Today, during a ceremony at the ESO Headquarters in Garching (Germany), a corresponding Agreement was signed by the Finnish Minister of Education and Science, Ms. Tuula Haatainen and the ESO Director General, Dr. Catherine Cesarsky, in the presence of other high officials from Finland and the ESO member states (see Video Clip 02/04 below). Following subsequent ratification by the Finnish Parliament of the ESO Convention and the associated protocols [2], it is foreseen that Finland will formally join ESO on July 1, 2004.

Uniting European Astronomy

The Finnish Minister of Education and Science, Ms. Tuula Haatainen, began her speech with these words: "On behalf of Finland, I am happy and proud that we are now joining the European Southern Observatory, one of the most successful megaprojects of European science. ESO is an excellent example of the potential of European cooperation in science, and along with the ALMA project, more and more of global cooperation as well."

She also mentioned that besides science ESO offers many technological challenges and opportunities. And she added: "In Finland we will try to promote also technological and industrial cooperation with ESO, and we hope that the ESO side will help us to create good working relations. I am confident that Finland's membership in ESO will be beneficial to both sides."

Dr. Catherine Cesarsky, ESO Director General, warmly welcomed the Finnish intention to join ESO. "With the accession of their country to ESO, Finnish astronomers, renowned for their expertise in many frontline areas, will have new, exciting opportunities for working on research programmes at the frontiers of modern astrophysics."

"This is indeed the right time to join ESO", she added. "The four 8.2-m VLT Unit Telescopes with their many first-class instruments are working with unsurpassed efficiency at Paranal, probing the near and distant Universe and providing European astronomers with a goldmine of unique astronomical data. The implementation of the VLT Interferometer is progressing well and last year we entered into the construction phase of the intercontinental millimetre- and submillimetre-band Atacama Large Millimeter Array. And the continued design studies for gigantic optical/infrared telescopes like OWL are progressing fast. Wonderful horizons are indeed opening for the coming generations of European astronomers!"

She was seconded by the President of the ESO Council, Professor Piet van der Kruit, "This is a most important step in the continuing evolution of ESO. By having Finland become a member of ESO, we welcome a country that has put in place a highly efficient and competitive innovation system with one of the fastest growths of research investment in the EU area. I have no doubt that the Finnish astronomers will not only make the best scientific use of ESO facilities but that they will also greatly contribute through their high quality R&D to technological developments which will benefit the whole ESO community. "


[1] Current ESO member countries are Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kindgdom.

[2] The ESO Convention was established in 1962 and specifies the goals of ESO and the means to achieve these, e.g., "The Governments of the States parties to this convention... desirous of jointly creating an observatory equipped with powerful instruments in the Southern hemisphere and accordingly promoting and organizing co-operation in astronomical research..." (from the Preamble to the ESO Convention).


Richard West
Garching, Germany
Tel: +49-89-3200-6276

Juha Ojanen
Opetusministeriö - Ministry of Education
Helsinki, Finland
Tel: +358 (0)9 1607 7484
Cell: +358 (0)400 669 675

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About the Release

Release No.:eso0403
Legacy ID:PR 02/04
Name:ESO Director General, ESO HQ Garching, ESO Member States
Type:Unspecified : People


Signing of the Finland-ESO agreement
Signing of the Finland-ESO agreement


Finland to Join ESO
Finland to Join ESO