Current Discussions Between ESO and Chile
18 April 1995
Today, Tuesday, 18 April 1995, at the ESO Headquarters in Garching (Germany), Mr. Roberto Cifuentes, Plenipotentiary Ambassador representing the Government of the Republic of Chile, and the Director General of the European Southern Observatory, Professor Riccardo Giacconi, have signed a Supplementary, Interpretative and Amending Agreement to the Convention of 6 November 1963 which governs the relations between Chile and this International Organisation. This Agreement which in practice signifies a widening and strengthening of the cooperative relations between the Organisation and the Chilean scientific community will hereafter be submitted for ratification by the National Congress of the Republic of Chile (the Parliament) and by the ESO Council.
According to the Agreement signed today, Chilean astronomers will have privileged access within up to 10 percent observing time on all present and future ESO telescopes in Chile. Moreover, ESO accepts to incorporate into its labour regulations for Chilean personnel concepts like freedom of association and collective bargaining.
This signing of the Supplementary, Interpretative and Amending Agreement to the original Convention of 1963 follows after months of constructive dialogue between the parties. It constitutes an important step towards a solution of some of the pending points on the current agenda for discussions between the Government of Chile and ESO.
Among the issues still pending, ESO has informed the Government of Chile that respect for its immunities by the Chilean State is of vital importance for the continuation of the construction of the world's largest telescope at Paranal, as well as the continued presence of the Organisation in Chile.
The Chilean Government, on its side, and concerning the litigation in Chilean courts about the ownership of the Paranal lands, has repeatedly expressed that the European Organisation is not party of the juridical proceedings. At the same time, the Chilean Government has assured ESO that it will attempt to arrive in the shortest possible time at a solution which definitively resolves the question of ownership and enables ESO to continue its activities at Paranal and all its properties in Chile, without external interference of any type.
Concerning ESO's juridical immunity on all of the territory of Chile, the Government of Chile has indicated to ESO that these immunities are clearly stipulated in the 1963 Convention and that it is applicable to all properties and possessions of the Organisation, wherever they are located in Chile. Those properties, according to the Convention, should only be used by the Organisation in Chile for scientific and official purposes.
In this spirit of good will and cooperation with the Government and the people of Chile, ESO has expressed its inclination to begin a dialogue with the appropriate Chilean authorities about the use of a major part of its property around Cerro Paranal for activities of scientific character or any others that do not adversely influence the astronomical quality of this site.
The Government of Chile and ESO wish to express publicly their desire to continue to work towards the resolution of common problems in a spirit of mutual respect and full collaboration.
The signing of this Supplementary, Interpretative and Amending Agreement initiates a new era of relations between Chile and ESO in the conviction that the Chilean and European scientific communities will henceforth share the important scientific discoveries which will be done with the VLT facility at Cerro Paranal.
[Joint Press Release by the Government of the Republic of Chile and the European Southern Observatory. The text is issued simultaneously in Santiago de Chile (in Spanish) and at the ESO Headquarters in Garching (in English).]
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