Mr. President of the Swiss Confederation,
Mr. President of the Republic of France,
Mr. Director General,
Mr. President of the CERN Council,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to warmly thank the Director General and the President of the Council for the kind invitation to participate in this ceremony, in which we are marking the 50th Anniversary of CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research.
I would like to convey to the President of the Swiss Confederation, Mr. Joseph Deiss, and to the President of the Republic of France, Mr. Jacques Chirac, how pleased I am for attending this event that commemorates a milestone of paramount relevance for European science.
In a way, the United Europe that we are building today was, in many aspects, anticipated 50 years ago by the founding fathers of CERN.
This intelligent, ambitious and far-reaching initiative has crystallized in the undisputed achievements we are celebrating today.
My first words of recognition go to those visionaries who, half a century ago, were convinced of the richness of a united Europe and who devoted their lives to put this initiative under way. Among those aforementioned, I wish to name François de Rose, who honours us with his presence here.
The stakes were high, the challenge formidable. Nonetheless, it proved to be worthy and there is no better testimony than the splendid reality we can contemplate today.
This ceremony is very significant to me. I have always expressed a special interest in the development of R&D as a key factor towards progress. Moreover, I have paid close attention to the fertile evolution experienced by CERN. This 50th Anniversary brings to my memory the great satisfaction and expectation I felt when I had the pleasure of participating in CERN’s 30th Anniversary in 1984.
I wish to take a couple of minutes of your attention and share with you a few recollections of that memorable visit.
I recall the enthusiasm we all experienced with the discoveries that were recognized in due time with the Nobel Prize. Today, twenty years later, I am most pleased to reiterate my congratulations to Carlo Rubbia and Simon van der Meer for their extraordinary achievements. Congratulations that I extend to Georges Charpak who was also awarded with the Nobel Prize in 1992.
On that occasion, I was greatly impressed by the magnitude of the research facilities of the site. Since then, they have increased to such an extent, that they harbour the most advanced experiments in the field of the Particle Physics.
In 1984, I also noticed that the sense of fulfilment of the European scientists in that area was on the rise. There was a sentiment that a turning point was taking place in the world leadership of Particle Physics.
In a way, Europe was regaining the vintage position it had held during the early decades of the twentieth century.
Twenty years later, I am proud to see that those hints of success have become a reality. CERN is currently the leading Particle Physics laboratory in the world, a centre of excellence that attracts world experts in the field.
However, CERN has not only excelled in its scientific mission and in promoting international cooperation. It has also had large social impact as a result of the application of knowledge created at the Organization, which at its turn has strengthened innovation in the European industry in several fields such as health, energy, material science and information technologies. As an example, in 1992, Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, a magnificent tool that has had a formidable impact on science, technology, communication and social relations.
More recently, CERN has launched an ambitious initiative related to the challenging problems of data analysis. Its implications are difficult to gauge for the time being but will certainly surpass present expectations.
The important programme of collaboration with Latin America, in particular the creation of CERN-Latin American School of High Energy Physics, is very dear to Spain and is fully and generously supported by the Spanish Government.
I would also like to mention the close interplay and cooperation that exists between external users (over six thousand worldwide) and the CERN staff. This interplay is one of the richest values that make this Organization so distinct.
All in all, I believe CERN has successfully fulfilled its four basic mandates: to excel in scientific achievements, to perform technological breakthroughs, to foster academic training and to strengthen, by all means, all possible links among nations willing to peacefully cooperate in scientific and technological activities.
The credit to all these achievements has to go to CERN’s former and current leaders, scientists, technicians and administrators. Their dedication, perseverance and professionalism deserve our deepest gratitude and appreciation. They have had to face many technical and financial difficulties during these years.
In these last twenty years, CERN membership has grown from thirteen to twenty States. Many of the last newcomers became Members before joining the European Union in May 2004. I am certain that their contributions to the endeavours of the Organization are of great added value and have, as in the case of Spain, beneficial effects at home.
Spain started to discharge its duties at CERN as a permanent Member many years ago. We went through difficult periods, but the enthusiasm and dedication of talented generations of young researchers, and the support of the various administrations, have succeeded in bringing this scientific discipline to its present level.
Since then, the number of Spanish experimental groups and scientists has multiplied fourfold and sixfold, respectively. The investment in Particle Physics in Spain has multiplied by twelve, and the Spanish presence in the Organization has increased. Also, the Spanish technological return from CERN is today satisfactory and balanced with those of other Member States.
Nevertheless, in spite of these achievements, Spain has still not fully exhausted the potential of the scientific, technological and educational opportunities that CERN offers.
Supplementary efforts have to be made both by Spain and the Organization to achieve this goal, and raise awareness among our administrations, private sector, academic world and society of the great benefits that high-quality investigation and technology have for us.
Spain reaffirms its firm commitment to the goal of putting Europe at the forefront of scientific and technological development. CERN is the most decisive effort undertaken by Europe to place it in the first line of investigation in one of the most important fields for science: Particle Physics.
Hence, Spain attaches increasing importance to this Organization. It has become the main recipient of public investment in these fields.
I can assure you all that Spain will remain deeply committed to the goal of assuring for CERN a successful future, as brilliant as its rich history we are proudly celebrating today.
Thank you for your attention.