ESO Council Resolves to Continue VLT Project at Paranal
8 June 1995
The ESO Council has just met at the ESO Headquarters in Garching during two days of intensive consultations. Among the important items on the agenda were the recent developments around the Very Large Telescope Project at Paranal, and also the possible membership of other countries.
RELATIONS WITH CHILE
The ESO Council appreciated the continued efforts by the Government of the Republic of Chile to bring to a successful conclusion the various pending matters concerning the relations between the Republic of Chile and this Organisation. It noted the solution of serious problems which have interfered with ESO's operations in its host country, and now awaits formal confirmation from the Chilean Government that also the legal proceedings around the land dispute around the Paranal site are cleared.
Council expects that the ratification of the "Intermediate, Supplementary and Amending Agreement" will occur without undue delay and it reiterates its intention to approve this Agreement at the same time as the Chilean Parliament.
Meanwhile, Council expressed its pleasure to welcome those Chilean scientists now nominated by the Chilean Government as observers to the ESO committees.
Council instructed the ESO Management to continue work at Paranal. Although the delegates were increasingly optimistic that the VLT project can ultimately remain at Paranal, they nevertheless also requested the Management to pursue, until further notice, the ongoing comparative study of first-class astronomical sites in the world.
In connection with the pending issues in the relationship with Chile, Council remained preoccupied about the recognition of ESO's immunities by the Chilean judiciary and it requested from the Management that the assessment of the financial and other implications of the recent events which have interfered with the VLT construction work at Paranal be completed.
Finally, in order to provide additional avenues for frequent contacts, the ESO Council invited the Chilean Government to nominate a Europe-based, liaison official with the Organisation.
AUSTRALIA AND ESO
The Council delegates were pleased to hear a presentation by the Director of the Mount Stromlo Observatory (Australian National University, Canberra), Professor Jeremy Mould, about current developments around possible Australian membership of ESO.
Professor Mould, on behalf of the Australian National Committee of Astronomy (NCA), expressed the strong interest of scientists in his country to gain access to the VLT and other telescopes at ESO.
There is a long and dynamic tradition in Australia within astronomy and astrophysics and scientists in this country have made great contributions in many related fields, for instance optical interferometry and radio observations. Thus, the unique capabilities of the VLT Interferometer (VLTI) appear particularly interesting to them, and their direct participation in the development of this facility will undoubtedly be most valuable. There is also a special desire to utilize the Swedish-ESO Submillimetre Telescope at La Silla, the only one of its kind in the southern hemisphere.
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