Belarus prepares Antarctic program concept for 2016-2020
MINSK, 21 July (BelTA) - Belarus has prepared the concept of the state Antarctic program for 2016-2020 and for the period until 2025, Alexei Gaidashov, the deputy head of the polar research center of the National Academy of Sciences, head of the Belarusian Antarctic expedition, said during a meeting between the NASB representatives and a delegation of Russia’s Arctic and Antarctic Institute and the Russian Antarctic expedition led by head of the Russian Antarctic expedition Valery Lukin, BelTA has learned.
"We have already prepared the concept of the state Antarctic program for 2016-2020 and for the period until 2025. It has been submitted to the agencies and organizations concerned. The document should be finalized and submitted to the Council of Ministers for approval before 1 September," he stressed.
Alexei Gaidashov noted that under the concept the funding for polar research will be increased 2.5-3 times over the next 5 years. "The new program will focus on the construction of the Belarusian Antarctic station. Increased funding is due to the manufacturing, transportation and installation of the modules of the station. The Belarusian Antarctic expedition will be expanded by at least 2 persons," he explained.
He noted that the main purpose of the visit of the Russian delegation to Belarus is to discuss the mechanism for transporting the first elements of the Belarusian Antarctic station in December 2015 and financial compensation to the Russian side. "Our Russian colleagues are going to sip three sections the first module of the Belarusian Antarctic station and they do not view this assistance from a commercial point of view. But if we consider ourselves self-sufficient participants in the development of the Antarctic we must offset the transport costs to be incurred by our Russian partners.
During the visit, the parties are set to discuss a plan of scientific and logistics cooperation in 2015-2016, including during the 8th Belarusian Antarctic expedition and the 61st Russian Antarctic expedition. Valery Lukin noted that Russian scientists are ready to listen to all proposals of the Belarusian side and make their own.
The draft plan of construction of the Belarusian Antarctic station was developed in 2012 on the instruction of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus, approved by the National Academy of Sciences and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Protection, and finalized by the Finance Ministry. It is planned that the first phase of the station will be built in Antarctica by 2018. The facility will consist of 8-10 modules, equipped with everything necessary to ensure living and working conditions of polar explorers.