STATEMENT OF THE 57TH GOVERNING BOARD OF THE ISTC, Dushanbe, Tajikistan, 26 June 2013
The Governing Board of the International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) held its 57th meeting in Dushanbe, Tajikistan on June 26th, 2013; the meeting was chaired by Mr. Ronald Lehman.
Representatives of ISTC Parties attending the meeting were from the European Union, Japan, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, United States of America, Republic of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Georgia, which participated in the meeting as the rotating Board member. Members of the ISTC Governing Board gathered to discuss developments with respect to the ISTC and to set the direction and priorities for future action.
The Canadian Party issued formal notice of withdrawal from the ISTC in May 2013, which will take effect, as per the Agreement, six months later. The Governing Board thanked Canada for its commitment and involvement in the Center’s operations and objectives over the past 10 years, and encouraged Canada to continue to investigate other means to engage the new ISTC being established in the Republic of Kazakhstan in the future.
The Funding Parties continued to urge the Russian party to apply an umbrella solution with respect to the tax-free and customs duty-free continued use and/or transfer of all ISTC equipment already delivered to Russian institutes and companies. It was stressed that the transfer of ownership of this equipment should not result in any tax/customs liability, either for the funding parties or for the host-country research institutes, laboratories and other entities involved. The Governing Board reaffirmed its position that, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the ISTC Agreement, ISTC, party or partner funds are not to be used to pay any tariffs, dues, customs duties, import taxes, or other similar taxes or charges imposed by the Russian Federation and the other ISTC countries of the CIS and Georgia.
The Governing Board confirmed the previous decision made by written procedure on May 23, 2013 with respect to new equipment write-off guidelines for Russian projects as follows: “The Secretariat will have the right to write-off office and non-capital equipment (equipment with a value of less than 3,500 USD per unit), immediately upon completion of all procedures of project closure if the equipment was purchased more than two years previously in the local Russian market without using ISTC custom privileges.” All other equipment can be written-off 2-years after completion of all procedures of project closure (previously 5 years) irrespective of purchase date.”
The Governing Board additionally approved applying the same policy and written procedure (as above) to be also effective for Belarus projects, contingent upon the completion of a review by the Secretariat concluding that there is no reason not to do so.
The Governing Board noted with satisfaction the draft Access Guidelines developed for ISTC documents currently being archived that will remain in Russia and asked the Executive Director to continue to finalize this document to allow these records to be accessed by approved third parties after Russia’s withdrawal from ISTC.
The Governing Board noted with satisfaction the timely quarterly payments of the outstanding loan between ISTC and the Red Star Joint Stock Company, noting that the final payment is to be made by December 31, 2013 at the latest. They also instructed the Executive Director to continue negotiations with the Red Star Joint Stock Company and Rosatom with respect to a Memorandum of Agreement between the Red Star Joint Stock Company and ISTC concerning the return of the smaller of the two buildings presently occupied by the ISTC to the Red Star Joint Stock Company. If, in consultation with the Funding Parties, the Executive Director determines it is to ISTC’s advantage, he is authorized to sign such an Agreement.
The Governing Board reviewed the presented draft Liquidation Plan, recognizing that it is a living document that will be continuously modified. The Governing Board requested the Secretariat to begin implementing aspects of the plan presented in the Executive Session for the total liquidation of the activities of the ISTC in Russia within the timeframe set forth in the July 13, 2011 diplomatic note. It was noted that the plan would need to be in conformity with the relevant provisions of the ISTC Agreement and relevant Russian legislation. The final liquidation decision will be made at the next Governing Board meeting in December 2013.
The Governing Board requested the Secretariat to prepare a report for the next CEC Meeting outlining the pros and cons of ISTC writing off equipment at institutes purchased more than 10 years ago.
Representatives of non-Russian ISTC CIS countries and Georgia continued to reiterate their position that the ISTC should continue its activities in their countries - now and beyond 2015 - on the basis of a new “Agreement Continuing the International Science and Technology Center,” presently under development. They asked the Funding Parties to continue project funding, as well as various supplemental programs, for the benefit of scientists and engineers in their countries. The country representatives expressed their readiness to co-finance programs and projects on a systematic basis, taking their respective economic situations into account.
The Funding Parties thanked the representative of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan for steps being taken to facilitate the move of the ISTC from Moscow to the Republic of Kazakhstan. The representative of the Government of Kazakhstan assured the Governing Board that a new premise is presently available for consideration and other options would be provided within the next few weeks. As a result, the Governing Board authorized the Executive Director to sign a facilities agreement with the Republic of Kazakhstan Ministry of Education and Science and their host institute, following consultations with the Funding Parties, once they are satisfied with the suitability of the offered space.
The Governing Board indicated that the current version of the “Agreement Continuing the International Science and Technology Center” requires further work and recommends that the US Party incorporate the discussed changes and then formally provide to all governments for their review by the end of July.
The Governing Board took note of the estimated budgets required for operating two offices in parallel in the Republic of Kazakhstan and Russia in 2014 and commended the Secretariat for their foresight and planning with respect to this issue.
The Governing Board approved advertising for, and hiring of, up to six additional Kazakh staff as identified in GB57-105a, only after the signing of a Facility Agreement and if funds are available in the 2013 budget.
The Governing Board approved the ISTC organization chart presented as of July 1, 2013. The Governing Board authorized the Executive Director to implement decisions agreed-to with respect to further staff reductions as identified in the Restricted Record of Decisions in a staged manner, in accordance with established ISTC procedures and applicable Russian and international law. The Governing Board authorized the Executive Director to adjust the timing of notifications to allow for changing conditions, such as the timing of the move to the Republic of Kazakhstan. The Governing Board expressed its satisfaction that additional in-year reductions previously identified in the Fellows Program were being made as described in the GB56 budget presentation.
The Governing Board reviewed the staffing and organizational plans for both the Moscow and the Republic of Kazakhstan premises, to be in effect as of January 1, 2014, and agreed to approve them as a draft which will be finalized for approval at the next GBM. The Executive Director was asked to continue to develop the plans for approval at the next Governing Board meeting.
The Governing Board approved the 2012 KPMG Annual External Audit report.
The Governing Board noted with satisfaction the successful and timely implementation of a joint ISTC-STCU initiative related to land decontamination and monitoring in view of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Accident, as well as the continuation of further detailed technical discussions in Japan between scientists.
The Governing Board approved the final Project Funding Worksheet (FS57) including 2 new Regular projects with a total value of $585,725 USD for activities in Tajikistan. It thanked the Scientific Advisory Committee cordially for the evaluation of the project proposals. It set September 25, 2013 as the deadline for the submission of project proposals for consideration at the next funding session, FS58.
The Governing Board also confirmed the previous decision made by written procedure on May 23, 2013 with respect to approving two new projects related to the Fukushima Call-for-Proposals, co-funded between Japan and U.S. Partner DOE GIPP as Regular projects as follows: #A-2071 “Advanced Polymeric Systems Providing Deactivation of Different Surfaces and Soil from Radioactive Pollutions” and #A-2072 “Remediation of Cs-contaminated soils through regulation 134Cs and 137Cs soil-plant transfer by polymeric sorbents” for a total of $500,000 USD. Additionally, the total sum for partner projects that received funding since GB56 is $5,280,000 USD for 11 projects.
The Governing Board thanked the ISTC Secretariat for their professionalism in fulfillment of its tasks during the past year. The Board expressed its understanding of the challenging circumstances under which work currently is being carried out and is grateful to the new Executive Director for continuing to effectively implement the Board’s previous decisions.
The Governing Board noted with appreciation the work of Mr. Sergey Vorobiev, over the final four months of 2012 in his capacity as Acting Executive Director and the previous five and one half years as Principle Deputy Executive Director from Russia.
The Governing Board is pleased to confirm the extension of nomination of Mr. Leo Owsiacki as interim Executive Director to October 31, 2013, as previously approved by written procedure on May 23, 2013. The Governing Board also wishes to thank Mr. Owsiacki for stepping in at a critical time in the organization’s history to both carry out the difficult task of extreme down-sizing over a short period of time and working to establish a new organization in the Republic of Kazakhstan, while maintaining operational effectiveness.
The Governing Board is pleased to confirm the extension of Ambassador Ronald Lehman as Chairman of the Governing Board for an additional year.
The Governing Board decided to convene the next Governing Board meeting in early December 2013 in Moscow, Russia.
The International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) is an intergovernmental organization connecting scientists from Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia with their peers and research organizations in the EU, Japan, Republic of Korea, Norway and the United States.
ISTC facilitates international science projects and assists the global scientific and business community to source and engage with CIS and Georgian institutes that develop or possess an excellence of scientific know-how.