Fourth Summit Of The Pacific Alliance Takes Place At ESO's Paranal Observatory
June 8, 2012

Fourth Summit Of The Pacific Alliance Takes Place At ESO’s Paranal Observatory

Four Presidents at Paranal for signature of Pacific Alliance Treaty

The presidents of Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru met today at ESO´s Paranal Observatory in the Atacama Desert of Chile, seeing first hand the state-of-the-art telescopes and technology of ESO´s flagship site. The presidents gathered at Paranal for the fourth Summit of the Pacific Alliance, at which the Alliance´s Framework Agreement was ratified.

On Wednesday 6 June, Presidents Sebastián Piñera of Chile, Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, Felipe Calderón of Mexico and Ollanta Humala of Peru met at ESO´s Paranal Observatory for the fourth Summit of the Pacific Alliance. José Enrique Castillo, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Costa Rica and Francisco Álvarez De Soto, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of Panama participated as observers. John Baird, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, Hidenori Murakami, Japan´s Ambassador to Chile, and Virginia Greville, Australia´s Ambassador to Chile also attended as guests. This is by far the largest visit of high-level representatives to any ESO site to date.

The purpose of the summit was to ratify the framework agreement of the Pacific Alliance. The Treaty formalizes the Alliance between these Latin-American countries.

Earlier in the day President Piñera officially welcomed his counterparts, Presidents Calderón, Humala and Santos to the Summit, accompanied by the President of the ESO Council, Xavier Barcons, the Director General of ESO, Tim de Zeeuw, ESO´s Representative in Chile, Massimo Tarenghi, and the Director of the Observatory, Andreas Kaufer. President Piñera is accompanied by his wife, Cecilia Morel, and President Calderón by his wife, Margarita Zavala.

“It is a tremendous honor for ESO to receive such guests. We are very proud that Paranal has been chosen to host such an important summit for the region, and delighted to present our work to their Excellencies,” said the ESO Director General.

After ratification of the treaty, the presidents had lunch together in the Paranal Residencia, where they were joined by His Majesty Juan Carlos, King of Spain, who is on a private visit to the observatory on his last day of a visit to Chile.

Later in the day, the Director General of ESO will give the summit visitors an overview of ESO, after which the Chilean astronomer María Teresa Ruiz, winner of the 1997 National Exact Sciences Award, will introduce them to the wonders of astronomy before they start a tour of the observatory.

President Piñera arrived at Paranal Tuesday to visit the observatory. This is the third time an incumbent President of Chile has visited the observatory, since its official inauguration in 1999 by President Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, and the 2004 visit by President Ricardo Lagos.

After an introduction to ESO´s work by the Director General, President Piñera met with ESO staff in the Residencia, and later experienced the atmosphere of observing with the most advanced visible-light telescope in the world from its control room, where he had the opportunity to actively engage with staff and help conduct observations with the VLT Survey Telescope.

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The Pacific Alliance´s aim is to promote regional integration and higher growth, development and competitiveness between the Member Countries of the Alliance, with the aim to move progressively towards the goal of achieving free movement of goods, services, capital and persons.

The year 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the European Southern Observatory (ESO). ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organization in Europe and the world´s most productive astronomical observatory. It is supported by 15 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. ESO carries out an ambitious program focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organizing cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world´s most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and two survey telescopes. VISTA works in the infrared and is the world´s largest survey telescope and the VLT Survey Telescope is the largest telescope designed to exclusively survey the skies in visible light. ESO is the European partner of a revolutionary astronomical telescope ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. ESO is currently planning a 40-meter-class European Extremely Large optical/near-infrared Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become “the world´s biggest eye on the sky”.