noted in Chapter 4, occasionally the National Academies are cosponsors. But more often, the local academies take the lead in ensuring adequate nongovernmental representation from abroad.
Particularly important events are the biannual World Science Forums organized by the Hungarian government, which bring to Budapest hundreds of scientific leaders from all continents. Strong representation by the NAS is very useful in strengthening contacts with academy leaders and other colleagues from Eastern Europe. A forum is scheduled for November 2009 (see www.sciforum.hu).
Presidents of the academies of Eastern Europe often visit Washington. They sometimes take time to meet with the presidents of the institutions of the National Academies. Too often these visits are scheduled simply as protocol visits. Nevertheless, they can be useful in raising issues of broad concern. Greater preparation to help focus the meetings on interesting substantive issues is recommended.
Although the presidents of the NAS, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine are less frequent visitors to Eastern Europe, the foreign secretaries of the three institutions often travel to the region. They are usually requested to make presentations that include issues of scientific cooperation. These visits are well received and should continue.
As another approach, American scientists frequently turn to NATO to provide support for scientific workshops involving East European colleagues. In some cases, this mechanism can provide useful venues. However, despite political efforts to broaden NATO’s charter, the military dimension cannot be ignored. Still, since most countries of the region are NATO members, this mechanism deserves particular attention.
The agenda of the National Academies for studies that are requested by the U.S. government or by other organizations is much broader than the agenda of any counterpart academy throughout the world. More than 200 studies are initiated each year. Increasingly, international experts are invited to participate in the studies. There should be opportunities for Eastern European specialists to be on some invitation lists. Such participation would help strengthen the ties of the NAS with colleagues in an important area of the world.
Finally, the National Academies should consider sponsorship of annual regional meetings in Eastern Europe, rotating from capital to capital. Such forums organized in cooperation with interested academies in the region and co-funded by these academies could provide opportunities to exchange up-to-date information on scientific advances in selected fields,