Moldova slashes science funds
Moldova has "drastically" cut its science funding for 2013 by more than 15%. This constitutes a reversal of plans to increase science spending and would bring some projects to a halt, according to Vitalie Varzari, senior specialist at the Department for European Integration and International Cooperation of the Academy of Science of Moldova.
The state parliament passed the budget for 2013 earlier this month, shaving off 50 million from its previous 300 million Lei (around US$24 million) allocated to science.
"This is, from our point of view, a bad decision, because we planned to raise investment in science, but now it has decreased," Varzari told me on the sidelines of the Ministerial Round Table on Science and Technology and Innovation for South East Europe organised by UNESCO's Venice Office, in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (23 November).
As a result some research projects will be stopped, though it was too early to say which ones.
But Varzari said part of the blame is on the academy. "We were not able to communicate science to society – and now society doesn't understand what science does for development. That's why they don't support it."
He added they are now preparing a science strategy and count on international collaboration in improving research.
There is no science ministry in the country, so the academy itself manages funds and research institutes in the country.
Moldova was one of the eleven countries whose ministers and officials signed a joint declaration on improving regional cooperation in science and innovation at the Sarajevo meeting.
Varzari said "this was an important step" but in order to implement this vision a plan of action and a fund to support it would be needed.
"The fund should support regional project proposals," he said. Moldova, for example, lacks experience in participating in the EU's FP7 projects.
"The main objective now is to construct regional partnerships on concrete projects, on very focused subjects, and to promote these regional projects on the European stage already with the consortia created in the region."
"For a small country like Moldova this is a strategy that should be taken into consideration."