Swiss Ambassador visiting the Institute of Physics Belgrade (IPB)


On October 17, Ambassador Urs Schmid and a delegation of the Embassy of Switzerland visited the Institute of Physics in Belgrade and spoke with the Director Dr Aleksandar Bogojević and the team of the Institute.

Swiss Ambassador at the Institute of Physics Belgrade
Swiss Ambassador at the Institute of Physics Belgrade ©Institute of Physics Belgrade

Dear Director Dr Bogojevic,

Dear Professor Adzic,

Dear Scientists and Academics,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I want to thank you for your hospitality and for the invitation extended to me and my staff to visit the Institute of Physics Belgrade. Thank you especially to the Director of the Institute, Dr Bogojevic, for organizing this visit.

It has been impressive what we have been able to see and to learn today. Let me express my gratitude for this unique experience but also my admiration for the work you are doing. As a diplomat, my field of work is quite different and I cannot help but feeling baffled by some of the advanced scientific concepts that you deal with every day.

Thankfully, there are always bridges to be found! While visiting your website before coming to the institute, my interest was piqued by one of your video episodes of the "Garden of Physics" series, depicting how to resist pseudo-science. In this video I recognized some elements that I hold in high regard and I consider vital for effective diplomacy as well, such as:

  • the refusal of censorship and aggression;
  • the necessity to communicate with the public and not staying in our own "bubble";
  • the need to understand the motivation in people’s actions and beliefs;
  • and, the use of reason and facts to convince.

Science and diplomacy are indeed more connected than we would think. The raw material used by scientists and diplomats may differ, but the mindset is similar. And, considering the enormous challenges that mankind faces today, it is crucial to bring the two communities closer together. This is why Switzerland has supported the creation of the "Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator" or GESDA Foundation. The aim of GESDA is to foster the interaction of scientists and diplomats in order to anticipate scientific and technological advancements and, based on these, to develop inclusive and global solutions for a sustainable future.

This is very much in line with a quote by one of the most famous scientist from Serbia – I am of course referring to Nikola Tesla – who once said: "Science is but a perversion of itself, unless it has as its ultimate goal the betterment of humanity."

During the very recent GESDA Summit in Geneva, the idea of developing an Open Quantum Institute was launched. Supporters of this idea include CERN, the University of Geneva, the two Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology, the ETH in Zurich and the EPFL in Lausanne, as well as the companies Microsoft and IBM. CERN’s own Quantum Technology Initiative is already actively working in this field and I am very pleased that Serbia is a full-fledged member of CERN since 2019. My sincere congratulations!

Switzerland is home of some of the best funded and renowned scientific institutions. It has been continuously ranked number 1 in the Global Innovation Index since 2011. This is due to several factors. Switzerland is among the countries with the highest spending on R&D in relation to their gross domestic product, where-by the private sector accounts for more than two-thirds of this expenditure of roughly 22 billion USD per year. However, an important key to this success is the international cooperation and the openness of the academic and scientific sphere of Switzerland. 55% of all PhD students are not Swiss, 50% of professors are not Swiss. Brilliant minds are disseminated all over the planet, science knows no borders, collaboration and communication are essential to achieve success.

As we speak, some of the most powerful nations on earth are at deep political disagreement and even armed conflict. People lose their lives every day, and the scars of the war in Ukraine will undermine the trust between many of the most advanced countries for decades to come. And yet, scientists of these same countries are currently working together on board of the International Space Station, passing over our heads every 92 minutes. They are silently demonstrating to the world that collaborative science is the way to great achievements and should continue to bring nations closer together.

I would like to thank you, once again, for hosting us and I congratulate you on the important work that you are doing here at the Institute of Physics Belgrade. I hope that your Institute will continue to work closely with Switzerland and I will be happy to support collaboration between Switzerland and Serbia in the scientific domain, wherever there is a mutual interest.

Thank you for your attention.