Updated: 13-Nov-2001 Week of 29 Oct. - 4 November 2001

29 Oct. 2001

"Virtual Silk Highway"
for the Caucasus and Central Asia

At its meeting in Tbilisi, Georgia, on 29th October, the NATO Science Committee gave the go-ahead for funding new computer networking infrastructure for the academic communities of the Southern Caucasus and Central Asia. Inspired by the legendary trade route linking Asia and Europe developed during the first centuries AD, this 21st century project has been called the Virtual Silk Highway, and will provide Internet connections for the science and education communities of eight countries of the region through an Internet satellite network to be funded in stages by the NATO Science Programme, with additional support from a number of sources including the multinational electronics company Cisco Systems which will donate equipment. The first countries to be connected will be Armenia, Georgia, Kyrgyz Republic and Uzbekistan early in 2002, to be followed later by Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and finally by Turkmenistan in 2003.

While in Georgia, the Science Committee also held a one-day seminar for "leaders of tomorrow" at which young scientists from Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan were invited to contribute to a debate on regional cooperation and ways to encourage young researchers to take advantage of the opportunities for cooperation and development offered by the NATO Science Programme.

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