Official visit to Greece by State Secretary Martina Hirayama to focus on education, research, innovation and archaeology

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On 19 July, Martina Hirayama, State Secretary for Education, Research and Innovation, held official talks in Athens with the Minister for Development and Investment, Adonis Georgiadis, and with the Minister for Education and Religious Affairs, Niki Kerameus. She also visited the an excavation site of the Swiss School of Archaeology in Greece (ESAG), which has received federal support since 2008.

State Secretary Hirayama’s meetings with Development and Investment Minister Adonis Georgiadis, who is responsible among other things for research and innovation, and Education and Religious Affairs Minister Niki Kerameus, provided an opportunity for both sides to commend the proven bilateral cooperation between Switzerland and Greece.

The two countries have extensive relations, particularly in research and innovation, on the one hand in the context of the European Union’s Research Framework Programmes (FP) and on the other through their membership in international research organisations. For example, Swiss and Greek researchers cooperated on over 700 projects as part of Horizon 2020. In these terms, Greece ranks 11th among Swiss partner countries. Cooperation is particularly strong in the areas of information and communication technologies, European infrastructures and Marie Sklodowska-Curie actions. In the area of international research organisations, Switzerland and Greece are member states of CERN, the European Space Agency, the European Molecular Biology Laboratory and Fusion for Energy.

State Secretary Hirayama held talks with both Minister Georgiadis and Minister Kerameus on Switzerland’s association to Horizon Europe and Erasmus+, as well as on bilateral relations between the two countries in education, research and innovation, which was exemplified by the work of the Swiss School of Archaeology in Greece. Vocational education and training was a particular topic of discussion with Minister Kerameus.

Swiss School of Archaeology in Greece (ESAG)
Since 1964, a team of Swiss archaeologists has been excavating studying the remains of the ancient city of Eretria on the Greek island of Euboea. In 1975, the Greek authorities designated the mission the Swiss School of Archaeology in Greece. The ESAG, based at the University of Lausanne, is the only permanent Swiss archaeological institute abroad and receives financial support from the Swiss Confederation and the Swiss National Science Foundation. A few years ago, a new research project was launched outside Eretria near Amarynthos to locate the long-sought sanctuary of Artemis Amarysia. In 2017, the ESAG, in collaboration with the Antiquities Service of Euboea, was able to prove the discovery of the cult site thanks to inscription finds. During the excavations, a number of buildings were uncovered, including the Temple of Artemis and a monumental portico. During her visit to the excavation site in Amarynthos, State Secretary Hirayama was able to speak to those responsible for the excavations along with Swiss and Greek students, and see for herself on site the many and varied efforts made by the ESAG to promote young scientists, further develop teaching and research, and raise the international profile of Swiss universities.