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Friday, 04 March 2022

Joint declaration by the State and the universities in North Rhine-Westphalia \ Solidarity with Ukraine

Scientific relations with Russia suspended until further notice. Minister Pfeiffer-Poensgen: Freedom and peace are indispensable prerequisites for scientific interaction.

In many cities in Germany (here Düsseldorf) people spontaneously came together to express their solidarity with Ukraine. Photo: BICC \ S. Heinke

The NRW Ministry for Culture and Science on 2 March 2022 met with representatives of the universities and other research institutions, of students, university hospitals and student services organisations to discuss the current situation relating to the war of aggression by Russia on Ukraine and its impact on science and research.

All participants agreed on the following joint declaration: The universities in the State and non-university research institutions are called upon to critically examine scientific cooperations and relations with Russia and Russian institutions and to suspend them until further notice. The decision is in line with declarations by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the alliance of science organisations in Germany.

“The Russian assault on Ukraine is a critical watershed in the history of Europe. This blatant breach of international law has no justification. Freedom and peace are indispensable prerequisites for scientific interaction and cooperation. Together with representatives of the universities in North Rhine-Westphalia, we have, therefore, agreed today to suspend academic activities and cooperations with Russian institutions. We all regret this step very much, but there is currently no real alternative”, says Science Minister Isabel Pfeiffer-Poensgen.

The NRW Ministry for Culture and Science, the chairpersons of the state rector’s conferences of the universities, universities of applied sciences and colleges of art and music, representatives of the chancellors’ conferences of the universities, universities of applied sciences and colleges of music and art, the spokespersons of the deans of the medical faculties, the representatives of the university hospitals, the board of the Johannes-Rau-Research Community, the spokespersons of the student services organisations and the coordinators of the State-wide General Students’ Committee jointly issued the following statement:

“We are shocked by the Russian attack on Ukraine in violation of international law and are aghast but not speechless. Our thoughts are with the people in Ukraine and they have our solidarity, our support and our assistance. We think of all those who fear for their family, friends and their homes. Among them are our fellow students and colleagues. The scientific community in Ukraine has been severely affected; many students and academics are in danger of losing their lives or are fleeing the violence. Together, we want to uphold the valuable interaction in art and science with Ukraine as best as we can. Students and academics should know that they are always welcome here in North Rhine-Westphalia.

For many years, North Rhine-Westphalia’s scientific exchange with Russia has been valuable and enriching. The war inititated by Russian President Vladimir Putin cannot remain without consequences.

The universities in the State and non-university research institutions are called upon to critically examine scientific cooperations and relations with Russia and Russian institutions and suspend them until further notice.

No new projects will be started for the time being. This step is necessary and yet difficult. We are aware of those Russians—in Russia and here in Germany—who do not support the war against Ukraine started by the Russian President. Our sympathy and respect are with them, especially with those students and academics who have courageously spoken out against the war.”

Press release "Gemeinsame Erklärung von Land und Hochschulen in Nordrhein-Westfalen: Solidarität mit der Ukraine – Wissenschaftliche Beziehungen zu Russland ruhen bis auf Weiteres" (in German)