Russia will be able to become an associate member of Europe’s CERN particle physics research centre already this year, Dmitry Livanov, minister of education and science, said on Monday.
"I think we will be given this status this year," Livanov said, noting that the issue was currently coordinated by relevant agencies and the Russian Foreign Ministry was actively involved in the process.
"The issue has left the sphere of science and scientific policy and has now reached the sphere of foreign policy," he said. "There are no conceptual disagreements in this regard. Everyone considers it as an important and necessary thing to do."
"I am sure we will sign an agreement already this year and Russia will become an associate member of CERN," Livanov added.
Currently an observer state, Russia formally applied for membership in the European Organization for Nuclear Research in 2012. As an associate member, the country will be entitled to participate in bids for CERN contracts in the high-technology industry and send its employees to work in the organization. Associate membership will also allow Russia to considerably expand Russian scientists’ presence and role in CERN projects and experiments, including the Large Hadron Collider project.
Founded in 1954 by 12 European countries with the aim of restoring the continent's role in physics research after World War Two, CERN currently has 21 members.
Five non-European nations are CERN observer members - India, Japan, Russia, Turkey and the United States - as well as the European Commission and the U.N. educational, scientific and cultural organization UNESCO.