Mr. Takis Nemitsas’ speech at the award ceremony of the Nemitsas Prize 2013 in Physics on 10/10/2013 at the Presidential Palace

Your Excellency, Mr. President, Your Beatitude, Your Reverence, honourable Ministers, distinguished guests,

We would like to welcome you this evening to the 4th annual award since the creation of the Nemitsas Foundation in 2009, in the field of Physics.

The first award, in November 2010, was presented on the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus.

At that time, during the ceremony, we also officially announced the endowment of the Nemitsas Foundation, with our all its movable and immovable property, upon the Republic of Cyprus. We bequeathed to the Foundation the necessary economic means and liquidity so that the awards could be supported comfortably and that the most distinguished Cypriot scientists and artists, living in Cyprus or abroad, could be honoured.

Tonight’s ceremony has been even more carefully arranged than previous ones because of the experience we have gained and the assistance and cooperation we have received from our Board of Directors, the Secretary, the coordinator and the Academic Council that is based in London.

Tonight, we are honouring another Cypriot scientist, George Petros Efstathiou. George Efstathiou was born in the United Kingdom, of Cypriot parents who emigrated there in 1950 in search of work. They had three children, each of whom they saw excel, with exceptional achievements in the sciences.

Today, the Nemitsas Foundation, is recognising one of the sons of Petros Efstathiou, Cambridge professor George Efstathiou. Professor Efstathiou is an internationally recognised Scientist, much admired and held in high esteem. Professor Efstathiou’s selection was made by the International Prize Selection Committee, Chaired by Dr. Brian Schmidt, Nobel Prize winner in Physics in 2011.

The selection was made from among eight highly distinguished Cypriot Physicists, who either submitted an application or were recommended for the award. With this remarkable presence in the Sciences of the Universe, we see how many truly outstanding scientists our small country has in every scientific field. Scientists that we, at the Foundation, believe must be awarded every year.

I will restrict myself to just a few of Professor Efstathiou’s achievements. Professor Thors Hans Hansson will tell you more about his work, and of course the winner himself.

George Efstathiou, following a bright academic career, at a very young age, became Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Oxford and then at the University of Cambridge.
He belongs to a small group of scientists who “open up” areas for research, instead of merely contributing to them.
He is known for his scientific leadership role for the Planck Satellite. His discoveries, through the Planck Satellite, have shaped our understanding of the Universe.
He established the Kavli Institute for Cosmology, of which he is the Director. The Kavli Institute is one of the most significant of its kind in the world.
He has already received three major prizes in Cosmology.
Unfortunately Mr. President, the entirely unforeseen conditions that were created with the destruction of the two large Cypriot banks, the loss of all the investments of our Foundation in the shares and securities of these banks and the hair-cut, overturned everything, caused adverse conditions and have created difficulties for future awards. And although all of us here at the Foundation are working selflessly and are trying to create better operating conditions, we find ourselves faced with increased taxation on the remaining reduced assets and income of the Foundation, that essentially belong to the Republic of Cyprus.

The situation is very difficult for the Foundation’s 5th award in 2014. We are, of course, in close contact with the services of the Ministry of Finance and are trying to find ways to be exempted from tax and, by extension, solutions for the survival of the Foundation.

If we do not achieve it, we shall apply, Mr. President, to you and to your Council of Ministers, as a last attempt to make it understood that the property of the Foundation should not be taxed, so that the Foundation may, even under such difficult conditions, implement its aims, to continue the presentation of the annual awards.

We shall try, with the help of the Government but also with your support, to retain this worthy institution, to maintain the Nemitsas Prize and to establish it as an outstanding award of the Republic of Cyprus.

Finally, I would like to thank all the staff at the Presidential Palace for their readiness to cooperate and for the assistance they have given us in making this evening successful.

Thank you all for your presence and I hope we will have a wonderful evening creating pleasant memories.

Takis Nemitsas