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Turkish scientists set up independent academy

A group of scientists has set up an alternative science academy in Turkey, called the Science Academy Society.

Sixty-seven out of the 138 members of the existing Turkish Academy of Sciences (TÜBA) have resigned after what they viewed as a government takeover.

Out of these resigning members, 17 founded the alternative body last month as an “independent, self-governing, civil-societal organisation to promote scientific merit, freedom and integrity.” The new academy’s charter was approved on 2 December.

Since its foundation in 1993, TÜBA has been attached to the office of the prime minister, but retained administrative autonomy. But on 27 August, the Turkish government said through a decree that it wanted to appoint two thirds of the academy’s membership. This decision was confirmed on 2 November, despite scientists’ protests.

Members of TÜBA that had been elected before the decree have been invited to join the Science Academy Society “upon signing a declaration of adherence to the principles of academic excellence, freedom and integrity”. 39 of them have joined so far.

The new academy said it aims to join international unions of science academies, and to cooperate with other similar organisations.

Several European bodies have expressed their support to the resigning scientists. For example in October the Strasbourg-based researchers’ organisation Euroscience urged the Turkish government to revert its decision.