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The European Crystallographic Association

The following remarks were made by Carmello Giacovazzo, first president of the European Crystallographic Assn, at the opening ceremony for the 18th European Crystallography Meeting in Prague, Czech Republic. - ed.

Carmello Giacovazzo (Italy), President of the ECA, was a speaker in a session on Ab initio Methods for Structure Determination at the 18th ECM in Prague. Carmello is at the left in the back row along with other speakers (left to right): Chris Gilmore (UK), Alex Urzhumtsev (France); (front row left to right): Isabel Uson (Germany), Alberto Podjarny (France) and Chuck Weeks (USA).

It is a great honor for me to extend a welcome to the participants in the 18th European Crystallographic Meeting on behalf of the European Crystallographic Assn (ECA). The ECA was formally established in 1997 at the Lisbon meeting. It is the successor to the European Crystallographic Committee which had guided the development of European Crystallographic meetings from their inception through the Prague meeting. The European Crystallographic Assn arose from the conviction that a stable and well organized association can do much more for the development of European Crystallography than a committee simply charged with organizing the European Crystallographic meetings. Among the objectives of the association are: to contribute to the advancement of crystallography, to promote European cooperation in crystallography, to organize meetings and conferences, to promote crystallographic research requiring European cooperation, and to organize special projects.

These objectives can be attained only if we are able to establish a home for all European crystallographers, where all the scientific areas can find the maximum of freedom, respect and opportunity. This has been a busy year for the Executive Committee and Council of the ECA. The first achievement has been the approval of the statutes: the defining document for the Association. We now have guidelines to follow for future activities. We also started an electronic newspaper called ECA News, available via the Internet. The aims of ECA News are to establish direct and rapid contact among ECA Council members and the entire Crystallographic Community to serve as a vehicle for open discussions about new ideas and themes of common interest and to future ECA activities. We urge you to read and contribute to the ECA News.

The ECA has established Special Interest Groups (SIG's) to organize microsymposia at future meetings that have wide ranging authority to organize meetings, schools and workshops in their area. The first SIG's were approved in Prague, and several others are in development. I invite people to look at the ECA News to see how to join existing SIG's and form new ones.

The IUCr has officially recognized three regional associates: American, European and Asian Associations. It is obvious that at this time the European Association should represent and recognize, in addition to crystallographers in Europe, also those in Africa and the Mediterranean as full members of the ECA. We look forward to a wider membership by African countries. A flourishing ECA will be vital to the future of the IUCr.

Carmello Giacovazzo