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Regional Francophone Centre for advanced social studies opens in Bucharest

A Francophone centre for advanced social studies was inaugurated on Monday in Bucharest to increase visibility of research in French in social sciences in Central and Eastern Europe.

The Regional Francophone Centre for Advanced Research in Social Sciences (CeReFREA) will develop independent research programs and will support the networks conducting research in social sciences through conferences, scientific events and seminars.

The project will be based on the excellent cooperation between international partners, which will result in a network of researchers and will turn Bucharest into a real specialized hub and a platform for academic exchanges.

The CeReFREA project won the Louis D cultural prize conferred by the Institut de France in 2012. Thanks to this prize worth 750,000 euros, Villa Noel, the former headquarters of the Cooperation and Cultural Action Services of the French Embassy to Romania, will be renovated in order to become the headquarters of the Francophone centre.

Rector of the Bucharest University, Mircea Dumitru said the CeReFREA headquarters will open this fall. In his turn, CeReFREA Director Ioan Panzaru said this centre aims to host about 60 events per year.

Foreign Minister Titus Corlatean, who attended the event, said that CeReFREA has the potential to become a regional center of excellence of research in French.

'The project falls within the roadmap of the Romania-France strategic partnership,' said Corlatean. According to him, the role of research and education is essential in highlighting the strengths of the knowledge society, in acquiring high-level professional competencies and promoting competitiveness.

In his turn, Minister-delegate for Higher Education, Scientific Research and Technological Development, Mihnea Costoiu pointed out that the education reform was designed with the purpose of developing a free and creative personality able to fit in today's society amid the current economic and financial woes.

France's Ambassador in Bucharest, Francois Saint-Paul said he sees CeReFREA as a 'laboratory' of ideas and academic proposals approaching Romania's future in the European Union context.

'It is an essential stake for France to develop social and humanistic sciences in South-East Europe ... and to resume its role of protector of multiculturality,' Chancellor of the French Institute Gabriel de Broglie said.

On her part, Permanent Secretary of the French Academy, Helene Carrere d'Encausse said the French institutions 'have a duty' to the Romanian academic milieu. 'We want this center to be a point of attraction. We want the Villa Noel to be the equivalent of the Villa Medici in South-East Europe,' she added.