'Antarctica open to all countries for scientific study'

By Dmitri Chirciu and Faruk Zorlu

ANKARA (AA) – All 53 members of the Antarctic Treaty have the right to carry out scientific studies in Antarctica, a Belarusian academic said Wednesday.

"The issue of Antarctica, where no single country has the right of ownership, is not a political but a scientific issue," Alexei Gaidashov, deputy head of the National Center for Polar Research at the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, told Anadolu Agency.

The coldest place on earth is not owned by any country and does not have a permanent population. It has served as a scientific research zone since the Antarctic Treaty was inked in 1959 by 12 countries. Many other countries joined the treaty in the years that followed.

Highlighting the importance of scientific studies in Antarctica, Gaidashov said: "There is no money, gold, politics and religion there. Everyone is equal, no restriction."

Research in the continent will contribute to the development of biotechnology, environmental pollution and development of economy, he added.

Turkey signed the treaty in 1996.

A former Turkish science minister said the country will establish a scientific base in Antarctica in 2019.

Belarus became a party to the treaty in 2006. Since then, the Eastern European nation has made 11 trips to Antarctica, Gaidashov said.

The two countries also signed a cooperation agreement on Antarctica and will organize a joint journey to the continent soon, he added.

Turkey's first polar research center by Istanbul Technical University was founded in Antarctica in 2015.