On Friday, 18 March 1994, at a meeting held in Paris, the signatories of the multilateral Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) on cooperation in the design, development, operation and utilisation of the future international space station welcomed Russia as a new partner and began the negotiations that will establish its role.
The meeting was attended by the 11(*) ESA Member States participating in the Columbus programme and the manned space transportation programme (MSTP) and by the United States, Canada, Japan and the Russian Federation.
With the advent of Russia as a new partner, some amendments will have to be made to the formal agreements over the months ahead, in order to carry out the space station programme which will enable all the participants to have a permanent presence in space from the start of the 21st century.
After the meeting, Mr Jean-Marie Luton, the ESA Director General, said: "Cooperation on an unprecedented scale will now develop and I am sure that, like all the other partners, Europe will reap both political and industrial and scientific and technological benefits from it. This is a project in which we must play our full part and we are now working on definition of our contribution, based on the Columbus element and the cargo and crew transport systems that will be launched by Ariane-5".
(*) Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.