Lembit Öpik: “We Have Matured Enough To Make The Congress Worthwhile And Effective”

The Asgardia Executive Congress started today in Vienna, and will last three days. During the Congress, Committee Chairs and their Ministry Counterparts from the Government will be working together on a series of presentations and proposals that set out plans to take Asgardia forward in the coming years. Once compiled into a summary, the key points will then be shared with the Parliament. In his interview to Asgardia Space News, Asgardia’s Head of Parliament Lembit Öpik speaks of the plans for the near future, of what he expects from the Congress, and the event’s importance for the evolution of the work of Parliament and Government

Will you please say a few words about the main tasks and objectives the Asgardian Parliament sets before itself? Could you share some of the plans for the near future - say, for the rest of this year? 

Asgardia’s Parliament has the political responsibility to support the mission of the Nation, which is to have permanent space habitation within 25 years. Everything we do is for achieving this ambition. In the short term, that means creating a strong and stable political system which goes to stability under stress. In the year ahead, our immediate goals will be to set on our scientific objective, and clarify what it means to be a citizen. We also have to kick-start Asgardia’s economy. It’s an exciting time!

The parliamentary session of March 22 was broadcasted live online in a second language (Russian). Are there plans to add new languages to parliamentary session broadcasts? What other technological changes are envisioned in Parliament’s work? 

As Chair of Parliament, my single most important goal is to open up the parliamentary processes to all of Asgardia’s 12 languages. We made a big breakthrough with the online second language broadcast. That’s just the start. As soon as we have the financial resources, we will be expanding that facility to other languages too. This is an absolute priority.

Are Asgardia's newly formed ministries intended to push for legislative initiatives? If so, how much more work will it mean for the members of the Parliament to revise legislation bills?

Ministries can initiate legislation, and this will involve a lot of work for both Parliament and Government. Making a law is not a simple matter. You can’t just pass things and hope they work. We have to KNOW they are going to work and therefore creating effective legislation can be quite a long process. But there is no alternative. Taking time is better than taking risks of getting it wrong. Naturally, that means that things will be getting more intense, but this work is also very interesting.

Does Head of Parliament deem holding preliminary expertise of all legislative bills necessary?

I regard expertise as central to the legislative process. We have the best-educated parliament in Hunan history, and that is a good start, Everyone is educated to graduate level. The Parliament also has the capacity to ask for the advice of expert witnesses, and that helps a lot. We held our first Ministerial meeting with the Parliament recently, and it went well. A lot of the expertise we need is right here in the Parliament. We are also holding specific conventions, like the forthcoming one on science. All of this helps us move forward.

What are your expectations of the Asgardia Executive Congress held in Vienna on April 10-12, 2019?

The Asgardia Executive Congress is the first time we have brought together the Chairs of Committees, the Ministers of Government and for each Ministry’s Administration. Success looks like a coherent strategy for each area of work. If we achieve that, we will achieve our goals for this Congress. It is part of the process of evolving our thought processes, as well as key relationships, between Asgardia’s Parliament and Government.

Why are the Asgardia Executive Congress 2019 and suchlike events important for Asgardia and the progress of humanity at large?

The Asgardia Executive Congress is a milestone in human history because for the first time the world has a nation dedicated to making human society work in space. That involves a lot of complex areas, including citizens’ rights, scientific advancement, economic prosperity - and so on. The Congress is looking at all of those. This is not the beginning of the journey in a strategic sense in each area. In fact, it marks where we have got so far. We have matured enough to make the Congress worthwhile and effective, because we have already invested a year in laying the basic groundwork.

Critics often say that Asgardia is divorced from reality, that it sounds more like a childish dream. What can you say to this?

Yes, critics will always find a way to see the worst in visionary thinking. That is why critics often reduce human progress, instead of driving it. People will always find something unusual about talking about space and living there. But generally, people are also very interested in it. Mainly people say, ‘sounds like science fiction, but if you can do it, that would be amazing.’ It is for Asgardia to prove that we are serious, and that we can deliver actual results. This will be the single biggest measure of our seriousness to the world. That’s why we do need some significant achievements to show the world. Then people will sign up in much greater numbers. Both the Parliament and the Government know this, and it’s our common cause.

In conclusion, what is your message to all Asgardians today?

My message to Asgardians is: look how far we’ve come in less than a year since our Parliament was formed. Think about what we can achieve with collective effort and the confidence to believe in ourselves. We already have one unity. By getting this right, we can help achieve a sense of one humanity on earth too.

Anastasia Sinitskaya