December 4, 2008

Tibet: Dalai Lama Addresses European Parliament

Sample ImageSpeaking before assembled representatives, the Dalai Lama has reiterated Tibet’s desire for autonomy, but also the important role it has within Chinese society. 

Below is an article by UNPO: 

With snow falling in Brussels, the Dalai Lama delivered a warm and jocular speech to members of the European Parliament (MEPs) who had gathered to hear his comments – all this in the wake of the cancelled EU-China summit and the stagnation of talks between Dharamsala and Beijing. 

Many of the MEPs visibly expressed their support for the Dalai Lama with Tibetan flags and prayer scarves that had been distributed by officials of the European Parliament’s Tibet Intergroup.   

Members of the Intergroup, led by Mr. Thomas Mann MEP, and including Mr. Marco Pannella MEP, and Mr. Marco Cappato MEP, have been among over five hundred officials in the Parliament who have been engaged in a twenty-four hour fast in support of the Dalai Lama. 

Against this backdrop, the Dalai Lama opened his speech with references to the repeated criticism Tibetan representatives faced from the Chinese authorities, and reiterated that any interpretation of Tibetan activists as ‘splittist’ was “totally wrong”.   

Continuing, the Dalai Lama re-affirmed that Tibetans sought only “genuine autonomy” within the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) and the implementation of the autonomy provisions laid down in the PRC’s constitution. 

It was after all the wish of  every Tibetan to live in a modern Tibet, the Dalai Lama stated.  Thus it was in the interest of all Tibetans to remain within the PRC and to belong to a stable, unified and harmonious society. 

But achieving this situation would be impossible under the current situation of fear, the Dalai Lama explained.  It would also be “illogical” to expect progress in this regard without trust – and it was trust that had been shown to be lacking in current negotiations. 

There was also an important role Tibet could play within China.  The nonviolent approach practiced by Dharamsala had inspired others seeking autonomy within the PRC.  In this way, Tibet was already serving to promote a harmonious society within the PRC, despite the claims and accusations levied by Beijing. 

In his conclusion, the Dalai Lama urged the European Union to maintain close ties with the PRC and act as a voice of constructive comment and criticism in the dialogues between Brussels and Beijing. 

In his address of thanks, the President of the European Parliament, Hans Gert-Pöttering, noted the Dalai Lama’s good health and thanked him for the “clear political message” he had delivered to MEPs.  Mr. Gert-Pottering stated that the Dalai Lama represented for him, and many others, the very “personality of dialogue”. 

In what has proved to be a test of EU-China relations, the Dalai Lama will next meet French President Nicholas Sarkozy in Gdansk on 6 December 2008.

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