A group of Austrian MPs from the Social Democrat Party have made a formal request for clarification from the Austrian Foreign Minister on her efforts to support the dialogue between the envoys of the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government on the future of Tibet.

The dialogue process began in 2002 and there have since been a further four rounds of meetings. However, since the 5th round in February 2006, there has been no further invitation to the Tibetan side for a 6th round, raising concerns amongst European politicians about the future of the dialogue.

The request, sent in a letter on 7 March 2007, references the European Parliament’s resolution on the status of the dialogue, which was passed without opposition on 15 February and called upon the Tibetan and Chinese parties to resume their dialogue “without preconditions and in a forward-looking manner that allows for pragmatic solutions that respect the territorial integrity of China and fulfils the aspirations of the Tibetan people for a unified and genuinely devolved autonomous Tibet.”

The Austrian MPs requested information on the how the Austrian Foreign Minister intended to support the dialogue process in the spirit of the European Parliament resolution, and asked whether the Austrian government would lend its support to the creation of an EU Special Representative for Tibet to work towards a peaceful resolution of the Tibet question.

Speaking from Vienna, Vice President of the Austrian ‘Save Tibet’ organization Lobsang Gyalpo said: “It is critical that national governments support the Dalai Lama’s attempts to reach a peaceful settlement of this long-running dispute. We will be carefully monitoring the Foreign Minister’s response to the questions raised by these concerned MPs.”

The Austrian action follows parliamentary activities in Canada, Scotland and the European Parliament, while a hearing by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the US House of Representatives on the status of the dialogue is planned in Washington DC on 13 March 2007.