The EU and US should act on the opportunity presented by renewed contact between the Dalai Lama’s envoys and Chinese officials and join forces to help move the dialogue process forward to a mutually acceptable solution, concluded a special roundtable meeting at the European Parliament with the US. Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues who is visiting Brussels to discuss common approaches for Tibet.

For Immediate Release: 21 January 2004

“While the Chinese government will ultimately decide to enter into negotiations with the Dalai Lama based on internal considerations and the case made by the Tibetans, the 2002 and 2003 visits of the Dalai Lama’s envoys to China demonstrate that the dialogue process clearly benefits from international encouragement,” said Mr. Thomas Mann, President, EP Intergroup for Tibet.

The roundtable addressed the controversial appointment of an EU Special Representative (EUSR) for Tibet. While the European Parliament and Council have for two successive years financially provided for the EU Commission to make the appointment, the Commission has been reluctant to act. The roundtable examined how the proposed position could better convey EU policy interests in Tibetan issues and reinforce the U.S.’s high-level and institutionalized commitment to supporting the efforts of the Dalai Lama to find a negotiated solution for Tibet.

“We hope that the visit of the US Tibet Coordinator will lead to increased cooperation between the EU and US on Tibetan issues. We strongly believe that the appointment of a EUSR for Tibet would strengthen the present fragile process of rapprochement between the Tibetans and Chinese government,” said Mr. Kelsang Gyaltsen, European Envoy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from the Bureau du Tibet in Brussels.

Dr. Paula Dobriansky, US Under Secretary for Global Affairs and Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, expressed appreciation for the opportunity to address the EP Tibet Intergroup and underscored that she looked forward to more meaningful cooperation with EU counterparts on advancing dialogue between the Chinese and the Dalai Lama or his representatives. Undersecretary Dobriansky also reiterated the European Parliament’s 1998 and 2002 calls for the EU to appoint a EUSR for Tibet.

Members of the European Parliament Intergroup for Tibet, which convened today’s meeting, called for a common, multilateral approach for Tibet. They dismissed the EU-China human rights dialogue as insufficient to the urgent task of supporting a negotiated solution for Tibet and reiterated their call for the appointment of a EUSR for Tibet.

“Despite enormous public support for Tibet within Europe the EU has failed to adopt an effective Tibet policy. The appointment of an EUSR for Tibet would matchU.S. resolve in helping secure a negotiated solution for Tibet – and would show some difference for the concerns of both the European and Tibetan peoples,” concluded Mr. Mann.

The Dalai Lama first put forward his call for genuine Tibetan autonomy within the People’s Republic of China in his 1988 address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg. China claims that the Dalai Lama is actually seeking independence for Tibet. Until the two visits to China by the Dalai Lama’s envoys in September 2002 and May/June 2003, there had been a 10-year impasse in direct contact between the two parties.

The Roundtable Discussion on Tibet with Under Secretary Dobriansky was organised by the EP Tibet Intergroup, with the assistance of Bureau du Tibet, Brussels, and the International Campaign for Tibet Europe.

For more information, contact:

  • Mr. Thomas Mann, President, EP Intergroup for Tibet. Tel: +32 2 284 5318
  • Mr. Migyur Dorjee, Bureau du Tibet. Tel : +32 2 280 49 22
  • Ms. Tsering Jampa, Executive Director, International Campaign for Tibet Europe. Tel: +31 (0) 20 330 8265