Amsterdam – On October 24, the European Parliament will host a first-ever address by the Dalai Lama to its plenary meeting. The Nobel Peace Laureate and Tibetan leader is expected to urge peaceful reconciliation among nations. In this context, the Dalai Lama is also expected to ask for continued European support for his efforts to engage China’s leaders in dialogue on Tibet.
“Now is the time for the European Parliament to pursue peaceful solutions to long-standing problems like the occupation of Tibet to show support for the alternatives to violence and terror,” said Tsering Jampa, Director of ICT-Europe.
Under the Dalai Lama’s leadership, the Tibetans’ struggle against Chinese oppression has remained non-violent. “The European Union, particularly the European Parliament, has remained steadfast in its support for a negotiated solution to the Tibetan problem and His Holiness will take this opportunity to call for a more concerted EU initiative on Tibet,” said Mr. Kelsang Gyaltsen, Envoy of the Dalai Lama for the European Union. The Dalai Lama may endorse a European Parliament Resolution calling for the establishment of an EU Special Representative for Tibet.
The Dalai Lama has previously addressed the European Parliament in 1988, when he enunciated a negotiated framework for resolving the Tibetan issue, and again in 1996, at the invitation of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament. However, this will be the first time he addresses the Plenary session of the Parliament.
In early April, Nicole Fontaine, President of the European Parliament, extended the official invitation. Thomas Mann, (EPP/CDU) President of the Tibet Intergroup, presented the invitation to the Dalai Lama while in Dharamsala, India, seat of the Tibetan Government In Exile.
The European Parliament has consistently demonstrated its support for Tibet by adopting significant resolutions including one last year calling for official recognition of the Tibetan Government in Exile if the Chinese government refuses to initiate dialogue with the Dalai Lama or His representatives within three years.
In 1998 the Parliament urged the European Council for the appointment of an EU Special Representative for Tibet.
“While it has certainly expressed strong support for Tibet, the European Parliament has yet to follow through on implementation of these key issues,” said Jampa. “This is an opportunity to reward non-violent struggle by establishing and supporting an EU Special Representative for Tibet.
The International Tibet Support Network, a worldwide coalition of Tibet supporters, sent a letter to President Fontaine asking her to urge the Council to take necessary and concrete actions.
The Dalai Lama’s speech follows two days of U.S.-China talks in Shanghai at which President Bush is expected to press President Jiang Zemin on dialogue with the Dalai Lama or His representatives. Paula Dobriansky, the U.S. Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, is part of the U.S. delegation.