French President NicolasSarkozy has said on March 24, 2008 that he has informed Chinese President Hu Jintao about his deep distress at the recent events in Tibet and called for an end to the violence there through dialogue.
Saying that France would like “the dialogue that was started several years ago between the Chinese authorities and the Dalai Lama’s representatives resume speedily and be taken further” President Sarkozy said in a statement that France would be willing “to facilitate this resumption of dialogue.”
On March 25, 2008, Sarcozy said in Tarbes, France, that he would determine his future action regarding China on the basis of its action in Tibet, when asked about his position on the Olympics.
“Our Chinese friends must understand the worldwide concern that there is about the question of Tibet, and I will adapt my response to the evolutions in the situation that will come, I hope, as rapidly as possible,” Sarkozy is quoted by AP as saying in Tarbes.
Sarkozy also disclosed contacts between his office and that of the Dalai Lama. “I have an envoy who spoke to the authorities who are closest to the Dalai Lama,” Sarkozy said, according to AP. “I want dialogue to begin, and I will gauge my response based on the response that the Chinese authorities give,” he added.
Earlier, in response to the Chinese Government’s laying the blame on the Dalai Lama, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said on March 19 that “The Dalai Lama is not a man to spread disorder and confrontation. I know him well enough to say the opposite. In all the years we’ve known each other, he’s always displayed a very peaceful view of matters.”
Following are the full text of President Sarkozy’s statement and the press briefing by Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner.
ISSUED BY THE PRESIDENCY OF THE REPUBLIC
(Paris, 24 March 2008)
President Sarkozy calls for restraint and an end to violence in Tibet through dialogue.
He has sent a message to President Hu Jintao informing him of his deep distress following the recent tragic events.
President Sarkozy wishes to see the dialogue that was started several years ago between the Chinese authorities and the Dalai Lama’s representatives resume speedily and be taken further, so that all Tibetans feel able to live their cultural and spiritual identity to the full within the People’s Republic of China.
President Sarkozy has expressed France’s willingness to facilitate this resumption of dialogue in the context of the French-Chinese strategic partnership./.
PRESS BRIEFING BY BERNARD KOUCHNER
MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Paris, March 18, 2008
Question: About Tibet where there’ve been serious incidents since Friday. What do you think of the idea of boycotting the Games or at least the opening ceremony? The Dalai Lama is asking for an international inquiry. Is France going to back that request?
The Minister:We should perhaps talk a little about the Tibetans. I can answer these three questions very quickly: There’s been no international demand other than the Dalai Lama’s. If there is an international demand, it has to go through the international organizations, and France will give its answer there. I don’t see any demands at this point either from the UN or European Union. The EU did issue a statement on Friday. The Dalai Lama, whom I’ve heard and know well, isn’t asking for a boycott of the Olympic Games. I also saw that Reporters Without Borders [RSF] this morning called for a boycott of the opening ceremony, not the Olympic Games. It’s a different position, which can be appreciated, and of course, if asked, it would mean that Europe in any case will confer about it. We shall be meeting with foreign ministers next week for two days of work in Slovenia and we’ll be considering all this.
Obviously, there must be an investigation into what has happened. You mentioned an international inquiry. Lots of international inquiries are requested. Incidentally we’ve not spoken about Chad, but people are asking for one there too. It’s very, very slow getting all this going. But there is one initial international inquiry that ought to be made–by journalists. Journalists don’t have access, and they must have access to the territory in question–to Tibet in particular but not just there since there are incidents apparently beyond Tibet. So that seems to me to be an obvious necessity since our Chinese friends have recognized the universality of human rights. Well, the right to information has to be respected.
And then I’m hearing with anger and sadness people talking about the figures of the dead and injured, which we don’t even know but which are very high, apparently. We need to know: 80, 100, 20, 13? These things ought to be verified. I had a message this morning from my Chinese counterpart, Mr. Yang. He says that order has been restored and that the whole thing, all these events, was orchestrated, and he’s accusing the Dalai Lama. I leave him to his opinion obviously, and I take note of this information. The Dalai Lama is not a man to spread disorder and confrontation. I know him well enough to say the opposite. In all the years we’ve known each other, he’s always displayed a very peaceful view of matters. I would remind you that the Dalai Lama has never demanded Tibet’s independence. He speaks of cultural autonomy. This is an extremely measured demand. Now, it’s not up to me to decide of course, it’s for our Chinese friends. We’re keeping a very close eye on all this and on the development of the situation. And I repeat that the first thing should be freedom of access for the press. It’s necessary, I think, without there being any provocation.
Question: What’s your position on the proposal to boycott the opening ceremony at the Olympic Games?
The Minister: I heard about the proposal this morning and I think it’s interesting. I have said, and it’s very clear that, if there were a position and it could only be a European one–we’ll talk about it. The proposal is less negative than a general boycott. May I remind you that I took part in a boycott in 1980 for the Olympic Games in Moscow I just want to point out that then the boycott included about 50 countries, China being one of them. China boycotted the Moscow Games in 1980 at the time of the events in Afghanistan.
But you asked me for my position, and the French position is that France does not boycott the Olympic Games. It doesn’t seem fair to us and at the same time, after our experience, hardly useful. As I said, how can you ask us, a government that is friendly with China, that has very friendly relations with it just recently we had further exchanges to be more Tibetan than the man who is recognized as being the spiritual leader of the Tibetans, the Dalai Lama, who is not asking for this boycott. I understand the activists and am following them closely. I consider that it is the duty of a foreign minister to listen to civil society and the activists’ initiatives and that in the matter of human rights there is never too much advice or too many initiatives. So I’m listening to them. The initiative proposed by Reporters Without Borders, which does not have the support of the French government, dates from this morning. Let’s consider it.
March 19, 2008