Brussels – The International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) calls on the European Union to designate as soon as possible a high profile European Emissary to help resolve the issue of Tibet and put an end to tensions between China and Europe around Tibetan issues. Such an initiative would be welcome in Europe where the Dalai Lama enjoys overwhelming support for his moral leadership and would be an appropriate outcome of the Dalai Lama’s current visit to European countries. The Dalai Lama’s visit began on November 30 when he met with Czech Prime Minister Topolanek in Prague and includes an address to the plenary of the European Parliament in Brussels on December 4 and a meeting with French President Sarkozy on December 6 in Gdansk, Poland.

“The Chinese government’s action in walking away from the EU-China Summit points to the urgent need to move Tibet from an irritant to a resolvable issue,” said Vincent Metten, EU Policy Director of the International Campaign for Tibet. “The mandate of an EU Emissary would be to represent the EU Council in engaging with the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama to collect views of both parties, identify the obstacles and suggest concrete recommendations to the EU Council on how to overcome these identified difficulties,” said Metten.

European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso said on France’s RTL radio on November 30, “We know that China is extremely sensitive when it comes to Tibet and relations with the Dalai Lama. But frankly there was no reason for this decision [to cancel the summit]. He [President Sarkozy] has the right to meet whoever he wants.” Other European leaders expressed dismay at China’s move, with the ALDE Group in the European Parliament calling it “worrying” and even “dangerous,” and MEP Marco Cappato said, “China would be well-advised to concede that democracy, the rule of law and human rights – including minority rights – are universal values. It should realise that the European Union will never abandon those values.”

“The people of Europe and their leadership will clearly not abandon the Dalai Lama and the Tibetans, and China feels so strongly about Tibet that it would risk other critical issues scheduled for discussion at the summit. The EU should employ its experience in crisis management and find concrete ways to help the government of China and the Dalai Lama get to a solution,” Metten concluded.

On October 29, the British Foreign Secretary released a statement that said in part, “no government which is committed to promoting international respect for human rights can remain silent on the issue of Tibet, or disinterested in a solution to its problems.” Metten added: “International calls for results-based dialogue have failed to produce progress. More engaged and substantial assistance is now required, or we will see the failure of an historic effort to achieve a just solution for Tibet through non-violence and dialogue.”

The Chinese government has denounced the Sarkozy-Dalai Lama meeting and accused the French of engaging with a ‘separatist’. Beijing has increased its anti-Dalai Lama rhetoric after the Dalai Lama’s envoys responded to Chinese interest in knowing more about the Tibetan position by delivering a memorandum on Tibetan autonomy at their recently concluded November 4-5 meeting.