French government favours Tibetan cause: Dalai Lama


Dharamsala : Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama Wednesday said here that the French government had openly expressed concern over the issue of Tibetan independence.

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“The issue of Tibet is a matter of concern for the French government and the European Union too,” the Dalai Lama told reporters during his visit to the Himachal Pradesh assembly complex. The assembly is meeting here this session.

He said his recently concluded visit to Poland, where he met French President Nicolas Sarkozy and other European Union leaders, was very crucial.

This has been the Dalai Lama’s first public appearance since returning from Poland Saturday.

On the question of China’s statement Tuesday that it was still open to dialogue with representatives of the Dalai Lama, the 73-year-old Nobel laureate refused to say anything.

“No comments…I am not the right person (to comment)… our prime minister Samdhong Rinpoche is the right person to comment (on the issue),” the Dalai Lama said.

On the issue of retirement, he said: “If you want genuine democratic practice for proper development of democracy, spiritual leadership may become hindrance.”

The spiritual leader indicated that he had transferred most of his political powers to the Rinpoche to carry forward the two-decade-old advocacy of a “middle path” that favours meaningful autonomy for the Tibetans, while leaving it a part of China.

“The Rinpoche is my boss now,” the Dalai Lama said with a laugh.

The Tibetan leader also appealed for the release of human rights activist Hu Jia, who was arrested by the Chinese police during the Olympics.

Samdhong Rinpoche, who also accompanied the Dalai Lama, said: “We are strict on our charter of demands submitted through a memorandum during the eighth round of talks in Beijing.

“If the Chinese want to restart the negotiations, then the demands of the exiles for meaningful autonomy and protections for the Himalayan region’s unique Buddhist culture would be in the forefront.

“The door to talks with the Chinese is always open, provided they (Chinese) are sincere. We want to settle the issue mutually within the (Chinese) constitution, through negotiations.”

However, he clarified that “the issue of Tibet concerns the future of six million Tibetans there and not just the exiled spiritual leader”.

The two sides have held eight rounds of talks since 2002 to try and find a mutually acceptable solution to the Tibetan issue, with no major breakthrough. After the latest round of talks, China said it would not compromise on the status of its territory.

The Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 following Chinese occupation of Tibet. The Tibetan government-in-exile is based in this Himachal Pradesh town and around 100,000 Tibetan exiles live in India.

In recent months, the Nobel Peace Prize winner has travelled across the world to garner support for “meaningful autonomy” for Tibet. He has denied China’s claims that he wants independence for Tibet, saying he only seeks greater autonomy.