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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

ICT paper calls for a cohesive EU approach on Tibet

May 20, 2009

Kalsang Rinchen
May 18, 2009

Dharamsala, May 18 -- A new policy paper by the
Washington based International Campaign for Tibet
criticized the European Union for its position on
Tibet that it says has “generally been one of
ambiguity and accommodation, even in the face of
gross human rights violations”.

The paper An inconclusive talking shop and
China’s divide and rule: why Europe needs to do
more on Tibet was launched in Brussels today as
the EU-China Summit opens in Prague on Wednesday.
China canceled the last summit in December 2008
citing a meeting between President Nicholas
Sarkozy of France, which then held the EU
Presidency, and the Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama
in Poland on December 6 last year.

The efforts undertaken so far by the EU Council
and its 27 member states and by the European
Commission are insufficient to address the
situation in Tibet, despite the range of policy
options at their disposal, according to the paper.

The paper urges the European Union to adopt a
consistent new position on Tibet to reflect the
importance of Tibet in EU-China relations.

Beijing has recently warned individual European
countries including the Netherlands and France of
negative impact on bilateral ties if their
leaders and lawmakers meet with the Tibetan
leader who it regularly accuses of ‘separatism’.

The EU-China Summit in Prague is the first
high-level meeting of EU and Chinese leaders
since the cancellation of the last summit.

The paper warns that a lack of cohesion among
European member states on the issue of Tibet and
conflicting national approaches, especially on
protocols for meeting with the Dalai Lama, is not
in EU’s interests as it weakens EU’s leverage
leaving some countries vulnerable as targets for China’s pressure.

"By threatening reprisals against EU countries
whose leaders welcome or meet with the Dalai
Lama, the Chinese government undermines its own
position against interference in the “internal
affairs” of another country, and contravenes European values,” the paper says.

The EU’s assumption that the Chinese government
will liberalise its economy and move towards
democratization under the influence of positive
engagement is wrong, according to the paper.
“Countries within the EU have consistently
miscalculated in making concessions to China that
are not reciprocated, such as the decision by the
UK to redefine its historic relationship with Tibet last year."

The paper prescribes that the EU approach should
be unified, advanced multilaterally, and framed
in the context of common interests.

Vincent Metten, EU Policy Director for ICT in
Brussels, gave the introduction of the
recommendations to the EU. "The cancellation of
the last EU-China Summit by Beijing during the
French EU Presidency raised the diplomatic
stakes, pointing both to the importance China
attaches to the Tibet issue and the need for a
unified EU response,” Vincent said. Also present
at the paper’s release were some former political
prisoners including Ngawang Sangdrol who spent 11
years in Chinese prison before being freed in 2002.
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