Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2008-03-26-Speech-3-065"

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"Ladies and gentlemen, the European Union is following with anguish the development of the situation in Tibet and the neighbouring provinces in China which have a sizeable Tibetan population, such as Tsinghai, Szechwan and Kansu. Mr President, you also mentioned the question of the Olympic Games in China. I must emphasise that, at last week’s informal ministerial meeting in Slovenia, the European Union Ministers for Sport, together with the Presidents of the national Olympic committees of all the Member States, the countries of the Western Balkans and Norway, unanimously adopted a declaration in which they stressed the importance of the Olympic movement and its values in promoting and supporting human rights. At the same time they spoke out against a boycott of the Olympic Games. They did not discuss participation in the opening ceremony. The Presidency is of the opinion that a boycott of the Games or other sporting events in the year of intercultural dialogue would not be an appropriate response to unresolved political questions. It could also mean a lost opportunity to promote respect for human rights. May I also say that the session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva was marked by concerns about the situation in Tibet. In the debate on the Vienna Declaration and the Action Plan, the European Union invited both sides to avoid the use of force and to respect internationally approved standards of human rights. Dialogue between the European Union and China has been continuing this week. In yesterday’s telephone conversation, the President of the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council, the Slovenian Foreign Minister, Dr Rupel, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Peoples’ Republic of China, Mr Yang Jeichi, discussed among other topics the situation of the Tibetan community. Dr Rupel reiterated to Mr Yang the European Union’s hope that the Chinese authorities and the Dalai Lama or his representatives would begin dialogue as soon as possible. At the same time he called on the Chinese authorities urgently to release protesters who had peacefully expressed their opinions. European Union representatives have been in frequent contact with Chinese representatives ever since the start of the disturbances in Tibet. In response to the request by the European Union, their Chinese counterparts gave the EU troika the first report on the events in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, on 15 March. The situation in Tibet was also discussed at the meeting of European Union representatives with the Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister on 17 March. Both sides agreed at that meeting that dialogue about the events in Tibet must be continuous and open. Following the incident at the Chinese Embassy in Brussels, European Union representatives were invited for talks with the same official on 19 March. Because of numerous protests in Europe relating to the events in Tibet, this official demanded an apology and compensation in the event of damage to Chinese Embassies. At the beginning of last week, on 17 March, the Presidency expressed its deep concern in the light of numerous reports about the disturbances in Tibet. It expressed its deepest sympathies to victims’ families and stressed that it would like to receive from the Chinese government urgent clarification of the situation in Tibet. The Presidency advised all parties to act with restraint. It called on the Chinese government to renounce the use of force against the protesters and to respond to the protests in accordance with internationally adopted democratic principles. At the same time the Presidency called on the protesters to renounce violence. It emphasised the importance it gave to the right to free expression and peaceful protest. As we know, the European Union supports the territorial integrity of China, but it strives for peaceful reconciliation between the Chinese authorities and the Tibetan religious leader, the Dalai Lama, and his representatives. That is why our statement calls on the Chinese government to respond to the concerns of the Tibetans in respect of the human rights. The European Union is encouraging both parties to enter into constructive dialogue. This could be the foundation for a permanent solution which would be acceptable to all and would respect Tibetan culture, religion and identity. In addition to the previously mentioned statement by the Presidency, the European Union called on the Chinese government to allow independent international media access to Tibet. This is an issue that you yourself mentioned, Mr President. The Chinese have so far rejected the suggestion, saying that media access would be allowed as soon as the situation in Tibet became safe. The international community is still unable to obtain reliable information on the numbers of casualties among the Tibetan protesters. During the latest discussions, the Chinese authorities hinted to the Slovenian Presidency that, in the next few days, it would allow a group of European journalists access to Tibet and freedom to report. The Presidency hopes that this will come to fruition. I would also like to stress that we have asked the Chinese authorities for clarification on the future fate of those protesters who had not reported to the authorities by the end of last week. They answered that all those who violated Chinese laws would be prosecuted according to current legislation. The European Union expressed concern that further detention of protesters who had peacefully expressed their will might cause renewed tension between the Tibetans and the Han, that is to say the Chinese community in Tibet. At the same time the EU would like to stress that national security legislation should not be applied in order to restrict human rights."@en1

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