This is the fifth visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Prague. I consider it a privilege to be in the presence of his radiant personality. I also hope that I can call him my friend. It is quite possible that some authorities in the People’s Republic of China, in the Czech Republic and also elsewhere are a bit nervous at this moment. But they have no reason to feel this way since we live in a globalised world, in a world that is interlinked, covered by the shell of one civilisation. Thus it is more important to support and nurture sovereignty of various groups of civilisations, nations and historical traditions. The global civilisation must not suppress or imprison the identity of any individual community. So if we call for a greater freedom for Tibet, we do not have in mind only freedom that protects Tibetan’s sovereignty from the pressure of an authoritative and territorial bureaucracy; we do not have in mind only the freedom of protecting the Tibetan nation from denationalisation, but what we also have in mind is freedom protecting Tibetan sovereignty from eventual pressure of big super nations, who might have the tendency to turn Tibet into a place of drastic concerns and perhaps also an exotic place. In other words they may turn it into a commercial article. None of this would be good and we have to be on guard. At the same time our struggle has to be non-violent as the Dalai Lama is the central figure of such a struggle.

I am happy to welcome you all to this conference. All of you come from different parts of the world, representing all those who support the Tibetan movement. At this conference not only will we get a chance to discuss and debate amongst ourselves, but we will also be able to do so with the representatives of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile. I wish your liberation much success and I hope that you fair well in Prague.