Your Holiness, Dr. Otto Graf Lambsdorff and friends, I would like to extend a warm welcome to you all not only on my personal behalf but also on the behalf of the Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic. I am extremely happy that this conference is being held in the Czech Republic because 14 years ago this country witnessed the fact that those in power cannot oppress the strength of the one’s spirit and its thirst for freedom and that they would eventually be defeated. We have not forgotten the support we received when our country was governed by communist imperials. So with all humility we are now trying to help others.

We are extremely interested in the fate of the Tibetan people and in the issues of human rights that are being oppressed by the Chinese communist government. Dr. Vaclav Havel was the first President of the newly liberated Czechoslovakia to receive His Holiness the Dalai Lama despite protests from the Chinese party. And since 1996 the town halls in all Czech cities hoisted Tibetan flags in support of Tibet. Today, 184 town halls have hoisted the Tibetan flag. In 1998, the Senate of the Czech Republic adopted a resolution in which it called upon the Chinese Government to release all political prisoners in China and Tibet and urged it to follow its commitments based on the international standards in the field of human and civil rights. Among the other issues adopted in this resolution were asking the Chinese Government to work on important negotiations with the Dalai Lama, to allow autonomy to Tibet, to allow free and safe arrival of Tibetans living in exile and suspend the policy of oppressing the Tibetan region. Two years ago when the international Olympic committee awarded the Olympic Games in 2008 to Beijing, we initiated the Olympic Watch Committee.

This international Olympic Watch Committee comprises of 13 people from all over the world. Other Czech non-governmental organisations also take part in the conferences of this committee. One of the focus areas for the committee is engaging in international alliances for the protection of human rights in China and Tibet.

The Beijing Government usually rejects the concerns of the democratic world and the existing human rights situation as an intervention in their internal affairs. This logic must be denounced because human rights are universal and the People’s Republic of China has committed itself in many documents to follow and support these human rights.

The Chinese Government also bring with it the fear of a certain amount of terrorism and separatism which in turn increases the concerns of the global public. We find this situation absurd because respect for human rights and freedom is what guarantees peaceful coexistence in today’s complex world. People who have rights and the hope that they can defend themselves openly have a natural tendency to support the rights of others and support peaceful coexistence. The fundamentals of human rights are based on a moral code, which is not defined by man, but by whom he is defined. Further, given the kind of globalised world that we live in, each and every person tries to follow upon what is just and what is unjust and what is free and what is not free.

Here I would like to make one comment on the universal nature of rights. When they are a part of a moral code they are viewed to some extent in a subjective manner. But we all have to reach some agreement so that human rights and freedom become a universal phenomenon. If we do not do this we will all be lost.

Terrorism and conflict are results of the lack of freedom and of oppression and not a result of freedom and plurality. The Tibetan culture is a peaceful culture that does not represent violent opposition to communist China. The urge for openness, compassion, love and peace which are inherent in Tibetan Buddhism also indicate an important dimension of Chinese occupation of Tibet because the regime in Beijing is in many respects in direct contradiction to this ethic. That is why communist China wants to govern the territory of Tibet and that is why Beijing’s development programmes are intended to oppress Tibetan identity.

However, we do believe that the situation is taking a turn for the better. We are happy to see that the constant pressure on the Chinese Government is bearing some fruit. The government in Beijing has started discussions with the representatives of the Central Tibetan Administration. These negotiations must continue and lead to clearing the way for the religious and political autonomy of Tibet. It is the moral obligation of the international community to continue to exert pressure on the Chinese Government to negotiate with the Tibetan Government-in-Exile.

Global media must assist the Central Tibetan Administration by highlighting the situation as it exists in Tibet and by reminding the Chinese government of its intention of continuing an honest dialogue. We need to use the years before the Olympic Games to focus on this more intently because China is now going to be the focus of the whole world and it will not be able to hide the truth any more. The global community will find more about the real situation in Tibet and its interest in the violation of human rights by the Beijing Government will grow. Groups supporting Tibet, who are represented at this conference and other non-governmental organisations will not only support this interest but will also use this focus of attention on China to exert more pressure on the political representatives of the democratic world and the Chinese Government.

Political representatives of democratic countries are aware of their responsibilities and will continue to remind the Beijing Government that the violation of human rights is something that cannot be tolerated. The dialogue between the government in Beijing and the Tibetan Government-in-Exile should strengthen and bring Tibet a future full of freedom.

I hope this conference will find more effective ways of addressing the problems in Tibet. Let me remind you once again that this is the message from Prague, a former communist country and let me also assure you that we firmly believe that Tibet will be free in the near future.