His Holiness’ Visit to Germany from 28 May to 2 June, 2003
Tibet Bureau, Geneva: His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the spiritual and political leader of the six million Tibetan people began the Visit to Germany at Wiesbaden the capital of Hessen State in Germany.
In the first engagement on 28 May, Mr. Roland Koch, the State’s Minister-President, received His Holiness the Dalai Lama with honour. During the meeting, Mr. Koch promised His Holiness to help in whatever way he can towards finding a resolution to the Tibetan issue.
This was followed by a brief meeting with the Press at which His Holiness expressed his appreciation for the support that the people of Germany and Mr. Koch their interest and support for the Tibetan issue. During the brief meeting with the press, His Holiness said that today was the first day of his current visit to Germany and would like to send his greetings to all, including those working for building peace and non-violence in the world.
To a question about the Iraq war, His Holiness said in general, He was for bringing about solutions through peaceful and non-violent means. It was difficult to judge the merits of particular wars. For instance, His Holiness thought that despite the millions of lives lost during the World War II, it was able to protect western civilization. The Korean War also entailed great suffering but at the same time it saved South Korea from becoming a communist dictatorial state. As for the Vietnam War, it brought nothing but suffering; and in the case of Afghanistan, there are some positive elements. In the case of Iraq, it was too early to make any judgment, His Holiness added.
His Holiness appreciated the world wide peaceful demonstrations against the Iraq War but stressed that it was important to finding some established mechanisms for tackling problems through non-violent means.
In the afternoon, His Holiness held discussions with Mr. Roland Koch, some experts and intellectuals on the future status of Tibet and the recent developments in relations between Beijing and Dharamsala. Kasur Tashi Wangdi also participated in this meeting.
His Holiness thought it was important to work at three levels, namely, at Governmental, legislative and grassroots-public level to generate support for Tibet in Europe, especially towards the creation of a EU Coordinator for Tibetan Affairs.
On 29 May, His Holiness the Dalai Lama arrived in Berlin.
On 30 May morning His Holiness received a courtesy call from the organisers of the first Ecumenical Congress, which had invited the Tibetan leader to German capital, Berlin. Ms. Elisabeth Raiser, President of the German Protestant Church House and Prof. Dr. Hans Joachim Meyer, President of the Central Committee of German Catholics informed His Holiness about the overall objectives of this first Ecumenical Congress in Berlin and their happiness that His Holiness could come to Berlin.
A major engagement that morning was His HolinessÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â´ meeting with Foreign Minister H. E. Mr. Joschka Fischer at the German Foreign Ministry. On 29 May, the website of the Foreign Ministry had already announced that Mr. Fischer will be receiving His Holiness. After the meeting, the German Foreign Ministry website said that their Minister “met the Dalai Lama for an exchange of ideas” in the Foreign Office on Friday, 30 May.
During the discussion, His Holiness appreciated the prominent role played by Germany and Mr. Fischer to advocate peace and non-violence in recent times and thanked the German Government for their continued concern on the situation in Tibet, and for having raised the issue at the UN Commission on Human Rights through the Minister’s speeches. Mr. Fischer assured His Holiness of the continued support of the German Government for the legitimate rights of the Tibetan people.
While at the German Foreign Ministry, His Holiness then met with Ms. Claudia Roth, the newly appointed Commissioner for Human Rights of the Germany. Ms. Roth assured His Holiness of continued support from her office.
At around 2pm His Holiness arrived at the German Parliament to meet with the members of the Committee on Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid and Tibet Forum (German Parliamentary Group for Tibet). Outside the meeting room, His Holiness was received by Ms. Christa Nickels, the Chairperson of the Committee. At this meeting, His Holiness informed the parliamentarians about the recent developments in Sino-Tibetan contacts saying that the current visit of the Tibetan Delegation was a good development.
This was followed by a meeting with Mr. Wolfgang Thierse, President of the German Parliament. Ms. Antje Vollmer, one of the vice-presidents of the Parliament was also present at this meeting.
At around 4pm His Holiness arrived at Waldbuehne, the venue of the Public Talk in Berlin, to an overwhelming welcome and applause from more than 18,000 people. AFP reported that His Holiness spoke in support of the international peace movement saying that “the peace movement worldwide is very encouraging.” Beside governments, some individuals and non-governmental organisations should have a more active role in this efforts, His Holiness added.
His Holiness also said: “Religious faith and human qualities are two different things “Inner happiness and peace should rest on these qualities. Religion plays a very important role to sustain those qualities.”
At the end of the address, His Holiness thanked the organisers of the Ecumenical Congress for taking such an initiative of engaging in dialogue between Protestants and Catholics. This was the first jointly organised Church Congress held by the two main Christian organisations of Germany and attracted over 190,000 people including over 5,000 from around the world.
On 31 May morning, His Holiness the Dalai Lama met with members of German-based NGO, Society for Threatened Peoples-International. His Holiness thanked the NGO for its continued support to Tibet since early 1970s. Mr. Tillman Zulch (President of the organization) informed His Holiness about their latest public campaign (launched at the Ecumenical Congress in Berlin) addressed to Mr. Chris Patten of the European Commission to encourage PRC for opening of dialogue to resolve the Tibetan Issue.
His Holiness then spoke to about 150 Tibetans who live in Germany and advised them to embrace human values while carrying out their responsibilities to create awareness of the Tibetan Issue and to ensure that the younger generations at least grow up speaking Tibetan and if possible to slowly see the possibility for the children to learn more about the rich cultural heritage of Tibet. His Holiness highlighted that the Tibetan Buddhism is the true and complete form of Nalanda Buddhist lineage and that it is only the Tibetans who today practice and have preserved this tradition.
The audience to the Tibetan Community in Germany was followed by His HolinessÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â´ visit to the office of TSG-Germany. His Holiness thanked the German supporters for their continued support which His Holiness described as support for justice rather than a support based on ideology of pro-Tibet and anti-China. His Holiness advised the supporters to concentrate their activities on two levels, political activism and academic initiatives. On the academic side, His Holiness suggested that it would be good if TSGs could organise seminars that could discuss the overall aspects of situation in Tibet, and the ways and means to end the suffering of the Tibetan people.
On the question concerning the future fate of Chinese population in Tibet, His Holiness said that there were three stages of Chinese movement into Tibet, those who came before 1949 and 1980s and the influx of Chinese settlers today. His Holiness added that these issues could be dealt when we have been able to establish a sustained level of dialogue and contacts with the Chinese authorities. On Beijing-Dharamsala contacts, His Holiness also expressed the wish to expand the contacts to intellectuals and retired officials in China. His Holiness also urged the supporters to become compassionate and motivated persons bearing in mind the non-violence principle of the Tibetan freedom struggle.
Before leaving for Munich, His Holiness also gave audience to Board Members, Director and staff of the newly established International Campaign for Tibet-Germany that has its office in Berlin. The organization was established in November 2002.
On 31 May afternoon, His Holiness visited the home/office of Mrs. Wager (German Aid to Tibetans) to convey His Holiness appreciation for the wonderful humanitarian work of the organization in helping Tibetans in exile.
On 1 June, His Holiness granted audiences to members of Tibet Support Group-Munich. His Holiness then met with Mrs. Diekmann, the owner of Passau Publishing House in Germany that had helped UNESCO to raise funds towards the establishment of the Central School for Tibetans in Chauntra (HP).
His Holiness also met with Mr. Erkin Alptekin (Secretary-General of Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation based in Holland) and other Uighurs who represented various organisations based in Germany.
Later that morning, His Holiness arrived at the Technical University that was the venue of the international conference on Medicine. His Holiness spent around 2 hours at the university during which He spoke about the need to work closely with each other’s traditions by sharing the strengths of respective medical traditions.
In the afternoon, His Holiness gave a brief audience to members of Meditibet an organization in Germany formed by students of Trulshik Rinpoche. The organisation helps Tibetans and Sherpas in Solu Khumbu area of Nepal.
At around 4pm, His Holiness arrived at the Olympic Hall to thunderous welcome by more than 10,000 people. Before the Talk, His Holiness told the crowd how happy His Holiness was to be with two very old friends, Prof. Karl von Weizsacker and Mrs. Irmtraut Wager. His Holiness described Prof. Weizsacker as His Guru on quantum physics.
Mr. Christian Ude, the Mayor of Munich also attended the public talk. At the request of the Mayor, His Holiness wrote a peace message on a Tibetan paper which will later be engraved on a stone structure at the Olympic Park in Munich. At the end of the public talk His Holiness blessed a part of the stone structure when it was presented to His Holiness.
On the whole, the German media gave good coverage to His Holiness Visit with several leading newspapers featuring His Holiness on the cover-pages. The German Television and Radio also widely reported His Holiness Visit and the public talks in Berlin and Munich. His Holiness also gave separate interviews to three leading German TV programmes that were aired shortly after the interviews were granted. Two German newspapers, Abendzeitung and Tageszeitung, on 2 June published opinions they collected from the public about His Holiness’ Visit to Munich. An English translation of these views is included at the end of this update.
At several meetings and during interviews to the press, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said that his envoys are currently in China for the second time since last September. His Holiness thought it was a good start and hoped that the visit would lead towards finding a mutually agreeable solution to the issue of Tibet. However, His Holiness cautioned that it was too early to expect immediate or concrete results since the initial stages of the contacts with Beijing was a confidence-building period for the two sides.
As usual the Chinese Embassy in Berlin issued a statement on 30 May criticising top German officials for meeting with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The statement said: “The meeting of German politicians with the Dalai Lama contradicts the One-China policy of the federal government, hurts the feelings of the Chinese people (and) has a negative impact on the existing good relations between China and Germany”We hope very much that the government will continue to stand by its One-China policy and refrain from anything that runs counter to this policy.”
In reaction, Mr. Walter Lindner, the German Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson said that his government “considers, like its European Union partners, that Tibet is part of the state of China.” He said however that Mr. Joschka Fischer had assured the Tibetan spiritual leader that Germany supported “Tibetan demands for religious and cultural autonomy.”
German Public’s Views on His Holiness’ Visit to Munich:
Abendzeitung (AZ) – Page 9 under the title “AZ-Umfrage” AZ Poll, 2 June 2003
(1) Astrid Siegert, clerk from Eggenfelden
“His inner ease and composure, the friendly positive way that he radiates. Not only does he give impressive speeches, but exemplify what he preaches to others through his own life.”
(2) Klaus Siegert, Civil Servant from Eggenfeld
“It is so admirable the way he tells other human beings about the hardships of his people. He passes down to the masses the Tibetan culture and medicine. I listened to his address at the Technical University with great exhaltation.”
(3) Tanja Arfoni, student from Munich
“Buddhimsm is a much more lively religion than the Christianity, among others due to reincarnation. To meet the Dalai Lama is like meeting Jesus Christ.”
(4) Rafael Kotanyi, high school graduate from Munich
“The Dalai Lama explains religious topics in an objective way that becomes also comprehensible to non Buddhists as well. I have never seen him live before and I am very glad that I could now learn his views better.”
(5) Ruth Nasser, from the advertisement branch in Munich
“This man can give us so many thought-provoking impulses. It is really such a great thing to see him live, as I know him only from the TV until now.”
(6) Agnes Szabo, high school graduate from Munich
“Generally I find the Buddhist philosophy very fascinating which the Dalai Lama imparts to us in his very unintrusive way.”
Tageszeitung (TZ)- Page 2 “Why do you come to the Dalai Lama?”, 2 June 2003
(1) Ulrike Kupzog, age 49, house wife from Munich
“The Dalai Lama is one of the persons who I admire most in this world as he works for peace and tolerance. His path to non-violence is unprecedented. I hope to get support and inspiration from him, to become more patient and have more humour in my private life.”
(2) Ursula Wehrhahn, age 55, therapist from Munich
“He is a man for whom I have great interest. He represents views that come very close to mine. I want to listen to him, however, I do not have any expectations from him. The Dalai Lama has certain typical approach which I like. He is a role model for me and as such I come to see him even on this hot sunny day.”
(3) Henrike Carl, age 19, high school graduate from Graefelfing
“The way of living which he disseminates has universal validity. It is incredible how he conveys his wisdom. He hits the heart of the people both in the east and west. I hope that his words will give me strength and reassurance in my life and open ways for me that remained closed to me until now.”
(4) Christian Fischer, age 25, university student from Fribourg
“I have come specially from Fribourg to see him live today. I am interested in Buddhism. The interpretation in Buddhism is interesting for me because there is no hung-up system like in the Catholicism. In this fast moving time where nobody shows regards to others, I feel myself attracted by him.”
(5) Ralf Eberling, age 50, Head of a restaurant, Munich
“I belong to Evangelist church, but I admire the charisma which he radiates to the entire world. I am very active in our church as server and editor. But I am also interested in other religions as well. I will stock up my energy and enjoy his charisma. It is simply great to come to know someone like him.”
(6) Tobias Riemann, age 26, Professional, Munich
“I saw the poster with the announcement. I said to myself, lets to go see him instead of helping my girl friend to rennovate her flat. I consider the Dalai Lama to be a wise and intellegent man who might perhaps manage to bring the humanity together.”