Ireland Reaffirms its Tibet Concern
Dharamsala 24 December: Ireland has reassured its support for improvement in Tibet’s human rights situation at a meeting between Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Tom Kitt and His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Representative in London, Kesang Takla, on December 18, 2003. A press release issued by the Irish Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, “Turning to the broader question of human rights in Tibet, Minister Kitt reaffirmed Ireland’s concerns regarding the human rights situation in China, including Tibet, concerns which are shared by our EU partners”.
“The Minister also recommitted Ireland to using the EU-China Human Rights Dialogue as the best means of pursuing human rights questions with the Chinese authorities,” the release further added. According to the Irish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Successive Irish Governments have attached priority to human rights in terms of Ireland’s foreign policy. While overall direction of policy in this area rests with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Government has designated a Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs with special responsibility for human rights further enhancing their strong profile in Irish foreign policy. ”
Kitt also announced a grant of Euro 200,000 for development needs of the Tibetan communities in India, Nepal and Bhutan. Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Brian Cowen meanwhile told reporters in Brussels on December 18, 2003 that Ireland will work towards the adoption of EU Guidelines in support of Human Rights Defenders
and that it wants to mainstream support for conflict prevention into its engagement and dialogue with third countries.
Cowen, who was outlining the priorities of the Irish EU presidency, added that Asia is of increasing strategic importance to the European Union and that he will host an ASEM Ministerial meeting in Ireland in April. He hoped that this will provide a platform for EU and Asian Foreign Ministers to review the EU-Asia relationship. During an address to the Chinese Foreign Affairs College in Beijing on September 15, 1998, Ireland’s Prime Minister Bertie Ahern had said that it is necessary to enter into dialogue with all parties involved in a dispute if a viable and just solution is to be found.
“I believe that this principle is fully applicable in the case of Tibet. Direct negotiation with the accepted leaders of the Tibetan people would be both a desirable and a productive first step in helping to resolve this long-standing and distressing issue,” Ahern added.
The next EU-China Human Rights Dialogue is scheduled to take place in Dublin from February 26 to 27, 2004.