Jun 15, 2005

Tibet: Dalai Lama Meets Norway's Prime Minister

On 15 June, taking a principled stand as opposed to bowing down to China's pressure, the Prime Minister of Norway, Mr. Kjell Magne Bondevik, met His Holiness the Dalai Lama at his office
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Taking a principled stand as opposed to bowing down to China's pressure, on 15 June the Prime Minister of Norway, Mr. Kjell Magne Bondevik, met His Holiness the Dalai Lama at his office in the full glare of media photographers. The prime minister's act of welcoming His Holiness the moment the Tibetan leader got out of his car complimented the warmth and spontaneity with which the Norwegian public has been greeting His Holiness since his arrival on Tuesday.

The last time the current Norwegian Prime Minister met His Holiness was in 2001. Their first meeting took place in 1989, the year His Holiness was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. At the time, Mr. Bondevik was the country's foreign minister.

"The Prime Minister expressed his appreciation for the positive role that His Holiness has been playing in promoting inter-faith dialogue in the world and for his Middle-Way Approach in trying to resolve the Tibet issue in the best interest of both the Tibetan and Chinese peoples," said the Tibetan leader's Northern Europe Representative, Mrs. Kesang Y. Takla, who is accompanying him during this visit.

Mrs. Takla said that His Holiness on behalf of the Tibetans thanked the Norwegian Prime Minister for all the support that Norway has given to the Tibetans. His Holiness also told the Prime Minister how much he appreciated their effort in trying to help resolve the crisis in Sri Lanka and other trouble spots in the world.

His Holiness was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for leading the non-violent Tibetan struggle for freedom and for his efforts in promoting world peace. Yesterday he visited the Norwegian parliament where he was received by the Parliament President, Mr. Jorgen Kosmo, and had separate meetings with MPs and members of the Foreign Affairs Committee, all of whom showed keen interest in hearing from His Holiness about the current situation in Tibet.

This ninth visit of His Holiness to Norway is at the invitation the Norwegian Tibet Committee and the Norwegian All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet. The first time His Holiness visited Norway was in 1973.

"I feel that in meeting with His Holiness, despite strong protest from China, Prime Minister Bondevik and Norwegian Parliament President, Joergen Kosmo, have both enhanced their standing in this country and other parts of the world," said the visit coordinator Mrs. Chungdak Koren.

"It was also encouraging to see that most of the young MPs, below 40, attended the meeting yesterday in the parliament with His Holiness. This visit both at the official and public level was constructive and we hope it will further strengthen our resolve to promote the just cause of Tibet in Norway," she said.

Prior to the meeting with the prime minister, His Holiness visited the Nobel Peace Centre, where he was received by Prof. Geir Lundestad, Executive Director of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, and Mrs. Erichsen, the centre's director. His Holiness was given a tour of the newly built centre housing exhibits in traditional media with digital communication and interactive installations dedicated to all the Nobel Peace Prize winners. The room with information about His Holiness had visual images of Tibetan script and also documentation on Tibet. His Holiness delighted the visibly excited centre's staff members and others by reciprocating their greetings and shaking hands.

"I was honoured to meet him. The way he greets and receives everyone is very moving. For me he has been one of my greatest inspirations to work here," said Kirsti Svenning, who works at the Nobel Peace Centre as the media consultant.

Another staffer Hilde Sundre said that many of the staff who were off for the day also came to the centre today just to see His Holiness.

"I have a good impression about him. He seems to be very informal and friendly. It is a great honour for us to have him here," said Hilde Sundre, who works in the canter as the host and carried a walkie-talkie to communicate with her.

His Holiness' ended the day with a public talk on "Secular Ethics" at Chateau Neuf. The event organized jointly by the Norwegian Tibet Committee and Amnesty International-Norway, was introduced by Mr. John Peder Egenaes, General Secretary of AI-Norway.

Speaking against the backdrop of the image of the Potala Palace, his once winter palace in the Tibetan capital Lhasa, His Holiness said that the concept of "me" and "they" should not be there and that we must all consider ourselves as belonging to the same world.

He said that it is possible to be a good person without having any religious beliefs and that by secular he means respect for all religions or a non-believer.

"Try to be a warm-hearted person with less negative emotions. This is the way to lead a meaningful life with secular ethics," said His Holiness, adding that the same principle can be successfully applied while working for the government, business or other fields.

Answering a question from the audience, His Holiness said that the reason why the Tibetan people have not lost their hope is because support for Tibet is growing and that even in China, except for the authoritarian rule, changes which the Chinese people also want is taking place, especially in the field of economy.

"This difficult situation lets us practice determination. When there is a challenge, it helps us develop our inner strength," His Holiness said.

The event concluded with Ms. Tsomo Gyachungtsang, Chairperson of the Norwegian Tibet Committee thanking His Holiness for accepting their invitation and expressing the hope that more people will come forward in support of the just Tibetan cause.

For the small Tibetan community in Norway, His Holiness' visit was significant in many ways. Respecting the tight and busy schedule of their spiritual and temporal leader, they lined up near the hotel door instead of requesting for an audience. Many of them even bought tickets to attend the public talk to avail the opportunity to see and hear more of His Holiness.

"His Holiness' visit was very, very successful. I was pleased that His Holiness was met by the Prime Minister. The Norwegian people have always been extremely supportive and I am sure this visit of His Holiness will act as a reminder for the Norwegian people and the government to do more for our cause. Like in other places, His Holiness is held in very high esteem by government officials, parliamentarians and the general public in Norway. I really feel proud to be a Tibetan," said long-time Oslo resident Mr. Thupten Tenzin, who is making a video documentary on His Holiness' just concluded visit to Norway.

Tomorrow morning His Holiness, before returning to India, leaves for Berlin, where he will confer ICT's Light of Truth award to former Czech Republic President, Dr. Vaclav Havel, Dr. Otto Graf Lamdsdorff of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation and Mrs. Irmtraut Wager of the German Aid to Tibetans, for their "outstanding contribution to public understanding of Tibet and its current plight".

Source: TibetNet