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12-december-2011-czechPrague - Senior and former Czech politicians, including Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, met the spiritual leader of Tibet, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, in Prague the Czech capital, on the first day of his three day visit (10-12, December), where he gave public lectures, talks and speeches on peace, democracy and Human Rights.

The Tibetan Nobel Peace Prize Laureate attended and addressed the Prague Forum 2000's "Peace, Democracy and Human Rights in Asia" event. The conference commemorated the first anniversary of a Nobel Peace Prize to the Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo and focused on the current state of democracy and human rights in Asia.

Tibet's environment is important for China:

His Holiness the Dalai Lama said that the Tibetan spirit especially among the younger generation in Tibet was extremely strong. He called on governments and parliaments to send fact finding missions to Tibet to find out the actual situation in the Himalayan region.

He expressed his deep concern about Tibet's environment. The environment is not a political issue he said. Tibet's environment is important for China as many rivers that start in Tibet flow through China. He said international environmental experts, including those from China, should investigate what damage has been done and what steps can be taken to prevent further damage.

Early on Sunday, His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressed the round-table conference on Democracy and Human Rights in Asia: One Year After an Empty Chair in Oslo at Charles University in Prague. Former President Havel who couldn't attend the conference due to ill health said in his message that we are entering a rather dangerous period where human rights and civic freedoms were being sacrificed for material growth.

In his address, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said that the 7 billion people share one home and the survival of this planet depends on us. We have to think about others' well-being. The Tibetan leader praised India for its democratic principles and said that there is accountability of governance.

Human Rights and the World Economy:

Regarding China he said that with its recent economic developments, China has great potential to make a constructive contribution on the global stage. However, he expressed concern about the present system of government. His Holiness said China needs respect from the rest of the world. Respect comes from trust, trust needs transparency. This he said was lacking in China. The Tibetan spiritual leader said China needs political reform. The Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has also called for such reforms in China.

In the afternoon, His Holiness the Dalai Lama spoke about his three commitments in life during the public talk on Searching for Happiness in a Troubled World at the Prague Congress Centre. He said he has always tried to promote secular ethics which he said must be promoted through education starting from kindergarten level.

The ultimate source of happiness is within ourselves. A calm mind and concern for others' welfare will help towards happiness. Compassion he said, is not about having pity for others, but a sense of respect for others.

"Human rights issues faced with ever growing economic might of a country like China are being trivialized and economic interests are being deliberately separated from those dealing with basic freedoms. And this is very dangerous, not only because solidarity with those pursuing freedom in different parts of the world is fading but also for the Euro-Atlantic area whose original identity is thus being lost," said the statement of President Havel. "We felt very intensely how important aid from abroad was for us, as well as the support and solidarity of people from various corners of the world who took interest in out activities," Havel added.

"It was a great encouragement when we saw that there are many people - often from very far away - who feel a similar responsibility for the world as we felt. We have been attempting now, for more than twenty years already, to return that solidarity that we received and to express support to all those who are fighting for human rights and basic freedoms in Asia and elsewhere. For people like Liu Xiabo and the likes of him all over the world," Havel further said.

Oldrich Cerny, executive director of the conference, said the joint declaration was the aim of this year's meeting. "This is doubly needed at the time when the notion of human rights starts to be eroded, while economic interests have started to assume its place," Cerny said.

Mr. Bernard Kouchner, former French Foreign Minister said that China is economically doing well but at the same time, there are lots of people imprisoned. The Arab Spring has worried the Chinese leadership, as they fear it will come to them.

Dr. Jianli Yang, President and Founder of the Initiatives for China based in Boston said that China is afraid of Liu Xiaobo, a key author of Charter 08. The Charter 08 called for democratic changes in China. Over 350 Chinese intellectuals and human rights activists signed the charter.

Meeting with Top Czech officials:

Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg talked to His Holinesss the Dalai Lama during his visit, at a short private meeting Sunday afternoon, Schwarzenberg said. It was "an inspiring conversation" as always and "a friendly private meeting," Schwarzenberg added without elaborating. Schwarzenberg is probably the only active supreme Czech politician who has met His Holiness the Dalai Lama during his current visit to the Czech Republic.

The meeting took place in a hotel in Prague centre where the Tibetan spiritual leader arrived with some officials and security guards accompanying him and a police escort at around 16:00. Schwarzenberg arrived a bit earlier and left the hotel before 17:00. Before the meeting, His Holiness the Dalai Lama gave a public lecture entitled "In Search for Happiness in an Uncertain World," at the Prague Congress Centre.

The Dalai Lama said he was concerned about the health of Vaclav Havel. He has offered Tibetan medicine to the former president of the country. Havel, 75, suffers from serious health problems and due to trouble with his breathing apparatus he spends most of his time outside Prague. His Holiness said since he was seriously concerned about Havel's health he recommended to him some Tibetan medicine. According to media reports, His Holiness said he had told Havel he was now his Tibetan doctor.

On Monday, Former president Vaclav Havel and the Dalai Lama signed an appeal to the international community asking it to support dissidents across the world at the conference Forum 2000. The declaration said the world recently focused on Asia's economy, but not, unfortunately, on the state of human rights, among others in China, North Korea, Iran and Syria. The drafters of the appeal also said the state of human rights was stagnating or worsening. An opener, free China would be of vital importance for Asia and the whole world, they added.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama was invited to the Czech Republic by former Czech president Vaclav Havel. His three-day stay is organized by the Forum 2000 foundation. He arrived in Prague on Human Rights Day. He had a short meeting with president Havel after arriving. Havel thanked the Dalai Lama, his long-term friend, for arriving in the country where people love him.

The Chinese embassy in Prague is always closely watching His Holiness' visits. The embassy claims he is promoting Tibet's secession from China during his journeys. However, inter-nation communities and Human rights activists have criticized China for its tragic occupation of Tibet sixty years ago and the current oppression of Tibetan people.

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