Accompanied by the Sikyong, Dr Lobsang Sangay, His Holiness the Dalai Lama spoke to a crowd gathering of Tibetans in Fribourg, Switzerland on Tuesday, April 13, 2013.
His Holiness explained the crowd how his retirement came about; how he semi-retired in 2001 when a leader was first elected and how in 2011, he decided the time had come to hand over all political responsibility to the elected leadership, according to the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA).
"China has accused us of trying to restore the system as it used to be – but we are following democracy and they are not," said His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
The Nobel Peace Prize laureate traced the evolution of the Middle Way approach, recalling that Tibet's last appeal to the UNO in1965, after three UN resolutions, was still ineffective.
His Holiness said that dialogue with China was the only option, the Middle Way approach began to evolve gradually from 1974 and the Chinese indicated some willingness to respond on several occasions since then.
The Tibetan spiritual leader emphasised that the 'Middle Way approach is based on non-violence' to seeking a meaningful autonomy for Tibet and Tibetan people.
However, His Holiness also stressed that it had been made clear as early as 1954 that Tibetans did not consider themselves to be under China.
The spiritual leader assured the assembled Tibetans that the Sikyong would speak further about these important matters. Recollecting the honest, if innocent, impression the initial 1000 Tibetans had made when they first arrived in Switzerland so many years ago.
His Holiness urged those living here today to continue to be careful to maintain their dignity and good reputation.
Meeting foreign press, the spiritual leader of Tibet gave several interviews to German, French and Swiss journalists. Inevitably he was asked about the Tibetan self-immolation protest that have taken place in Tibet and why he does not issue a statement urging them to stop.
“I have retired from political engagement and this is a political issue. However, we should note that these people could have sought to harm others, but chose to end their own lives instead. When this first occurred I expressed my sadness, but even then I expressed doubt as to the effectiveness of this kind of action. I certainly have not encouraged it.”
His Holiness challenged a suggestion that non-violence is not of practical value, pointing out that India achieved Independence through non-violent struggle and having done so was able to maintain friendly relations with Britain, the former colonial power. He pointed out that non-violence is a crucial factor in attracting the support of Chinese intellectuals and writers to the Middle Way Approach.
He was also asked what he might say to Xi Jinping if he were to meet him and his response was: “You are the leader of 1.3 billion people. As Deng Xiaoping said, we should seek truth from facts. Please do that. Analyse the reality of the situation then act accordingly. This is also what Hu Yaobang did.“
President of the Swiss Parliament Maya Graf met with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the political head of the Central Tibetan Administration Dr Lobsang Sangey in Fribourg.