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Strasbourg — The spiritual leader of Tibet, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has told the European Parliament in Strasbourg that the EU should offer "constructive criticism" to China.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama arrived at the European Parliament on Thursday morning and his visit began with a meeting with the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schultz. This was followed by discussions with Elmar Brok, Chairman of the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs, prior to meeting with the Committee. Welcomed as an advocate of freedom, human rights and protecting the environment, His Holiness was given the floor.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate said he hoped that the Tibetan issue would be resolved. "There is hope and I think it is important that the outside world, particularly like the EU, think with sincere motivation in order to help the People's Republic of China with some sort of constructive criticism, is sometimes necessary," said the Dalai Lama.

"As human beings there are no differences between us, we belong to one human family. It's a great honour for me to have this opportunity. I am an admirer of the spirit of the European Union. In relation to our own problems in Tibet, we are not seeking separation from the People's Republic of China; we are not splittists although that's what Chinese hard-liners continue to accuse us of being.

"Since 2011 I have completely retired from political responsibility, which is handled now by an elected leader. I'm 81 and some friends say I look younger and ask my secret. I think it's to do with peace of mind and tackling any destructive emotions. Basic human nature is compassionate and all human beings have the potential to create inner peace. And I believe world peace can only be built on the basis of inner peace.

"I have three commitments I'd like to tell you about. The first is to promote a sense of the oneness of humanity, that we are all equally human beings. Generally we pay too much attention to secondary differences between us, such our religious faith, nationality, whether we are rich or poor etc. and neglect what we fundamentally have in common. As I mentioned before, I admire the spirit of the European Union and would like to see such a union in Africa and Asia."

His Holiness explained that as a Buddhist monk, a follower of the Nalanda masters, thinkers and philosophers of ancient India, his second commitment is to fostering inter-religious harmony. He remarked that all religious traditions make love their main message, supported by tolerance, contentment and self-discipline. He observed that in India all the world's major traditions are represented and live together in harmony. He asked if India can do it, why not other countries too?

On the way to a meeting with members of the Commission on Human Rights, His Holiness was surprised to come across a bust of his old friend, the late Václav Havel, and stopped to pay his respects. Mr Jagland introduced him at the meeting, but left to fulfil responsibilities in the Parliament.

Dalai-Lama-Joke-Council-Europe-2016-0Addressing the meeting, His Holiness began by acknowledging the members as brothers and sisters and reiterating his commitment to fostering a sense of the oneness of all human beings. He mentioned that many of the problems we face arise from our emphasising secondary differences such as nationality, ideology or religion. He is also committed to fostering religious harmony in the face of conflict stoked by short-sightedness, narrow-mindedness and political manipulation. He stated his third commitment as a Tibetan to protection of the environment of Tibet and preservation of Tibetan language and culture.

"It's my duty to thank our friends in Europe for their support on behalf of the 6 million Tibetans in Tibet."

In his answers to questions His Holiness stated that he thinks the idea of freedom and rights is based on an assumption that human nature is compassionate because such rights and freedoms don't allow you to kill or harm others. He repeated what he's said earlier this year in Geneva about human rights violations having causes such as an anger or hate filled motivation.

"The current education system with its material goals and an absence of inner values is inadequate. Unless we can change it the 21st century is destined to repeat the mistakes of the 20th century with its violence and misery," he said.

Anne Brasseur, Ambassador of the Counsel of Europe for the nohatenofear movement offered him the movement's badge, telling him they had three targets—poverty, corruption and hatred.

His Holiness's final words to the meeting were that "every human being can make a contribution to creating a better world. The key is to start to take action now."

During a public talk at Strasbourg Convention billed as 'The Dalai Lama Chooses Strasbourg to Meet Young People' and attended by 900 students and 1100 members of the public, His Holiness was cheered as he took the stage.

Speaking English translated into French by Ven Matthieu Ricard, he said: "Young brothers and sisters I'm happy to be with you. Meeting with younger people like you makes me feel younger. I belong to the 20th century, a time which has gone, which is now only a memory. The past can't be changed, but the future can still be shaped and it will be done by you, who belong to the generation of the 21st century. This is why you are the basis for hope.

"The 20th century was strewn with violence, none of which made the world a better place. So this century should instead be an era of peace, bearing in mind that world peace depends on people cultivating inner peace in their hearts. If, however, we are full of fear and anger, we'll find no peace. It will take determination and will-power and a strong sense of optimism without which nothing will succeed."

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