Fifty legislators meet with the Dalai Lama in the Czech Senate, criticize statement by high officials
Approximately 50 Czech MPs and Senators met yesterday morning in the Senate with the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama. Czech MP Petr Gazdík, vice-chair of the Chamber of Deputies (for the TOP 09 and Mayors coalition) posted about the meeting on Facebook.
According to the vice-chair of the TOP 09 party, Marek Ženíšek, the meeting was a good response to a declaration made on Tuesday by the country's highest constitutional officials, who released a statement to the effect that a Tuesday meeting between the Dalai Lama and two Czech ministers was not an expression of any change in the Czech Republic's official policy towards China. Czech President Miloš Zeman, chair of the Senate Milan Štěch (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD), chair of the lower house Jan Hamáček (ČSSD) and Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (ČSSD) wrote that they would consider it unfortunate if the meeting between the politicians and the spiritual leader were to be construed that way.
Relations between China and the Czech Republic, according to the high officials, are very beneficial and useful and it is in the country's interest to continue to intensively develop them. Czech Culture Minister Daniel Herman (Christian Democrats - KDU-ČSL) met with the Dalai Lama on Tuesday.
Gazdík, Herman and Ženíšek subsequently criticized the high officials' declaration. "It's brilliant that our colleagues in the Senate organized this meeting. I think it's a great response to the statement by the chairs of both chambers. This is a figure who has a great deal to say to the Czech Republic and to the world, and it's a pity they are afraid to meet with him," Ženíšek wrote to the Czech News Agency when asked to comment on yesterday's meeting.
Czech Deputy Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, chair of the ANO movement, also stood up for Herman. "I appreciate you, Mr Minister. Don't be afraid - and don't steal, that's what Masaryk said," he tweeted yesterday in response to the declaration by the country's highest officials.
Ženíšek said roughly 50 legislators attended the meeting with the Dalai Lama yesterday, and according to photographs from the meeting posted to Facebook by Gazdík, they included the vice-chair of the Senate, Miluše Horská (KDU-ČSL), and former Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09). "As far as I know, the meeting took place in the Green Room, and whoever wanted to attend participated. That's about all I can say," the chair of the ČSSD club in the Senate, Petr Vícha, told the press.
Gazdík posted to his Facebook profile that the Dalai Lama spoke with the politicians about sincerity, among other things. "People recognize sincerity, who among you politicians is sincere and who is not. Without love and sincerity in your heart, the most beautiful speech lasts only a moment. Everything goes wrong when one's goals are self-centered," he said the Dalai Lama told the legislators.
Last weekend the Dalai Lama met in Bratislava with Slovak President Andrej Kiska, sparking protests from China, which has labeled the 80-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner a separatist who is fighting for the enforcement of Tibet's independence. Beijing considers Tibet an indivisible component of Chinese territory and has long criticized heads of state for meeting with the Dalai Lama.
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