By Tenzin Sangmo
His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the 17th Forum 2000 in Prague.Photo_Jeremy Russell_OHHDL File Photo
DHARAMSHALA, Oct. 11: The President of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) Dr. Lobsang Sangay left for Prague on a four-nation tour stopping first at the 23rd Forum 2000 from October 13-15 in Prague, whose city council canceled the sister city partnership with Beijing earlier this week.
The council canceled the partnership as it entails recognizing the One-China policy that acknowledges Taiwan as part of China.
Beijing hit back on Wednesday at the decision with the Chinese embassy in the Czech Republic issuing a statement saying, “We urge the Prague city government to make a fresh start and to return to the correct path that promotes the development of bilateral relations. Otherwise, ultimately, the damage will be their own interests.”
Although Czech President Milos Zeman has pushed for ties with Beijing, the conflict has been brewing since the upstart Pirate party took over the Prague mayor’s office in November 2018 and took issue with Beijing’s “one China” policy regarding the sovereignty of Taiwan and Tibet.
The mayor Zdenek Hrib met with CTA President Dr. Lobsang Sangay on his visit to the city in March this year for the opening of the One World International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival.
Hrib presented a symbolic key to city gates to Sangay as a “symbol of trust and friendship” and resumed the practice of raising Tibet’s flag during the commemoration of Tibetan national uprising day “to show solidarity with your people and their uneven struggle for cultural survival within the People’s Republic of China.”
His Holiness the Dalai Lama had attended the conference in the past, now being attended by Sangay who took over as the political leader of the exile government following His Holiness’ devolution of political power in 2011.
Forum 2000 foundation and conference was started in 1996 as a joint initiative of the Czech President Václav Havel, Japanese philanthropist Yohei Sasakawa, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel.
The theme of the 23rd Forum 2000 Conference is "Recovering the Promise of 1989“.