His Holiness Dalaï Lama with Delanoe and interpreter Mathieu Ricard on October 16, 2003
Henri Garat, Mairie de Paris/file
Paris May, 12 - The Socialist mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, has said he stands by his view about the Citizen of Honour that was voted by the city of Paris to be conferred on Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama in April 2008. The Paris Mayor was quoted by La Croix,
a French paper, as saying Monday that it "is not an interference in China’s internal affairs".
China warned Paris last week not to make more "errors" on Tibet by honouring the Dalai Lama with its honorary citizenship when he visits the city in June.
"If the Paris city government does make this award, it will definitely meet once again with the Chinese people's firm opposition," AFP reported foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu as saying during a regular news briefing in Beijing last week.
"We urge the Paris side to stop doing things that interfere in China's internal affairs and make no further errors on the Tibet-related issue."
As the Office of Tibet here announced the visit of the Tibetan leader early this month, media speculation has grown about the Dalai Lama receiving the Citizen of Honour.
Delanoe said the issue is not about interference and neither is it about giving up on his convictions to support democracy, peace and Tibetan people's right to freedom. Yet, he said, he is not trying to provoke the chinese by honouring the Dalai Lama, which is basically a decision voted upon and passed by the Paris city council last year. "There is no question of interfering (into Chinese affairs)," he added.
"I received the Dalai Lama a few years ago... As the Mayor, I accept the vote of the elected representatives of Paris to give honorary citizenship to the Dalai Lama. When I shall convey it, I do not know", Delanoe added.
France's President Nicolas Sarkozy (C) and Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama meet in Gdansk December 6, 2008. (REUTERS/Eric Feferberg/Pool/Files)
The Mayor while proposing the resolution at the city council in 2008 said that this is city's "homage to a person of peace" and "fraternal support to Tibetan people who are fighting for their fundamental
rights, their dignity, their freedom; and simply their life".
Tibetans are fighting "an unequal fight to preserve their cultural and spiritual identity, and its their existence as a people that they want to affirm. In this fight, Paris is in solidarity," the Mayor added.
Since 2001, Paris has conferred its Citizen of Honour on Mumia Abou Jamal (2001), Ingrid Betancourt (2002), Iouri Bandajevski (2003), Aung San Suu Kyi (2004) and, Hauwa Ibrahim (2005).
The Dalai Lama will be will be visiting Denmark, Iceland and the Netherlands before his Paris visit on June 7 and 8. He is scheduled to give a public talk on 'Ethics and Society' at Bercy Stadium, Paris, on June 7 before returning to India.
Sino-France relations soured considerably after French President Nicolas Sarkozy defied stern warning from Beijing and met with the exiled Tibetan leader in Poland in December 2008.