His Holiness the Dalai Lama, arrives to the event 'Merci Schwiiz', by Tibetans living in Switzerland for some 50-years, in Zurich, Switzerland, Thursday, April 8, 2010. The Dalai Lama is on a five day visit in Switzerland. (AP Photo/Keystone/Alessandro Della Bella)
Dharamsala, April 9: His Holiness the Dalai Lama on Thursday met Pascale Bruderer, speaker of Switzerland’s House of Representatives, thanking her for the country’s 50 years of support for Tibet, media reports said.
Bruderer reportedly told the Swiss News Agency
after the meeting in canton Zurich her talk with the Buddhist spiritual leader was very interesting.
The meeting took place after a visit to the Tibetan Institute in the town of Rikon.
Bruderer, also a member of the Tibet Group in the Swiss Parliament, attended the ceremony at the monastery and called on the Tibetan leader after the ceremony.
The Dalai Lama later joined "Merci Schwiiz" (Thank You Switzerland) celebrations. The programme, jointly organised by the Swiss Tibetan Friendship Association and the Tibetan Community, was attended by around 400 guests and media representatives.
At the programme, the Tibetan leader thanked the Swiss Government, Red Cross and the people, local governments, organisations and individual for their generous assistance to Tibetans for the last five decades.
His Holiness with Mrs. Pascale Bruderer-Wyss, speaker of Swiss National Parliament. (Photo courtesy/Manuel Bauer)
“It is our Tibetan culture and tradition to thank those who help us. Therefore, I would like to express our gratitude to you,” the Dalai Lama said.
Switzerland accepted the first Tibetan refugees 50 years ago.
The Dalai Lama said Tibetans had positively integrated into Switzerland. The country’s 4,000-strong Tibetan community is the largest in Europe.
The Dalai Lama will not meet Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey during his visit, which lasts until April 11.
Officially, this was owing to scheduling conflicts, as had occurred on previous trips. Several parliamentarians, however, accused the government of bowing to pressure from Beijing.The foreign ministry cited scheduling conflicts, according to media reports.
The Dalai Lama, who arrived in Switzerland Wednesday, is due to take part in a conference at Zurich's Convention Centre beginning Friday and continuing over the weekend.
The Nobel Peace Laureate also had several other speaking engagements planned for the weekend.
Switzerland irked the Chinese government recently when it accepted two Uighur detainees who had been held without charge at the US military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.