Despite criticism by both Czech president Miloš Zeman and the Chinese Embassy in Prague, the Dalai Lama was warmly received by a large gathering at Prague’s Hradčanské náměstí this afternoon.
At 13:00, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader gave a speech in front of Prague Castle as part of the ongoing Forum 2000 conference, taking place from October 16-19 in Prague and other European cities.
Forum 2000, originally an initiative of late Czech president Václav Havel, aims to encourage democratic values and respect for human rights. This year’s theme is the “courage to take responsibility.”
Other prominent figures at this year’s Forum 2000 include Nobel Peace Prize recipients Frederik Willem de Klerk, former President of South Africa, and Aung San Suu Kyi, non-violent activist and political leader in Burma.
Live Facebook video of the Dalai Lama’s arrival and speech at Hradčanské náměstí was captured today by DVTV:
Earlier on his trip in Europe, the Dalai Lama met with Slovak president Andrej Kiska, an act for which China’s Foreign Embassy said it would “retaliate,” according to Reuters.
Don’t expect Czech president Miloš Zeman, a prominent figure in the recent expansion of Czech relations with China, to extend the same type of welcome.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, meanwhile, didn’t have an issue with the Dalai Lama’s presence in Prague, reports iHned.
The Buddhist leader is expected to meet with Czech Minister of Culture Daniel Herman and Vice Prime Minister Pavel Bělobrádek, among others, during his stay in Prague.
Live broadcasts from Forum 2000 today and tomorrow can be found on their YouTube channel.