Thursday, April 10, 2008


By Oana Lungescu - BBC News, Brussels.

MEPs want EU leaders to take a tougher stance over the Olympics. The European Parliament has adopted a resolution urging EU leaders to boycott the Beijing Olympics' opening ceremony. MEPs want China to begin a dialogue with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama by August. The resolution firmly condemns "the brutal repression" by China in last month's crackdown on Tibetan protests. It also calls for a UN inquiry into the events. Although non-binding, it will increase pressure on EU leaders to take a tougher stance towards China.

The resolution further calls on Beijing to respect its commitments to human and minority rights.
It comes as UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has confirmed he will not attend the opening of the Olympics on 8 August. Euro-MPs clapped as the resolution was carried with a large majority.
It urges EU leaders to adopt a united stance on Tibet, including the option of boycotting the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.

The assembly cannot decide EU foreign policy, but together with human rights campaigners, it is exerting strong pressure on EU governments to take a tougher line towards China, one of Europe's main trading partners. And that collective pressure seems to be working as, one by one, the leaders of the biggest EU countries indicate they might stay away.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she never intended to go to Beijing. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who will chair the EU during the Olympic Games, has suggested he might consider boycotting the event unless China opens a dialogue with the Dalai Lama to find a political solution to the unrest.



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