Tags: havel | obama | dalai | lama

Vaclav Havel Objects to Obama Snub of Dalai Lama

Thursday, 15 Oct 2009 09:06 PM

Former human rights activist and Czech Republic President Vaclav Havel criticized President Barack Obama for dodging a meeting with the Dalai Lama in order to curry favor with China, The New York Times reported Thursday.

Even though Obama has made clear he would receive the Dalai Lama after his visit to China in November, Havel found the gesture disturbing to human rights movements.

“It is only a minor compromise,” Havel said of the nonreception of the Tibetan leader. “But exactly with these minor compromises start the big and dangerous ones, the real problems.

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“This is actually the first time I really do mind something Obama did,” Havel said.

Havel is a fan of the Dalai Lama, who was among the first visitors to Prague’s storied castle after Havel moved in there as president, the Times reported. A picture of the Dalai Lama is displayed prominently in Havel’s current office in central Prague.

Havel recently joined other Central and East European leaders and intellectuals in appealing to the Obama administration not to abandon the region and to be wary of resurgent Russian imperialism.

“I truly believe that we should not treat Russia as a handicapped person,” he said in response to the suggestion that Russia cannot be expected to reach democracy swiftly after decades of Communism.

“It’s a partner country like any other, and the broader human principles or standards apply to Russia, as they apply to Burma, Brazil, the Czech Republic or any other country.”

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