sharing the Olympic spirit

EU foreign ministers reject call for boycott
Updated: 2008-03-30 09:15


BRDO, Slovenia-- The European Union (EU) foreign ministers rejected on Saturday the call for a boycott of the upcoming Beijing Olympic Games over the Tibet issue.

"We are separating the issue of human rights dialogue, intercultural dialogue and so on from events like Olympic Games and participation in those," Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel, whose country holds the EU presidency, told reporters after a two-day meeting here with his EU colleagues.

Rupel said the EU is not sending a team to compete in the Olympic Games and is none part of it, suggesting the 27-nation bloc is in no position to adopt a collective boycott.

Some EU politicians recently threatened to boycott the opening ceremony of Beijing Olympics in an attempt to press China on the Tibet issue, which was added to the agenda of EU foreign ministers' meeting at the last minute.

In a short statement on Tibet, EU foreign ministers did not mention the Olympic Games, while calling for an end to the violence and for a dialogue between the Chinese government and Dalai Lama.

Beijing has insisted it is willing to talk with Dalai Lama only if he gave up his separatist attempt.

The EU acknowledged Tibet is part of China and Chinese territorial integrity should be respected.

On Saturday, foreign ministers of Germany, Britain, Sweden and Portugal, among other EU countries, all voiced their opposition to the politicalization of the Olympic Games.

"A no to the Olympics in order to relieve our consciences would help neither the people in China nor the sports organizations," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband told reporters: "We are fully engaged in supporting the Olympics. We want to see it as a success, and I think it is right that the prime minister represents us."

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who will travel to Beijing to attend the opening ceremony on Aug. 8, said in London that Britain would definitely not be boycotting any part of the Beijing games.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt doubted the effectiveness of boycotts, while his Portuguese counterpart Luis Amado said: "We are not for a boycott. We will do everything to create the conditions to have a successful event."

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