Frankfurt, Germany, 29 July 2009 (Phurbu Thinley, Phayul.com) - His Holiness the Dalai Lama on Wednesday arrived in Germany's Hessen (Hesse) state for a five-day visit.
The exiled Tibetan leader was received by the Hessen State Premier and long time Tibet supporter Roland Koch at a hotel in Neu-Isenberg.
Wellwishers and Tibetans gathered outside the hotel to welcome the Dalai Lama. They held auspicious greeting scarves and waved Tibetan national flag as the 74-year old Tibetan leader arrived under high security escort.
Jointly addressing a press conference later, Koch assured the Dalai Lama of the nation's sympathy for the plight of Tibetans.
The Dalai Lama can count on the sympathy and support of Germans in his efforts to bring greater freedom to Tibet, Koch said.
Koch, a long time friend of the Dalai Lama and supporter of Tibet's cause, also praised the Nobel Peace laureate's firm commitment to peaceful methods to raise awareness around the world of the plight of his people.
Following Koch's words, the Dalai Lama presented a traditional greeting scarf to him and said he was 'very happy' to meet a long time friend.
The Dalai Lama also said he was 'very very happy' to be in Germany again and described the purpose of his visit as 'mainly (to give) lecture for Buddhist communities' in the country.
The Dalai Lama is in Germany at the joint invitation of three organisations based in Germany - Tibet House Deutschland, Deutsche Buddhist Union and Pagoda Phat Hue, a Vietnamese Buddhist community.
Over the next few days, the Dalai Lama is set to give a series of Buddhist teachings and participate in seminars on topics such as peace, the environment, the economy and ethics in Frankfurt.
On Thursday, the Dalai Lama is reportedly scheduled to meet with Federal Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, a move that could irk China again. In 2007, relations with Beijing soured over Chancellor Angela Merkel's historic decision to receive the Tibetan leader at the German Chancellory for the first time.
During the visit, the Dalai Lama will also be awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Marburg before heading for a two-day visit to Switzerland next week.
This is the Dalai Lama's second visit to Germany this year. He was in the country earlier in February to receive the Deutsche Medienpreis (the German Media Prize) in Baden Baden.
The Dalai Lama and Tibet issue generates tremendous public interest and support in Germany.
The Dalai Lama first visited Germany in 1973. Since then, he's returned 35 times, making Germany his most-visited country in Europe. Interestingly, it is home to only a handful of Tibetans compared to some other European countries.
According to Gonpo, a member of Association of Tibetans in Germany (ATG), out of some 7000 Tibetans in Europe, only about 400 of them live in Germany. 'And the small Tibetan population is scattered all around the country in small numbers,' he says.
Gonpo and his family members, attired in their best traditional dresses, joined other Tibetans in and around Frankfurt to extend a traditional welcome to the Dalai Lama today.
Gonpo feels Dalai Lama's rare visits to Germany provide the best moment for the small Tibetan community in the country to come together and enjoy the pride of Tibetan identity.