Italy: South Africa wrong to deny Dalai Lama visa

Lapo Pistelli, Italy’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Lapo Pistelli, Italy’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.

(, Oct05, 2014) – Italy’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lapo Pistelli, has become the first foreign leader to criticize South Africa for denying visa for Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, for fear of offending China, according to Oct 3. The denial of visa led to the cancellation of the 14th annual World Summit of Nobel Peace laureates scheduled to be held in Cape Town from Oct 13 to 15 and severe criticism of the South African government from other Nobel Peace laureates, the country’s media, and opposition political leaders.

Calling the denial of visa short-sighted, Pistelli has said, “My good advice to South Africa on a friendly basis would be: please do not think about your political agenda.”

Pistelli, who was on a visit to Cape Town, has called the Dalai Lama a global icon that should be treated with respect. He has recalled that a few years ago Chinese officials also attempted to strong-arm Italy into denying him a visa. But, he has said, Italy would not dance to the superpower’s tune and the Dalai Lama regularly visits that country.

The cancellation of the summit resulting from the denial of visa for the Dalai Lama has also turned out to be bad for business. The Cape Town municipality believes, according to the report, that it had lost up to R60-million in revenue.

Also, the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry has been cited as saying the decision to suspend the conference will do little to improve investor confidence. “The dark picture will weigh on potential investors. There are always consequences for bad decisions which must be remembered,” the chamber’s Janine Myburgh was quoted as saying.


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