Tibet's prime minister-in-exile, Lobsang Sangay, urged Europe on Monday to remember human rights concerns in its dealings with China, which EU governments hope could help in their debt crisis.
"We have always said that the economic interests of any country are important but at the same time human rights are equally important. This is our request to the (European) countries," Sangay told reporters in Brussels.
Sangay, in his first trip to Europe since he was elected in April, was asked about the risk that the European Union could turn a blind eye to rights issues in Tibet in return for financial aid from Beijing.
He will visit the European Parliament on Tuesday but he is not meeting with top officials including EU president Herman Van Rompuy, European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso and EU chief diplomat Catherine Ashton.
A few European government officials voiced concern about the rising number of self-immolations by Buddhist monks and nuns in southwest China, he said, adding that his government-in-exile does not endorse the practice.
"We do not encourage protests inside Tibet given the consequences" that protesters face, he said. "We do not encourage self-immolation."
Nine Buddhist monks and two nuns set themselves alight in ethnically Tibetan parts of southwest China this year in protest at religious repression.
The Dalai Lama fled Tibet following a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959. He later founded the government in exile in Dharamshala after being offered refuge by India.
Source: AFP Asian Edition