Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has been named an honorary citizen of Budapest while on a three day visit to Hungary.
The city's mayor Gabor Demsky conferred the honor at City Hall Saturday, saying the Dalai Lama has worked to promote peace and to preserve the cultural traditions of Tibet.
In his acceptance speech, the Dalai Lama said there is a special relationship between Hungary and Tibet because a Hungarian scholar and pioneer of Tibetology Alexander Csoma de Kőrös wrote the first Tibetan-English dictionary in the early 1800s.
The citation of the award says, “The title of ‘Honorary Citizen of Budapest’ be conferred upon Tenzin Gyatso, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, for preserving cultural and spiritual traditions as the leader of the people of Tibet, and for his work for peace and non-violence.”
While in Hungary, the Dalai Lama is also giving several lectures on Buddhist philosophy at a Budapest sports arena.
On Monday, he will deliver a speech in front of the Hungarian Parliament. No official meetings with members of the Hungarian government have been announced.
The Chinese government considers the Dalai Lama a separatist and often takes retaliatory action against countries whose leaders meet with the exiled leader.
China has long accused the Dalai Lama of leading a campaign to split Tibet from the rest of the country. But the Dalai Lama says he is only seeking greater autonomy for the region to protect its unique Buddhist culture.