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Presentation by Dr. Batbayar Tsedendamba, AMBASSADOR OF MONGOLIA TO CUBA, FORMER DIRECTOR OF POLICY PLANNING , MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, MONGOLIA

Presentation by Dr. Batbayar Tsedendamba,

AMBASSADOR OF MONGOLIA TO CUBA, FORMER DIRECTOR OF POLICY PLANNING , MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, MONGOLIA

1. DEMOCRATIC TRANSITION

Over 25 years ago, Mongolia made a peaceful transition to democracy and a market-based economy.

Since then, we have made important strides. Mongolia has come to be recognized worldwide as a vibrant democracy.

We have fundamentally changed our old political and socio-economic structure and built a system with deeply embedded democratic values and market economy rules.

In 1992, we adopted our first democratic Constitution and held the first free elections to the newly established State Great Khural, a permanent parliament. We have held six successful rounds of parliamentary elections since then.

Mongolia dismissed the widespread assumption that combining political and economic reform is bad for developing countries, that it is not an Asian way. We broke that stereotype by our new choice.

However, our road to democracy was not easy. And it is still bumpy today. Democracy is not a destination, it is a way to go. But what is most important is that every Mongolian knows what it feels like to speak freely, elect public officials, enjoy both opportunities and challenges of market economy and have his/her private property rights protected. This taste of freedom is sometimes bitter, but we would not want to give it up for anything else. We are now in the critical time of strengthening the democratic society.

As a member of the international community, Mongolia is committed to helping protect human rights and freedoms around the world. We successfully chaired the Community of Democracies for the years 2011-2013, a global intergovernmental coalition of over 130 democratic countries with the goal of promoting democratic norms and institutions around the world. We successfully hosted the 7th Ministerial Conference of the CoD in 2013 in Ulaanbaatar, capital city of Mongolia.

While democratic advances worldwide are real, so too are the challenges facing the transition countries. As our forefather Chinggis Khaan once noted: “It was easier to conquer the world on horseback than to dismount and govern”. It is easy to tear down walls. But it is hard to build a free life. We all see the struggles in some Arab Spring countries. You cannot fix the problem by just replacing a group of officials with another one.

In order to help the emerging young democracies, Mongolia has established its first assistance fund - International Cooperation Fund (IFC). Mongolia has received generous assistance from many countries and organizations when it started its uneasy transition to an open society. Now it is our turn to help others. We have already started several projects under the Fund. We are actively sharing lessons of parliamentary democracy and legal reform with the Myanmar in South Asia and Kyrgyz Republic in Central Asia.

2. ECONOMIC TRANSITION

Mongolia‟s democratic transition has gone hand in hand with an economic one. Our economy was in a wreck over 20 years ago. However, as a result of consistent economic policies and driven by the mining boom, Mongolia officially moved from the low-income countries list to “lower middle-income country” status in 2011. The private sector's share of GDP reached around 80%.

For the past few years, Mongolia has also been one of the world‟s fastest growing economies. Our economy grew by an unprecedented 17.5 per cent in 2011. The growth moderated to single digit last few years after global economic slowdown weakened demand for Mongolia‟s main export commodities. This steady growth has captured the attention of political and business interests worldwide.

With these positive foundations, Mongolia is now at a crucial turning point. Its future prosperity is affected by a range of highly uncertain drivers of change, including the reliability of foreign investments and fluctuating commodity prices. It faces unprecedented opportunities for economic development, but also substantial risks, such as falling under the resource curse.

Our priority now is to maintain stable growth rates and use them to develop a diversified economy that creates value locally. This is potentially within our reach as we have started major infrastructure and industrial development while continuing our mining projects.

3. FOREIGN POLICY

The identity of Mongolia‟s foreign policy has been based primarily on its geopolitical position, especially its landlocked location between two powerful nations - China and Russia.

With the Democratic revolution, Mongolia adopted a peaceful, open, independent and multi-pillar foreign policy enshrined in the 1992 Constitution and the 1994 Concepts of National Security and Foreign Policy.

The Constitution prohibited the stationing and transitioning of foreign troops through Mongolia‟s territory. In its 1994 Foreign Policy Concept, Mongolia pledged to “pursue a policy of refraining from joining any military alliance or grouping, allowing the use of its territory or air space against any other country, and the stationing of foreign troops or weapons, including nuclear or any other type of mass destruction weapons in its territory”.

The 1994 Foreign Policy Concept further stated that “maintaining friendly relations with China and Russia shall be the top priority of Mongolia‟s foreign policy, and Mongolia shall not align to either country, but rather develop balanced relations with both of them and promote all-round good-neighbourly cooperation”. Through its modern history Mongolia learned all too well that in order to survive it should keep balanced relations with both its neighbours, without aligning to either. If Mongolia were to align itself too closely to either of them, it would surely spark alarm.

The Foreign Policy Concept further stated that the second priority of Mongolia‟s foreign policy shall be developing friendly relations with developed countries in the East and West. This was a clear implication of Mongolia‟s „third neighbour‟ policy, which I will talk about soon.

In 2011, Mongolia updated its Foreign Policy Concept taking into account the fundamental changes the world and Mongolia itself have undergone since 1994. The second foreign policy concept is not completely a new one, but largely the same old concept but adapted to today‟s world realities. However, it leaves intact the same principal priorities of cultivating closer relations with our two physical neighbours and „third neighbours‟.

The revised Foreign Policy Concept sets 5 priorities for Mongolia‟s foreign policy, which are as follows:

  1. Given Mongolia‟s unique geographic location, it is only natural that maintaining friendly and balanced relationship with the two neighbours remains our top priority.
  2. The second priority is to “develop and expand partnership relations and cooperation with countries and blocs of countries in the East and West in the framework of the „third neighbor‟ policy”. This way, the Concept officially declared the „third neighbor‟ policy of Mongolia for the first time in its history. I am proud to say that the United States is one of our major ‘third neighbours’.
  3. The third priority is to further develop bilateral relations and cooperation with other Asian countries, participate in multilateral cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as support efforts to strengthen strategic stability and expand security cooperation in East Asia, Northeast Asia and Central Asia.
  4. The fourth priority is to continue our active cooperation with the United Nations, its specialized agencies, as well as international financial, trade and economic organizations, and support efforts to increase the role of the UN in global governance.
  5. The fifth priority is to strengthen our bilateral relations with developing countries, including in the framework of the UN, G77 and the Non-Aligned Movement.

In line with the above priorities, Mongolia has established diplomatic relations with 186 countries and has 39 diplomatic missions around the world.

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