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Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original
XAM closed +12.94% to A$0.096 Monday on the announcement. Trading a further +30.2% at A$12.5 Tuesday morning
Xanadu Mines intersects 665.7m of copper-gold mineralisation in Mongolia, stock jumps 13%
August 11 (Proactive Investors) Xanadu Mines (ASX:XAM) has now confirmed the presence of a significant mineralised tourmaline breccia system east of the high-grade Altan Tolgoi prospect at the Kharmagtai project in Mongolia.
Drill hole KHDDH344 assays are: 665.7 metres at 0.37% copper and 0.28g/t gold (0.55% CuEq) from surface; including 312 metres at 0.49% copper and 0.40g/t gold (0.74% CuEq) from 274 metres.
Xanadu said that the geophysical signature of the tourmaline breccia can be traced for at least 3.5 kilometres under shallow cover.
Drilling continues along the new discovery zone with step out drill hole KHDDH346 intersecting significant visible copper sulphide mineralisation between 140 metres and the 670 metres, the current depth.
Xanadu has now extended the strike length of the Altan Tolgoi system to over 600 metres and mineralisation remains open to the west, east and at depth.
The joint venture project is located in the under-explored South Gobi porphyry copper province which hosts Rio Tinto's (ASX:RIO) world-class Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold operation.
Xanadu and its joint venture partner, Mongol Metals LLC, announced the acquisition of a 90% interest in the Kharmagtai porphyry copper-gold project from Turquoise Hill Resources in February 2014.
Under the Mongol Metals LLC joint venture terms, Xanadu has the right to earn an 85% interest in Mongol Metals LLC, equivalent to a 76.5% effective project interest, by funding acquisition and exploration costs.
TRQ closed -0.59% to US$3.38 Monday
Rio Tinto CFO Questions Oyu Tolgoi Mine Expansion, JPMorgan Says
By David Stringer
Aug. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Significant deferral to negotiations with Mongolia over tax dispute may affect plans for underground expansion, JPMorgan analysts led by Lyndon Fagan cite Rio Tinto CFO Chris Lynch as telling a forum.
* Lynch told forum yesterday that expansion won't be approved unless tax issue completely resolved: Fagan says in note dated yesterday
* Risk of impairment charge on Oyu Tolgoi with Rio Tinto's next results is "relatively high," Fagan says
* NOTE: CEO Sam Walsh said Aug. 7 co. seeking to conclude talks before September deadline for $4 billion in project finance:
* NOTE: Mongolia's Tax Authority claims Rio Tinto unit has unpaid taxes, penalties and disallowed entitlements associated with the mine of about $130 million:
SGQ closed -1.72% to C$0.57 Monday.
SouthGobi Resources narrows Q2 loss on higher sales despite low prices
TORONTO, August 11 (miningweekly.com) – Toronto- and Hong Kong-listed SouthGobi Resources (TSX:SGQ, HKEx:1878) on Monday reported a narrower net loss in the second quarter ended June 30, propped up by higher coal sales, which was offset by significantly lower coal prices.
The Hong Kong-based miner reported a net loss of $23.17-million, or $0.12 a share, compared with a loss of $33.14-million in the same quarter a year earlier.
Two Bay Street analysts expected a loss of $0.073 a share on revenue of $17.6-million.
SouthGobi reported revenue of $6.7-million, marginally higher compared with $6.13-million in the same quarter last year, despite total coal sales nearly doubling to 630 000 t. This was offset by the average realised coal price falling 52% to $12.52/t in the period, compared with $26.26/t a year earlier.
During the second quarter, the company shipped 910 000 t of coal from its Mongolia-based flagship Ovoot Tolgoi coal mine that sells coal to Chinese customers, but only recognised revenue for 630 000 t, with the remaining 280 000 t expected to meet revenue recognition requirements in the second half of the year.
"The company continues to operate under difficult market conditions. Coal prices in China declined further in the second quarter compared to the first quarter of 2014 in response to excess seaborne and Chinese domestic supply," SouthGobi said in a statement.
Output in the quarter decreased to 550 000 t of raw coal, compared with 640 000 t of raw coal in the first quarter of this year. This decrease was owing to the company's decision in June, in response to current market conditions, to reduce its production and place about half of its workforce in furlough. This furlough was expected to remain in place until the end of August, subject to market conditions.
During the quarter, the company obtained a C$10-million revolving credit facility from Turquoise Hill to meet its short-term working capital requirements with a maturity date of August 30. At June 30, the company had drawn down C$3.8-million under this facility.
SouthGobi had also during the quarter completed the sale of its Tsagaan Tolgoi mining licence for net proceeds of C$1.3-million.
SouthGobi is 56%-owned by Turquoise Hill Resources, which took management control of the company in September 2012 and made changes to the board and senior management. Global diversified miner Rio Tinto has a majority shareholding in Turquoise Hill.
Turquoise Hill last week announced that it had entered into an agreement to sell a 29.95% stake in SouthGobi to Hong Kong-based National United Resources Holdings. National United would buy 56.1-million shares at a price of C$0.455 a share, leaving Turquoise Hill with a 26% interest in SouthGobi after the deal had closed.
- The trial date for the tax investigation case against the Company's Mongolian subsidiary SouthGobi Sands LLC and three of its former employees as detailed in the Company's announcement of June 24, 2014 has been deferred until August 25, 2014.
- The Company announces Mr. Brett Salt, Chief Commercial Officer, has resigned with an effective date of October 1, 2014. Mr. Salt has accepted a new role with another company. The Company will announce its new sales and marketing structure in due course.
MSE News for August 8: Top 20 +1.37% to 16,154.32, Turnover ₮20 Million
Ulaanbaatar, August 8 /MONTSAME/ At the Stock Exchange trades held Friday, a total of 21 thousand and 033 shares of 24 JSCs were traded costing MNT 19 million 972 thousand and 279.00.
"Hermes center" /8,460 units/, "Olloo" /5,000 units/, "Silikat" /2,500 units/, "Moninjbar" /1,192 units/ and "APU" /1,049 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value--"APU" (MNT four million 106 thousand and 896), "Talkh chikher" (MNT two million and 562 thousand), "UB hotel" (MNT two million and 500 thousand), "Sharyn gol" (MNT one million 540 thousand and 080) and "Hermes center" (MNT one million 438 thousand and 200).
The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 621 billion 677 million 065 thousand and 845. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 16,154.32, increasing by MNT 217.84 or 1.37% against the previous day.
MSE Weekly Review, August 4-8: Top 20 +2.02%, Turnover ₮87.8 Million
By B. Khuder
Ulaanbaatar, August 11 (MONTSAME) Five stock trades were held at Mongolia's Stock Exchange August 4-8, 2014.
In overall, 99 thousand and 882 shares were sold of 37 joint-stock companies totalling MNT 87 million 822 thousand and 774.40.
"State Department Store" /25 thousand and 091 units/, "Hai Bi Oil" /14 thousand and 228 units/, "Hermes center" /13 thousand and 390 units/, "Remikon" /12 thousand and 609 units/ and "Silikat" /8,000 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value--"State Department Store" (MNT 14 million 064 thousand and 670), "Tavantolgoi" (MNT 13 million 318 thousand and 065), "Bayangol hotel" /MNT eight million and 604 thousand/, "APU" /MNT eight million 057 thousand and 386/ and "Hai Bi Oil" (MNT five million 658 thousand and 878).
MSE News for August 11: Top 20 -1.54% to 15,905.02, Turnover ₮27.5 Million
By B. Khuder
Ulaanbaatar, August 11 (MONTSAME) At the Stock Exchange trades held Monday, a total of 14 thousand and 646 shares of 15 JSCs were traded costing MNT 27 million 518 thousand and 894.00.
"Olloo" /5,000 units/, "Silikat" /5,000 units/, "Tavantolgoi" /2,834 units/, "Gobi" /634 units/ and "Mon-it buligaar" /300 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value--"Tavantolgoi" (MNT 13 million 827 thousand and 750), "Gobi" (MNT four million 989 thousand and 605), "UB-BUK" (MNT four million and 012 thousand), "Mon-it buligaar" (MNT one million and 950 thousand) and "Silikat" (MNT one million and 150 thousand).
The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 598 billion 461 million 551 thousand and 041. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 15,905.02, decreasing by MNT 249.30 or 1.54% against the previous day.
MSE to Introduce Currency Futures and Options Trading
August 11 (infomongolia.com) In the scope of implementing the "Securities Market Law" by Mongolian Stock Exchange (MSE), the MSE has been starting to develop regulations on the currency futures and options contracts to trade via MSE.
By introducing derivative financial instruments into domestic market, residents, entities, companies and investors will be enabled to manage financial risks. The regulations on trading currency futures and options contracts will be determined by MSE and Financial Regulatory Commission in accordance with the rules of the Securities Market Law, and the MSE is planning to introduce the new system starting from October 01, 2014.
Moreover, the MSE offers Custody & Securities Services Masterclass, which was conducted at MSE on August 06-07, 2014.
This training was dedicated for market participants, who planning to be involved in this business.
The Masterclass was presented by Bruce Lawrence, Senior Post Trade Advisor of London Stock Exchange group, who has over 30 years of experience in this business. The objectives of the Masterclass were to acquaint the proposed organizations with the intricacies of the Custody and Security industry and at the same time assist them in their on-going development as a Mongolian sub-custodian. This Masterclass was addressed the important principles of the business and the produces and services required by the international investor community.
Mogi: GDP calculations have also changed from 2005 constant prices to 2010 constant price comparisons.
Mongolia 1H GDP Grew 5.3% Y/y, Statistical Office Says
By Michael Kohn
Aug. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Mongolia's gross domestic product, as measured by production, grew 5.3% Y/y in the first half, the National Statistical Office says in statement today.
* Mongolia's economy grew 11.7% last year, according to data reported earlier by the agency, and had 12.4% annual growth in 2012
* National Consumer Price Index rose 14.9% over the same period of the previous year
* Data is preliminary
Download NSO report (click bulletin on the left panel)
BoM MNT Rates: Monday, August 11 Close
August MNT vs USD, CNY Chart:
Mogi: looks like policy hike is not helping with shoring up MNTs
BoM issues ₮47.6B 1-week bills, total outstanding -11.8% to 380.1B
August 8 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 47.6 billion at a weighted interest rate of 12.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/
Mogi: nope, definitely not.
BoM issues ₮32 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding -14.5% to ₮325.1 billion, lowest since May 2013
August 11 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 32.0 billion at a weighted interest rate of 12.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/
Mogi: getting desperate
BoM Handbook for Foreign Currency Loan Seekers
August 11 (Bank of Mongolia) --
Link to handbook (in Mongolian)
Former President N.Enkhbayar faces fresh fraud allegations
August 7 (UB Post) Former President N.Enkhbayar, pardoned of corruption charges by the man who replaced him in the 2009 election, is facing fresh allegations of 1.5 million USD in fraud.
The Division Against Organized Crimes of the General Police Department initiated a criminal investigation of N.Enkhbayar, following allegations by one Mongolian and one U.S citizen who claim to have suffered significant financial losses because of his actions.
"N.Enkhbayar dealt with the U.S. citizen in December 2011 to purchase the current building of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP) at 1.5 million USD, and D.Tsengel, executive director of N.Enkhbayar's younger sister's company, Eskon LLC, signed the contracts.
"However, the former president paid only 500,000 USD, with the remaining one million USD still unpaid to the original owner of the building," says a source from the Prosecutor's Office working on the case.
The property, located in the first khoroo of Sukhbaatar District, is a 900 square meter, two-story building in Sukhbaatar District, previously owned by Imperial Gold LLC.
N.Enkhbayar and three other officials were also named as suspects in a 1.2 billion MNT fraud case. "MPRP's building has been forfeited by the police in order to use it for compensation for fraud early last week," the source added.
However MPRP Secretary General G.Shiilegdamba gave Unuudur Daily conflicting information, "Some news websites have been reporting that MPRP's building is closed. But our operations haven't stopped at all. No police have come to us and closed the building."
MPP calls for accountability from PM and Justice Minister over Gansukh visit
August 7 (UB Post) The Mongolian People's Party voiced their objection to Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag and Minister of Justice S.Temuujin's visit to Tuv Province Detention Facility to meet with the PM's advisor, L.Gansukh, ignoring a decision made by Commissioner of the Independent Authority Against Corruption D.Zoljargal.
Board Member of the Mongolian People's Party, Secretary J.Munkhbat stated, "The golden rule in democratic society is law and order. If the PM and Minister of Justice are violating laws, then Government and the Ministry of Justice won't be able to require the public to follow the law." The party requested that Chairman of Parliament Z.Enkhbold quickly assemble a special session of Parliament to charge PM N.Altankhuyag and Minister of Justice S.Temuujin with political accountability.
The Board of the MPP believes that the Prime Minister and Justice Minister's visit violated the following provisions in the State Constitution calling for, "democracy, justice, liberty, equality, national unity and the rule of law and fundamental principles of the state": Section 41.1, "the government led by the Prime Minister is responsible before parliament for the implementation of state laws", and Section 21.2 of the Criminal Law, "inquirer, investigator, prosecutor in the proceedings of their powers act independently of one agency official in accordance with the procedures prescribed by law."
The Prime Minister's visit violated Provision 19.2 of Article 19 of the Law of Implementation of Detention of a Suspect and the Arrest of the Accused, the April 2013 order of the Minister of Justice No. A/75, and Provision 12.1 of Article 12 on revised procedures for arrest and detention. The MPP believes that the actions taken by the Prime Minister should be considered a criminal offense in a special class of the Criminal Law under Provision 245.2 of Article 245.
Vice Speaker L.Tsog voices concern over not taking government stake in Tsagaan Suvarga deposit
August 7 (UB Post) On Monday, Vice Chairman of the Parliament L.Tsog met with journalists to voice his objection to recent decisions by the Constitutional Court. The Vice Chairman believes the Parliament's resolution on "State ownership of the Tsagaan Suvraga deposit" is unconstitutional.
As stated in the resolution, state ownership of the Tsagaan Suvraga (white stupa) deposit is not required. L.Tsog considers this a significant breach of the law, as it violates the constitution, and opposes the Constitutional Court setting the resolution aside. The Vice Chairman pointed out that devaluing major strategic mineral deposit with explorations funded by the state budget can lead to illegal transfers to private ownership.
Office of Media and Public Relations Department of the Parliament reported that lawyer S.Narangerel shared L.Tsog's opposition to the actions of the Constitutional Court.
Mongolia looks to add ₮60-70 billion to budget through privatization
August 7 (UB Post) The Government for Change has decided to privatize 22 state-owned companies and add 60 to 70 billion MNT to the state budget.
The privatization process will be completed over the next two years. The relevant standing committees of legislative organizations will discuss and finalize decisions to implement the change. The privatization process will be transparent to the public and officials in charge say that issues regarding employees of the companies being privatized will be resolved fairly. State ownership in nine out of the 22 state-owned companies will be decreased, while three companies will be 100 percent privatized.
According to a preliminary estimate, privatization would add 60 to 70 billion MNT to the state budget.
The government will also sell its buildings no longer in use. Asking prices for the companies and buildings are estimated to be between 120 million MNT to 4 billion MNT.
Mogi: some news sites are reporting that State Secretary of Ministry of Roads & Transportation B. Batzaya was relieved of his duties during this meeting. He was the former executive director of Mongolian Railways and a close confidante of former minister Kh. Battulga.
Cabinet Meeting in Brief, August 7
August 8 (infomongolia.com) The regular Cabinet meeting of the Government of Mongolia was held on August 7th through which the following issues were resolved accordingly.
- The resultative conclusion were issued regarding the recent official visit of the President of Mongolia to Japan between July 21 and July 24 and the Minister of Foreign Affairs L.Bold has been obliged to take this issue into consideration during the upcoming regular meeting of the National Security Council of Mongolia.
- Since July 1, 2014, the ongoing customs procedure for 24/7 active operation in Altanbulag Free Trade Zone enables to increase the trade, investment, products and goods inflow across the border. Therefore, the short-term procedural order shall be extended until December 31, 2014 based upon the majority of Government members suggestions and the Deputy Prime Minister D.Terbishdagva, the Minister of the Cabinet Office of the Government of Mongolia Ch.Saikhanbileg, Minister of Economic Development N.Batbayar, Minister of Finance Ch.Ulaan and the Minister of Justice Kh.Temuujin had been obliged to take further measures accordingly.
- The Government members had agreed upon that the related Government resolution must be issued to approve the Intergovernmental Agreement on enhancing the national security level between Government of Mongolia and the Government of Republic of Turkey which signed off on April 11, 2013 in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
- During the Cabinet meeting, the Minister of Finance Ch.Ulaan had an approval to finance the required sum of 36.8 million MNT (Tugrug) from the Government Reserve Fund to ensure reliability of the power source supply of the Government Palace of Mongolia.
Cabinet Meeting in Brief – Montsame, August 8
Nat'l Programme on Fine Arts Approved to Support Domestic Production
By B. Khuder
Ulaanbaatar, August 8 (MONTSAME) The cabinet meeting held Thursday approved the "Mongolian creative works" national programme, and then ordered Ts.Oyungerel, the Minister of Culture, Sport and Tourism, to annually work out and approve a plan for realizing the programme, and to put control over it.
Main objectives of the programme are to produce films, novels and music arts, to transfer them into electronic forms, to deliver them to the public, to enrich the media organizations with national contents, to propagandize them across the world and to strengthen the immunity of national arts and culture.
In frames of the programme, Mongolian national creative works which are conserved in archives and collectors will be renovated, therefore the national creative works funds are expected to be enriched.
Construction Ministry to Transfer Certain Responsibilities to Professional NGO
By B. Khuder
Ulaanbaatar, August 8 (MONTSAME) At its meeting on Thursday, the cabinet backed an issue of imposing some directions to NGO of the construction sector by establishing contracts.
The directions include drawing up documents of urban planning, designs of constructions and buildings, performing the construction works and granting licenses to legal subjects for productions of constructions, lifting constructions, their spare parts and tools, assembling and repairing works.
The Minister of Construction and Urban Development Ts.Bayarsaikhan was ordered to reflect responsibilities and duties of the sides in contracts and to monitor the contracts' implementation.
Mogi: things are heating up
'Street' project under investigation for alleged overspending
By M. Zoljargal
August 10 (UB Post) The Independent Authority Against Corruption (IAAC) is investigating the "Street" project, funded by the Chinggis Bond, to find out whether it has overspent its budget, reported E.Amarbat, head of the Investigation Division at IAAC.
The project, coordinated by the Ministry of Economic Development, is responsible for most of the major road and upgrade developments in Ulaanbaatar and has been well-received by the public. However, local media has been reporting that the project has spent roughly 50 million USD from the Samurai Bond fund for unspecified reasons.
B.Batbold, director of the "Street" project, confirmed that the IAAC is investigating the project, but explained, "The IAAC hasn't called us for interrogation and initiated a criminal case, as the media has been reporting."
He denied the news about overspending, "We don't have any rights to freely spend the bond funds. But I'm allowed to allocate payments and spend a certain amount of money on purchasing required equipment as the director of this project."
"I have purchased office furniture, desktop computers and four cars for our project's daily work for 470 million MNT, according to the Labor Law and Civil Law, which states the duties of employers to create safe, well set up and healthy working conditions for its employees," added B.Batbold at a press conference on Thursday.
How precious is Mongolian life?
By Jargalsaikhan Dambadarjaa
August 10 (UB Post) According to the statistics produced by Mongolia's traffic police, car accidents took 420 lives and injured more than 1,200 people in the last four years in our country that has a population of less than three million. A lot of people were injured and spent days in the hospital. Unfortunately, the number of car accidents is going up by a two-digit number every year. In comparison, the United States, which has a population of 315 million, lost approximately 440 soldiers every year for a decade of war in Iraq. How many more lives have to be lost in this undeclared war of car accidents?
The 2013 traffic police statistics suggest that drivers were at fault for 97 percent of a total of 18,400 car accidents, while pedestrians were at fault for 2.6 percent, and road conditions caused 0.2 percent of accidents. It is the drivers who are at fault for speeding (in 1,486 cases), driving under the influence (1,820), and violating traffic rules at road junctions (1,910). Inattentive driving and lack of spatial awareness caused 2,290 and 4,888 car accidents respectively. If we can investigate such causes thoroughly and analyze them properly, we will be able to stop putting so many lives at risk. This kind of investigation might reveal many faults, such as failure to switch headlights, driving in both lanes, and sidewalks being traded by senior officials. This article discusses two of these faults that are directly dependent on the government and us.
1. FORGOTTEN ROAD MAINTENANCE
The government has picked up a habit of building a road and almost completely forgetting about its maintenance after the completion of its construction. After commissioning any bitumen road, mid-term road maintenance has to be done after four to six years to increase the thickness of the surface by two to three cm and repaint lane lines. The politicians who are evaluated on the length of the roads they build rather than their quality do not think beyond the next election and solely focus on completing construction work. Furthermore, the government does not allocate much funding for road maintenance.
The width and thickness of roads are reduced to accommodate the funds given as bribes to win tenders. It cuts the budget of a project and decreases the quality of the final product. Also, poor inspection does not help the situation. As a result, new roads built in Mongolia start having cracks and potholes after only a year. The funds allocated for road maintenance are received years later and can be ten times less than what they were supposed to be. The funds are not enough to do anything more than fix a few big potholes, refill several cracks, and re-erecting some poles.
How can a driver have spatial awareness when most of the paved roads in Mongolia have not had proper maintenance in a long time and no longer have white lines on them? It is absolutely sad that many precious lives are being lost because of the potholes that appear due to faults of the incapable, unaccountable, and corrupt government.
The 2013 traffic police investigations revealed that about 75 percent of drivers and passengers who were involved in a car accident did not wear their seatbelts while only four percent of them were wearing their seatbelts at the time of the accident. It was not definitively concluded if passengers were wearing their seatbelts in about 20 percent of all the cases. Drivers and passengers do not wear seatbelts or use child safety seats when traveling in the countryside. It leads to fatalities when there is an accident.
Using seatbelts reduces the risk of injury and death in a collision by 40 to 65 percent. A study shows that a person who does not wear a seatbelt is four times as likely to have a concussion than those who are wearing their seatbelts. Also, half of the people who do not wear seatbelts receive facial, head, and spinal injuries. An American friend, who was a traffic police officer for his entire life, once told me that he had never pulled out a dead person who had worn his seatbelt in a car accident.
The traffic rules of Mongolia require drivers and passengers to wear seatbelts at all times in vehicles equipped with seatbelts. Although we are increasingly seeing improved compliance to these rules, there is almost no culture where passengers in the backseat wear their seatbelts. We are still carrying our children on our laps without any protection.
Many countries in the world have laws that require everyone in a vehicle to wear seatbelts. Regardless of whether it is required by law or not, we must always use seatbelts when traveling in a car. However, we still do not fully understand the need, despite losing hundreds of lives. Seatbelts must be worn before the vehicle starts moving. It is time to demand taxis and the buses that travel between cities to always have their seatbelts ready for use.
We also need to take the social cost of car accidents into account. The traffic police data suggests that car accidents caused 2.5 billion tugrugs in damages, 74 percent of which has been compensated, in the first half of 2014. There is a cost as big as one-third of our economy created by car accidents. We need to stop all types of faulty car insurance policies and introduce an accident prevention plan.
How precious is the life of a Mongolian?
Trans. by B.AMAR
Mongolian Tax Authority unveils new tax E-Payment System with USAID support
By B. Khuder
Ulaanbaatar, August 8 (MONTSAME) With support from the USAID-funded Business Plus Initiative Project (BPI), the General Department of Taxation (GDT) launches its new E-Payment System on Friday.
The GDT upgraded and launched its new e-tax filing system in early 2014, which now reaches more than 70 percent of taxpayers. In order to facilitate payment of taxes, USAID supported the GDT in developing an E-payment System with two user-friendly options. Under the first option, taxpayers can visit the GDT e-filing website and make payments using a debit or credit card and with the second option, taxpayers can pay taxes directly from their personal banking system. Golomt, Khan Bank, and State Bank partnered with the GDT to pilot the latter option under this initiative, providing e-payment access through banks to more than 80% of the taxpayer base. GDT plans to expand this service via all commercial banks in Mongolia. Before E-payment, taxpayers needed to make tax payments at their bank and then visit the GDT office, where a tax inspector would enter payment information to the system based on the bank payment slip. The new E-payment options will make paying taxes easier, cheaper, safer and faster by connecting GDT and banks electronically with just a few clicks, eliminating physical visits to banks and the tax office.
During the launch event, the GDT and commercial banks will demonstrate and explain the new e-payment system to taxpayers. "Improved information technology support is an important enabler for the implementation of tax administration reforms and for the enhanced performance of the GDT. We also recognize that partnerships with leading commercial banks are key to accelerating the migration of our taxpayers to a 'cashless society' throughout Mongolia," said T. Batmagnai, Commissioner of the GDT.
Commenting on this partnership, Golomt's Chief Executive Officer, G. Ganbold said: "This new e-payment system demonstrates Golomt's vision which is to provide our customers with convenient, accessible and reliable financial services as part of our commitment to contribute to the economic development of Mongolia,"
E-payment is part of USAID's broader collaboration through technical assistance, capacity-building for more than 500 tax officers and 3,000 taxpayers tax preparers, and public awareness to support the Mongolian tax administration in modernizing and introducing compliance simplification measures through tax e-filing and e-payment, aimed at improving the business climate and enhancing private sector development and growth. The introduction of electronic filing and e-payment is expected to significantly reduce the number of payments and the time to comply with tax obligations as measured by the World Bank Doing Business Report.
Since 1991, USAID has provided over $230 million worth of technical and humanitarian assistance in support of Mongolia's democratic, economic and social transition.
GENIE ENERGY LTD. REPORTS SECOND QUARTER 2014 RESULTS
NEWARK, NJ - August 7, 2014: Genie Energy Ltd. (NYSE: GNE, GNEPRA) reported revenue of $48.8 million and a net loss attributable to common stockholders of $5.2 million ($0.24 per fully diluted share), for the second quarter, the three months ended June 30, 2014.
Genie Mongolia -- Oil Shale Exploration Project in Central Mongolia
In April 2013, Genie Mongolia and the Petroleum Authority of Mongolia entered into an exclusive oil shale development agreement to explore and evaluate the commercial potential of oil shale resources on a 34,470 square kilometer area in Central Mongolia. In 2Q14, Genie Mongolia continued surface mapping and other geophysical evaluation work of the area. Any subsequent commercial operations would be contingent upon implementation of a regulatory framework by the government for the permitting and licensing of commercial oil shale operations. Genie Energy continues to evaluate its operations in Mongolia in light of regulatory factors.
Altanbulag Free Trade Zone Collects ₮13.6 Million in Taxes Since June Opening
August 8 (Mongolian Economy) The Altanbulag Free Trade Zone became a reality this past June after ten years of planning. Mongolian and Russian citizens have been able to cross the free trade zone without any problems. The international exhibition and trade event hosted at the end of June attracted investors and improved trade flow, marking the success of this now robust area.
Since the establishment of the free trade zone, MNT 484.9 million worth of products have entered with the required registration. Tax income from these products amounted to MNT 13.6 million and MNT 62.2 thousand worth of fees were collected for the national budget. The 24-hour operation of the free trade zone has done well to increase trade flow between both Russia and Mongolia.
Shizuoka firms seek business opportunities in Mongolia
August 8 (Mongolian Economy) Last month, the president paid an official visit to Japan as a continuation of bilateral partnership between both nations. This high level visit and meeting resulted in the signing of a bilateral partnership agreement. Japanese businesspeople from the Shizuoka Prefecture also visited Mongolia to see how the economy and businesses run.
Japanese businesspeople are interested in what Mongolia has to offer since it is abundant in agricultural and mining reserves. Most of these Japanese businesspeople come from industries relating to real estate, commerce and trade, construction, infrastructure, automobile parts and tea.
On the Mongolian side, ten companies participated in the meeting including Khuvsgul-Ikh Taiga, TESO, Monland, Metal and Wood, Mongolian Hotels Association and Corporate Hotel.
80% of Mongolians hold bank accounts
August 8 (Mongolian Economy) For a small population of 2.9 million, Mongolia scores high on the list of financial inclusion intakes. Its access to financial services is impressive given its largely nomadic lifestyle. Any kind of service provisions is hard to come by given that its infrastructural systems are lacking, especially in terms of transportation. According to the World Bank's 2012 Global Financial Inclusion Database, 80% of Mongolians hold a formal bank account. This number exceeds those of its neighboring countries such as China, Russia and Kazakhstan.
In addition, Mongolia also ranks higher than other low-to-middle income countries in almost every financial inclusion variable. The only exception is health insurance. One in four Mongolian citizens has a loan and 10% more women have bank accounts than men. This statistic rivals that of North America and the Euro area.
GIA warns businesses of increased cyber crimes
August 7 (UB Post) The Cyber Security Agency (CSA) of the General Intelligence Agency of Mongolia has recently advised the public to enhance their online security systems and practice caution online, following a rising number of complaints about hacking and fraud.
Lately, several organizations and individuals who conduct international trade have had their emails hacked or become victims of fraud due to poor knowledge about protecting their personal data from criminals.
Following the rise of cybercrime, the CSA is advising businesses, especially those with international relations, to closely check sender's email addresses, check the domain users of partner companies, to confirm business partner's names, bank accounts and bank names with a phone call, resetting email passwords according to international standards includes letters, digits, characters and capitalization, regularly change passwords, and to contact professional organizations if they receive suspicious emails.
Forum seeks to expand South Korea, Mongolia economic ties
By B. Enkhtsetseg
August 11 (Mongolian Economy) South Korea, a nation with a GDP of USD 23,600, is home to the 12th largest economy in the world. Starting today, South Korea sent business representatives to Mongolia to participate in a two-day event called the Mongolian and Korean Economic Forum. This meeting aims to intensify bilateral and economic partnership between both countries in addition to pushing the initiative to build a free trade agreement, adopting high technologies, incentivizing students to pursue studies in South Korea and providing licenses to Mongolian businesspeople to conduct their enterprises.
According to the Mongolian Ambassador to South Korea, B. Ganbold, Mongolian passengers to South Korea reached 100,000. In 2013, trade between both nations amounted to USD 500 million. Next year also marks the 25th year of diplomatic ties. The Speaker of Parliament and the Foreign Affairs Minister paid an official visit to South Korea this year. This forum is one of two main events following the trip.
Mongolians who have traveled to South Korea are now using visa facilitation, placing smaller amounts of money within their bank accounts for travel. The burdens of the visa process have also diminished, allowing for greater ease of travel. Korean officials said that Mongolia has vast land and is rich in mineral resources, but it has a small population and weak infrastructure. Both countries can work together to fix each other's problems and share each other's successes. A member of the Democratic Party of South Korea also emphasized the tourism sector as Mongolia is now one of the top destinations of South Koreans.
South Korea currently ranks in 17th place according to the innovation indicator of the world. South Korea would like to partner with Mongolia due to its abundance of natural resources. Mongolian representatives said that South Korea uses rare earth minerals on a massive scale thus Mongolia will act as a supplier.
The Director of Mongolian Business Council, B. Byambasaikhan, says that if you invest capital worth over MNT 500 billion, you can establish an investment agreement with the government that will get rid of custom and value-added taxes. Thus, Mongolia can further invest in infrastructure, energy and transportation.
"Daelim" Corporation and Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi signed a memorandum last winter and signed an official agreement today to cooperate in real estate and coal transportation. "Daelim" will serve as a transporter of 1 million tons of coal per year from ETT. However, the Director of "Daelim" is worried about payment for their service as he is concerned of ETT's ability to pay in full. Also, ETT began cooperation with Korea Gas six months ago and will further collaboration on methane gas in the coal.
The Mongolia- Korea Economic Forum will end tomorrow with a trip to Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi. Business representatives from both sides hope to hold this event twice a year from now on.
List of risky import goods approved as part of 100-day action plan
By B. Mendbayar
August 10 (UB Post) A list of high-risk import goods compiled by Border Specialized Inspection was approved under the Deputy Minister of Mongolia's List Approval Decree No. 60, as part of the 100-day plan to intensify the economy.
Upon clarifying the list of risky imports, a better legal environment to ease foreign trade was created by exempting 3,550 low-risk imports, upgrading the current system that inspects a total of 5,744 import goods, and directing inspection towards high-risk goods.
A total of 193 low-risk import goods will go through document inspection, 643 medium-risk import goods will undergo document and physical inspection, and 715 high-risk import goods will go through document inspection, physical inspection and laboratory inspection. In addition, 643 high-risk import goods such as chemically toxic and hazardous substances, chemical industry goods, explosive substances and explosive devices are now excluded from laboratory inspection.
2014 Russia-Mongolia-China Trade Fair, Manzhouli, August 22-25
August 11 (infomongolia.com) In the frameworks to develop the trilateral economic partnership and bring interborder collaboration into a new level, Russia-Mongolia-China Fair Trade will be commenced at the International Convention and Exhibition Center in Manzhouli city of Inner Mongolia, China on August 22-25, 2014.
The Fair Trade is hosted by the All-China Federation of Trade Unions as general organizer in collaboration with Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the People's Government of Manzhouli.
Nevertheless, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation will be participating as an official partner along with the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade and the People's Government of Inner Mongolia.
This year's event will be focused on forestry and mining industry, construction materials, vehicles and auto parts. Also, during the presentation of the exhibition, enterprises will be enabled to host workshops and seminars, and ceremony to select the best participants will be also organized.
Mayor orders demolition of 21 substandard apartment buildings
August 7 (UB Post) A total of 21 old and degraded apartment buildings in Ulaanbaatar will be demolished to make way for new buildings, according to the Ordinance of the Ulaanbaatar City Governor E.Bat-Uul.
The buildings are located in Bayangol and Khan-Uul Districts. The decision to demolish the buildings were approved after inspections concluded that they are not capable of withstanding an earthquake.
The 21 apartments have been closed to prevent accidents and the demolition, as well as construction projects, will launch shortly after contractors are selected through a tender.
Residents of the apartments, executor companies and government organizations will form a trilateral contract to approve the launch of the project.
84,000 Ulaanbaatar residents submit online applications for land ownership
August 7 (UB Post) As of Monday, 84,000 citizens have submitted applications, out of 4.5 million online visits in total, since the online registration for land ownership launched on August 1 via www.umch.ub.gov.mn.
The Ulaanbaatar City Council included a total of 1,524 hectares of land at five locations in Songinokhairkhan, Bayanzurkh, Khan-Uul, Baganuur and Bagakhangai Districts.
The registration website crashed shortly after the launch due to overload. As the website was loading very slowly, citizens reopened the website many times which worsened the load, reported officials.
Ulaanbaatar City Property Relations Agency's official Ts.Shijir highlighted that land ownerships will be granted to those who previously haven't privatized land and submitted completed applications. Applications will be received until 12 p.m. on August 15.
Ts.Shijir advised applicants not to rush as the website might experience faults again.
Mogi: it's the company that should be taking the ultimate responsibility, jailing people
Construction workers responsible for 12-year-old's 2012 death sentenced to prison time
August 7 (UB Post) Construction officials accused of causing an accident that killed a 12-year-old girl due to negligence was sentenced up to two-years in prison on Monday, after two years of trial.
The accident took place in 2012, where a 12-year-old girl was killed in a pipe collapse.
The victim was on her way back home with her mother when a pipe used for laying concrete fell from the seventh floor of a building under construction, located next to the State Clinical Hospital No.3 in Bayangol District.
Investigation proved that a poor occupational safety was the main reason for the accident and those in charge were sentenced to prison time.
Out of six officials, two were sentenced to one year and six months in prison, one was sentenced to two years, while the remaining three are to pay a fine equal to 100 times the minimum monthly wage, which totals to 14 million MNT each.
The officials worked for Tugs Guren LLC and the company's operation permit was suspended for two-years, according to the decision of the Bayanzurkh District Criminal Court No.2.
Resident Norovsuren: Ger districts will not exist in the future
Powered by Mongolia's economic expansion in the extractive industries, Ulaanbaatar is experiencing growth at rapid rates. The arrival of modern buildings, luxury boutiques, and tower cranes, is proof of the city's urbanization. Yet, for the least densely populated country in the world, the capital is in the midst of a housing shortage.
In search of better employment opportunities, nearly 40,000 people move to Ulaanbaatar each year, according to a 2010 National Population Center census. Other factors such as climate change or severe weather, like the dzud (blizzard) of 2010, also compel migrants to move to the city after livestock fail to survive harsh winter conditions. As the population grows, most emigrants are driven to live in ger districts surrounding the city, creating ever-expanding unplanned settlements. Some residents live in traditional gers by choice, being accustomed to Mongolia's nomadic lifestyle, but many simply can't afford more modern housing options.
While 60 percent of Ulaanbaatar's residents live in these neighborhoods, the ger districts contribute to a whopping 84 percent of the city's air pollution, according to the American Center for Mongolian Studies. In these neighborhoods, water can be hard to come by, improper roads make it difficult for emergency services to find and reach homes, and pollution is high from coal burning stoves and unauthorized waste disposal sites.
It's no secret that major restructuring of ger districts are crucial to improving the lives of its residents. There have even been talks of moving or eradicating some gers, and placing residents into apartments in other parts of the city, in an effort to reduce pollution.
Development organizations help fund, as well as provide technical assistance in improving basic infrastructure, and government officials are more motivated than ever to take action. Reports of some positive change has begun to emerge. Many coal-burning stoves are being replaced with more efficient ones, and the replacement of ger to permanent housing has begun.
However, the massive influx of migrants, along with the vast size of the area is proving to be an immense and complex undertaking. So for now, there's plenty of work to be done.
The following is an interview with Norovsuren, a 59-year-old former herder from Dornod Province, who has been living with his family in the 11th Khoroo of Bayanzurkh District for the last three years.
What is the reason you left the countryside for Ulaanbaatar?
We are following our kids' future, because they want to live in the city, so we moved with them to watch over them and help them. There was a dzud in 2000, and again in 2010, when we lost all our cattle. We had no income in the countryside, so we moved to the city so our kids could get a better education and a job.
What are some of the everyday challenges you face living here?
The problems we face everyday aren't that bad. But we cannot work because we don't have cattle here, so we are dependent on our kids.
For those used to the nomadic way of life, with lots of free space to roam, what has the adjustment been like, moving to a more urban population where you have less space to yourself?
It's okay living here. I don't mind living close to our neighbors, even though we have less space for ourselves.
It's been said that there is very little interaction between people living in the ger districts. What's your neighborhood like? How well do people know each other here and how do they interact with each other?
This particular ger district is new. So we actually know the neighbors and there's lots of interaction between us, which is different than living in an apartment in the center of the city. It's been pretty similar to living as a nomad, in terms of interacting with people.
The Mongolian economy is being driven by the increase of mining. Do you believe that money will be used to help Mongolians like yourself, and how should the government use it?
Even though the government doesn't give us money right away, I believe the government will help us eventually, and contribute to the society, such as construction of new homes, and free schooling. I do believe they should use the money to help the unemployed, but I'm sure that the government will help.
The government wants to improve many things in the ger districts. The goal is to develop better water, heat and waste disposal services, as well as improve social and community development in the area, all in a 10-year period. Is this realistic?
Yes, it seems reasonable. We hope that in 10 years, the government can do these things. We are optimistic.
The government has promised community involvement in the improvement projects. Have you been involved or contacted by anyone with regards to the decision-making and planning of improvement projects?
We don't have our city papers yet, and our identification is still from Dornod Province, so we're not yet able to be involved in any government projects.
What changes and improvements would you like you to see happen in your neighborhood?
Well, there are always problems, but mostly, it would be nice to get proper electricity for our family.
Is there anything your family can do personally to get involved in improving the community?
I have free time, so if there's a chance to be involved in any project, I'd like to be involved, whether building fences or adding lighting on the streets. I would love the opportunity to better the neighborhood and make it look nicer if possible.
Studies have suggested that eliminating or moving some gers will help drastically lower soil, water and air pollution. What's your reaction to this? Is there a possibility that you could transition into subsidized apartments?
We are aware of the soil and air pollution, so yes of course, we would move into subsidized apartments.
Where and how do you see the future of the ger district?
In the future, we believe there will be no ger district given that the government will have more money, and hopefully everyone will live in nicer buildings.
Chinese FM meets Mongolian counterpart in Myanmar
NAY PYI TAW, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with his Mongolian counterpart Luvsanvandan Bold on the sidelines of the series of Foreign Ministers Meetings on East Asia cooperation in Myanmar's capital of Nay Pyi Taw Friday.
Wang said the year 2014 marks the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Mongolia, the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty on China- Mongolia relationship of friendship and cooperation as well as the year of friendly exchanges between China and Mongolia.
Believing that this year will be an important one in the course of the development of bilateral relations, Wang stressed the two sides should step up high level interactions, strengthen political mutual trust, further advance their relations in both scale and scope, work for new breakthrough in practical cooperation in connectivity, energy and resources so as to open up broader prospects for bilateral cooperation.
He also emphasized the need for people-to-people and cultural exchanges be expanded so as to nurture the mutual understanding and amicable feelings between the two peoples.
Bold noted that the Mongolian side attaches great importance to its relations with China, standing ready to work with China toward the shared goal and seize the opportunity to elevate bilateral relations to a new height.
Mongolia welcomes progress in Japan-N. Korea talks
August 10 (Kyodo) Mongolian Foreign Minister Luvsanvandan Bold told his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida on Sunday that he welcomes progress in dialogue between Japan and North Korea over the abduction issue.
In a meeting on the sidelines of a regional security forum in the Myanmar capital Naypyitaw, Kishida expressed gratitude for Mongolia's assistance in promoting negotiations between Tokyo and Pyongyang over its abduction of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.
Mongolia maintains diplomatic relations with North Korea. Mongolia has hosted intergovernmental talks between Japan and North Korea in the absence of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
In Mongolia in March, Japan and North Korea arranged a meeting for the first time between the parents of one of the abductees, Megumi Yokota, and her daughter who lives in North Korea.
Foreign, Environment ministers attend UN ESCAP forum in Bangkok
August 8 (news.mn) Foreign Affairs Minister L. Bold, Minister of Environment and Green Development, president of United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) S.Oyun, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary from Mongolia to the Kingdom of Thailand Ch.Battumur and Mongolian government officials are attending at the 70th Commission Session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP) this week. The annual political policy session is being held under the theme, Regional Connectivity for Shared Prosperity which is being held now at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok from 4 to 8 August 2014.
Senior Government officials from over 40 member countries and associate member countries meet at ESCAP's 70th session. Key speakers at panel discussions during the high-level session this week are Ministers from Mongolia, Cambodia, Indonesia, India, Myanmar, Philippines, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Sri Lanka, Solomon Islands and Tonga. Foreign Affairs Minister of Mongolia L.Bold emphasized that "Our future challenge is how best to deepen regional connectivity. An active involvement into Asia-Pacific integration is one of the main priorities of Mongolia`s foreign policy."
Foreign Affairs Minister L.Bold presented Ulaanbaatar Dialogue on Northeast Asian Security initiated by the President of Mongolia with intention to expand multiple cooperation and intensify negotiations with countries of the Northeast Asia Region and Government of Mongolia's current policy direction.
Foreign Minister Meets with Officials at UN ESCAP Session in Bangkok
By B. Khuder
Ulaanbaatar, August 8 (MONTSAME) Participating on the 70th session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in Bangkok, Thailand, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia Mr L.Bold Thursday met with Mr Tshering Tobgay, the Prime Minister of Bhutan, who has been elected as the session's chairman.
The dignitaries exchanged views on the bilateral and multilateral cooperation. Moreover, Mr Bold met with Ms Shamshad Akhtar, ESCAP Executive Secretary, sharing views on the collaboration between Mongolia and the ESCAP, its outcomes, further goals and directions.
Within the session, Mr Bold also met with the director of the ESCAP for Northeast Asian Region, the Vice Foreign Ministers of the Republic of Korea and Japan; and delegates of other countries.
Statement by Foreign Minister of Mongolia at 70th Session of UN ESCAP
August 7 --
His Highness The Amir sends cable of thanks to Mongolian President
KUWAIT, Aug 9 (KUNA) -- His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah sent a cable of thanks to Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj on Saturday.
In the cable, His Highness the Amir expressed most gratitude for the generosity and hospitality he gained during his private visit to Mongolia, praising at the same time his friendly meeting with President Elbegdorj, during which they exchanged views on various joint issues, particularly the distinctive Kuwaiti-Mongolian ties and ways to bolstering them.
His Highness also wished Mongolia and its people lasting prosperity and advancement, as well as further development in relations between the people of both countries.
Prime Minister meets Russian Minister for Natural Resources and Ecology
August 11 (news.mn) Prime Minister of Mongolia N.Altankhuyag met Russian Natural Resources and Ecology Minister S.E.Donskoi on Friday, August 8th.
At the beginning of the meeting with Mr S.E.Donskoi, Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag said, "Our country is planning to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Khalkh Gol Battle victory this month. I appreciate that the Russian side places importance on this historic celebration and plans a high level of participation for it."
Mongolia places great importance on a visit by Russian President V.Putin to Mongolia in September, and is preparing for the visit.
The Russian Natural Resources and Ecology Minister and Russian Chair of the Mongolia-Russia Intergovernmental Commission, S.E.Donskoi, reported that the sides evaluated the implementation results of decisions made at previous commission meetings, discussed intensifying the current course of implementation, and exchanged information.
Deputy Premier D.Terbishdagva meets Russian Mining Minister ahead of Putin visit
By B. Khuder
Ulaanbaatar, August 8 (MONTSAME) The Deputy Prime Minister of Mongolia and head of the Mongolia-Russia intergovernmental commission D.Terbishdagva Friday received visiting Mr S.Ye. Donskoy, the Russian Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, and the commission's chairman for the Russian side.
Mr Terbishdagva noted that Mongolia is preparing for a celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Khalkh River Battle Victory, and said Mongolia is thankful to Russia for attaching a great importance to the event. "We are paying a great attention to an upcoming visit of the Russian President to Mongolia," Mr Terbishdagva said, adding that the sides intend to establish a middle-term programme on developing the bilateral strategic partnership during the visit.
Mr Donskoy said Russia is also attaching a great significance to the anniversary. "Our President Mr Putin is expected to pay a high-level visit to Mongolia on September 3. This is an expression of our attaching of importance to the event," Mr Donskoy underlined.
Mentioning that the countries will sign a number of documents on the bilateral cooperation, Mr Donskoy said his country aspires to intensify the realization of decisions which have been made at the previous meetings of the intergovernmental commission. He said the bilateral trade turnover is declining recent years, and then put forward a proposal to bring the commercial and economic cooperation into a new level.
Boosting the strategic partnership relations with the Russian Federation is one of the priorities of the Mongolia's foreign policy, the Deputy Premier noted. Keeping a frequency of high-level mutual visits and talks has a big importance for a development of the ties and cooperation, he went on.
Mr Terbishdagva expressed his satisfaction with successful implementation of specific matters reflected in a protocol established during the 17th meeting of the intergovernmental commission.
Premier meets Russian Minister – Montsame, August 8
Transportation Minister Visits Russia, to Broaden Civil Aviation Cooperation
August 11 (infomongolia.com) Upon the invitation of the Minister for Transport of the Russian Federation Maksim Yurevich Sokolov, Minister for Roads and Transportation of Mongolia Amarjargal GANSUKH paid a working visit to Russia on August 06-09, 2014.
During the visit, Minister A.Gansukh held a meeting with his counterpart M.Yu.Sokolov, where parties reached consensus discussing the sector's collaboration and its broadening issues. Specifically, transit freight transportation, technical renovation of Ulaanbaatar Railway JSC, cooperation between civil aviations of Mongolia and Russia as well as partnership of MIAT Mongolian Airlines and Aeroflot Russian Airlines.
Moreover, Mongolian delegates led by Minister visited the Federal Air Transport Agency, Moscow State Technical University of Civil Aviation and "Aerosoyuz" company based in Moscow that engaged in the sale, maintenance and operation of helicopters of foreign production for private and corporate customers.
Besides during the bilateral talks, the two parties negotiated to train Mongolian students at the Russian University of Civil Aviation and prepare qualified specialists in aviation.
Minister for Transportation Visits Russia – Montsame, August 11
Vice Speaker L. Tsog (MPRP) Gives Interview to ITAR-TASS
By B. Khuder
Ulaanbaatar, August 11 (MONTSAME) On Monday, a Vice Chairman of the State Great Khural (parliament) and head of the Mongolia-Russia inter-parliamentary group L.Tsog gave an interview to Russia's ITAR-TASS news agency.
Mostly focused on the Mongolia-Russia relations and cooperation, the interview was taken by P.A.Myltsev. He asked about a preparation for the 75th anniversary of the Khalkh River Battles Victory.
Mr Tsogt said Mongolia is attaching a great importance to this anniversary, some specific measures have been planned for it. For instance, the Mongolian side intends to co-organize joint military field exercises, a scientific conference themed "Khalkh River-75: History and Lesson", competitions among secondary school pupils, and to issue a honorary medal for the anniversary and to award war veterans.
Moreover, the Vice Speaker talked about the bilateral ties and cooperation such as visas, transportation and road issues.
Mongolia Awards Kyakhta Border Service of Russia
By D. Enkhbileg
Ulaanbaatar, August 11 (MONTSAME) The President of Mongolia and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed forces Ts.Elbegdorj issued on August 8 a decree on bestowing the Mongolian Order of Military Glory upon the Kyakhta border service.
To implement the decree, a Mongolian delegation, led by the Chief of the Presidential office Mr P.Tsagaan, headed the same day for Kyakhta, a town and the administrative center of Kyakhtinsky District in Russian Republic of Buryatia, located near the Mongolia-Russia border and standing directly opposite the Mongolian border town of Altanbulag. Mr Tsagaan was accompanied by his assistant B.Bulganbayar and a press officer J.Dashtseren, a head of General Authority for Border Protection (GABP) Brigadier-General Sh.Lkhachinjav, a head of the border service department at the GABP Colonel D.Mungunjin, and the Deputy of Commissioner of the boundary in Selenge area Colonel Ch.Deleg.
At the Russian border checkpoint of Kyakhta, the delegation was warmly welcomed by high officials, among whom were Mr Vyacheslav Nagovotsyn, the Head of Republic of Buryatia; I.Arjaev, the Minister Counsellor of the Embassy of Russian Federation to Mongolia; M.Gershevich, the Chairman of the Buryatia's Great Khural; I.Bondarev, the Mayor-General and chief of the Border Guard Service of Russia's Federal Security Service in Buryatia; and A.Buyantuev, the Chairman of the "Khyakhtinski District" municipality.
Solemn announcement of the Mongolian leader's decree and the ceremony of conferring the Order of Military Glory took place in the administration office of Kyakhta. Under anthems of Mongolia and Russia and being saluted by the Guard of honor, composed by the board troops and the 37th motorized infantry brigade, Mr Tsagaan attached the Order to the Battle flag of the Kyakhta Border service. "Today I had a great honor to reward the Kyakhta Border service of the Border Patrol Directorate of the Russian Federal Security Service in Buryatia with the Mongolian Order of the Military Glory, at the decree of the Mongolian President and Commander-in-chief Elbegdorj Tsakhia," he said. Having congratulated personnel of the border troops and the gathered on this remarkable event, Mr Tsagaan stressed that this award "is the recognition of the huge merit of the Russian Border Troops and Armed Forces in a protection of the independence and sovereignty of Mongolia, in the maintenance of peace on the borders of both countries, and in the cooperation between our two peoples".
He also noted that the presentation of such an honorable award comes at a significant time, "namely, on the eve of the solemn celebration of the 75th anniversary of our common victory in Khalk Gol River battles and the visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Mongolia". "We attach a great importance to these events, and there is no doubt that this visit will open a new stage in the development of the friendly relations and cooperation between our two countries," he said.
"According to the deep meaning of the words said by our President, the Russians are the only people in the world who shed their blood for Mongolia, for its independence and sovereignty, and this was demonstrated to the whole world during the Khalkh River battles," he went on. "I was glad to learn that the Kyakhta border troops had participated in these battles too, Mongolia never forgets about this," he noted and expressed "a sincere gratitude to all veterans and the gathered".
The Khalkh River battles had demonstrated unique talent of great commander G.Jukov, who later became the Hero of the Great Patriotic War, he noted. "It is symbolic that this grand event is taking place in Kyakhta, here began a new story Mongolia XX century, here used to gather fathers of the People's Revolution of 1921," he stressed.
Mongolia and Russia are the eternal neighbors, the Mongolia-Russia borders are the calmest ones in the world, "which represent one of values of our relationship," Mr Tsagaan said. "Paraphrasing the Mongolian proverb 'if the lake is calm—the ducks are calm', we can say 'if borders are calm—the state is calm".
A close cooperation between border regions and services "of our countries play their role in our friendly relationship, and we are determined to deepen these ties," he said and wished all the gathered successes in their "noble protection of the borders and maintenance of friendly ties between the two peoples".
After him, several officials took the floor to underline a commitment to the friendship and cooperation between our two countries, and to cover bonds of military brotherhood, especially in the Khalkh River battles. The award was highlighted as "symbolizing the recognition and expression of gratitude to the border guards and all the soldiers of Russia, as well as residents of Buryatia: fathers and grandfathers of many of them took part in the war for the independence of the Mongolian People's Republic (former name), some 16 thousand Buryat were mobilized, almost a third of the fighting army". Mr Nagovitsyn said, for example, that the award "became an important event not only for the Kyakhta border service but also for the Mongolia-Russia ties".
Journalists noted the value of the event and then asked some questions, for example, about signing a visa waiving agreement during the visit of Mr Putin to Mongolia. To this Mr Tsagaan expressed a hope that many important issues will be addressed that will elevate the relations to a newer level.
The visit of the delegation took less than six hours but ran in atmosphere of warmth, friendliness and mutual understanding.
By the way, this award is not the first one Kyakhta receives from Mongolia. In 1970s it was given our Order of Sukhbaatar--the highest state award equal to the former Soviet Union's Order of Lenin.
Security Service Office of Kyakhta Town Awarded with Mongolia's Order of Combat Valor – infomongolia.com, August 11
Kyakhta Border Service rewarded with Mongolian Order of Military Glory – news.mn, August 11
Vice Speaker Gonchigdorj Meets Visiting S.Korean National Assembly Delegation
By B. Khuder
Ulaanbaatar, August 8 (MONTSAME) A Vice Speaker of the State Great Khural R.Gonchigdorj Friday received a visiting delegation headed by Mr Yoo Ki June, chairman of the Standing committee of the South Korean National Assembly on foreign policy and unification.
Wishing the delegation an enjoyable visit to Mongolia, the Vice Speaker Mr Gonchigdorj noted about the 25th anniversary of the bilateral diplomatic relations to be marked next year.
In turn, Mr Yoo thanked the Vice Speaker for an audience, and expressed a willingness to enhance the Mongolia-S.Korea relations and cooperation in the socio-economic and political spheres. The dignitaries also exchanged views on other matters for the bilateral ties.
Present at the meeting were G.Batkhuu MP; B.Ganbold, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to the Republic of Korea; B.Boldbaatar, the secretary-general of the Parliamentary Office; and other officials.
427 foreigners deported from Mongolia this year
August 7 (UB Post) As of August 2014, 427 foreigners have been deported and 4,700 foreigners were told to leave Mongolia within ten days, by the Mongolian Immigration Authority.
"We control every single foreigner who receives a visa from our organization, until they leave. There is a misunderstanding that the Authority of Civic Movement is the only place that gives visas to foreigners and solves their problems. Foreigners who get working visas from our organization should pay the appropriate taxes to Mongolia," said Head of the Deportation Department of Mongolian Immigration Kh.Bekhbat.
The Mongolian Immigration Authority doesn't control visas that are issued by the Mongolian Embassy in foreign countries.
Landlocked democracy faces challenges balancing diplomacy
Mongolia abstains from UN resolution on Territorial Integrity of Ukraine: chosen or compelled?
By Mathilde Michaud
August 7 (UB Post) As the Crimean crisis continues, concerns have emerged whether ongoing conflict will affect diplomatic relations in Mongolia – like Ukraine, an independent and democratic state, neighboring Russia.
Mongolia's political neutrality is considered by many as a wise choice and a product of its unique geographic and political circumstances.
"Everything about Mongolian foreign policy and general international outlook would lead one to believe that Mongolian officials do not welcome Russia's aggressive actions," explained Julian Dierkes, Professor at the Institute of Asian Studies of the University of British Columbia on Mongolia Focus. However, the situation is not so simple and Russia's share in Mongolia's political and economic life weighs heavily when the time comes to take a stance on the issue.
Mongolia's similarities to Ukraine are countered by its differences; staying independent throughout the Soviet era and the absence of a strong Russian diaspora like that of Ukraine, dissociate Mongolia from the Crimea crisis, Dierkes added.
Mongolia is not in a position to upset either of its direct neighbors and despite the unlikelihood of an attempt by Russia to invade Mongolian territory, Dierkes consequently perceives neutrality a sensible answer. "You don't want to aggravate the neighbor, so it is probably not worth making a big fuss about."
A situation well understood by Mongolia's western allies.
"You don't always contribute to a solution by picking side," Canada's Ambassador Gregory Goldhawk told the UB Post.
Granting that both Canada and the United States would have wished for their Asian ally to express its "concerns over the developments in the Ukraine and the actions that Russia has taken," as Bryan Koontz, Jr, U.S. Political Chief Section in Mongolia expressed to the UB Post, it is appreciated that Mongolia's foreign policies have to take into account its history.
"That is a phenomenon with which most Canadians would feel a kind of sympathy for, because part of our national history has been our proximity to our much larger neighbor, the United States," recognizes Ambassador Goldhawk.
One question remains, will Mongolia be able to keep neutral ground if the conflict deteriorates?
Canada and the United States have the luxury of being outside observers, to be able to sanction Russia without facing potential grave alterations to their economy, something Mongolia cannot afford.
Although U.S. Vice President Joe Biden made it clear in an interview with the New Yorker published on July 21st that "We [the U.S.] no longer think in Cold War terms," the renewed tensions between the former super-powers have a Cold War aftertaste, far from being in the interest of Mongolia's young democracy.
Mongolia is not big enough a player to be forced to take a position, Dierkes believes; a conclusion that can also be drawn from the opinions expressed by the Canadian and U.S. embassies in Mongolia. here are no signs that Russia, or the Western powers are putting pressure on Mongolia to take action.
That doesn't mean that the issue is not being discussed in diplomatic meetings. While we do not have confirmation of the Ukrainian crisis being brought up during Vladimir Putin's two meetings with President Elbegdorj in May, or in the meeting with Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird, in July, Ukraine was on the agenda during a meeting with the British Minister of Foreign Affairs in late May.
"In the actual meeting it would be more difficult to remain neutral," says Dierkes, suggesting that personal statements could have been made during meetings. But as a matter of governmental policy, it should be possible for Mongolia to remain relatively neutral throughout the conflict.
Before going to press, we were not able to meet with the Russian Embassy although they had agreed on an interview.
In the past five years, Mongolia has been increasingly engaging with Canada and the United States through the Third Neighbor policy, Mongolia's new foreign affairs guideline designed to diversify its diplomatic partnerships. Landlocked between Russia and China, two giants who have been juggling with the country's politics for centuries, Mongolia is historically tied to them. But simultaneously maintaining friendly relations with Russia and its new Western neighbors is a challenge as their relations worsen through the deepening of the Crimean crisis.
Solo on democracy
Mongolia's political geography surprises many politicians.
"One of the reasons why Mongolia attracts Canada's particular attention and affection is because this is a country which, better than many of its post-Soviet orbit of north Central Asia, is doing an extraordinary job at building a democracy that most Canadians would recognize," claims Ambassador Goldhawk.
Politicians are not the only one's stunned by Mongolia's stunt.
"How does this tiny place manage to embrace democracy and stay democratic?" wonders Dierkes.
At any rate, this achievement has won Mongolia the support of strong international players such as Canada and the United States, a huge advantage for Mongolians who have increasingly seen their neighbors' interests aligning.
Mongolia's success in independence partly lies in the conflicting interests of Russia and China over time. Mongolians felt safer when they did not share political interest; if their southern neighbor became too intrusive, support could easily be found at the northern frontier. Lately though, Russian and Chinese governments have come to see eye to eye on many issues and might make it hard for Mongolia to stand its ground when opposed to their policies.
"The goal of Mongolian foreign policy has to be to balance the neighbors in Mongolia," points out Dierkes. The third neighbor policy falls perfectly in place with this idea, widening Mongolia's options and diversifying its range of allies.
Canada and the United States are only two of the tens of partners which Mongolia has created or renewed alliances with in the past five years. This entrance on the international political platform has not been ignored and has stimulated the interest of most of Mongolia's new allies.
Both Canada and the United States underline the growing space for collaboration with Mongolia, a partnership that will extend from mining investment and foreign direct investment to legal and democratic reforms, most of the work being already ongoing.
Mongolia – Intermediary And Partner Of North Korea
By Mark Goleman, is a Ph.D. of History and a senior researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences, exclusively for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
August 8 (New Eastern Outlook) Mongolia was the second country after the USSR to recognize the formation of the North Korean state. Naturally, the Mongolian People's Republic and North Korea, as organic parts "of the socialist community of nations", developed multilateral cooperation between them and assisted one another. For example, immediately after the Korean War, Mongolia sheltered in more than 200 orphans from North Korea. But even after Mongolia has transitioned to democracy, Ulaanbaatar continued with its charitable actions, repeatedly providing food aid to North Korea when it experienced difficulties there.
Although bilateral relations in the 1990s between North Korea and Mongolia were in decline, a result of a sharp turn in strategy of post-communist Mongolia leaning more towards South Korea, but in 2002 they were restored after an official visit to Mongolia by North Korea's Foreign Minister, Pak Nam Sun, the first such high level state visit in 19 years.
At the current time, Mongolia has positioned itself as a intermediary between North Korea on the one hand and the Republic of Korea on the other; the U.S. and Japan are possible models in terms of the potential for democratic reforms and, finally, as an important foreign economic partner for the North Koreans. Moreover, it is the only state that seems to hold the trust of both Koreas. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia, Luvsanvandan Bold, noting the role of broker for Mongolia, recently told reporters that "… Ulaanbaatar can be a useful platform for understanding". And he added, "Mongolia can provide leverage to improve the situation in the region and the initiate dialogue between the parties".
The intermediary function of Mongolia is already being felt. On May 25, 2014, the city of Ulaanbaatar was the site of an informal meeting between Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for North Korea, Ri Yong Ho and his adviser with 5 Americans – university professors, former State Department headed by Stephen Gotsworth. The unofficial meeting centered around the resumption of the Six-Party (North Korean, South Korea, China, Russia, Japan, USA) talks on the North Korean nuclear program, which had been at a standstill since 2008. The parties exchanged their positions on this issue. Ri Yong Ho left with a package of U.S. proposals and to which the North Koreans must respond.
And earlier this year, Ulaanbaatar used the opportunity to soften the relations between Japan and North Korea, to act as mediator in the conflict regarding the kidnapping by North Korea agents in March 2009 of a 13-year-old Japanese girl. Eventually she was reunited with her parents on the territory of Mongolia.
In their approach to relations with North Korea, Mongolia, judging by its actions, bases its belief on economic assistance, cooperation along with dialogue as the only meaningful way to affect positive change in the country.
In this regard, the official visit to North Korea by the Mongolian President, Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, on October 28-29, 2013 was significant. It was the first official state visit of a foreign head of state to Pyongyang after Kim Jong-un came to power; that in particular gave his visit a special significance. And it became even more so because, firstly, it greatly expanded the scope of economic cooperation and aid from Mongolia to the impoverished North Korean economy.
The negotiations resulted in the signing of important agreements on cooperation in the fields of industry, agriculture, transport and construction of new railway lines, culture and sports as well as in the tourism sector. Secondly, President Elbegdorj gave a speech at the University of Kim Il sung about freedom, support for the rule of law and respect for human rights.
"Tyranny will not last forever … Forever is the desire of people to live free". Such words highlighted the President's speech. He urged the North Koreans to go the way of Mongolia, to use its transition model, thereby indirectly urging Pyongyang to give freedom to its people. The audience was shocked by the content of the speech, professors and students of the university did not ask a single question, but the end of the speech was accompanied by prolonged applause.
We do note that, for Kim Jong-un it is dangerous to continue to ignore the higher appeals, and for North Korea, it may result in the losing many of the benefits economic cooperation with Mongolia brings.
In the meantime, the visit of the Mongolian president has led to an apparent rapprochement between the two states. The agreements allow for Mongolia to recruit for employment 5,000 citizens from North Korea. Mongolian construction and processing firms have already hired 1700 Korean workers, and although the government of North Korea takes most of their earnings, working abroad is highly beneficial financially. In addition, it gives them a new world and gives them the opportunity to get information and a divergent propaganda from Pyongyang. And this, according to a majority of Western experts on Korea, can lead to a gradual revision of its attitude by the Korean workers to the Korean government.
On September 15, 2013, the Mongolian oil production and trading company, HBOIL bought a 20% stake in Korean oil refinery Sungri and announced that it will supply crude oil to this state-owned enterprise and reimport the finished products, gasoline.
Mongolia supports the North Korean economy by investing in industry, agriculture and tourism. It does possess the wherewithal for this; in 2013 Mongolia was one of the most successful producers in the world, having achieved, due to the rise in the mining sector, GDP growth of 11.7%.
All of this suggests a deep penetration of the Mongolian economy into North Korea, and of course, its quest to become a strategic partner for the North Koreans.
While Mongolia is naturally pursuing its own interests, as a landlocked country, it is earnestly seeking a way to the sea, as it access to a seaport is a means to export its mineral wealth and products to Asia. For this reason Mongolia urges Moscow to complete the construction of the railway to the North Korean port of Rason, which would then connect it to North Korea via Russia.
The implementation of this project, possibly with the participation of Mongolia, will make it the main foreign shareholder in the North Korean market. As for North Korea, it continues to stubbornly pursue a parallel strategy of strengthening the defense, nuclear capabilities and economic development, modernization and opening wide embraces cooperation and assistance from friendly countries, Mongolia and Indonesia.
In developing cooperation, Mongolia and North Korea seek to somehow weaken their economic dependence on China and Russia. In addition, both states have similar geopolitical interests and share a common concern over security issues in the region, linked to the dominance of China and Russia in Central and East Asia. They are both interested in maintaining room for future maneuvers. And here in Mongolia, with its rich experience of skillful maneuvering between political, economic and military interests of neighboring states and the ability to keep them balanced, constructive relationships can serve as a shining example for the North Koreans. The pragmatic and multi-vector foreign policy of Mongolia, which is denoted in the West as the "Third Neighbor Doctrine" allows Mongolia to develop beneficial and close ties with the far distant United States and European powers.
This example and experience are very useful for Korea, and not only Korea. According to Western experts, strong political, diplomatic and economic activities by Mongolia in North Korea creates an opportunity for Mongolia to try to influence change in how Pyongyang relates to the outside world, to stabilize the economy and perhaps even inspire ways in carrying out certain political reforms.
Of course, Beijing, Washington and Moscow incomparably have greater leverage over the regime of Kim Jong-un. However, the policy of Mongolia towards North Korea shows to the West a way more reasonable strategy in North Korean affairs. After all, 50 years of diplomatic pressure, repressive sanctions or the international isolation did not bring North Korea to its knees, it did not bring about regime change, but rather it was strengthened.
Currently, the Obama administration policy adheres to "strategic patience", which, according to observers, means "do not do anything". This policy also does not bring any results, while the policy of Mongolia as an investor and broker bring about much more hopeful prospects.
Mongolia and the US are strengthening their ties within the defense industry
Mark Goleman is a Ph.D. of History, a senior researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences and a columnist for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
August 12 (New Eastern Outlook) The United States was one of the first western powers who, even as far back as 1946 and again in the early 1950s, intended to establish diplomatic relations with Mongolia, which at the time was referred to as the Mongolian People's Republic. However, the struggle of the two competing systems and the existence of the iron curtain which was erected around the so-called "socialist camp", to which the Mongolian People's Republic belonged, did not allow for the implementation of such plans. It is indeed ironic that, the United States was one of the last major western countries to establish diplomatic relations with Mongolia; that only came to pass in 1987.
In 1990 after a successful democratic revolution in Mongolia, the United States has become one of the main backers for democratic reforms in the country; and the relationship between the two states has been gaining momentum within the political, economic and social spheres ever since. At the present moment both countries attach a great deal of strategic importance to the relationship and the United States in general, has positioned itself as the "third neighbor" of Mongolia.
In this connection, it is interesting to see how cooperation has developed between the United States and Mongolia in such important sectors as the military and in military hardware-technology.
This relationship began in 1991 with the appearance of military attaches being posted at the embassies of both countries and evolved over two stages.
The first stage covers the years from 1991-1996 during which the Mongolian military actively studied English and when the first exchange visits for senior military commanders occurred.
So, in 1995 the first visit to the United States by the Mongolian Minister of Defense occurred, it was followed in 1996 by the deputy minister; in 1993 the Chief of the General Staff visited the United States. In 1992, 1994 and 1996 Ulaanbaatar hosted the naval Commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific.
The second stage lasted from 1996-2003 and began with the signing of an intergovernmental agreement on the exchange visits by military specialists in 1996. Then the U.S. began to accept Mongolian military personnel for study in the United States and soon afterwards began hosting joint command exercises within a limited framework where the U.S. provided for and supplied the Mongolian participants in these exercises.
At this particular stage, the military cooperation between Mongolia and the United States is not that much different than any other type of cooperation Mongolia has with its other neighboring countries.
But in 2003 there was one qualitative difference; beginning in April of that year, Mongolian military brigades were deployed to Iraq, and in early October were in Afghanistan to participate under American command in so-called joint "Peacekeeping" operations. As a result, cooperation has taken on the character of direct interaction in the theater of military operations. Relations between Mongolia and the United States can be characterized as having become de facto allies. The Americans greatly appreciate the role of Mongolian troops in Iraq from 2003 to 2008, during which they constantly provided the Mongolian troops supplies, hardware and equipment.
The Mongolian artillery brigades received high recognition for their efforts in training Afghan soldiers within the framework of the "Program for the Development of the Afghan National Army".
Thus, since 2003, the point at which Mongol-American cooperation in the defense sector began, which in addition to joint participation in several UN "peacekeeping" activities, involves an intensive exchange of military delegations at the highest level, military personnel of all ranks trained in the United States and, most importantly, since 2006 there has been a major annual military exercise "Khan Quest" (there are now more than two dozen countries participating besides the United States and Mongolia), in addition Mongolia receives U.S. aid in order to modernize its army, especially in strengthening its capacity to participate in UN operations.
U.S. Department of Defense and the State Department took it upon themselves the financing for the opening in Ulaanbaatar, with assistance from the Mongolian side, a "Regional Centre for Peacekeeping Activities", as well as measures to increase the capacity of Mongolian peacekeepers.
For the training center the United States delivered and paid for equipment totalling 11 million dollars within the framework of the program "Support for the Coalition", in addition to that, from 2000 to 2010, the U.S. fully equipped two battalions of Mongolian peacekeepers, provided personal protection for 1100 citizens, delivered 68 vehicles for Special Forces, as well as supplied medicine, food, clothing, products and equipment for the Mongolian army. Along with organizing and conducting bilateral and international forums in the United States, in addition to seminars and exercises from 1992-2010, attended by more than 900 Mongolian soldiers and 100 civilians, this cost the U.S. treasury another 11 million dollars.
A new step in the development of bilateral cooperation came in the form of an official invitation from the Mongolian side to the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, along with a large military delegation, for a one-day visit to Ulaanbaatar on April 10, 2014.
It should be noted that, although after the beginning of the second stage in the development of the relationship and cooperation in 2006, there occurred multiple exchanges and visits by high-ranking military commanders, including the Ministers of Defense of Mongolia and the Chairman of the Joint Staff for U.S. armed forces and others, Chuck Hagel was only the second U.S. Secretary of Defense to visit Mongolia, a fact which gave his visit special significance. The first visit of U.S. Secretary of Defense was held in 2005 when Secretary Hagel was received at the highest levels, was greeted with an honor guard. The Minister of Defense for Mongolia, D. Bat-Erdene, thanked his counterpart for agreeing to come to Mongolia. In the Government House Mr. Hagel and the U.S. delegation was received by the Mongolian Prime Minister, Norovyn Altankhuyag
In turn, Mr. Hagel said that Mongolia is a valuable partner to the U.S., so he gladly accepted the invitation to pay an official visit at the conclusion of his 10-day trip to the 13 Asia-Pacific countries.
The purpose of the visit was, as the Mongolian press wrote, "promote allied relations".
The Ministry of Defense for Mongolia held talks between the Mongolian and American defense ministers, during which they discussed the state of and the prospects for further development in cooperation; they confirmed their main areas for cooperation in disaster management, the joint participation in UN international peacekeeping operations, the modernization of the Mongolian Armed Forces, the training of Mongolian military professionals from all levels in the U.S., and the conduct of joint exercises.
Coming out of those negotiations a joint "Mongolian-American communique on security" was signed, which, according to Mr. Hagel, "enriched the cooperation in the defense sector with new content" and demonstrated the parties' desire to expand on its scope. In general, during the negotiations, at a meeting with 25 Mongolian soldiers who participated in operations in Afghanistan, and during a reception at Government House with the Mongolian Prime Minister, Mr. Hagel spoke glowingly about Mongolia, "Mongolia is a strategic partner, an important ally for peace and stability in Northeast Asia; the United States and the UN appreciate the participation of the Mongolian Armed Forces in peacekeeping activities", said the Minister.
And in referring to bilateral defense cooperation, Charles Hagel said that "they have been developing rapidly over the course of the past 10 years. We provide an example to each other and we have a lot to learn from one another. As the implementation of reforms in the Mongolian Armed Forces increases, the level of cooperation and joint exercises between us will also increase. From the U.S. perspective and for Mongolia, there are new opportunities opening up to participate in international events, exercises and activities". In turn, the Minister of Defense of Mongolia, Bat-Erdene, noted that bilateral military cooperation is developing rapidly and stressed that "this visit opens a new page in the partnership".
The Prime Minister, Mr. Altankhuyag, expressed his satisfaction with the development of partnership with the United States in many sectors, not only within the framework of defense, however, he did stress that cooperation on defense issues is, "the basis for full bilateral partnership".
Thus, the visit by the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Mr. Hagel, clearly stated the commitment of both parties to develop and expand further its cooperation within the military sphere. As vice-U.S. ambassador to Ulaanbaatar, Mr. Kirk McBride, "the U.S. seeks to become Mongolia's third neighbor, number 1" and presented this visit as evidence to a step in that direction.
It's impossible to say that this visit gave much reason for apprehension in the neighboring countries of Mongolia, specifically, Russia and China, although the Taipei press tried to somehow tie it to Russia's growing influence in the region after the annexation of the Crimea. In the Mongolian newspaper, Udriin Sonin, (News Today) printed the information that during the negotiations the Americans allegedly put forward a proposal to open a U.S. military base in the country, but this proposal was refused. The Minister of Defense for Mongolia, Bat-Erdene, on April 16 said that the issue of the bases did not come up in negotiations, their creation on the territory of Mongolia is prohibited by law; a fact that is well known by the Americans. But upon hearing such rumors, a Washington Post correspondent at a press conference asked the question as to whether or not a military base is planned for Mongolia, to which the correspondent received a negative and thorough response.
In general, it should be noted that Mongolia has been particularly scrupulous with regard to compliance about publicity as it pertains to ongoing joint exercises and other activities in a timely and direct manner, informing neighboring countries, as well as countries who are members in ASEAN and SCO.
Thus, the relationship is essentially a military and technical cooperation between Mongolia and the United States, which has been, up until now, sufficiently open and not directed in anyway, with assurances from both sides, against Russia or China, but requires attention from them.
Meanwhile, the expansion of military cooperation between Mongolia and the United States does not, in our opinion, suggest that they are truly allies. That would imply a much greater intimacy, more unity in policies and objectives, and imposes on the parties mutually certain obligations which are not currently observed. So, it would be better to consider the Mongolian-American relationship, including its military component, a partnership, but nothing more than that.
Mongolian-Japanese Economic Partnership Agreement: Counterbalancing China and Russia
By: Alicia J. Campi
August 8 (Jamestown Foundation) On the 40th anniversary of establishing bilateral diplomatic relations, Mongolia's President Tsakhia Elbegdorj and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met in Tokyo on July 22, 2014, to sign a Joint Statement on affirming the final roadmap toward instituting an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). Aimed at promoting mutual trade and investment, the agreement could be ratified by the parliaments of both nations in the first quarter of 2015. The EPA would be the first such agreement for Mongolia and the 15th for Japan. Within the EPA, all Mongolian exports to Japan, including meat and raw minerals, and 96 percent of Japanese exports to Mongolia will be exempt from tariffs in the coming decade (ubpost.mongolnews.mn, July 24). Japan pledged to support policies to grow Mongolia's exports. President Elbegdorj commented, "I believe the bilateral economic partnership agreement would be implemented successfully. We agreed to study, produce and sell together" (Montsame, english.news.mn, July 23).
The Joint Statement is based on three principles: 1) The EPA is key to elevating bilateral economic relations to higher levels and promoting mutually complementary cooperation. 2) The two sides agreed on recommendations of how to proceed with Abe's previously announced ERCH Plus initiative, proposed during his March 2013 Mongolian visit and aimed at supporting Mongolian industrial diversification and value added, competitive exports. 3) The most intriguing element was that Japan proposed appointing an economic adviser for the Mongolians to work on mid- and long-term economic policy development (The Mongol Messenger, July 25).
President Elbegdorj traveled with a group of 130 Mongolians from the public and private sector. They joined a Mongolia-Japan Business Forum, attended by over 300 participants, which was co-hosted by the Japan Federation of Economic Organizations, KEIDANREN (Japan Business Federation), and the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO). At the Forum, Elbegdorj praised the strength of Mongolia's close relations with Japan and expressed special gratitude for Tokyo's support during the early 1990s when its domestic power stations failed: "Mongolians will never forget your helping hand and your presence at the moments of [our] hardship." Discussions during this business summit centered around the faltering Mongolian economy, the investment environment (FDI dropped 47 percent in 2013 and 70 percent in the first half of 2014), and specific investment opportunities (Montsame, english.news.mn, July 23).
Japan is ending its generous 23-year-old Mongolian grant aid program this year, so the two governments are exploring new types of private sector cooperation. In June, the Japanese government signed its final grant aid project to repair a hospital, health center, school and school dormitory in different provinces around Mongolia, under Tokyo's Grassroots Human Security Grant Aid. In 2014, this aid program will provide $631,370 of grants for a total of seven projects (UNFPA Mongolia, June 20).
Elbegdorj also met with Japanese governing party and parliamentary officials involved in inter-parliamentary relations to discuss the new EPA, as well as Heita Kawakatsu, Governor of Shizuoka Prefecture, for discussions about training engineers and other personnel for Mongolia's coal industry. In addition, the Mongolian head of state visited the Friendship Exchange Council (FEC) of Japan, which undertakes surveys and training seminars to enhance economic cooperation in the Asian region. Furthermore, Nikkei Group's president, Tsuneo Kita, invited Elbegdorj to the annual "Future of Asia" conference, which attracts heads of state and government members of Asian countries, politicians, scientists and representatives from international economic organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (Montsame, July 25).
Although this trip focused on Mongolian-Japanese economic relations, other issues were discussed by Prime Minister Abe and the Mongolian president. Elbegdorj himself stated that "Mongolia's bilateral relations with Japan are one of Mongolia's foreign policy priorities, which are fully consistent with our national interests, with our development interests" (Montsame, July 25). One topic of discussion was Mongolian assistance in the ongoing negotiations between North Korea and Japan for the daughter of Japanese abductee Megumi Yokota to visit Japan in November (Kyodo News International, July 1). Tokyo believes that Ulaanbaatar could serve as a bridge to resolving the ongoing case of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea and be a constructive influence in the region. Abe told reporters that, "We shared the view that the [Mongolian] president and I will jointly contribute to the stability and prosperity of the region and the global community" (ubpost.mongolnews.mn, July 24).
Among other issues likely covered were the upcoming August visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping and the planned September 3 visit of Russian Vladimir Putin. In June, the Mongolians had announced there would be a "Trilateral Summit" in Mongolia, but Putin delayed the date of his visit so he would miss both meeting Xi and the 75th anniversary date (August 27, 1939) of the Soviet-Mongolian victory over the Japanese in Khalkhin Gol (Nomonhon), which was the ostensible reason for his Mongolian trip (news.mn, August 5). Japanese sanctions against Russia may have been to blame, which now also endanger Putin's planned September visit to Tokyo.
Regardless of the wider agenda, Elbegdorj's trip revealed that Japan sees economic cooperation as the key to its future relationship with Mongolia. Even Japanese-Mongolian military cooperation has an economic component. Japanese Army officials, led by General Kiyofumi Iwata, Chief of Staff of the Japan Ground Self Defense Forces, conducted a working visit to Mongolia on June 25–28. Japanese military engineers discussed road construction plans with elements of the Mongolian Armed Forces and professors at the Mongolian University of Defense. General Iwata attended the ground-breaking ceremony for a 15-kilometer paved road to Mongolia's Five Hills Military Training Center, which will be built by Mongolian and Japanese military engineers before the end of 2016 (infomongolia, July 1).
The Mongolian media cited unnamed experts as saying that mining products will account for a large amount of the future trade between Mongolia and Japan, so "the [EPA] agreement includes an investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) clause, which makes it possible for firms to seek compensation if government policy hurts their investments" (ubpost.mongolnews.mn, July 24). In 2013, Japanese exports to Mongolia were worth $288 million versus only $21 million of Mongolian imports. The agreement is expected to increase investment in Mongolia and lessen Mongolia's dependence on China. For Japan, the agreement can greatly benefit the export of automobiles and import of Mongolian minerals.
Can Traditional Livelihoods and Mining Co-exist in a Changing Climate: Strengthening Public-Private Partnerships in Mongolia to Reduce Risk and Address Loss and Damage
(Asia-Pacific Network for Global Change Research)
Dr. Vigya Sharma, Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining, The University of Queensland, Australia
Dr Byambajav Dalaibuyan, Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining, The University of Queensland, Australia
Dr Gerelt-Od Erdenebileg, Civic Solutions NGO
Ms. Saruulzaya Adiya, Institute of Geography, Mongolian Academy of Sciences
Dr Myagmartsooj Natsag, Department of Political Studies and Sociology (DPSS), The Mongolian State University of Education
The proposed project has two primary aims: a) to identify risks from climatic changes for Mongolia's two primary economic sectors – mining and herding, and b) to build in-situ capacity in these sectors to adapt to changing conditions with a view to reducing the resulting loss and damage (L+D) through both incremental and transformative changes. By bringing together these key economic enterprises, the project highlights that despite being in conflict in the past over access to environmental resources such as land and water, there is much scope for drawing out synergies between the two sectors in relation to exchanging resources, knowledge and skills. It is the project's hypothesis that by focusing on a shared challenge, the sectors will be able to better co-ordinate their strengths and enable effective collaboration with government and civil society to address climate-related natural disasters.
The project will undertake workshops to bring together multiple stakeholders to not only take stock of current knowledge, resources and instruments available to deal with climatic disasters but also address their concerns including current and potential risks from climate change, stakeholder priorities and knowledge gaps in relation to building resilience to natural disasters and strategies for developing practical implementation and partnership-building plans, going forward into the future.There will be three workshops in total, each roughly comprising 30 participants representing herding groups, mining companies, local, provincial and national government, academics, media and civil society. The workshops are scheduled for September 2014. Two workshops will be at the local/regional level (Omnogovi and Bayankhongor aimags in the Gobi and Gobi-Altai regions respectively) followed by a concluding multidisciplinary workshop in Ulaanbaatar. Findings from the regional workshops will inform the final workshop to identify both short and long-term policy concerns and possible solutions.
Oyu Tolgoi is building sports centre in Manlai soum
- Foundation stone laid for the 250 seats sports centre fully equipped with modern equipment –
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, August 8 (Oyu Tolgoi) - As part of the celebrations of the 90th anniversary of the establishment of Manlai soum in Umnugovi aimag, Oyu Tolgoi and local government representatives yesterday broke ground and laid a foundation stone for a new sports centre.
O.Bat-Erdene, Chairman of the Manlai soum's Citizen's Representatives Khural said at the ceremony, "I am very pleased that Oyu Tolgoi, fulfilling its social responsibility, decided to build a modern sports centre on the eve of the historic anniversary of our soum. This will be a very significant development project. This sports centre will play an important role in providing our community with opportunities to enjoy healthy lifestyles and enable children and young people to spend their leisure time in sports activities."
Oyu Tolgoi's General Manager for Communities Sh. Baigalmaa said, "We have a saying 'close neighbors are of one mind' expressing our tradition of mutual respect and assistance to each other. So, in keeping with this tradition, we are always happy to work with the Manlai community. The facility will be commissioned next year, and its construction will be done by Mongolian national companies fully financed by Oyu Tolgoi."
The sports centre will have 250 seats and be fully equipped with modern sports equipment and facilities to promote the health, safety, and comfort of athletes and the public.
Manlai Governor R.Burmaa said, "Oyu Tolgoi works with our soum very effectively in many areas including agriculture, education, and health. Local residents are grateful that Oyu Tolgoi is making a tangible investment in constructing this sports centre and is making a significant contribution to development of our soum."
Last year, Oyu Tolgoi built a similar sports facility in Bayan-Ovoo soum of Umnugovi aimag.
Let food be thy medicine
By Enkhzul Altangerel, Communication Specialist, World Vision Mongolia
July 31 (World Vision Mongolia) "In a healthy body is a healthy mind" is a famous Mongolian proverb. Healthy body begins with healthy diets including food passing from mother to child through the placenta and feeding newborn infants. Therefore, since the ancient times, Mongolians valued breastfeeding infants. It was said to have healing properties and would make their children healthy and strong.
However, through marketing of synthetic formulas, the use of infant formulas has increased significantly all around the globe. Studies found that in the 20th century, breastfeeding rate was about 90%, which has decreased to approximately 42% in the 21st century (National Center for Biotechnology Information). Hence, to increase awareness about breastfeeding, "World Breastfeeding Week" is celebrated every year from 1st to 7th August to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world.
The World Breastfeeding Week was first celebrated in 1992, and currently more than 120 countries and international organizations like World Health Organization (WHO), World Vision and UNICEF are celebrating this event. This year, the theme of the week is "Breastfeeding: A Winning Goal – For Life!"
Many studies confirmed the growth, survival and health of breastfed children versus children who are fed milk substitutes are significantly different. Several studies suggest that breastfeeding has clear short-term benefits, particularly reducing morbidity and mortality due to infectious diseases in childhood. Optimal breastfeeding of infants under two years of age has the greatest potential impact on child survival of all preventive interventions, with the potential to prevent over 800,000 deaths (13 per cent of all deaths) in children under five in the developing world(UNICEF).
In addition, breastfeeding provides newborns the nutrients they need. WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding until a baby is six months old and continued breastfeeding with the addition of nutritious complementary foods for up to two years or beyond (WHO). Breast milk contains the optimal ratio of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and micro-nutrients that are necessary for a child's body. Thus, breastfeeding is important for child growth.
Furthermore, breastfeeding reduces the risk of diarrhea and respiratory infections as mother's milk contains antibodies that combat against infections and diseases (International Breastfeeding Centre). Thence, breastfed children are less likely to develop allergic diseases and asthma. Studies suggest artificially fed babies are at greater risk of gastro-intestinal infection, respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, ear infections, allergic disease (eczema and wheezing), insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, sudden infant death syndrome and childhood leukemia (UNICEF).
Breastfeeding, also, contributes to maternal health of mothers. It prevents from postpartum hemorrhage (maternal postpartum bleeding), breast cancer, ovarian cancer, hip fractures and bone density (National Center for Biotechnology Information). Therefore, it is strongly encouraged for mothers to breastfeed their babies.
World Vision Mongolia's Mother and Child Health, Nutrition Specialist E. Uranchimeg explains "Breastfeeding has a lot of health benefits for mothers as well as the infants. It has great impact on a child's survival, health, nutrition and development. Breast milk provides all of the nutrients, vitamins and minerals an infant needs for growth. However, the most important benefit is the special bond it creates. [When a mother holds her baby for the first time and breastfeeds her baby, a magical moment takes place. It takes them to another dimension. A moment very magical,] this bond is priceless; something that lasts a lifetime."
Thus, world's most delicious, nutritious food is also the best medicine in the world - mother's milk! Therefore, under the slogan "Breastfeeding: A Winning Goal – For Life!" let us promote breastfeeding in our communities for the well-being of mothers and children!
Manai Ger Orphanage's N.Gaamaa: Everything will be resolved if our housing issues are settled
By B. Dulguun
August 10 (UB Post) The following is an interview with the Director of My Family Home (Manai Ger) Orphanage Center, N.Gaamaa about her orphanage.
She's been raising and caring for children since graduating from college that trains kindergarten teachers. In 2003, she co-founded My Family Home Orphanage with a Japanese citizen, Ken Aratame, and started off with six children.
The children, some of whom were disabled or diagnosed with tuberculosis and heart diseases, were aged from 16-day-old to 18-months-old. The orphanage currently houses 26 healthy children, with the youngest being aged six. They temporarily housed, provided documentation and registration for schools and kindergartens, and entrusted some 80 children to their parents and relatives.
Most people consider one or two children to be troublesome. Why did you choose this work to care for children?
I've been working and providing care for children since I graduated as a kindergarten teacher. I partnered with Ken Aratame, a teacher at the Tokyo University, to research about orphans and disabled children of vulnerable groups for five years since 1998. During the research, we worked with families of vulnerable groups in Songinokhairkhan District. To extend the framework of this work, we decided to establish an orphanage. We began our operations for the orphanage after getting permission from the District's Labor and Social Welfare Department. Our children had a very tough time when they were young. Now, they seem to have gotten on track a bit. All of them are so helpful and lovely.
Do the children call you mother or teacher?
Some call me Mum, and some who can't speak well yet, and call me Amaa (a variation of Gaamaa).
Are there many talented children?
There are plenty. Some excel in their academic studies. Composer D.Luvsansharav used to live in our neighborhood. He claimed that one of our girls could become a singer and that girl has won gold and silver medals at singing competitions.
What do the children do during summer holiday?
Previously, we used to have a camp when our Japanese financer was in Mongolia. Now, I ask my relatives to let us lodge at their summer houses for few days. One or two camps are letting us stay. While others think about getting a good rest when June comes and all schools and kindergartens go on holiday, I start worrying about clothes and stationeries for September.
It costs a lot to provide food and clothing for over 20 children. How do you manage?
The [Songinokhairkhan District] Welfare Department gives us approximately one million MNT. It does suffice for food. Being a child in an orphanage doesn't necessarily mean that they have to be poor and extremely unfortunate. I want them to be provided with things just like any other person, starting from clothes, food and stationeries. Our orphanage also does tailoring and sells what we produce. We have many friends, individuals, organizations and companies that support us. People give charities of 50,000 to 100,000 MNT or more, and we use it all for the children. I am getting older. I don't think about getting awarded with gold or silver medals like other people around my age. As soon as I get some money from the welfare department, I spend it on food.
Do you manage funds for clothes, housing, and school stationeries by yourself?
Yes. The most problematic is rent. I was demanded to vacate this house before July 1. We're temporarily moving to an apartment in Sansar District. When I look for a new house, I'm demanded to pay a large sum of money in advance. I'm in a difficult situation and confused about what I should do. Maybe some readers will be interested in supporting our orphanage after reading this interview. Although, we have many companies supporting and helping us out, I'm a bit hesitant about asking for more help. I myself am a bit reserved. I don't like asking for favors. I try to do things by myself. If we can resolve housing issues, there will not be any further issues to be concerned about.
Did you contact any organizations regarding this matter?
I asked some organizations. They told me they'd discuss it with their directors, but I haven't heard from them. It's very challenging as I've never asked for favors before. There's a saying that people will manage as long as they're alive. I'll have to manage it somehow. I'm sure there are plenty of people that are goodhearted and willing to help and support. It's just me who's unable to find the right person.
How much money is required to provide for the needs one child?
Including food, clothing and school needs, around 250,000 MNT is considered sufficient for each child a month. At the moment, the children are getting adequate food and clothing.
Is the 20,000 MNT distributed to children from the government spent on children?
No, that money is saved up in their trust accounts. It'll be useful in their future lives.
Have you contacted foreign organizations for financial support?
Majority of foreign organizations are associated with religions. There are abundant numbers of religious organizations who are enthusiastic about helping and supporting the orphanage. However, I'm not so keen on working with them. Some foreign organizations completely change the way children think, conquer their minds and turn them into vegetarians. I cannot repay the children if I introduce them to foreign religions and beliefs.
Since most of the children have health issues, they must need a considerable amount of care?
Indeed. More than half of the children came to us with health issues. It's blissful to just live healthily, without sickness or disease. I get worried about them getting sick or hurt whenever they travel somewhere. Just recently, a child had a heart operation. Two years ago, a four-year-old boy had to undergo a heart operation. Generally, I can't seem to distance myself from my children. Ever since I established this orphanage center, not once have I taken an annual leave. The youngest child will be entering a school this year. My overall care work is almost over. Now, I'm concentrating on their upbringing and education, and beginning to prepare them for society.
From your interview, it seems that you spend 24 hours at the orphanage. Are you able to spend time with your family?
Sometimes, I even spend 48 hours or 72 hours straight at the orphanage. I have four children of my own, two boys and two girls. They all started their own lives and families so they don't get upset for not making time for them. The best support comes from families. There was a time when I had to sell my son's car due to insufficient money for food. As mentioned before, a child had an operation. The children take turns to visit and deliver her food.
Certainly, you must face many difficulties while raising so many children?
I can understand the children from their eyes. I can see it from their eyes and face when they face hardships at school or about to get sick. I can love them when they need caring and scold them if I must. Children shouldn't be spoilt, patted on their heads and kissed 20 to 30 times a day just because they are orphans or sick. Occasionally, these kids really do misbehave but they've matured a bit, and became much easier to handle.
Children in government orphanages leave the orphanage when they reach 18. Does the same apply to the children at My Family Home Orphanage?
Yes. Our children have strong bonds so they continue supporting us even after leaving the orphanage. I'm sure they can manage a good life afterwards. I have the foremost important responsibility of raising them correctly. I consider their intelligence as priority, more than material needs. I'm planning on pursuing land next year and ask for four to five gers. The children matured and learned to be independent. I'm pondering about having three or four of them live together in a ger. I can check up on them at least once a month.
Do parents come to get back their children?
Hardly ever. We have to search for them and when we find them and meet, they don't seem to have the slightest joy or hint of retrieving their child. I guess it can't be helped. They must not feel the urge to take them back since they've already abandoned them. Some mothers are very immoral.
Majority of our children were abandoned. There's a huge difference between an orphan and an abandoned child. It's evil to consider abandoning a child in one's womb as soon as he or she is born because they can't abort them. Children who grew up tasting their mother's milk are different.
Will you continue this work and care for children?
I will work with disabled children after these children reach the stage to take care of themselves. Some children don't let their parents work and demand the same amount of care as a three-year-old when they're already ten years old. I want them to become helpful to their parents. Healthy children are quick to mature.
What brings the most satisfaction in your line of work?
If my children are able to mature, become independent, and carry on a happy life on their own, then that will become my biggest happiness.
Light ahead for Mongolia's LGBT youth
By Mathilde Michaud
August 10 (UB Post) Where do you see Mongolia's LGBT community five years from now?
This is the first question which came to me as I attended the 2014 Mongolian LGBT Forum last weekend. Over the weekend, approximately 70 community members gathered for the first Mongolian LGBT forum. Transgender individuals, gays, lesbians, and bisexuals, they all met to discuss and find solutions to current LGBT issues. It was also an opportunity to show their colors and exchange ideas in a judgment-free environment.
When you think about Mongolia, you think fast development, construction, transformation. What if this was also valid for the LGBT community?
In 2014, public and police harassment is still considered the most frequent human rights violation endured by the community's members, followed closely by discrimination in the workplace, according to the UNAIDS' Desk Review on the Legal and Policy Environment of Sexual Minorities in Mongolia released on Friday.
"I have rarely heard of a transgender individual in the workplace, even when they have a really good education," G.Nyampurev, program officer at the Together Centre told me, "exceptionally, they work for NGOs and many have to turn to sex work."
Furthermore, the marriage law formally opposes homosexual unions and most members of the LGBT community have not been able to have their couple status recognized for official processes.
But even then, the youth seems to believe in a change for Mongolia.
"Compared to other Asian countries, Mongolia is far more advanced regarding gender equality, so we have a good basis for LGBT and human rights improvement," Batzorig Sukhbat, youth/trans program manager at the LGBT Centre told the UB Post.
Indeed, the LGBT community is not alone working on the amelioration of human rights in Mongolia. For the past several years, trade unions have been battling for greater equality and a safer work environment for women, a fight that could greatly benefit LGBT workers in Mongolia.
Alongside these efforts, reforms and amendments are being pushed by both women and LGBT NGOs for changes to the Constitution and Labor Law to include "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to the list of criteria upon which employers cannot discriminate.
But for real improvement to happen, Mongolian LGBT need to take actions for themselves.
"Straight individuals cannot take actions for us," emphasized G.Nyampurev, "we need to work for ourselves first."
While this demand would have seemed a lost cause a few years ago, the popularity of the forum showed that it is possible for the community to take such a fight on its shoulders.
"Only two or three years ago, when we organized community training, no one would show up. Now, it is the opposite, we don't have enough room for everybody," added G.Nyampurev enthusiastically.
To many in the community, creating a sense of common identity is the first step towards change. Only after that, can they expect there to be a successful dialogue with Mongolian officials.
A number of community based initiatives have also been engaged to improve the quality of life for LGBT individuals.
Mugi, a transgender woman from Ulaanbaatar, started a business project to employ transgender individuals, but, as underlined by the Desk Review, economic and social support from outside the community has been very difficult to acquire and she is still searching for investors.
The need for a shelter was also raised by G.Nyampurev, stressing that not only are many LGBT individuals without a job, but also without a home.
Difficulties along the road, however, do not seem to scare this new and young LGBT community.
"We need to be brave!" proclaimed G.Nyampurev, "Never give up. If you are brave you can change everything!"
To which, Batzorig added, "I do believe in Mongolian people. We love democracy, we love human rights, so the people could make the change. In five years it is going to be beautiful, because we have youth; open minded youth!"
World's Toughest Horse Race Retraces Genghis Khan's Postal Route
Riders attempt to stay atop half-wild Mongol horses for over 600 miles (1,000 kilometers).
August 6 (National Geographic) Before most of the world woke up this morning, 47 riders from around the globe had saddled half-wild horses and set out on what the Guinness Book of World Records has called the longest equestrian race on Earth.
The goal—beyond not getting seriously injured—is to ride a 621-mile circuit (1,000 kilometers) of Mongolian steppe in less than ten days.
Fewer than half of the riders are expected to make it across the finish line. The rest will either quit or be carried off the course by the medical team. Broken bones and torn ligaments are common, frustration and bruised egos the norm. Every rider will fall off multiple times during the course of the race, says Katy Willings, the race chief and a former Mongol Derby competitor.
The race route is modeled on the horse relay postal system created under Genghis Khan in 1224, which was instrumental in the expansion of the Mongolian Empire. Guided by a local escort, specially appointed postal riders would gallop more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) to a morin urtuu, or horse relay station, where another escort would be waiting with a fresh horse.
At the postal route's zenith, a letter could cross from Kharkhorin in the east to the Caspian Sea on the far western edge of the empire, a distance of some 4,225 miles (6,800 kilometers), in two weeks (an average of about 300 miles, or 480 kilometers, a day). Postal riders continued to deliver the mail until 1949, when the Soviet Union—which then controlled Mongolia—shut down the system in an attempt to erase the history of Genghis Khan from the country.
"The horse stations were not permanent but rather a responsibility that rotated so that each family provided the compulsory service for a month each year or two," explains Dandar Gongor, 86, a former escort. From the age of 12 to 15, he carried the riders' mailbags while navigating them to the next horse station.
"You would meet all sorts of people," he says, referring to the postal riders. "Some were kind and would tell you folk stories while you rode. Others were arrogant and mean. We would let the next urtuu supervisor know what kind of people they were, and this would help him decide if [the postal rider] would be given a well-behaved or difficult horse."
Welsh adventurer Ash walks alone 1,500 miles into the record books in Mongolia
August 8 (Wales Online) A young British adventurer has become the first person to walk 1,500 miles solo across Mongolia – one of the world's most desolate countries.
Ash Dykes, 23, walked into the record books after spending 78 days alone crossing the unforgiving land of the high Altai Mountains, scorching Gobi Desert and the seemingly-endless Mongolian Steppe.
He battled raging sandstorms, heat exhaustion and the unrelenting loneliness of crossing the world's most sparsely populated country at walking pace.
Word even spread among the local Mongols about the strange foreigner walking across the country - and the young Welshman was soon nicknamed the "lonely snow leopard".
Postcards from the edge: Ash's adventure in pictures
Interview Video: Solo Mongolian trekker Ash Dykes breaks world record – BBC News, August 8
Bayan-Ulgii to organize Golden Eagle Festival in Nalaikh, August 9-10
August 8 (news.mn) The Annual traditional festival Golden Eagle will be held near Nalaikh district between 9-10 August. The Annual Golden Eagle Festival is organized by community council of Bayan-Ulgii province, sponsors of Golden Eagle Festival in collaboration with Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism, and Governor`s Office in Nalaikh district.
Hunting with specially trained eagles has long been the tradition for Kazakh people of Bayan-Ulgii. Golden Eagle Festival aims at protecting and promoting diversity of Mongolia`s cultural expressions, displaying ethnic Kazakh people`s tradition, culture, and sports event at the same time with hunters and eagles.
Golden Eagle Festival offers ceremonies, dance performances, a parade and a Kazakh play in honor of the hunters and their eagles. The first Golden Eagle Festival was held among small Kazakh community in the central region, Darkhan-Uul province in 2006.
NatGeo: Top 10 Climbs in the World
From the National Geographic book The 10 Best of Everything
1. Mount Khuiten, Mongolia
In Mongolia, it's easy for a traveler to be quickly swept away by the endless green steppes, the heartiness of the Kazakh nomads, and the rolling landscapes that define the Altai Mountains. This makes the trek to Mount Khuiten as enjoyable and scenic as the climb itself.
The mountain straddles the corners of Russia, China, and Mongolia. To reach it, trekkers must cross a golden, vast, and barren landscape that is one of the last remote regions on Earth. This remarkable journey is enhanced by the gentle hospitality of the Kazakh nomads.
Pianist B.Oyu: I wish to play amazing pieces by Mongolian composers who haven't been recognized in Asia
The following is an interview with rising pianist B.Oyungerel, also known as B.Oyu, about the music industry and other relevant issues.
Why did you change your name to Oyu?
My parents gave me the name Oyungerel, but there were many cases of mispronunciation at foreign and domestic competitions and events. I switched to Oyu in order to make it easier to pronounce as well as to pursue the standards set for artists to have a stage name.
Thousands of people are aspiring and making various works for the ever-difficult classical arts. The number of Mongolian pianists entering foreign music circles is considerably low. In general, how developed is piano music in Mongolian?
Mongolia is able to teach the basics incredibly well. All of my instructors studied in Russia. There's an academy for only classical arts in Russia. It's a major success that Mongolia was able to learn from Russia's experience and establish the academy in Mongolia.
Although the basics are taught well, musicians aren't able to train. Training to become a full-fledged musician isn't solely dependent on instructors. Abundant intellect and funds are required. It also depends on many other aspects other than these contributions.
I hope the ministry and other relevant organizations unite someday and face one another head-on and accept their shortcomings.
Truthfully, young artists aren't acknowledged. Their accomplished works aren't recognized as it should. When they criticize the reality, they receive immense countercharge and get accused of disrespecting their elders. Even though Mongolians claim that we're talented and skilled, we're unable to qualify for the second round of A [high] level competitions. This is a fact. The competitions we enter aren't of B level but of C level that are organized for amateurs.
When I took several children with me to Italy to participate in a competition, children who trained at the Music and Dance College of Mongolia, a vocational school, they won 100 Euros in prize or a certificate from competing against children who learned at home. When they returned to Mongolia, they got 14 million MNT from the state. This isn't development, but destruction. Instructors and children aren't entering competitions for improving skills. Why can't that 14 million MNT reward be used for musical education? We should spend it on training children who are trying to take part in A level competitions. For instance, [the government] can become responsible for food, rent, and all other needs of children taking part in A level competitions.
I made three appointments to discuss this issue with the minister but unfortunately, I wasn't able to meet her. Glooming over it will not solve anything. We need to search for other means and opportunities to resolve the issue.
In Europe, people focus on educating children through classical arts. It's the same in Mongolia. There are tons of people who are interested in learning piano as an adult. Is it very different to learn piano at a young age than learning it when you're older?
People at any age can learn to play the piano. The significance of learning to play at a young age is that it's not only a matter of learning music. It becomes their upbringing and education and helps them mature. Many people are discussing education as it's become a standard. It's classified depending on whether it's an education for the brain, spirituality, or upbringing. If it's taught at early ages, it becomes a comprehensive education for these aspects.
A 30-year-old can learn to play instruments. However, it will not affect their mentality since they've already matured and developed their individual views of the world. The most appropriate age to teach instruments is when children are four or five. It's the time when they start growing, understand ethics and morals, and start developing different emotions. Europeans realized this 300 to 400 years ago, and executed it in their daily lives. I'm grateful to know that this is being introduced to Mongolia and increasing the awareness of the people.
People often criticize the society for inclining towards one that is more frustrating, crude, and crueler. The key to this is arts and cultural policy. Especially classical arts education should be given to children from an early age. We should make opportunities for children to start enjoying drawing, painting, sculpting, and doing ballet and encourage parents to support their children to set foot in the amazing world of learning about oneself, feeling other's love and respect.
How did arts contribute in your life and upbringing?
I didn't notice it while learning. It may be because I hadn't completely finished learning. When a woman turns 30, a new door opens. Some even explain this as another transition period. This door is starting to open for me and I'm beginning to know myself more. From the top, I'm realizing what sorts of upbringing and personality I got from the teachings of my instructors and music. A few days ago, even with my constant fault pin-pointing during a lesson, my student repeated the same mistake three times. At the moment, I started pondering on the fact that music may have taught me that we should learn from our mistakes. I don't assess myself, but others do. There's no such thing as a perfect man who doesn't make any mistakes. A person's wisdom is shown on how often you repeat mistakes, learn from it and develop good habits. I try not to make or repeat mistakes and try to realize when making mistakes. I was able to cultivate many positive characteristics such as having patience at any circumstance. For instance, I got a special award at the International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition which was organized in February. I was the oldest participant but I was proud of myself. Continuing this line of work is a very challenging thing to do in the music industry. Only few continue to work. I tossed everything to the side and trained for ten hours for a whole month to partake in the competition. It may sound easy but it's difficult to actually do it. Rehearsing every day for a month, while overcoming laziness and turning my back to other important matters, requires a lot of patience. I make an effort to bring up this patience whenever I come across an issue or an obstacle.
What's the foremost important thing the arts and culture sector should do to expand and grow?
Mongolia doesn't have a sector for musicians. This sector isn't developed at all. There isn't a job position for solo pianists. The arts and culture sector should work to establish these job positions. Currently, half of the graduates of the Music and Dance College are working in their profession, and half have tossed it away. This is correspondent to the low salary. Policies and markets should be considered for increasing salaries. We should bring together people who are interested. Just like choral songs, music is able to bring people together. We should do something interesting and attract people in a similar way. By grabbing an audience and forming a market, a certain amount of money will be able to circulate. This'll enable ambitions to flare up and motivate new graduates. At the moment, all of them are depressed thinking about where and what kind of work they should do. There are many talented and skilled graduates who are as valuable as "gold". Monetary issue is the main reason why musicians and artists aren't debuting. Also, we're unable to neither work cooperatively nor support one another.
What is your future goal and how will you contribute in attaining recognition for Mongolian pianists internationally?
Classical art originated from Europe. We should get recognition by playing European compositions. In terms of cultural heritage and intellectual education, Mongolians are ranked comparatively high. My objective is to introduce music of Mongolian composers to Europe, if not, then at least to Asia. Mongolian musicians can't surpass works of European composers as they are already well-known and played by everybody. Chinese famous pianist Lang Lang and other talented musicians of Korea and Japan have been acknowledged from Asia. It'll take at least 100 years to surpass them. This is how outdated Mongolian music is. I wish to play amazing pieces of Mongolian composers who haven't been recognized in Asia in order to lessen the distance.
In Mongolia, there aren't any composers who were able to attain fame through compositions like that of Beethoven and Mozart. The simple fact of Mongolia having composers of this caliber may become a huge advantage for getting world recognition. Currently, Mongolia doesn't know which aspect it should use to get world recognition. Although mining made uproar for a period, investors are now running away from Mongolia. Foreign trade is out of the question as it's facing a crisis. Mongolia must find a gateway for getting recognition. Classical art itself has become the world's measure for intellectualism. It's the most valuable cultural asset. Mongolia has a potential to get recognition through classical arts.
I hope a lot of people support and cooperate to make this work successful. I will draft a project, work and make efforts for it. My primary aspiration is to contribute in stamping a better image and name for Mongolia and help get recognition from the world, even if it's a small contribution.
Snow falls in Arkhangai and Zavkhan Provinces
August 7 (UB Post) Six soums in Arkhangai and Zavkhan Provinces had a snowfall on Sunday evening for many hours, following radical drop in temperatures, according to local residents.
"Temperatures dropped nationwide and some regions are experience minus two to plus three degree Celsius at night since the start of August, which followed rain and snow," reported engineer of the National Agency for Meteorology, Hydrology and Environmental Monitoring (NAMHEM) B.Tsaschimeg.
The NAMHEM forecasted that the first half of August will be warmer compared to the same period of previous years. However, thunderstorms and rains are expected throughout the whole month with radical temperature drops expected during the latter half.
Mt. Bogd Hosts Mongolian National Golf Open Championship 2014
August 11 (infomongolia.com) The National Golf Open Championship 2014 organized by Mongolian Golf Association (MGA) took place at "Mt. Bogd" golf course, which is located 13 km southeast from Ulaanbaatar city, and was hosted by Sky Resort on August 07-10, 2014.
This is the 11th Open Championship, where 60 male and 7 female golfers have competed and notably, Japanese professional player Shingo Katayama has witnessed the championship upon the invitation of MGA.
Winners of National Golf Open Championship 2014:
1 place - L.Dondovtseveen
2 place - D.Ulziidelger
3 place - B.Munkhbaatar
1 place - A.Enerel
2 place - B.Batnaran
3 place - D.Bayarmaa
In conjunction, the XVII Asian Games, the largest sporting event in Asia governed by Olympic Council of Asia, will be taking place in Incheon, South Korea from September 19 to October 04, 2014 with 439 events in 36 sports and representing Mongolia, L.Dondovtseveen, D.Ulziidelger, G.Mendsaikhan and B.Altaibaatar in the Men's Golf, where A.Enerel, B.Batnaran and D.Bayarmaa will competing in the Women's category respectively.
Golf State Championship winners named – news.mn, August 11
Mongolia's 2020 National Olympic team to train in Shizuoka, Japan
August 11 (news.mn) Deputy Minister of Culture, Sport and Tourism M.Tumenjargal met Japanese officials, including Shizuoka Prefectural Vice-Governor Taka Hideki, last Thursday, August 7th.
At the meeting, both sides agree to train the national team of Mongolia for the 2020 Olympics in Shizuoka Prefecture in Japan.
The two parties also agreed to link the travel companies of the two countries to boost tourism and travel and to conduct bilateral meetings.
Officials from Shizuoka Prefecture expressed willingness to work more closely with cultural organizations in Mongolia and agreed to implement student cultural and sports exchange programs for primary and secondary school children.
Koji Oishi puts Featherweight Championship title on the line against dangerous Mongolian top fighter Narantungalag Jadambaa
August 11 (ONE FC) Legendary Japanese mixed martial arts (MMA) superstar Koji Oishi is set to defend his ONE Fighting Championship (ONE FC) Featherweight Championship title once again, in the co-main event against Narantungalag Jadambaa at ONE FC: REIGN OF CHAMPIONS, the biggest card in the history of Asian MMA.
Filipino Eric Kelly displayed warrior spirit at ONE FC: WAR OF DRAGONS to overcome Australian Rob Lisita in the headliner fight and was slated to contend for Oishi's title.
However, an injury from that means putting the title fight on hold for now, thus Mongolia's best fighter Jadambaa rises to the occasion and will be going up against Oishi for that coveted Featherweight Championship.
Oishi is very familiar with his upcoming opponent, stating that "Jadambaa is a very famous fighter in Japan", where most of the latter's fights have taken place.
No doubt, Jadambaa is an experienced, dangerous and well-rounded fighter who will be looking to become the first Mongolian world champion in MMA.
He also holds a victory over the former champion Banario whom Oishi defeated twice.
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