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Tuesday, September 22, 2015
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Optimism grows at Mongolia's Oyu Tolgoi as launch set for mid-2016
Terrence Edwards in Khanbogd Soum, Mongolia
September 18, 2015 (bne) Workers at the Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine in Mongolia's Gobi desert are abuzz in anticipation of the launch of a $6bn expansion project that will unlock 80% of the wealth stored underground. The start of construction is still some way off, but optimism is high after the resolution of two years of squabbles between investors and the Mongolian government.
The launch of the second phase of development at Oyu Tolgoi, expected mid-2016, will bring in badly needed investment to Mongolia, where the economy is sinking alongside foreign investment. Oyu Tolgoi is seen by many as a litmus test as to whether Mongolia can again be an investor-friendly destination, and construction could spark a second investment boom.
Global miner Rio Tinto shares 66% ownership of the mine with minority investors through the Toronto-listed Turquoise Hill Resources, while the Mongolian government owns the remaining 34%.
The mood among staff was grim two years ago, when workers were being made redundant and equipment mothballed because of the suspended works. Visiting the mine today, however, most of the talk centres around the grand plans to build enormous structures and the more than 3,000 additional workers that will be needed to complete them.
In contrast to six years ago, when construction headed across and up, most work will take place 1,300 metres below ground. Andrew Hooppell, a senior engineer, says the mine will be one of the biggest operations in the world for blasting and drilling. "It'll be a significant footprint even though none of it will be seen," said Hooppell, during a tour of the mine.
Rio is planning to build over 200 kilometres of lateral tunnels at a deposit with higher copper grades over the then next five to seven years, says Craig Kinnell, Rio's chief development officer for copper and coal. The project will extend the mine's lifetime past 2100, he claims, and make it the world's third largest for copper and gold.
The mine is a key piece in Rio's strategy to shift dependence away from iron ore. The low costs of production in Mongolia make it the "bedrock" that Kinnell says can withstand market downturns. The global mining giant's commitment to copper can be seen in its investment portfolio: the red metal used to produce electrical wiring among other things takes up 30% of its investment portfolio for global exploration, and it has two more projects in the western hemisphere that it wants to take online. "We're bullish on the long-term fundamentals of copper," says Kinnell.
The project is also a key component in Prime Minister Chimed Saikhanbileg's plan to restore Mongolia's flagging economy, which some analysts think will slump into contraction this year.
Spending will start after Rio finally signs a project financing package worth up to $4.2bn, which Kinnell says is expected to happen in November. Financing will come from a mix of private banks and development institutions, such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
Although Mongolia has plenty of reason to encourage activity at Oyu Tolgoi, it still has its detractors, including resource nationalists. And many worry that lawmakers pandering to those detractors could try to interfere again when the economy eventually starts recovering. But with a new agreement in place reaffirming an investment agreement originally signed in 2009, Kinnell is undeterred by the possibility of a repeat of the events of 2012 and 2013 that resulted in the suspension of the project. "We've got a sustainable agreement that's consistent with the [investment agreement]," says Kinnell. "We are confident moving forward that we will be working profitably with our partners for the next 80-plus years."
Going forward, Rio will implement a third and fourth phase throughout the mine's lifetime. But a more immediate issue will be securing a local power source to replace the energy currently imported from China. The investment agreement it signed in 2009 also stipulates it consider a smelting facility.
Although the foreign mining giant is not likely to spearhead either of those initiatives, Rio's country director Sukhbaatar Munkhsukh says Oyu Tolgoi could be central to either plan as a "key customer". "If the government takes a feasibility study and is able to find funding, we'll be keen to supply," says Munkhsukh. "But we won't be looking into investing."
Rio Tinto Vacancies at Oyu Tolgoi:
MSE Weekly Report: MSE ALL +2.33%, Market Cap +3.53%, Stocks ₮98.3 Million, T-Bills ₮10 Billion
September 21 (MSE) Mongolian Stock Exchange organized 5 securities trading sessions and made transaction of MNT10,098,445,270.00 between 14 September 2015 and 18 September 2015
61,656.00 shares of 49 joint stock companies worth of MNT98,270,270.00 were traded.
Most actively traded securities
Most active brokerage companies
Ard capital group
Asia pacific securities
Government retail bonds trading:
100,000 Government retail bonds worth of MNT10,000,000,000.00 /10 billion/ traded through one trading session. In addition, 2 government retail bonds traded on secondary market 175,000.00 transaction has been made.
Most active brokerage companies in government securities trading
As of September 2015, market capitalization was MNT1,323,665,657,634.00 which indicated increased of 3.53%, and MSE ALL index reached 973.85 units which indicated increased of 2.33% from the previous week.
MSE CEO: State Privatization Can Be Conducted on Schedule
Source: Oyunchimeg.D, Zuunii Medee Sonin, 2015.09.18
September 21 (MSE) --
- How many state-owned companies' privatization will go through Mongolian Stock Exchange?
Mongolian Parliament affirmed the Resolution No.: 70 to privatize or reorganize some stated-owned companies in year 2015-2016. The Resolution stated privatization of 9 out of 15 companies will privatize through Mongolian Stock Exchange including 5 thermal power stations, Baganuur, Shivee-Ovoo, Mongol Post and Telecom Mongolia. Also, the Resolution No.: 330 of Mongolian Government which states the specific timeline and person who is responsible for this action were affirmed. According to the Order of Minister of Finance, the working team for privatization and reorganization of state-owned companies were established. Ministry of Finance will be lead the working group and representatives of Mongolian Stock Exchange, Mongolian Securities Clearing House and Central Depository, Development Bank of Mongolia, Financial Regulatory Commission, State Property Committee and Cabinet Secretariat of Government of Mongolia will be participated.
- 30% of 7 state-owned companies will be traded at Mongolian Stock Exchange in fourth quarter of the year.
- Does Mongolian Stock Exchange have ability to do privatization of these companies? There is a doubt that privatization can't be done in fourth quarter of this year.
Since the Government resolution has been approved, the work must be done with no doubt. If the privatization get postponed or voided, trust of public and foreign investors will be discouraged. We shall implement this state order with no doubt. Other countries and public will be observing how the privatization will process. If the work get delayed for longer amount of time, Mongolian capital market will never develop. In addition, investment of foreign countries will stop. No one want to invest in a country where the government rule can be ignored, therefore, we must be responsible.
- The Resolution of Mongolian Parliament and Government cannot be delayed, does it?
If we ignore the government Resolution, the capital market would never develop. Most importantly, as we go by rule, trust will be built. No one can delay government's resolution and regulation; therefore, we must launch privatization of state-owned companies and trade its stocks to the public in the time frame. I also want to note that all related organizations have to be responsible for this job.
- You mentioned about organizing the trading in the public. How preparatory work is going on?
First of all, these companies should have audited their past year's balance sheet. And, the valuation of assets should be done. In addition, the legal assessment report for conduct trading through Mongolian Stock Exchange which shall meet rules and regulations.
- How much money will be used for the process?
Basically, there are three fundamental job should be done for one company. MNT50.0 million for each; therefore, MNT150.0 million will be used in one company for privatization. Total of MNT1.0 billion will be circulated into economy. Certainly, this will be concerned with State Property Committee, Ministry of Finance and other related organizations. Then, make a contract with Underwriter Company which has high amount of cost. Stock trading of State-owned companies will conduct legally. In other words, issued shares of company should be sold 100% and we suggesting that the underwriter company that fully responsible for this matter should work with them.
- Where does the public can get information about the privatization and reorganization of the companies?
Underwriting companies will work on advertising the stock and provide information to the public.
- 70% of the above mentioned companies will be owned by state, when will the shareholders start to claim dividends?
That is obligation of the companies. The government will work on to protect shareholder's right, claiming dividends and increase the value of stocks. Before, the companies were 100% owned by state, now the companies will be monitored by the public and become more transparent. The dead expenses will be decreased, revenue and profits will be main purpose of the company to exist and there will be significant value to the capital market. If companies still report loss after privatization, it will be considered as theft from the public.
BoM MNT Rates: Monday, September 21 Close
MNT vs USD (blue), CNY (red) in last 1 year:
Mongolian Tugrik Hovers Under 2000/USD After $1b ForEx Auctions
By Michael Kohn
September 21 (Bloomberg) -- Mongolia's central bank has injected net of $626.8m and 2.4b yuan ($375m) for a total injection of $1b Ytd via twice-weekly foreign exchange auctions, Enkhdalai Batjargal, an economist from the International Economics Department at the Bank of Mongolia, wrote in an e-mail.
* Yoy injections include $1.1b and 2.7b yuan ($442m) for a total of $1.5b: Enkhdalai
* Auction proceeds are sourced from BoM international reserves
* Most recent auction held on Sept 17 saw BoM sell $14.2m and 27m yuan
* Foreign exchange auctions are used to "improve the transparency and efficiency of the foreign exchange market and to stabilize foreign exchange" of the tugrik, according to central bank website; eligible bidders are domestic commercial banks only
* NOTE: Tugrik fell to record low of 1,992.50 vs. USD on Sept. 10; a decline of 5.2% Ytd
* NOTE: BoM had international reserves of $1.71b as of the end of July, a 26.5% Yoy increase
BoM issues ₮124.5 billion 1-week bills at 13%, total outstanding +17.5% to ₮376.8 billion
September 21 (BoM) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 124.5 billion at a weighted interest rate of 13.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/
BoM Mortgage Report, August 2015: +1.1% MoM, +27.9% YoY to ₮3.27 Trillion, 74.5% of Which 8%
September 21 (BoM) --
off issued in
Avg. interest on
Link to full report (in Mongolian)
2 Tons of Gold Sold to BoM in August, 7.4t in 2015, +5.6% from 2014
Gold Amount (Kg)
Mongolian Bonds Take a Beating Amid Emerging-Markets Turmoil
By FIONA LAW
September 21 (WSJ) Mongolia, the vast but sparsely populated Asian nation sandwiched between Russia and China, sold its first government bond internationally in 2012 at the height of the global commodities boom. Three years on, it is among the countries hardest hit amid the current emerging-markets turmoil.
Major global funds that invested in Mongolia's $1.7 billion sovereign-debt pile, including Pacific Investment Management Co. and Schroder Investment Management, are grappling with a sharp downturn in the resource-rich country's fortunes caused by plummeting metals prices and its big Chinese neighbor's slowing economic growth.
The yield on Mongolia's 10-year government bond rose to as high as 9.4% last month, making it the worst performer in Asia amid a broad selloff of emerging-market debt. Bond yields rise when prices fall.
The 10-year bond yield has since fallen back, to about 8% on Monday, amid improved market sentiment after the U.S. Federal Reserve stayed its hand on rate increases. That remains a far cry from 2012, when yield-hungry investors bought into Mongolia's first $1.5 billion bond sold to foreign investors with a 5.125% coupon—at the time, lower than the 5.4% yield on Spain's 10-year government bond.
"Since then, everything has turned sour," said Bernard Pouliot, chairman of Quam Ltd., a Hong Kong-based securities brokerage and asset-management firm. He set up a $10 million fund in 2011 to invest in Mongolian stocks and bonds. Now, he has decided to close the fund following years of losses.
Mr. Pouliot says Mongolia's main problem has been the lack of political will necessary to attract much-needed foreign investment on a consistent basis.
Mining giant Rio Tinto PLC has spent years developing Oyu Tolgoi, which it wants to expand at a cost of roughly $5.4 billion to create the world's third-largest copper-and-gold mine. Progress has been stymied by tortuous negotiations between Rio and the Ulaanbaatar government on issues such as how to share revenues from the mine.
Earlier this year, Rio finally struck a deal to expand Oyu Tolgoi, after two years of tense talks. In the meantime, though, copper prices have collapsed, falling by half since their high point in 2011.
Oyu Tolgoi's difficulties are the most striking example of Mongolia's failure to develop its resources quickly enough to take full advantage when commodities prices were high—crucial for a country that relies on minerals for 90% of its economic output. In 2012, the government dealt a further blow to investment when it passed a law making it harder for foreigners to buy into strategic sectors like mining.
With less money flowing in, the country has exhausted its foreign-exchange reserves in an effort to finance its current-account deficit. The country's currency, the tughrik, has weakened by 25% against the dollar over the past two years. Nonperforming loans are rising in the banking sector as the economy falters, following a credit boom a few years ago that was stimulated by easy central-bank policy.
Ratings agency Standard & Poor's warned in April it may cut Mongolia's B-plus rating, citing the country's mounting fiscal and current-account problems.
Frontier markets globally are under pressure. Slower growth and the U.S. dollar's strength are hitting such economies, which tend to depend on external demand and foreign borrowing. A lack of liquidity in their dollar-denominated debt has exacerbated price falls. Zambia's 10-year government bond, issued at 5.375% in 2012, is currently yielding 9.73%; the yield on Ecuador's comparable government bond has soared to 12.6% from 7.95% at issuance last year.
In Mongolia, corporate debt has been hit hard, too. Mongolian Mining Corp., a major coking-coal producer, is running short of cash as it strives to meet its heavy debt interest obligations. Ratings agency Moody's Investors Service has downgraded the company's U.S. dollar debt to triple-C, citing the high likelihood of default next year, while the bond yield has soared to 97%.
Trade & Development Bank of Mongolia LLC, the largest local lender by assets, has seen its yuan-denominated international bond yield spike up to 13.3% from 10% when it was issued last year. Though the bank plans to sell a new dollar-denominated bond following an investor roadshow next week, Moody's is currently weighing whether to downgrade its bonds, citing the bank's weak capital position.
Four months ago, when the deal to expand Oyu Tolgoi project was sealed, Mongolia's sovereign bonds rallied, with the 10-year yield sinking as low as 6.4%. At that point Schroders bought Mongolian bonds as it seemed the country's "fundamentals [had] dramatically improved," according to its Asian fixed-income investment director Manu George.
Mr. George said the fall in Mongolia bonds since early July was down to forced selling by fund managers who needed to raise cash to pay back clients selling down their investments. He believes the selloff had nothing to do with Mongolia's fundamental position.
Still, others remain pessimistic.
"It's going to be a very tough winter for Mongolia," said Quam's Mr. Pouliot.
Templeton Emerging Markets Income Fund Falls 4.9% in 3 Months, Mongolia Allocation Down to 1% from 1.1%
Local Currency Bond Yield Curve Now Visible on Bloomberg Terminal
September 21 (gogo.mn) Bank of Mongolia, Ministry of Finance and Bloomberg LLC in cooperation have listed Mongolian Government bond yield curve in Bloomberg Terminal.
Creation of Government bond yield curve is beneficial for domestic companies to submit their financial means, raise necessary financing and find investors.
Also, foreign and domestic investors are enabled to receive legitimate information of Mongolian market, and conduct related researches which guide them to make more sound investment decisions.
Chart of the bond yield curve will be updated in Bloomberg terminal by Trade & Development Bank, Khan Bank, Golomt Bank, Capital Bank, Khas Bank and State-owned banks as trade of Mongolian Government bond occurs.
You are able to observe Mongolian Government bond yield curve in Bloomberg Terminal via code "BVIS1204".
Mongolian market information available on Bloomberg terminal – Montsame, September 21
Discussion Held in Mongolia on Nation Branding
Ulaanbaatar, September 21 (MONTSAME) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Monday hosted a discussion themed "Nation branding: Business and tourism sectors in Mongolia" in frames of a work of formulating a program on propagandizing Mongolia abroad.
In a first part of the discussion, reports were given by a group of researchers from the Institute of Finance and Economics (IFE) and officials from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) under a theme "Nation branding: Theoretical understanding and global tendency".
In a second part, representatives of some Ministries, agencies, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Economic Forum, the IFE, the State University of Culture and Arts, the Institute of Social Health and businessmen expressed their opinions within a topic "Mongolian brand: Opportunities, challenges and characteristics".
The participants concluded the discussion after exchanging views on a form, content and strategy for propagandizing Mongolia abroad.
Parliament to Tackle Amnesty Law Amendment, 2016 Budget in Autumn Session
Ulaanbaatar, September 21 (MONTSAME) The Speaker Z.Enkhbold issued Friday a resolution on agenda that will be discussed by the parliamentary autumn session of 2015, and its order.
The autumn session will discuss a draft amendment to the law on amnesty on occasion of the 25th anniversary of the first democratic elections and permanent parliament of Mongolia; bills on the 2016 budget, on the 2016 budgets of the Human Development Fund (HDF) and the Social Insurance Fund (SIF); and a draft resolution of parliament on the 2016 basic guidelines on fiscal policy.
Other are draft amendments to the laws on the State Great Khural (parliament), on parliamentary session regime; draft laws on development policy, on planning and others; draft new wordings of the laws on performing court decisions, on prosecutorial body, on police service, on crime, on conflicts and on consideration of disputes at the Constitutional Court; and a draft amendment to the law on state service.
Bills on joint pension, on trade and related issues, on capital tax and relevant laws, and on the legal status of budget services will be considered as well.
In addition, the session will discuss draft new versions of the laws on labor, on family, on combating violence in families; bills on children's protection; a draft new wording of the law on children's rights, relevant to them bills; draft laws on organic foods, on garbage, on monitoring, relevant to them bills; and a draft resolution of parliament on state policy on food and agriculture.
Bills, draft resolutions and decisions, submitted by the government and MPs but not included in this list, could be considered by councils.
An obligation has been given to B.Boldbaatar, the secretary-general of the Parliamentary Office, and to heads of the Standing committees to ensure a preparation for the discussions.
Speaker Spins Planned US$1B Meat Export as Restructuring from Mining Dependence
September 20 (Mongolia Metals & Mining) Mongolian Parliament Chairman Z.Enkhbold has briefed public on current economic situation in the country in TV interview to Mongolian National Broadcaster on September 18,2016. Following is summary of his main points without our commentary.
Mongolia MPs on Japan Study Tour to Learn Labor, Social Welfare Policy
Ulaanbaatar, September 21 (MONTSAME) An MPs' delegation, led a head of the parliamentary Standing committee on social policy, education, culture and science N.Battsogt, visited last week Japan in order to study experiences in labor and social welfare spheres.
On September 17, the delegation got familiarized with Japan's Ministry of health, labor and social welfare as well with its way of implementing the labor law. After this, the delegation was received by Minister of Health, Labor and Social Welfare and member of the House of Representatives of parliament Mr Yasuhisa Shiozaki. The latter said his country has amended a strategy on restoring the economic and financial management "to ensure the economic circulation, to fulfill the long- and middle-term economic growth, to support small- and middle-sized productions, augmenting a minimum of salaries and creating more comfortable conditions for employment".
Mr Battsogt appreciated contributions of Japan's Minister to expansion of the Mongolia-Japan cooperation, and asked the Japanese side to back an increase in quota of trainee workers from Mongolia in Japan. After this, the Vice Minister of Labor S.Batkhuyag conveyed to Japan's Minister an official letter of the Labor Minister G.Bayarsaikhan and invited him to visit Mongolia.
Mongolia fights uphill battle against corruption
Terrence Edwards in Ulaanbaatar
September 17, 2015 (bne) A group claiming to be from Mongolia's Ministry of Tourism approached tourists queuing to get their passport stamped at Chinggis Khan International Airport, saying all foreign visitors must purchase a book of coupons. They pointed towards signs and handed pamphlets stating that a new law required visitors buy the coupons to enter the country.
But there never was any such law and the officials were not who they said they were. It was just a sophisticated scam.
Ranking 80th out of 176 countries last year in Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index, Mongolia is now attempting to clean out the muck from its government halls by investigating and arresting corrupt officials. Some politicians, however, would rather create loopholes to wipe clean the records of colleagues convicted of corruption, and close investigations before they go to trial.
Although the country has high-ranking officials who want to improve transparency and crack down on corruption to help attract investment and better serve the public, the fact that there are so many hard-to-reach middle management bureaucrats who are on the take makes it a slow and painful process.
Mongolian prime minister Chimed Saikhanbileg saw for himself the tourist scam during a surprise inspection of Chinggis Khan International Airport in September. He came down hard, ordering the sacking of the airport executives and government officials who allowed the scammers to pass through security to approach the tourists. Yet, it's anyone's guess whether or not the ones responsible will suffer any consequences.
Protecting the guilty
Parliament dodged a bullet on September 15 to Mongolia's reputation when it decided not to overturn a partial veto of a controversial Amnesty Law by President Tsakhia Elbegdorj. The law would have wiped clean the records of corrupt officials, allowing them to take office again. It would also have closed investigations into politicians from before last July, such as the one into former prime minister Norov Altankhuyag.
The law came under fire after it was quietly passed by the parliament during an extraordinary legislative session in August. Many protested in the streets and demanded the names of every politician who voted in favour of the law.
"We're very against this law," said Khashkhuu Naraa, head of the human rights and free speech group Globe International in Mongolia.
The biggest proponent of the law was the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, the minority partner in Saikhanbileg's coalition government. They stalled on the decision for five days because of their desire to see their party leader, Nambar Enkhbayar, return to office after being convicted of corruption in 2012. They didn't have the numbers to overturn the veto alone, however, as it requires a two-thirds majority from the parliament.
The Independent Agency Against Corruption that leads these investigations on officials may still be under threat, said Naraa. Some politicians have called for its disbanding, claiming that the agency has become a political tool of the president, who makes many of the top appointments there. Although that does create some conflict of interest issues, she recommends handing over that responsibility to a public council rather than dissolving the agency.
"I don't deny that the agency might be politically affected, but we really need this kind of independent group," she said.
The area where the country is making the biggest push for openness and transparency is in the mining sector. Mongolia's core commodities for export – coal and copper – are currently struggling because of the economic troubles of Mongolia's top trade partner, China. But when Saikhanbileg took on the job of the prime minister late last year, he saw repairing the mining sector as key to restoring the economy after more than two years of falling foreign investment and slowed growth.
Shar Tsolmon, a coordinator at the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative in Mongolia, said the mining ministry has done well in improving communication with mining companies and reporting figures about the industry to the public. "They are doing a good job," he said.
So when Mongolia announced it would end a four-year moratorium on new licenses for exploration, the intention was to do it with openness and fairness. Investors at the start of the year, however, said it missed the mark.
Eight months later, many investors are making the same complaints. "They've gone back to a system worse than five years ago before the moratorium was in place," said an investor who asked not to be named because of concerns about how his negative comments might affect the applications for exploration licenses he's submitted to the Mineral Resources Authority.
Although Tsolmon thought the system was a step in the right direction, "transparency is weak", he said, because of all the technical aspects that make it difficult to judge.
The reason Elbegdorj put the moratorium in place five years ago was because of rampant speculations over the licences. Speculators will sit on prized licences for years before selling them at a steep price. Meanwhile, deposits go untapped, without any employment to run operations and taxes or fees paid to the government.
Many feel, however, that the new system hasn't improved on this issue because the government dropped many of the restrictions just before the system went online earlier this year.
"It's ironic that there were 1,100 applications on Monday," said the investors on September 11, "but how many groups are actually exploring at the moment?"
Unresolved assassination of MP Zorig Sanjaasuren 17 years ago questions faith in rule of law
Geneva, 21 September 2015 (Inter-Parliamentary Union) Despite 25 years of democratic progress in Mongolia, the unresolved assassination of parliamentarian and former Minister of Infrastructure Zorig Sanjasuuren 17 years ago is eroding confidence in the rule of law, says an Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) human rights mission to the Asian country.
A just-concluded four-day mission to Mongolia led by Swiss parliamentarian and member of IPU's Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, Margret Kiener Nellen, is calling for the Mongolian authorities to redouble their efforts to resolve what is widely believed to have been a political assassination.
Sanjasuuren, considered by many as the father of democracy in Mongolia, was brutally murdered at his home in October 1998.
The perpetrators have still not been brought to justice despite an ongoing investigation since his death. The lack of progress on the case has been a source of concern for the IPU Committee, which has been engaging with Mongolian authorities over the years to shed more light on the investigation.
The IPU mission met parliamentary, government and judicial authorities as well as political parties, law enforcement entities, human rights organizations, family members and diplomats for talks in Ulaanbaatar over four days. It welcomed the authorities' cooperation and willingness to engage. The mission, however, underlined the importance of progress to public confidence.
"Only transparency on the investigation and real progress on the case will reassure people that there is a political will to find out who killed Zorig Sanjasuuren and why," says Margret Kiener Nellen. "As Mongolia celebrates the 25th anniversary of the first democratic elections in the country, it would be an ideal time to finally resolve the killing of the man who had led the democratic movement in the 1990s."
IPU's Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians provides protection and redress for MPs whose human rights have been violated or who are at risk.
The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) is the global organization of national parliaments. It works to safeguard peace and drives positive democratic change through political dialogue and concrete action.
Mongolia moves towards smarter, healthier ICT use
August 31 (Oxford Business Group) Backed by international support, Mongolia is rolling out advanced ICT programmes to support the provision of government services, improving accountability and access to data.
On June 18, Mongolia's minister of finance, J. Erdenebat, signed more than $63m worth of credit agreements with the World Bank to fund three new projects – two of which deal directly with the government's ambition of increasing the use of ICT to deliver state services.
Along with $27.4m in funding to support improvements in primary education, the World Bank will provide a $17.9m loan to finance an e-health system designed to supply faster access to more integrated health information systems, and $17.8m in credits to back Mongolia's SMART government project, an initiative which aims to utilise ICT to enhance accessibility, transparency and efficiency of public services.
The new programmes are expected to help Mongolia expand electronic access to state services and improve service delivery, said James Anderson, the World Bank's country manager for Mongolia."We look forward to working with the government to improve the quality of primary education and health services across the country, and to leverage Mongolia's vast broadband infrastructure and ICT to make public services more efficient and accessible to everyone," Anderson said while signing the credit agreement on behalf of the international lender.
E-health and SMART programmes
Development of the five-stage e-health programme will begin with laying the groundwork for the implementation of ICT solutions in the state health sector.
The new e-health system will be piloted in two aimags (or administrative subdivisions) and one district of Ulaanbaatar city, allowing for information to be shared amongst hospitals and health care providers across the country.
The SMART government project will focus on improving accessibility, transparency and efficiency of public services through the ICT sector to promote growth, competitiveness and improved governance. The scheme will provide support to state agencies as they put in place a strong framework for service delivery, with the aim of achieving economies of scale in ICT infrastructure and faster delivery of services.
Smart government plans
This follows a raft of measures introduced in the capital over the last 18 months. In December Ulaanbaatar's mayor and US technology firm Cisco signed an agreement to collaborate on cloud-based eGovernance solutions. The deal includes a guarantee to expand the capital's WiFi network to all city residents, including the nearly 60% who live in the capital's surrounding districts, which have developed in response to population growth.
An e-governance network will also be established that can connect the administration units of Ulaanbaatar to the general network, using Cisco software to collect population data to inform planning on public safety, environmental sustainability and productivity.
The "Smart Ulaanbaatar" initiative, launched in March last year, envisages a range of government services managed through databases and portals designed for handling everything from vehicle tax collection to the settlement of land disputes. It will be implemented in three stages through to 2020.
Other initiatives under way include the creation of a community mapping website and an integrated database containing more than 48,000 key decisions and city legislation implemented by the Capital City Citizens' Khural, the governor's office and the city's nine districts.
Ulaanbaatar's ambitions are mirrored on a national scale. The government plans to reach the UN's top 30 in terms of e-government by next year, even though Mongolia ranked 65th out of 193 countries in 2014. According to the UN's E-Government Development Index, Mongolia had climbed 11 rungs up the e-government ladder since the last survey, conducted in 2012.
To achieve this goal, the state has been turning to ICT programmes to upgrade operations and delivery in a number of service areas. These include the development of an electronic identity document system, which features smart cards with embedded microprocessors containing users' personal and biometric data, and the rollout of an online tax payment scheme that reduces processing time and minimises bureaucratic procedures.
Economic crisis is the reason we came to Mongolia says Russia firm
September 21 (Mongolian Economy) We talked with R.Chinggis, the president of Russia's Zalan Energy LLC, which started operations in 1990. The company is engaged in construction, power supply goods and sales and has been successful in the market of Mongolia's northern neighbour over the past 15 years. Their first foreign market is Mongolia.
- What led you to enter the Mongolian market?
- The crisis is the reason we came to Mongolia. Crises open up new windows of opportunity. Russia is in the middle of a big crisis. Although the economy in Mongolia is having difficulties, it's a new opportunity for us. We came to Mongolia to reach new heights and seek out new opportunities instead of just sitting through the crisis. When the president of Russia visited Mongolia, he said Russia is strengthening and expanding its cooperation with Mongolia. Our headquarters is located in Buryatia, so we decided to begin operations in our brother country and established a branch in Ulaanbaatar this year. Mongolia's economy was in a trough, but it rose sharply. On the other hand, it may be yet another reason to come to Mongolia.
- As a new investor, what did you find difficult when coming into Mongolian market. Are there any difficulties at the moment?
- Mongolia is a very open and friendly country to do business. When in Russia, business partners and customers are not so open. Today in Mongolia, we do not see major downsides other than the economic downturn; everything is open and opportunities are there. Economies grow and contract cyclically, so the current economic situation can happen in any country. Hopefully, the economy will improve next year. In such circumstances, we have a relatively large number of buyers. Hence, even a person buying something as small as a light bulb is very important to us.
- What are your thoughts on the investment climate of Mongolia?
- Everything must be done strictly according to the law. I don't see any issues with Mongolia's investment environment. To achieve any goal, everything should be in accordance with the law. Everything is open to attract investment from Russia, because there are many wealthy businessmen. So if Mongolia does something to attract them, investment will increase. If the investors study the market well prior to entering, there would be no issue at all. The key issue is the Russian financial crisis and the weakening of the ruble, which causes the prices of Russian commodities to decline. Therefore, you have an opportunity to purchase quality goods at cheap prices from Russia.
- Are there any differences between Russia's investment climate and ours?
- The economic structure of the two countries is similar. Mongolia is selling their natural resources, and likewise, Russia is selling their oil. The crisis in our country started after the sharp decline of oil prices. The same kind of thing happened here in Mongolia. To overcome this crisis, you need to trade national products with the two neighbouring countries. We are in negotiations to cooperate with a Mongolian company named Erdenet Led. By partnering with this company, Mongolian products will be sold not only in the Mongolian market, but also in the Russian market. Demand for this company's products will rise if we sell their products and also if Mongolian consumers buy their products. The number of employees will increase and more people will be employed. And we pay taxes to the country, which will have a positive impact on the economy.
- What do you think the government should do to improve the investment environment?
- The Mongolian government must give foreigners and investors more guidelines, support and help related to starting a business in Mongolia. I used to work for a large financial company in Moscow, and I had been appointed to Mongolia. When I first came to Ulaanbaatar, I came with nothing but my handbag. I had a rather difficult time. I searched for more information online, but it was not enough. Many companies in Ulan-Ude want to enter the Mongolian market. Hence, the information needs to be provided. However, they do not have enough money to do business in Mongolia. Many Mongolian entrepreneurs have already started a business in Ulan-Ude. There are many Mongolians who have been living there for many years. There is a big opportunity to cooperate with Russia, given the recent depreciation of the ruble.
The trucks that we use to bring our goods into Mongolia are returning to Russia empty. We are thinking about what we can fill them up with from Mongolia. One unfortunate thing I realised when I came here is that Mongolia has become a very expensive country for ordinary tourists. The thing I worry about the most is that many Mongolian tourists will go to Russia while Russians will rarely visit Mongolia, because it is expensive. More attention needs to be paid to this matter.
Mongolia-China Expo of Manufacturers and Traders to Be Held in Hohhot, 23-27 October
September 21 (Ministry of Industry of Mongolia) The Minister of Industry Mr D.Erdenebat held official meeting with The Minister of Trade of China Mr. Gao Hucheng in Beijing on September 17. Two parties agreed to cooperate on organizing of Expo for Mongolia - China manufacturers and traders on 23 - 27th of upcoming month in Hohhot city of Inner Mongolia.
Chinese side plans to ensure participation of more than 10 thousand delegates from two countries' manufacturing and trading companies with estimated budget of 70 million yuans for exhibit space of 49.000 square m2. Furthermore, two parties reached settlement to alternately host the Expo in every two years.
During the meeting, Ministers agreed to assure large number of participants from two countries in the Expo with help of municipal and state organizations, and trade chambers. Also, they exchanged views on related issues and set to sign MoU which confirms that Ministry of Industry of Mongolia and Ministry of Trade of China are official organizers.
Regular host of the expo will surely benefit domestic manufacturers and producers to enter to Chinese market.
Moreover, in the frameworks of establishing trilateral economic tunnel, two parties discussed on investment and cooperation opportunities of establishing copper concentrator, refinery and meat processing factories in border regions of Mongolia with China.
Further talks were held to accelerate establishment of cross border free economic region, and assemble working groups and tackle facing issues at working groups' meetings.
In 15th of upcoming month, "Made in Mongolia" industrial forum will be held in Ulaanbaatar. Chinese officials and private sector delegates were invited for the forum.
Hundreds head home empty-handed after Exclusive giveaway turns violent
September 18 (UB Post) Director of domestic clothing brand Exclusive, G.Maitsetseg, announced a giveaway of clothing this past weekend, following an informal declaration of bankruptcy, but the hundreds of people who queued for hours outside of Nomin Department Store went home empty-handed.
The General Department of Taxation (GDT) fined Exclusive 150 million MNT for producing false invoices, and the company announced that it would be closing, as the GDT reportedly refused the company's request to pay the fine in installments.
Exclusive promised to giveaway products to show appreciation for its customers and to call public attention to an act of corruption, a charge Exclusive has made against the GDT concerning the fine and denial of its special payment request. The company said the giveaway was also protesting state policy, which they said puts too much pressure on domestic small and medium-sized enterprises.
G.Maitsetseg posted about the giveaway on Exclusive's Facebook page, announcing that the giveaways would take place at Hunnu Mall and Nomin Department Store, before consulting with the venues and getting permission to hold the events. It was originally reported that both locations refused to allow the giveaways due to possible damage and security risks with large crowds.
Nomin allegedly changed their mind and permitted the giveaway event, which later drew a massive crowd. Because of the size of the crowd, the department store closed its doors after allowing the entrance of only the first 50 people in the queue.
The store staff told customers who hoped to receive free clothes that Nomin never permitted the public giveaway and, with the assistance of the police, instructed the crowd to disperse.
Following the chaos outside the department store, Exclusive staff announced that the giveaway would take place outdoors, near the Sapporo bus stop. But the majority of people in the crowd didn't leave for the new location, and it was reported that no giveaway was organized there.
The public was critical of the state for not showing support for small and medium-sized enterprises after G.Maitsetseg's declaration of bankruptcy, but the criticism turned to Exclusive's director for for her poor event management.
On Sunday afternoon G.Maitsetseg posted on Facebook, "We meant to giveaway 120 million MNT in clothes to our customers. I didn't expect so many people would come for the giveaway and would be violent. We are proud of the gallant police of Bayangol District, Nomin staff, and volunteer students who helped us disperse the crowd." The statement failed to gather much public sympathy and people complained about the time that they wasted responding to her call for support.
Green City Development Conference Being Held for NEA Cities
September 21 (news.mn) In framework of the "North-East Asian City Mayors Forum", which took a place in August 2015, a conference entitled "Green Development of the City" is to take place on 21st-22nd September in Ulaanbaatar. The participants will make 20 presentations under seven environmental themes. The cities of the NE Asian region will issue their combined recommendations at the conference to be presented to the UN Assembly, which will be held in Paris this December. The "Green Development of the City Conference" will be aired live on UBS TV, Bloomberg Mongolia TV, and TM TV.
All 21 provinces to be linked by paved road with UB by 2017
September 17 (gogo.mn) Construction of asphalt roads which link western provinces with capital city resumes these days. For instance, construction planning of 126,7 km long road which leads from Buutsagaan soum, Bayankhongor to Altai region has been completed and ground works are underway.
Also, ground works prior to road construction of Altai to Darvi route are near to finish and soil exposing and compaction works, and dam construction continue. Despite cooperation agreement regarding 135.4 km long road of Uvs province, Songino soum - Hyrgas lake route not established yet between investor and constructor sides, its preparation works of including construction of concrete bridge, water conduit and soil exposure and compaction are already underway, informed Ministry of Industry.
Although Bohema LLC was expected and lagged to invest in the road construction, Xinjian Xinfa LLC from China currently manages construction thanks to its own investment. However, construction works are underway within planned schedule.
The road of Songino soum - Hyargas route is considered as crucial infrastructure in the region and its completion enables unhindered travel from Uvs province to Zavkhan province and Ulaanbaatar city.
Then, the project aims to link all 21 provinces with capital city by 2017, pointed out Ministry of Industry.
Regular maintenance bring working street lights to 95% in Ulaanbaatar
September 17 (gogo.mn) According to the order by General Manager of Ulaanbaatar city, "Public Service Ulaanbaatar Alliance" has been installing outdoor and street lights in public places in six districts of the city since 2014.
The alliance was responsible for servicing and maintenance of 7286 light poles and 10749 lights in total as of 2014, and today the number has increased to 9025 light poles and 13471 respectively.
Although 70-80% of outdoor and street lights in the city used to work previously, as of today 95% of lights currently works thanks to constant servicing and maintenance.
PSUA informed, scheme of providing regular servicing and maintenance to outdoor lights enables us to repair damages within short period of time and keep lighting at high rate.
Flood risk in dry Ulaanbaatar of Mongolia? Really? Really!
By ARTESSA SALDIVAR-SALI
September 10 (East Asia on the Rise Blog, World Bank) After growing up in Manila, one of the densest and most cyclone-prone cities in the world, I expected my first visit to Mongolia to be filled with vast plains and blue skies. The plains and skies did not disappoint – but I quickly learned that Ulaanbaatar, the country's capital, is a city that is rapidly becoming like many other cities where I have lived and worked.
There is the unmistakable buzz of a place that is growing, and growing fast. People move to Ulaanbaatar from the countryside for the opportunities that open up to them, with the city now home to nearly half the country's population. It is becoming more cosmopolitan every time I go – there is even a Cuban restaurant with a Cuban chef. And, like many other cities in Asia, Ulaanbaatar has floods.
Out of the 34 floods recorded from 1915-2013, about 60% occurred from 2000-2009. The 1966 flood stood out in collective memory as being the last "big one." Yet in 1966, Ulaanbaatar only had a population of over 200,000, now it has over 1.3 million people.
It is estimated that the city faces over $80 million in economic losses, if a 1966-sized flood were to happen again, according to a Flood Risk Management Strategy adopted by the Municipality of Ulaanbaatar in June 2015. More than 200,000 people, 600 residential buildings, 31,000 gers (traditional portable dwellings used by nomads) and 109 schools, kindergartens, and medical units are located in medium to high flood hazard areas. This does not include critical infrastructures such as the high-voltage power station that sits in the middle of the Selbe river channel.
Urban planning and growth that were not based on understanding of flood risks is a major challenge for this semi-arid city. By law, all Mongolian citizens can claim 700 square meters of land for residential use in and around Ulaanbaatar. This has led to tremendous spatial expansion of ger areas into hazardous mountain slopes and flood plains. These areas, often home to lower-income migrants, are largely unplanned and lack basic services and infrastructure, making them more vulnerable to the impacts of flooding.
Other factors come into play as well. Poor solid waste management has congested a significant proportion of the city's natural and artificial drainage systems. Many sections of existing levees and drainage structures have been demolished to make way for new construction, while the remaining sections are poorly operated and maintained. Rivers are heavily sedimented, which further reduces the conveyance capacity of the drainage system.
Given the many causes of flood risk in Ulaanbaatar, the historical approach of expanding flood control (structural) measures in the city will not be sufficient to manage the growing risk. High-intensity rainfall in the summer, which used to be the main cause of flooding in Ulaanbaatar, is no longer the only cause.
With this in mind, the Flood Risk Management Strategy includes a range of possible risk management actions.
Based on a rigorous flood risk assessment and in-depth consultations with communities, experts and stakeholders from various sectors, the municipality developed five strategic directions to mitigate floods:
1. Protected river basins: Rehabilitation of the Tuul and Kharaa river basins, including conservation, forest protection to reduce soil erosion and increase water retention capacity to reduce runoff;
2. Resilient urban development: Reduction of flood exposure and vulnerability by making sure land use, sediment and solid waste management are risk-informed and upgrading urban infrastructure;
3. Improved flood infrastructure: Enhancement of flood protection infrastructure and their capacities, and improvement of drainage networks, particularly in the ger areas;
4. Safe people and resilient communities: Reduction of the vulnerability of people, households and communities through improving social and emergency services, early warning, disaster preparedness and community-based disaster risk management; and
5. Good governance and effective flood risk management: Institutional strengthening and rationalization of roles and responsibilities of various agencies with mandates related to flood risk management.
Ulaanbaatar may not be the typical Asian megacity – but it does face similar problems when it comes to floods. With a stronger understanding of what drives floods, the municipality has made important strides toward a more resilient Ulaanbaatar. With a strong commitment to the implementation of the five strategies, Ulaanbaatar is on its way to becoming a safer home to over half of Mongolia's people.
Link to post (includes video)
M.A.D. Report: Affordable Housing and Ger Area Redevelopment in Ulaanbaatar
September 2015 (M.A.D. Investment Solutions) --
Mongolia's growth story is well known - large-scale investments in the extractive industries propelled it into the international spotlight, before a combination of policy missteps and unfavorable world conditions undermined its appeal and stalled its progress. Despite the current economic difficulties, though, the last five years have seen large-scale transformation within Mongolia in the political, social, and economic realms. The most visible and tangible manifestation of these transformations can be seen in the urban fabric of Ulaanbaatar, the nation's capital. On the back of the nation's mining boom, money poured into a relatively underdeveloped real estate sector, and since 2010 some 3,800,000 square metres of living area had been added to the city. Areas of the city which were once grassland now host luxury residential and commercial developments.
The Zaisan and Stadium Areas, located in the South of Ulaanbaatar, have been the main beneficiaries of this investment, and are now home to some of the most desirable developments projects in Mongolia. Indeed, for a number of structural reasons, real estate investment in Mongolia has primarily focused on mid-to-high end projects. Although new developments in this market segment continue to come online, the pace and scale of investment and development has slowed markedly. In part this is a function of the country's economic slowdown (GDP growth has gone from a high of 17.5% in 2011 to a predicted 3% for 2015) , but it is also 1 a function of the oversupply that currently affects the upper end residential, commercial, and office markets. Indeed, even if the global commodity prices were to rebound and Mongolia's economic growth to take off once more, a construction and development boom of the nature we have seen between 2010 and 2014 is unlikely to be repeated.
Despite this, there is considerable room for further development within Ulaanbaatar's real estate sector - as anyone who is familiar with the city's ger areas can attest to. Indeed with some 60% of the city's population living in such areas‑ - without access to infrastructure 2 and lacking urban services - their redevelopment will be the dominant discourse in the coming years and decades. Although many see redevelopment of the ger areas primarily as a means to tackle pollution and facilitate densification of the city, affordability will be a central element of these projects. With a majority of the city's households living in ger areas, and an oversupply of upper-end apartments persisting, it is clear that affordability is and will continue to be a critical issue - and one that cannot be separated from ger area redevelopment. Policymakers and developers have recognised this and efforts to address both are now underway. How these efforts proceed will have significant ramifications on the city's urban fabric and will shape Ulaanbaatar in a number of ways beyond that - spatially, socially, and economically.
The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of affordable housing and redevelopment of the ger areas in Ulaanbaatar. While numerous projects are currently ongoing, very little information is available in the public domain, and what information there is tends to be piecemeal. This paper will look at the reasons behind the city's lack of affordable housing, as well as the policies and strategies that the Government has proposed to correct this. The main actors and ongoing projects will be examined, and consideration will be given to the challenges and failings associated with provision of affordable housing development in Ulaanbaatar today. Finally, some recommendations to increase the supply and improve the quality of affordable housing will be proffered. First, though, it is necessary to investigate affordable housing in general - how it is defined, why it is undersupplied, and the opportunity that it represents.
Bayanzurkh Partnership 2015 Business Forum takes place Thursday
September 20 (UB Post) In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Bayanzurkh District, the district's Investment and Development Center successfully organized the first Bayanzurkh Partnership-2015 business forum last Thursday.
Governor of Bayanzurkh District D.Purevdavaa presented the opening remarks and briefly talked about the history of the district's establishment.
She noted that over 23,000 entities, 2,238 non-governmental organizations, 23 state-owned enterprises, 12 locally-owned enterprises, and 67 religious organizations carry out operations throughout the district.
D.Purevdavaa added that the collaboration of businesses, the state, and the private sector is vital to the nation's socio-economic development.
"We hope that today's event will increase your trust in Bayanzurkh District, which supports the cooperation of businesses, the private sector, and state-based organizations with mutual understanding, and is waiting for development, prosperity, and investment. We believe that it is important to reflect today's discussions and suggestions in our future activities, programs, and policies," said the governor.
Doctor of Economic Sciences Ch.Khashchuluun; Deputy Chairman of the Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry M.Sarandavaa; the Deputy Governor of Dong-Gu District in Incheon, South Korea; General Director of the Hungarian National Trading House Rizak Sandor; and a project manager from Euro-Khan Company delivered speeches to the over 300 forum attendees and guests.
Following speeches titled, "Mongolia's macro-economy and sustainable policy", "State and private sector partnership and the investment environment", "The state and private sector's negotiations", and "Good cooperation experiences of the state and private sector of South Korea" an open discussion was held during the Bayanzurkh Partnership-2015 forum.
The main objective of the forum was to implement state and private sector negotiations, contribute to improving the business environment by supporting foreign cooperation and investment, as well as to create a mechanism for involving the private sector in making decisions and policies at the district level.
Book lovers gather at Chinggis Square on National Book Day
September 19 (UB Post) Book Day 2015 took place at Chinggis Square on September 19.
In 2012 President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj issued a decree instituting Book Day to promote the reading and publishing of books. Book Days is marked on the third Saturday of every September.
Over 50 publishing organizations, bookstores, and NGO's participated in this year's Book Day. All nine districts of Ulaanbaatar, provinces, and soums of Mongolia celebrated Book Day this year. All books were sold at a 20 to 50 percent discount during the event at Chinggis Square. Books in various fields, inlcuding science, literature, health and fiction, were sold at this year's Book Day.
Mongolia's first President P.Ochirbat joined the event with his wife and bought literature books for children in his family. Cultural Merit Poet G.Mend-Ooyo signed books for readers who bought his book. Chief of Staff of the President P.Tsagaan; Minister of Education, Culture and Science L.Gantumur; Advisor to the President R.Bold; Minister of Mongolia S.Bayartsogt; writers and foreign ambassadors also attended the Book Day event in Ulaanbaatar.
Statues of UB #11: Tsedenbal Yumjaa
September 21 (gogo.mn) I thought that there is no person who does not recognize Tsedenbal Yumjaa, the former leader of Mongolia who ruled for 44 years. However, it was not.
I went to the monument for shooting and met with eight grade two boys. "Whose statue is it?", I asked. They responded that "We do not know. Maybe a great man."
I thought that they would know the person instead of monument and said "It is the monument of Yu.Tsedenbal." However, they said "Who is Tsedenbal?"
There is no need to blame somebody for the boys who did not know the son of Yumjaa and former leader of Mongolia, Tsedenbal. I wanted to let other boys and girls know briefly about him.
Let's say one example. Today, there is no child in USA who does not know their first president George Washington. However, they may not know their 28th president Thomas Woodrow Wilson.
I have an another example. The President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev who has been the country's leader since 1989 was known in the world today. However, it is meaningless if the children do not know this man after 20 years of his death.
Therefore, Mongolian children could not be a stranger to the most prominent public figure of Mongolia like the first president of the United States and a great gentleman have developed Kazakhstan.
Tsedenbal was born to an ethnic Dorvod poor nomadic family in Zorigt Khan hoshuu of the Unen Zorigt Khan aimag (present day Davst soum in Uvs aimag). He was the fifth of eleven children in his family (three of his siblings died in infancy).
In 1925 Tsedenbal became among the first students in the newly organized public school in Ulaangom, graduating in 1929. The same year Tsedenbal went to Irkutsk to continue his education. He spent about nine years between Irkutsk and Ulan-Ude. He obtained a degree from the Siberian Finance and Economics Institute.
In 1939, having returned to Ulaanbaatar, Tsedenbal worked first as a deputy minister and then as a minister of finance. In 1940, at the 10th Congress of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, he became the party's General Secretary at age 23.
After taking over premiership in 1952 with Marshal Khorloogiin Choibalsan`s death, Tsedenbal successfully purged his political rivals: Dashin Damba in 1958–59, Daramyn Tomor-Ochir in 1962, Luvsantserengiin Tsend in 1963, and the so-called Lookhuuz-Nyambuu-Surmaajav "anti-party group" in December 1964. He held this office until 11 June 1974, when he became head of state.
His foreign policy was marked by efforts to bring Mongolia into ever-closer cooperation with the USSR. Still, Tsedenbal and his group of party leaders (such as Tsagaan-Lamyn Dugersuren and Damdinjavyn Maidar) were dissatisfied with the economic role that the Soviet leadership assigned to Mongolia. While the USSR prodded the Mongolian government to concentrate its efforts on the development of agriculture and the mineral sector, Tsedenbal and his followers sought to foster rapid industrialization even in the face of Soviet opposition. At the same time, Tsedenbal was cautious enough to frequently express his loyalty to the Kremlin and portray his intra-party critics—including Daramyn Tömör-Ochir, Tsogt-Ochiryn Loohuuz, and others—as "pro-Chinese factionalists" and "nationalists."
With the full backing of the Soviets, Tsedenbal successfully purged his political opponents. It is said that during his time as head of the state, Tsedenbal submitted requests for the incorporation of Mongolia into the USSR on five to eight occasions, but these proposals were invariably rejected by the Soviet leaders. It is possible, however, that Tsedenbal's requests for incorporation were not made in earnest but served only manipulative purposes. At the time of the Sino-Soviet split , Tsedenbal decisively sided with the Soviet Union and incurred China's wrath. In Mongolia, Tsedenbal is remembered for successfully maintaining a path of relatively moderate socialism during the Cold War.
Tsedenbal was forced into retirement in August 1984 in a Soviet-sponsored move, officially on the account of his old age and mental weakness but at least partly because of his opposition to the process of Sino-Soviet rapprochement that had started with Leonid Brezhnev's Tashkent speech in March 1982. Jambyn Batmonh became the general secretary of the MPRP. Tsedenbal remained in Moscow until his death; his body was brought to Mongolia, where it was buried.
His Russian wife, Anastasia Ivanovna Filatova, was often said to be the most powerful political figure in Mongolia due to her close relationship with the Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev.
After his death, front yard of the State Drama Theatre was named after Yu.Tsedenbal and his monument was erected at the front yard of the State Drama Theatre.
Chingis Land Development to sign agreement with Dalstroymehanizatsiya on Russia-Mongolia-China highway
September 21 (gogo.mn) Upon an invitation of Chairman of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of Russia Ms. Valentina I. Matviyenko, a delegation headed by Speaker of the State Great Hural Mr. Z.Enhbold is conducting an official visit to the Russian Federation on September 20-25, 2015.
In the frameworks of his visit, Speaker Z.Enkhbold will be having a bilateral talk with Chairman of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of Russia Valentina Matviyenko and to meet Chairman of the State Duma Sergey Naryshkin respectively. Also, Leader of "A Just Russia" political party at the State Duma, Head of the Russia-Mongolia inter-parliamentary group, Mr. Sergey Mironov will be paying a courtesy call on Speaker of the Parliament of Mongolia Z.Enkhbold.
During his official visit, Speaker of Parliament Z.Enkhbold will be present at the signing ceremony of cooperation agreement between "Chingis Land Development" Group and Dalstroymehanizatsiya OJSC as well as to lay flowers to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Kremlin Wall in the Alexander Garden in Moscow.
On September 24-25, Mongolian delegates will be continuing their official visit to Sverdlovsk Oblast and in Yekaterinburg, Speaker of Parliament Z.Enkhbold is planned to meet Chairman of the House of Representatives of the Legislative Assembly Lyudmila Babushkina, Governor Yevgeny Kuyvashev and other officials.
Speaker of the Parliament of Mongolia Z.Enkhbold is accompanied with parliamentarians Mr.N.Batbayar, Ms.S.Odontuya, Ms.G.Uyanga and Mr.B.Choijilsuren, Adviser to Speaker of Parliament Mr.A.Gansukh, Head of Foreign Relations Department at the Secretariat of Parliament Ms.Ts.Narantungalag, and Head of Press and Public Relations Department at the Secretariat of Parliament Ms.O.Batkhand, reported by the Press and Public Relations Department of the State Great Hural of Mongolia.
Speaker visiting Russia – Montsame, September 21
The Speaker goes to Russia – news.mn, September 21
Mongolia Speaker Lays Wreaths to Tomb of Unknown Soldier in Moscow
Ulaanbaatar, September 21 (MONTSAME) In frames of the official visit to the Russian Federation, the Chairman of the State Great Khural (parliament) Z.Enkhbold and accompanying him delegation laid wreaths on Monday to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Alexander Garden in Moscow.
Within the official visit, Mr Enkhbold hold official talks with Ms Matviyenko, Chair of the Federation Council and will meet with Mr Sergey Naryshkin, the Chairman of the State Duma. He will receive Mr S.M.Mironov, a member of the State Duma and head of the Russia-Mongolia inter-parliamentary group as well.
Russian, Ukrainian parliamentarians hold bilateral meeting in Ulaanbaatar
Ulaanbaatar, September 17 (MONTSAME) Within the 2015 Autumn Session of the OSCE PA continuing in Ulaanbaatar, parliamentary delegates of the Russian Federation and Ukraine held a bilateral meeting on Wednesday.
It was the first meeting ran between the two countries after a crisis in Ukraine. This meeting has been mediated by Mr Ilkka Kanerva, the Chairman of the OSCE PA.
It is considered the Russia-Ukraine meeting in Ulaanbaatar has big importance for resolving current problems in Ukraine through peaceful ways and realizing agreements made in Minsk, Belarus.
Turkish Embassy Attends 90th Anniversary of National Eldercare Center in Batsumber Soum
September 17 (infomongolia.com) Delegation of Embassy of the Republic of Turkey to Mongolia has attended the celebration of 90th Anniversary of the establishment of National Eldercare Center in Batsumber sum of Tuv aimag. The Minister for Population Development and Social Protection of Mongolia, Mr. Sodnomzundui ERDENE and other government officials were present at the celebration.
At the celebration, Turkish delegation has presented gifts to seniors of the nursing home and flowers honoring the oldest client Grandma Jargal. Minister S.Erdene expressed his sincere appreciation to the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey for collaboration with the elderly care center.
Indian Ambassador attends opening of Mongolian-Indian Friendship Kindergarten in Arkhangai
Ulaanbaatar, September 21 (MONTSAME) Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of India to Mongolia Mr Somnath Ghosh worked in Arkhangai aimag September 17-19, invited by the aimag's governor D.Bat-Erdene.
The Ambassador attended the opening ceremony of the eighth kindergarten, which became a Mongolian-Indian friendship kindergarten from then on. Mr Ghosh awarded two kindergarten teachers Indian scholarships to study in English language course in India.
Mongolian calligraphy exhibition opens in Niigata, Japan
September 21 (news.mn) An exhibition of Mongolian classical-script calligraphy opened at the Chisoku Art Museum in the Japanese city of Niigata, on 12th September. The exhibition organizers are the Mongolian Embassy in Japan and the Niigata City Administration. The Mongolian Ambassador, S.Khurelbaatar, the Mayor of the Niigata, Mr A.Shinoda and other officials participated in the opening ceremony. Mongolian folk band "Ikh Tatlaga" performed music on the Mongolian horse head fiddle instrument at the opening event. Approximately, 40 creations by Mongolian 14 calligraphers are being showed in this exhibition. The exhibition will run until the end of September. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed that this year Mongolian calligraphy exhibitions are taking place in several Japanese cities including, Tokyo, Niigata, and Tochigi.
Turkmenistan Culture Days to Run in Mongolia September 22-24
Ulaanbaatar, September 21 (MONTSAME) Culture Days of Turkmenistan will run September 22-24, as a follow-up to the official visit of the Deputy Premier and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan R.O.Meredov to Mongolia, which ran last June.
This year marks the 23rd anniversary of the diplomatic ties between the two countries. This will be the first-ever cultural event between Turkmenistan in Mongolia.
Turkmen artists, including the People's Artist singer Amanbibi Mammedowa and State Honored Artist singer Dostmammet Soyunow, along with the dancers of "Ashkhabad" and "Dagdan", will perform the tops of Turkmen traditional and contemporary arts.
An exhibition will open at the Mongolian Army Museum to display the fine arts and crafts by the best artist and craftsmen, brought from the Turkmenistan's museum treasury.
Dignitaries, such as the Vice Minister of Education, Culture and Sciences of Mongolia B.Tulga, Deputy Minister of Culture of Turkmenistan B.G. Abdiyeva, and the Ambassador of Turkmenistan Ms Chinar Rustamova will attend the opening ceremony of the Days, to be held at the Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet on September 22.
Cardiac Resynchronization Apparatus Installed in State Hospital #3
September 21 (news.mn) The Cardiology and Angiography Department at the "State Third Hospital" has installed and successfully launched the first resynchronization apparatus" in Mongolia. This is used in the case of chronic heart failure. This new method is named Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy (CRT) and provides treatment with minimized less risks and good clinical results. The use of CRT is increasing in modern medical practice. In the past, cardiologists used CRT only when there was no alternative except heart transplantation. Nowadays, this therapy is being used more widely in cases of both of acute and chronic heart failure.
Divided Mongols find unity in common ancestor Kublai
By Kelly Olson
September 21 (AFP) Eight centuries after the ruler of the greatest land empire in history was born, descendants of the mighty Mongol Kublai Khan are a people divided between his homeland and the China he conquered, with both claiming him as their own.
Kublai Khan's birthday was 800 years ago Wednesday, when Mongolia will commemorate the anniversary in Ulan Bator. In China a statue of him has been set up at the site of his summer capital during the Yuan dynasty, founded in 1271.
Under Kublai -- a grandson of Genghis Khan, who first started the Mongols' epic expansions -- the realm reached its greatest extent, stretching from eastern Europe to the Korean peninsula, the largest contiguous land domain ever.
But the Yuan emperors ruled China for less than a century, and after they fell the roles were reversed, with the Chinese later establishing themselves over Mongolia.
Geopolitical earthquakes in the 20th century, such as the collapse of China's Qing dynasty and the rise of the Soviet Union, finally saw Mongolia break away as an independent country, only to quickly fall under the sway of Moscow.
"Kublai Khan, being a Mongol, would have had great difficulty establishing control over China, so he had to make himself a Chinese emperor and thus found the Yuan dynasty," John Man, author and authority on Mongol history, told AFP.
"It's one of the world's greatest historical ironies that modern China gets most of its borders, minus Mongolia, from a barbarian from the North, from Kublai Khan who was a Mongol, not a Chinese at all."
Nonetheless China proclaims itself as the world's oldest civilisation and has a tendency to co-opt successful invaders and declare them Chinese.
Modern Mongolia has a population of only three million, the vast majority ethnic Mongols. But almost twice as many -- nearly six million -- live in the People's Republic of China, where they are one of dozens of minorities.
Some divided nations have reunified, such as West and East Germany. But despite some Mongolian nationalists' fantasies, the country's geopolitical weakness and economic dependence on China make a single Mongol state impossible, says D. Shurkhuu of the Institute of International Affairs in Ulan Bator.
"This is a very sensitive issue in political terms, especially for politicians in Mongolia," he told AFP.
- 'Great nation' -
On both sides Mongols agree on the glory of their shared history -- first brought to the West in "The Travels of Marco Polo", which recounts the Italian voyager's encounters with Kublai.
"Genghis Khan is the ancestor of ethnic Mongols and Mongolians," said Baigali, a guide at a complex in China's Inner Mongolia region billed as the mausoleum of Kublai's grandfather.
Foreign historians reject the claim, though the site of Genghis' grave has never been identified and remains one of the world's great unsolved historical mysteries.
Baigali, who goes by a single name, said the two peoples are essentially the same, although those in China use traditional vertical Mongolian script, while Mongolians write in the horizontal Cyrillic alphabet inherited from the Soviet Union.
"And they think they are superior to us because they are pure Mongolian and we are Sinicised," she added, hinting at underlying tensions.
Hada, an ethnic Mongol dissident who spent almost 20 years behind bars in China before being freed last December, says his people have been marginalised by Communist authorities and "downgraded... to an 'ethnic minority'".
"It is an undeniable fact that they are the indigenous people of a great nation," he wrote of China's Mongols in an article published online this month by the US-based monitoring group Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center.
"It serves a political agenda of the Chinese to belittle the Mongolian nation, diminish national self-confidence and cause them to abandon any aspirations of self-determination," he continued.
Beijing denies it oppresses minority groups and counters it has delivered economic development and raised living standards.
Mongol herders in China sporadically demonstrate against their resource-rich pastures being infringed upon by developers and coalminers -- one named Tumur hanged himself in protest earlier this year -- drawing attention and support from activists in Mongolia.
"There are many Tumur in Inner Mongolia and many herders are trying to keep their land away from the Chinese government," campaigner Munkhbayar Chuluundorj said in Ulan Bator, holding a sign reading "Je Suis Tumur", referring to the "Je Suis Charlie" movement that followed Islamist shootings at French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
The impossibility of political unification did not preclude cultural connection, he said, invoking Kublai's grandfather.
"Genghis Khan is the only way because all Mongolians abroad believe they are proud of Genghis Khan," he said. "They want to say they are descendants of Genghis Khan."
U.Gantsetseg: We must write a new chapter in History of Mongolia on our own
"WE WILL CREATE CULTURAL FOUNDATION OF WORLD'S NEW ERA"
September 21 (gogo.mn) Tourism was once considered as one of main approaches to boost economic development and even then, Ministry of Tourism paid a great deal of attention to the sector with goal of attracting 1 million tourists a year.
But we should rethink about what we have to show and entertain them. Despite not much enough to attract tourists and travelers, we can see from what "Treasury of Empire" project has done that we are still able to introduce uniqueness of our identity and especially to write new chapter in history.
In "startup business" section, we interviewed U.Gantseteg, Head of "Treasury of Empire" project
Please introduce us about "Treasury of Empire" project?
Firstly, let me speak about the reason to initiate the project. I think - we, Mongols who once established numerous large empires in history of humankind, are pledged to enrich and demise our wealthy culture and values to next generations.
Mongolian Deel /traditional outfit/ has been acclaimed as its design and originality. For instance, Pian del Carpine, first European making trip to Mongol Empire, once admiringly wrote about the deel in his account named "History of Mongolia" while we know that the outfit of Queen of Naboo in Star Wars film was based on one of a Mongolian Queen. In other words, we really wish to invent something which promotes our identity and to be proud of.
Thus, we are currently working on design of precious and distinctive "Treasury of Empire" collection which reflects and couples cultural heritage, special features and originality of traditional Mongolian outfits with modern design ideas.
We strive to express highness and bold aspects of ancient Queens combined with designer's ideas in our collection. The project will run between 2010 and 2018. We work and create designs based on studies of cultural heritage, traditional art, design patterns and archeological findings. Inventor and my husband D.Ariundelger, who has been studying the field for last 25 years, initiated the project.
How many designs are included in the collection?
The collection consists of total of 50 works. In details, each work and design express different identity of 50 queens and princesses.
What is reason to draw models with Western feature instead of Asian one?
Supporting education of Tuvan ethnic minority children in Mongolia
By Odgerel Myagmar, Communication for Development Officer at UNICEF Mongolia
September 16 (UNICEF Mongolia) Eight year old Bolormaa is a Tuvan girl who is in Grade 3 of primary school in a remote border soum, Tsengel, in Bayan-Ulgii province.
Located nearly 1,800 km away from Ulaanbaatar, at the skirts of the picturesque snow-capped Altai Mountains, Tsengel soum is home to around 1,600 Tuvans. These people are a "minority among a minority", since Bayan-Ulgii province itself is predominantly inhabited by the Kazakh ethnic minority. In Tsengel soum, only around 20 percent of the population are Tuvans and the rest are Kazakhs.
The academic year of 2013-2014, when Bolormaa started school, was a special one for the school and the children. They were the first students to start school using a beautifully printed, brand new Tuvan alphabet. Bolormaa's elder siblings used to use handwritten or photocopied training aids developed by the local teachers themselves, a handful of textbooks brought from the Republic of Tuva in Russia, which were not always consistent with the local dialect and culture.
"We are very happy that our Grade 1 students have this nice Alphabet to enable them to learn to read in our mother tongue," Bolormaa's mother Mrs Ariunaa commented. "For the future, if such books in Tuvan made available for all the 2nd and 3rd graders, our children will perform better in school."
Ms Oyun, a teacher at the school, added: "The Tuvan Alphabet is a well-developed book. We like its design and content. The pictures, texts and exercises in the book are very suitable for our children. We think it is better for our children, if primary education is provided to them in Tuvan. So, we would appreciate much if we have such textbooks produced for all the students throughout grade 5."
Introducing the Tuvan Alphabet and Tuvan Language textbook (for Grade 2) in 2013 made it much easier for children to learn to read and write, and for the teachers to teach.
The books were produced, with UNICEF support, by the Education Research Unit for Ethnic Minority Children, part of the Institute of Education. The teachers from the local school, the only Tuvan school in the entire country, helped to write the textbooks.
Over the last four years, UNICEF Mongolia has been providing steady support to the Unit to develop and print curricula, learning materials and teacher guides. These include Kazakh and Tuva languages primary education curriculum, guidelines for Mongolian language teachers in Bayan-Ulgii province, a primary level Mongolian language textbook for Kazakh students consisting of a teacher guide, a student book and an audio CD, and 20 non-formal education training modules.
Dr Gansukh is a Tuvan native and Researcher at the Unit. She is one of authors of the Tuvan Language Alphabet and Tuvan Language II textbook and the editor of the Teacher's Guide. "These textbooks are the first ever textbooks developed and produced in Mongolia specifically for Tuvan children," she comments. At the end of the 2013-2014 academic year, she collected written reviews on the Tuvan Alphabet from some teachers and parents, including Bolormaa's mother, who all had extremely positive comments.
Dr Gansukh agrees with the views of the parents and emphasizes that "there is an urgent need to translate and print textbooks used in at least Grades 1 and 2 into the Tuvan language." Based on a request from the Tuvan primary school, the Unit has submitted a request to the Ministry of Education for translation of the primary education textbooks from Mongolian into Tuvan.
Ms Bolorchimeg, Education Specialist at UNICEF, refers to two studies conducted in 2012-2013 by UNICEF and the Institute of Education, which examined learning achievements of primary school children in Bayan-Ulgii province taught in their mother tongue (Kazakh and Tuva) and Mongolian language.
"A shortage of textbooks and learning materials in ethnic languages was identified as one of the main causes of poor learning achievement of the Kazakh and Tuvan children," she says. "Studies have clearly shown that children's mother tongue is the optimal language for literacy and learning throughout primary school. They can start learning Mongolian as a second language, and then switch to this in secondary school."
Ms Bolorchimeg adds that UNICEF Mongolia is ready to support the Education Research Unit for Ethnic Minority Children in translation and printing the textbooks and advocating for more systematic and sustainable support for the education of ethnic minority children, including the Tuvan children. The funding provided by the Swedish National Committee for UNICEF and other donors will be instrumental in these efforts.
10 Weird Mongolian Idioms That Reveal the Nomadic Mindset
September 21 (So Why Mongolia?) Idioms show much about the culture just like how your Facebook timeline shows who you are. Some idioms are beautiful, some are functional, and then there are the really perplexing ones. Which ones are the most interesting? Yes, we thought long and hard about the weirdest and most unique idioms in the nomad tongue. Here are some eccentric idioms that you'll only learn living in Mongolia.
1. To go for salt (Davsand yavah)
It means to go to sleep. In English, you would drift into this arena of slumber. In Mongolian, the arena is the same, but it's actually a salt mine. So, millions of us go to mine this salt every night, but end up drowsing inside the pits and zzz-ing in it.
"Hey, Bold. You're still awake."
"Yeah, I've been trying to go to salt for a while, with no luck. Maybe I have insomnia."
"No, I'm pretty sure it's because you're running around with that rattling chainsaw."
2. To have a fit mouth (amni figuurtei baih)
It means to be able to talk eloquently or use flowery language to the point of bullshitting. This idiom is sometimes used as a positive description of somebody. A salesman or an orator can have a fit mouth. The "figuur" in this idiom is derived from Russian word for fitness.
"What did you think of professor Dorj?"
"Well, he had a fit mouth, I'll give him that. But I don't know how his credentials are, so I'm dubious about the substance of his class."
"Man, look who's talking? You've got a fit mouth yourself!"
3. To enter a dog's path (nohoin zamaar oroh)
It means to become lost or deteriorated to the point of no salvation. A person can start associating with bad people and enter a dog's path (e.g. drinking and general hobo-ing), or a phone can be broken and enter a dog's path.
"Bayara, I know you're feeling down and all, but you have to stop this."
"This whole entering a dog's path thing."
"What? How can you judge me like that? It's all my decision, okay?"
"Okay, I'm sorry."
"Now, can you pass me that piece of cardboard? I need a blanket."
4. To lick a hot stone (Hal uzej haluun chuluu dolooh)
It means to experience the tough things in life and to become tough. A person who's licked a hot stone has seen some crazy shit in his or her life. Do people actually have to lick a hot stone? They might have, as a dare, in the past. After all, boodog and horhog, the landmark dishes of our cuisine include hot stones.
"So why didn't you hire Sodnom as the security guard?"
"He looked a little old. I didn't think he could handle intruders, you know?"
"Well, the man looked like he has licked a hot stone. Wouldn't be surprised if he knew bokh wrestling and ninjitsu."
"Maybe you're right. I should hire him."
5. To pick up dirt from wherever you sit (Suusan gazraasaa shoroo atgah)
It means to be opportunistic and resourceful enough to earn money from seemingly difficult situations or sectors. A man who picks up dirt from where he sits can get rich or find solutions no matter where he is placed. The idiom may be related to dirt with gold.
"Borkhuu has been a taxi driver for the last two years, how on earth did he get so rich?"
"Apparently, our guy has struck a deal to export scrap metal to the Chinese. Who knew it would be so profitable?"
"But the junk collectors strip everything, like the manhole covers and cables."
"One thing is certain. The dude can pick up dirt wherever he sits."
6. Horgoloo tooloh (To count your poop balls)
It means to be stingy or to be a bean counter. People who count their poop balls are extremely miserly, about money or any other thing. Don't worry, the poop balls are not human, sheep have poop that look like little brown balls (or chocolate balls to an unsuspecting foreigner) that are called horgol.
"Davaa, I hear today's job also covers the food?"
"Sorry, buddy. The food I bought for all of you is gone."
"What the hell? We worked nine hours and you're giving us boortsog?"
"Well, I don't have much cash, you know?"
"Why are you counting your poop balls? You don't want to work with hungry and tired people."
7. To have no human scent (Hunii unergui baih)
It means to be immoral or deceitful and to have no human decency. A person with no human scent will not acknowledge or return favors, and backstab after paying lip service, etc. The idiom is connected to the notion of scent being an important part of the human soul.
"Gombo, did you see my purse?"
"Yes, ma'am. I found it and put it in the Lost and Found."
"Oh, thank you so much. I was so scared I thought someone with no human scent had stolen it."
"In this company? Nah."
8. Hold a liver (Eleg barih)
It means to harass or to bully. This idiom is usually used for instances when somebody, especially a woman or a child, is not authoritative enough. For example, a child should be deterred from going to the store because the vendor might hold a liver and charge him more.
"Daddy, can I go buy a Choco Pie?"
"Sure, son. Wait a minute, are you going to the store outside on your own?"
"Well, yes. Why?"
"I'll go with you. The salesman at the store might hold a liver and rip you off."
"Dad, I'm nine. And this isn't the chaotic times of the 90s anymore."
9. To dry with the yellow meat (shar mahtai n' hataah)
It means to make someone suffer greatly. This is usually used by someone to mean the speaker's own suffering. The idiom may have originated from a time when people tortured each other by tying them up, or somebody heard of the Greek tale of Prometheus and translated that as "the yellow guy who suffered". (Yes, the equivalent of English phrase of fair skin in Mongolian is yellow."
"We're closing up now. Please leave the premises."
"Excuse me, I'm still in the middle of therapy."
"No, you go now. Here are your clothes. Please leave now."
"But, but, I still have these acupuncture needles in my skin."
"I don't care. You go now."
"Man, this place is drying me with my yellow meat."
10. To raise a golden beak (altan hoshuu orgoh)
It means to pass on gossip or tip the authorities. An incident of raising a golden beak is a rather pleasant equivalent of English idioms, such as squealing stool pigeon.
"So, boss knows my birthday's next week, huh?"
"Is birthday like a code for a getaway?"
"It was you? Did you raise the golden beak?"
"Well, it depends. On whether or not you'll still be friends with me."
National UN-REDD Programme budgets $4 million for deforestation
Ulaanbaatar, September 21 (MONTSAME) The official document for the National Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) for Mongolia was signed Monday by the Minister of Environment, Green Development and Tourism N.Battsereg and the United Nations Resident Coordinator and the UN Development Programme Resident Representative in Mongolia Ms Beate Trankmann.
Mongolia is the first to receive funding for its own national REDD Programme among the countries with northern coniferous/boreal forests. The National Programme is to be realized within three years, commencing in the second half of 2015.
Minister N.Battsereg applauded the successful launch of the Mongolian National REDD Programme and thanked the UNDP for its consistent support for the ministry's activities. "The funding of four million US dollars for the UN-REDD Programme was approved in July last year. We look forward to closer cooperating in many fields in the future", said the Minister.
Ms Trankmann thanked the Ministry and its Forest Policy Management department for supporting the activities of the UNDP.
The REDD Programme is of great importance for Mongolia, a zone with high risk of climate change, thus, influencing the livelihoods of its herders, who are profoundly affected by the environmental degradation, she underlined.
Present at the signing ceremony were, the State Secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Green Development and Tourism Ts.Tsengel; head of the Department of Forest Policy Management Ts.Banzragch; head of the Foreign Cooperation Department B.Undarmaa; the UNDP's Deputy Resident Representative Mr Thomas Eriksson, and the FAO Resident Representative Mr Kevin Gallacher.
The Programme, supposed to help to respond to the climate change, to reduce green-house gas emission from forests, to increase the accumulation of carbon dioxide in forests, incorporates sustainable forest management, replanting and preservation of forests.
Mongolia officially joined the UN-REDD on June 20 of 2011. The UN-REDD is being implemented in 56 partner countries in Africa, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Caribbean regions.
Summer drought puts Mongolian livestock farmers on alert for severe winter
Terrence Edwards in Ulaanbaatar
September 14, 2015 (bne) The small town of Uyanga Soum, hidden deep in the mountains of Mongolia's Uvurkhangai province, was devastated by a severe winter (zud or dzud), in 2009 that wiped out 20% of the country's entire livestock. Following a drought this past summer that ravaged crops, Batmunkh, owner of a herd of 1,000 cows, sheep and goats, worries this year could be even worse.
Although Mongolia is best known for its rich mineral deposits of coal, copper and gold, much of the population continues with centuries-old herding practices. Agriculture in Mongolia – which includes herding as well as crop growing, fishing and other agrarian trades – is the second most important sector in Mongolia's economy behind mining, and is a key part of the government's strategy to diversify the economy. Mongolian companies involved in the production of cashmere goods and meat products such as all-natural dog food, for example, have received government assistance.
Even though the remote, landlocked country is counting on mining to lift the country's struggling economy, Mongolia's prime minister has made developing agriculture and the associated agro-industry a priority to protect against the swings in commodity prices. China's economic troubles have sent the prices of raw materials such as oil, coal and copper tumbling this year, with the International Monetary Fund warning on September 2 that this has raised the risks to economic growth around the world.
Batmunkh in Uyanga Soum is preparing for winter by sending out a small group of herders even further into the mountains to forage for food. He's sure that this year will see the return of the dreaded zud – what Mongolians call a disastrously cold winter that kills off huge swathes of livestock. The frigid temperatures, along with deep snow or thick ice that keeps animals from reaching the plants they eat, can devastate poorly prepared herders.
Severe drought conditions in the central and eastern parts of Mongolia during June and July devastated farms without access to irrigation. The Ministry of Agriculture estimates that up to 80% of wheat crops were lost this year, with a base threat scenario of 30%. However, they won't know the full extent of the damage until the harvests are complete.
Jennifer Bielman, country director for the humanitarian agency Mercy Corps in Mongolia, says there has been a trend of zuds in winter following droughts in summer. But she also notes that zuds often occur when the livestock population explodes and pastures become overgrazed. "The zud is a shock that puts the system at a new equilibrium," she says.
Climate change is also seen as part of the problem. Mongolia is one of the most vulnerable to the effects of global warming, with average temperatures rising by 2.1°Celsius over the last 70 years, or three times faster than the rest of the world, according to the UNEP.
But inevitably another man-made phenomenon is partly to blame: government. Before 1990, when Mongolia was a Soviet satellite state that served as a buffer between the USSR and China, the state set quotas for the number of animals that a herder could own. The government no longer sets such quotas, but it is still expected to respond tozuds by delivering supplies such as animal fodder. However, the lack of a centralized system to rein in animal numbers seems to be creating a cycle of booms and busts. Despite the 8.5mn animals that died in the 2009-2010 zud, the herd population has steadily grown to what could possibly be its highest level ever. "Some will argue that the herd size is the problem, not the weather," says Bielman. "I'm told the interim between zuds used to be longer [100 years ago]. The ten-year cycle seems to be shifting to a five-year cycle."
The drought means expensive imports of wheat and vegetables from Russia and China are necessary to make up for the losses. And the huge number of livestock deaths will undoubtedly cause a spike in meat prices at the counter. However, herders like Batmunkh don't expect to benefit from this.
Exporters, too, could be affected. Mongolia this year finalized an economic partnership agreement with Japan that puts zero tax on some goods, including meat. Products such as Japan's Kobe beef make Japan a difficult to foodstuff market to enter, but Mongolian meat producer Precom is hoping to corner a niche market for doting pet owners. "Our pet foods in Japan are more expensive, but within the more high-end market we are trying for a lower price while we build up our brand," says Precom spokeswoman Munkhzaya Suvdmaa.
Suvdmaa says she is confident that Precom can avoid any disruption in the local meat market, but "it depends on how bad the zud gets". Currently, herders are anxious to cull their herds and sell their meat to ease their burdens during winter, she says. "I think now is a good time to procure any raw materials to avoid any interruption for us."
Although zuds are an inevitable part of herding, that doesn't mean there aren't precautions that can be taken. Officials of Mongolia's National Emergency Management Agency such as Badamdavga Tserennyam travel to rural towns to help herders prepare for and assist in their migration patterns. Tserennyam said herders were badly caught off guard by the zud in 2009, and that the deaths that followed were a result of poor preparations. "People now are better informed and better prepared than six years ago," Tserennyam says.
Herders by next year will gain a technological advantage by using their cell phones to receive weekly local forecasts by text message from the Livestock Early Warning System (LEWS) that Mercy Corps has helped create. "Through that SMS system, we'll be able to make forecast information available to anyone," says Bielman.
In addition to weather, herders can receive information such as the amount of plant cover and even estimates of the protein content of grazing lands, all using satellite technology and historical data. "LEWS gives a long-as-possible head start if a winter looks like it's going to be dangerous," Bielman says.
Such technologies can reduce the risk, but Mongolians have a tough choice to make. Although the herding, nomadic lifestyle is a key part of the culture here, fewer young people are learning the trade. Instead, they're increasingly going off to college so that they can enter a white-collar profession, as Batmunkh has done for his two daughters. Last year, Batmunkh's eldest daughter, Sanjidmaa, graduated from university in Prague, and today works for auditor Ernst and Young in Ulaanbaatar. "I will never be herdsman, and neither will my sister," says Sanjidmaa. "But I would be sad if there's no more herders in Mongolia. Who will continue this tradition? I have no idea."
New dams, warming waters, forest fires - Lake Baikal in peril
Longer than England, almost as deep as the Grand Canyon, Russia's Lake Baikal is one of the world's greatest aquatic wonders, writes Bryce Stewart. But it's a fragile paradise: the limpid waters are warming much faster than the global average, with as yet unknown effects on its ecology. And it faces the danger of a huge dam on its principal tributary, Mongolia's Selenga River.
September 17 (The Ecologist) Sweat ran down my face and the scolding air stung my lips as I struggled to breathe in. "Russia sure is a land of extremes", I announced to the people either side of me.
It seemed appropriate. On this occasion I was in a Banya, the Russian version of sauna, somewhat nervously awaiting the traditional experience of being whipped with birch leaves.
But only a few days earlier I had felt very similar as I struggled up the near vertical slopes of the Barguzin mountain range in Siberia, in temperatures topping 30C.
When you mention Siberia to most people they think of snow, ice and extreme cold - a remote place people were exiled to in the past as a punishment. Maybe they might mention a Siberian husky if they are au fait with the canine world.
But we experienced a beautiful natural landscape, inhabited by incredibly friendly people, and glorious summer weather that compelled us to take a swim in the crystal clear waters of Lake Baikal nearly every day.
I had travelled to Siberia, and Lake Baikal in particular, as part of the Leverhulme funded project 'Exploring Russia's Environmental History and Natural Resources' . This three-year project is the brainchild of Professor David Moon from the University of York.
By bringing together colleagues from the UK, Russia, the USA, Canada and Romania it aims to unveil a more realistic view of Russian environmental history and conservation than the predominately negative stereotype that is commonly perceived in the western world.
There were 16 people on our field trip, the second in a series to several key areas of Russia, with almost all of the others being environmental historians. I am a marine biologist, so what was I doing on a trip to Lake Baikal, which is pretty much as far from the sea as anywhere on Earth? Well to slightly misquote James Bond, "Where there is water a marine biologist is never on holiday."
The ecological principles that apply in marine and freshwater environments are very similar, so I had been asked to accompany the group to give my perspective on the state of fish stocks in the lake and to make suggestions for future management. In reality, I had the amazing opportunity to do most of the learning on the trip.
Now a new threat looms: a giant dam in Mongolia
International NGOs started to move away and turn their attention to other areas, figuring the battle to protect the lake had been won. But World Heritage legislation has limited power in Russian law, and climate change is a global issue, which needs all of us to take action.
Now a new threat is emerging, the proposed construction of the Shuren dam on the Selenga River in Mongolia and an associated pipeline taking more water from one of its tributaries . The Selenga subsequently flows into Russia to supply Lake Baikal with almost half of its water.
The dam and pipeline would undoubtedly further decrease the already record low water level of Baikal and irretrievably damage the Selenga delta - a vital spawning and feeding area for the lake's fish and birdlife.
Given the multitude of other threats already facing the incredible natural jewel that Baikal represents, I can only hope that the current campaign by the NGO Rivers without Boundaries , along with diplomatic pressure from Russia, will stop this potentially catastrophic project from going ahead.
PICK A SIDE – Jadambaa vs Gafurov
September 21 (ONE Championship) Download these posters and share to support your fighters! Don't forget to use the hashtags #Jadambaa or #Gafurov when sharing on social media.
Yokozunas Hakuho, Harumafuji missing September Basho
September 17 (news.mn) The Professional Sumo Wrestling Basho (Kyushu Basho) is currently underway at the Kokukigan Sumo Stadium and Museum. Unfortunately, Mongolian Professional Sumo Wrestler Hakuho M.Davaajargal, who holds the 69thYokozuna (highest rank in sumo) has, since yesterday, the second day of the Kyushu Basho, been unable to compete.
His coach, Mr. Miyagino Oyakata said, "Hakuho wanted to wrestle, even though he injured his left leg, a week ago before the start of Kyushu Basho. This means that, Mongolian Sumo wrestlers Hakuho–M.Davaajargal and Harumafuji–D.Byambadorj are missing this Basho; as a result, this Basho, Yokozuna Kakuryu -M.Anand is now in the lead.
15-Year-Old Mongolian Becomes Youngest International Chess Master in History
September 21 (gogo.mn) During the 86th World Chess Federation (FIDE) Congress which was held in Abu Dhabi, UAE, decision to award a title to chess players was made.
Mongolian Youth Chess Championship NOMIN ERDENE Davaademberel received International Master title. Thus, she became the first chess player who won the title of International Master at age of 15.
Moreover, Women FIDE Master LHAMSUREN Uuganbayar awarded a title of International Master.
We wish a great success for the new chess masters.
Alliance Française hosts recital of acclaimed pianist Maxime Zecchini on Sep 25
September 17 (gogo.mn) Alliance Française d'Oulan-Bator (AFOB) is part of an international learning and cultural network that aims to promote French language and culture around the world. The first Alliance Française was created in Paris in 1883 and as of 2014, the network has 850 centers in 137 countries so far, on all five continents.
Alliance Française d'Oulan-Bator, a Mongolian non-profit association was established in 2004 with support of the National University of Mongolia, the Embassy of French Republic and the other sponsors and since then has been active in the field of education and culture.
Within the framework of the above mentioned objective, AFOB is going to organize the piano recital of Maxime Zecchini, acclaimed French pianist on 25th of September, Friday at the Concert hall of the Mongolian State Philharmonic.
Tickets will be available for purchase from 21st of September at the AFOB office. Prices for the ticket is at MNT 7000 (USD 3.5).
Maxime Zecchini was born in 1979 and his professors were Giovanni Valentini and Piero Rattalin. He was the first French pianist to receive degree from the Italian famous "Incontri col Maestro" academy. Maxime have played in festivals and concerts in France, but also went on tours in countries such as Italy, South Africa, China, Japan and South Korea and Kenya. Maxime Zecchini is an eclectic musician: he had previously directed music for television, and also directed musical concerts. Maxime Zecchini plays with his left hand only as if it can create melodies like two-handed playing.
For more information, please contact at: 11-35 19 14 or visit at www.alliancefrancaise.org
PS: The concert is free to students and the members of AFOB board.
Exhibition by Tusgal Photography Club at Zanabazar Museum, September 12-18
September 17 (gogo.mn) Do you like photography? If so, I advise you to visit at joint photography exhibition dedicated to 5th anniversary of "Tusgal" Photography Group.
"Tusgal" Photography Group was established in 2010 and has 55 members today.
The exhibition shows all types of photographs taken by its members is being displayed at the The Fine Arts Museum of Zanabazar during Sep 12-18 for free entry.
We have interviewed one of the members of "Tusgal" Photography Group, photographer D.Uchral.
-How to join your club?
-Our club organizes number of events named "Let`s develop together" with the aim to share our knowledge and experiences with each other. People who attended these types of three events are enabled to become a member of our club.
By joining our club, you are offered to ask professional advice on photography, organize and attend events as well as learn new experiences.
-Where can people find the information of such events?
-What is the specialty of this exhibition?
-This exhibition will be open to the public until 6 PM, Sep 18 and in the further, we plan to show this exhibition in simple and public areas such as Mountain Bogd.
Moreover, the theme for this year's exhibition is "Life is Travel". Majority of our 55 members mostly take nature photography. Therefore, we created travel corner which consists of tent, travel chair and pot in the middle of the hall to get people feel like traveling. Moreover, we put various installations in front of several photos in order to deliver more realistic experience of photos to viewers. For instance; we put milk and dairy products in front of photograph with milk.
Interestingly, the club will organize its annual "Unforgettable Autumn" photograph and travel event jointly with "Mongolian Flickers" NGO for fourth year in September. You do not have to be member of the club in order to join this event. So do not miss this opportunity.
In addition, visitors are able to buy photographs which they liked the most and visitors are tasting airag (mare`s milk) for free at the travel corner.
Finally, besides visiting at the exhibition you are able to visit at the Fine Arts Museum of Zanabazar which allows you to 'kill two birds with one stone'.
Location of Fine Arts Museum of Zanabazar: Juulchin Street – 38, Barilgachdiin Talbai (5min walk from the Sukhbaatar/Genghis Square), Chingeltei District, Ulaanbaatar.
Ticket price for the museum: 5000 MNT adult, 2000 MNT (students), 1600 MNT (children). Photo permit: 20000 MNT and video permit costs 25000 MNT.
Ulaanbaatar Among 210 Cities to Participate in 500px Fujifilm Global Photo Walk on September 26
TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - Sep 21, 2015) - 500px, the premier global photo community for discovering, sharing, buying, and selling the highest quality photography, announces that 210 cities, in 119 countries and on all seven continents will participate in this year's annual 500px FUJIFILM Global Photo Walk on September 26, 2015. Over 24,000 people have registered to attend.
The 500px Global Photo Walk is an annual event where thousands of photographers and photo lovers meet and take photographic walking tours of towns and cities across the globe. The Photo Walk celebrates local communities through photography -- beautiful photos and experiences had during the photo walks are shared, enjoyed, and discussed on the 500px platform.
United States and Canada
56 photo walks will take place in the U.S. and Canada including: Ann Arbor, MI, Las Vegas, NV, New York, NY, Phoenix, AZ, and Fargo, ND; Calgary, Quebec City, Halifax, Toronto, and Vancouver.
Notable Global Locations
· McMurdo Station, Antarctica
· Chamois, Aosta Valley, Italy: a village of 93 and the only municipality in Italy not navigable by car
· Dubai: So much interest that we had to set up two walks; one which will be led by Emmy-nominated time-lapse cinematographer Beno Saradzic.
· 15 cities in India: the country with the most registered participants (4225)
New Locations for 2015
· Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
· Tashkent, Uzbekistan
· Siem Reap, Cambodia
· Fes, Morocco
· Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil
· Brisbane, Australia
· Corner Brook, Newfoundland, Canada
"The 500px FUJIFILM Photo Walk is an opportunity for photo enthusiasts from across the globe to meet, take beautiful photos, and explore their favorite towns and cities," said 500px co-founder, Evgeny Tchebotarev. "This year, we have some amazing walks in both major cities and remote locations. If you're not able to attend, you can follow the experience day-of through our Facebook and Twitter pages, and afterwards on 500px, where walkers will be uploading their best shots."
State Drama Theatre Names October as Month of Historic Plays
Ulaanbaatar, September 21 (MONTSAME) The State Academic Theatre of Drama is naming this October "A Month of Historic Plays". Mongolian classic plays such as "The Son of Heaven" by B.Tsognemekh, "Mother Orolmaa" by D.Namdag, "Temuujin" by S.Jargalsaikhan and "A state without seal" by B.Lkhagvasuren will be staged.
The tickets will be sold starting from September 23 at the cashier of the State Academic Theatre of Drama, orders are being accepted through www.monda.mn website and telephone (1900-1617).
Exploring NIKKOR Lenses: Mongolia
September 16 (Nikokn Asia) In this series of Exploring NIKKOR Lenses, featured professional photographer Scott A. Woodward, and photography enthusiast, Chantal Windley, travel to Mongolia to capture its unique culture and windswept landscapes.
Photographer B.Erdenebulgan steps above the clouds
September 21 (gogo.mn) I saw majestic, admirable and remarkable mountains from the works by photographer B.Erdenebulgan. Even though he is just over twenty years old, he has taken the photographs of the highest peaks of Mongolia including Altai Tavan Bogd, Nairamdal, Tsast Tsambagarav, Sutai, Turgenii Noyon Orgil Deglii Tsagaan, Harhiraan, Delgerhaan as well as Mount Elbrus, the highest in Europe. Thus, he is already known by his unique style and creation within only five years.
"In order to shoot from undiscovered angles, I interested in mountaineering and hiking..."
I like drawing nature when I was a child because my grandfather was an artist. I have painted Mount Otgontenger for many times. Perhaps my talent in painting led me to the photography. Firstly, I took photo of Mount Bogd Khan by small compact camera and I really liked it. Since then, I have collected my money to buy Nikon. My reason for loving the photography is praise and words of encouragement. If people did not support me, I would not have been a photographer. I try to shoot beautiful nature and mountains which are difficult to reach. Therefore, I am interested in mountaineering and hiking in order to shoot from undiscovered angles.
"My first highest peak was Mount Asralt..."
Most mountaineers of Mongolia climb to Mount Asralt, the highest peak of Khentii mountains at first. Accordingly, I climbed to Mount Asralt during winter. I was in a hurry to shoot. After the shooting, I climbed to the near mountain and took the photograph of Mount Asralt.
"Mount Elbrus! The peaks and tops poked above the clouds and the sun rays reflected to the clouds..."
The most majestic and hearttouching peak for me was Mount Elbrus, the highest in Europe. Clouds under my feet, looked like an ocean. The peaks and tops poked above the clouds and the sun rays reflected to the clouds were speechless and amazing...
"My next peak is Tsagaan Suvarga which looks like a sharpened pencil, then Mount Everest..."
My dream is to climb to Mount Everest. But I always think that I will climb to Tsagaan Suvarga, beautiful peak like a sharpened pencil and one of the highest peak of Mount Altai Tavan Bogd.
"I am still learning to achieve for the best ..."
I think I am a good photographer. But I am still learning to achieve for the best. Photography eternizes every moment and writes history.
"I feel full after taking the photos I imagined before."
It is hard to climb mountains besides taking photography. For example; carrying heavy lens, preventing the camera from get frozen during the cold and battery failure. Climbers have to take more risk in some cases. I have never felt difficult because I am doing the work I love. It is wonderful to shoot in unique environment which can not be seen often. I feel full after taking the photos I imagined before.
"Horidol Saridag Mountains have Incredibly beautiful scenery..."
The place I always wanted to visit is Horidol Saridag Mountains. I have incredible feeling that Mongolia has such a beautiful place. There are steep mountains, forests and the highest waterfall.
WORKS OF PHOTOGRAPHER B.ERDENEBULGAN
Khovd Aimag Day Held in Chinggis Square to Attract Tourists
September 21 (MONTSAME) In the very heart of the capital city of Mongolia or in the Chinggis Khaan square there were organized various events dedicated to the "Day of Khovd province".
It became a tradition that every year residents of one of 21 provinces or aimags in the country organize Day of their region in Ulaanbaatar with an aim to propagandize their province.
This time, talented people from Khovd province which is situated approximately 1580 km from Ulaanbaatar have arrived to the capital city to celebrate province's day. The region takes its name from the Khovd River, which flows through the territory of the province.
Khovd is distinguished by its multi-cultural population. It is home to more than 17 nationalities and ethnicities. Each of these groups has its own distinct traditional dwelling and settlement pattern, dress and other cultural distinctions, literary, artistic and musical traditions.
Lots of famous people living in the country were born in Khovd province, and one of them is the President of Mongolia Mr Elbegdorj who was born in Zereg soum. /administrative unit in the province/
/I belong to urianhai ethnic group, in other words, I am a carrier of intangible cultural heritage of urianhai people. Carrier of heritage is everyone who makes his contribution to the transmission of culture and traditions to future generations. We are trying very hard to do this./
In connection with this, a project on development of the tourism products on the basis of national cultural traditions or intangible cultural heritage has been worked out by Governor's Office of the province.
Besides that, some projects are being carrying out in order to promote foreign investment in the aimag.
/Next year, the new road will be put into operation which connects Russian Federation and People's Republic of China. This is a great opportunity for us to ensure the growth of the economy of our province. Besides that, for the moment, foreign investors have invested their capital in the Khushuut coal mine and in the area for oil exploration. Our region is rich in coal, building raw materials, tungsten, crystall and other minerals/.
The province has a unique natural formation. The steppe and the Gobi occupy 20 percent of the entire territory. The stunning beauty of the magnificent Mongolia Altai Mountains region in Western Mongolia offers a variety of possibilities for hiking, walking, trekking, cycling, mountain biking, mountain climbing, wildlife encounter-photography, bird-watching and horseback riding.
Unique wedding anniversary, unique Mongolia location
By S. Odbayar
September 17 (gogo.mn) Mongolia has become the travel destination not only for the newlyweds to do their breathtaking wedding photos, but also a place for the celebration of the special marriage anniversaries like 25th anniversary.
Bindu and Krishnan met 25 years back on March 14th 1990 in a training program and in just two days the decision to get married has been done. Ever since that fateful meeting the couple has been together and the wedding was celebrated after six months in September. Each year in September the couple celebrates their wedding anniversary by going out for a travel and celebrate their marriage.
Why Mongolia this time?
Every year we try to go places which are not on a tourist map, meaning the places, which are not frequently visited by Indian tourists. For this year we have spotted two places: Iceland and Mongolia. Then we have read more things about Khuvsgul Lake and got interested as we are very fond of nature. Second reason behind choosing Mongolia was the population. We like to go places which are not crowded and quiet. Third reason were the people. We have read that people are very nice and we do realize how nice people are here in Mongolia. That is the best thing about Mongolia, very helpful and very easy to get along with. Moreover, Mongolia and India has deep historical connections going back to Chinggis Khaan.
What other places unknown for tourists and off the map have you been before traveling to Mongolia?
The travel to other places has started since 2002. Before that we were traveling each September to places within India. Since 2002 we started to go out and visit places like Turkey, which we like to visit a lot, we've been to Singapore twice, then went to Botswana, where we have spent entire 12 days in a van surrounded by wild life in Safari. During that stay we haven't met a single Indian, while in South Africa we met a lot of Indian tourists. We also went on a Nile river cruise in Egypt.
Another place was Bhutan. Although it is near India, it is very quiet, completely Buddhist country almost like Mongolia. Last year we went to Cambodia, which was beautiful. Although some places we have been are on tourist map, we try to go to places where we can stay for more than two weeks and have the opportunity to explore the country.
So your main goal is to explore the culture?
Yes, we like to stay for longer periods and see as much as we can. We even like to explore the local food. The only challenge for us is to find vegetarian food. Here we went to Loving Hut. We liked it a lot and the food was outstanding. Next time we will try Luna Blanca. Even with food we are having so much assistance from our guide, who is very helpful to us. Moreover, we have briefed on our eating preferences our travel agency Goyo Travel to pack more vegetarian food as we travel around Mongolia.
One more interesting thing Goyo Travel planned for us is the Mongolian style wedding. Our wedding anniversary falls on September 7th and on that day we will have Mongolian wedding ceremony.
Where will the ceremony take place?
At Khuvsgul Lake. The uniqueness of the 25th anniversary is to be celebrated in a unique place like Mongolia.
Have both of you searched for the location?
Both of us did our homework. We would start from the big search and narrow down to the small search.
How did you find the travel agency?
Today there are so many online information and many apps. We use TripAdvisor a lot. Based on reviews we selected Zaya's Guest House for staying in Ulaanbaatar and Goyo Travel for our travels in Mongolia. We even have our own rules to apply for selecting the place, like minimum 25 reviews have to be there and minimum people from five different countries should have reviewed the place.
The couple has been very happy with their choice of coming to Mongolia, as they have encountered many good and helping people. Wife was very fond of the help she could get from the guide and the safe streets of Ulaanbaatar, where women can safely go and have no hard time walking down street beautifully dressed. Mongolians are courteous enough even to greet them on the streets saying Namaste, to their big surprise.
From your current experience are there any thoughts of coming to visit Mongolia once again? I am asking this because you haven't been to countryside yet.
Of course we will certainly come back. We cannot say exactly when, but certainly we will come back. We like to visit to places again where we had pleasant experiences. One thing we do when traveling is we come with open minds. We do not come to a place with a preconceived thought.
One example is through the history books we were taught that Chinggis Khaan was an aggressor and a conqueror, but when we visited the Chinggis Khaan statue and visited the museum, we have found out about him more and surprisingly came to know that he even was acceptable of different religions and during his reign everyone was happy under the regime.
The unforgettable journey through Mongolia, which is organized by Goyo Travel includes the astonishing locations in Mongolia like: Khugsvul Lake, Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake (White Lake), Tsenkher Valley and hot springs, ancient capital of Mongolia Kharkhorin, Orkhon Valley, Bayanzag Flaming Cliffs, Yoluyn Am (Lammergeyer Gorge), Khogor Dunes, Khavtsgait Petroglyphs and Gobi Oasis. The couple is to be back in Ulaanbaatar on September 24th and we are wishing them pleasant journey and to make many fond memories about Mongolia.
Mogi: uninspired "travel" story
Genghis Gold: From the heart of Siberia to Mongolia's capital
September 10 (The Travel Stories) Mongolia is a country not only known for its vast lowlands, wild horses and eagles tamed by locals, but also for the cult of Genghis Khan and gold. Getting to Mongolia is not that easy if you don't have a ticket already bought for the international Moscow – Beijing train, also known as the Trans-Mongolian Railway. You can buy it only a few days in advance if starting somewhere in the middle of this route. For us, there were no places left on the train which we were in, parting from Ulan-Ude, Russia. Asking a few questions here and there, we found out there was a bus going to the border in the early hours of the morning. "Good enough," we thought.
We heard that it's, for some, the ugliest capital in the world, and in some parts it resembles that image. The city is developing it's centre and for the time being you can see the parliament building with… yes, a large statue of Genghis Khan, a few tall buildings and the Mongolian Stock Exchange. Slowly but steadily, changes are taking place. One of the places that let's you stop and contemplate for a while is Gandantegchinlen Monastery, a very important temple for Buddhists, as the 13th Dalai Lama stayed there in his residence in 1904.
Mongols are polite and want to get to know you, especially children. "Hello, Hello!" you can hear when passing by groups of them. There are not many people in Mongolia who speak English and their language does not link to any Slavic or German roots. It's not easy to understand and knowing Russian doesn't help at all apart from knowing how to decipher the letters.
To get to know Mongolia better, we hit the steppe in a rented GAZ, a Russian on- and off-road vehicle that successfully stands the test of the steppe and Siberia's challenges. One of the things that's most impressive in Mongolia is the huge statue of Genghis Khan in the middle of nowhere. To date, it's the highest (40 m) monument of a man on a horse ever constructed. It is said to be located in the place where Genghis found a golden whip.
Worth seeing is also the view from the Buddhist monastery in Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, where you can ride on horseback through the hills and around yurts spread across the park.
"A man without a horse is like a bird without wings" says a Mongolian proverb.
Having seen many wild horses, some even tamed by youngsters, a few days of tasting local cuisine, beers, and vodkas and travelling around, it was high time to continue our trans-Siberian and trans-Mongolian journey to Beijing, China. We hopped on the train into the sunset and saw the rails leading us into the nothingness of the Gobi Desert.
Marcin is a typical dream fulfiller. After a long time of imagining being here and there, he decided it is high time to stop thinking and just do. From that time he started naming some of his dreams 'projects.' And what projects! You can find some of his most inspiring stories and photographs on his blog: http://www.marcinkonkel.com. Don't miss out on visiting.
6th Floor, NTN Tower
Baga Toiruu, Chingeltei District 1
Ulaanbaatar 15170, Mongolia
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