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Monday, September 21, 2015

[RIO woos journos; TRQ sheds SGQ; ERD recovers 88% Au; XAM worth 3x; Firebird signs $1B power deal; and TDB's back on the road]

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Monday, September 21, 2015

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Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original

 

Overseas Market

TRQ closed -0.66% Friday to US$2.99, -0.33% for the week

As rivals blink, Rio Tinto plans to expand Mongolia copper mine

BY TERRENCE EDWARDS

OYU TOLGOI, MONGOLIA, SEPT 17 (Reuters) Rio Tinto said it is committed to expanding its Oyu Tolgoi copper mine in Mongolia based on a positive outlook for the metal and confidence that low production costs can buoy profits even as competitors cut output.

The miner wants to lock in up to $4.2 billion in project financing by November to build more than 200 km of tunnels to access higher-quality ores at the deposit over the next five to seven years, Craig Kinnell, Rio's chief development officer for copper and coal, said during a media tour of the mine this week.

The expansion should extend the mine's lifespan past 2100 and open up 80 percent of the resources available, making it the world's third-largest mine for copper and gold.

With new project approvals slowing elsewhere, Kinnell said he was confident demand would hold up, particularly in China.

"I can't see anything to reconsider given the quality of our resource," he said. "Our commitment is to bring this on as soon as possible".

Oyu Tolgoi is expected to produce 175,000 to 195,000 tonnes of copper in 2015 and has a key role in Rio Tinto's strategy to ease its dependence on iron ore, but there have been concerns that its expansion is coming at the wrong time.

"Rio Tinto has to develop the mine as it is a core copper asset to the company," said Yang Changhua, senior analyst at state-backed research firm Antaike in Beijing.

"But expected additional copper from the Oyu Tolgoi mine would pile pressure on the global copper market, which is not likely to improve strongly in the coming two years," he said.

However, Kinnell said that while the expansion of Oyu Tolgoi would raise ore production, there were no plans to expand concentrator capacity at the project.

He added that low production costs meant the project would be a "bedrock" for the firm, and that he remained bullish on the long-term fundamentals for copper.

While Rio plans to expand operations its four key copper assets - Oyu Tolgoi, Kennecott, Escondida and Grasberg - rival Glencore said it would cut supplies by 400,000 tonnes.

Rio is also looking for new supplies with plans to get online the Resolution project in the United States and La Granja in Peru, raising concerns that the industry will be hit by the sort of glut now affecting iron ore.

"The market is aware that supply cuts such as those by Glencore can only lay the basis for a tightening of the market," said Carsten Menke, commodities research analyst at Julius Baer.

"This is different to 2009, when for example copper demand collapsed because we had a global recession. This time the oversupply in the copper market is due to the expansion of mine production over the last few years."

Link to article

Related:

Rio Tinto closes in on huge Mongolian mineThe Times, September 18

Mongolia banks on upside for copper - The West Australian, September 18

Rio's Mongolian innovation beats tough times - The West Australian, September 19

Rio Tinto: Oyu Tolgoi is company's 'best project' - The Sydney Morning Herald, September 18

Oyu Tolgoi is symbol on Mongolia's rise - The Sydney Morning Herald, September 19

Elections no threat to Mongolian mine: Rio - The Australian, September 18

Rio Tinto drive puts women driver's seat at Oyu TolgoiThe Australian, September 19

Rio's Mongolian mine set to expand - Herald Sun, September 18

Rio Tinto's red giant in Mongolia - Herald Sun, September 19

 

Turquoise Hill Announces Resignation of Senior VP, Operations

VANCOUVER, BC--(Marketwired - September 16, 2015) - Turquoise Hill Resources today announced the resignation of Stewart Beckman, Senior Vice President, Operations and Technical Development, effective October 1, 2015. Mr. Beckman has accepted a new position within Rio Tinto.

Jeff Tygesen, Turquoise Hill Chief Executive Officer, said, "I would like to thank Stewart for his significant contribution to Turquoise Hill, where he has been an integral part of the management team since May 2012. He has been a driving force behind the operational advancement of Oyu Tolgoi and led the preparation for underground development."

The Company is currently conducting a search for Mr. Beckman's replacement, which will be announced in due course. Mr. Beckman will provide support in the interim to ensure a smooth transition.

Link to release

 

1878 closed -2.68% Friday to HK$2.91, -0.68% for the week

SouthGobi Resources Insider Turquoise Hill Resources Sells 201,500 Shares

September 10 (Dakota Financial News) SouthGobi Resources (TSE:SGQ) insider Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. sold 74,950 shares of SouthGobi Resources stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, September 8th. The shares were sold at an average price of C$0.48, for a total transaction of C$35,818.61.

Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. also recently made the following trade(s):

·         On Wednesday, September 2nd, Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. sold 44,300 shares of SouthGobi Resources stock. The stock was sold at an average price of C$0.52, for a total transaction of C$23,009.42.

·         On Tuesday, September 1st, Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. sold 34,900 shares of SouthGobi Resources stock. The stock was sold at an average price of C$0.54, for a total transaction of C$18,804.12.

·         On Thursday, August 27th, Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. sold 9,700 shares of SouthGobi Resources stock. The stock was sold at an average price of C$0.56, for a total transaction of C$5,447.52.

·         On Wednesday, August 26th, Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. sold 37,650 shares of SouthGobi Resources stock. The stock was sold at an average price of C$0.54, for a total transaction of C$20,210.52.

Shares of SouthGobi Resources (TSE:SGQ) remained flat at $0.44 during mid-day trading on Wednesday. The stock had a trading volume of 1,100 shares. The stock's market cap is $108.11 million. SouthGobi Resources has a 52 week low of $0.34 and a 52 week high of $1.25. The firm has a 50-day moving average of $0.52 and a 200 day moving average of $0.76.

Link to article

 

SouthGobi Resources Appoints Ningqiao Li as Chairman

HONG KONG, CHINA--(Marketwired - Sept. 17, 2015) - SouthGobi Resources Ltd. (TSX:SGQ)(HKSE:1878) ("SouthGobi" or the "Company") today announces appointment of Mr. Ningqiao Li as an executive director of the Company and Chairman of the board of directors (the "Board") of the Company effective September 17, 2015.

Mr. Li is a director of Novel Sunrise Investments Limited, a substantial shareholder of the Company. He has been a non-executive director of the Company since May 2015.

Mr. Gordon Lancaster, former Interim Chairman of the Board, continues to serve as an independent non-executive director. The Board thanks Mr. Lancaster for his leadership during the transition period and ongoing valuable contributions to the Company.

Link to release

List of Directors and their Role and FunctionSouthGobi Resources, September 17

 

ERD last traded C$0.11 Thursday

Metallurgical Testing at Erdene's Altan Nar Project Returns 88% Gold Recovery, Commissions Independent Strategic Options Analysis with RungePincockMinarco

HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA--(Marketwired - Sept. 16, 2015) - Erdene Resource Development Corp. (TSX:ERD) ("Erdene" or "Company") is pleased to announce positive metallurgical results for its 100%-owned Altan Nar gold-silver-lead-zinc project ("Altan Nar" or "Project") in southwest Mongolia. The metallurgical testwork was conducted by Blue Coast Research Ltd. to evaluate processing options for the production of gold-silver doré on site through gravity and leaching, and/or production of gold and silver in lead-zinc concentrates through flotation. The testwork was completed on representative drill core composites from the Discovery Zone North deposit at the Altan Nar project. These metallurgical test results are now being utilized in northern China marketing studies for the sale of high-grade concentrates and in a "Strategic Options Analysis" study currently being carried out by RungePincockMinarco Limited ("RPM").

"These results are very encouraging, supporting the production of either gold-silver doré or marketable-grade metal concentrates being produced using conventional processing methods. The high affinity of gold to the lead concentrate is promising as these concentrates generally fetch excellent payment terms," stated Peter Akerley, President and CEO of Erdene. "As with our maiden resource estimate in the first quarter, these results continue to validate Altan Nar's potential and allow us to expand our evaluation studies aimed at advancing the project further towards production."

Highlights from Metallurgical Report

·         Gold responded very well to direct leaching with recoveries of 88%, indicating the gold is free milling and does not contain a significant refractory component

·         High-grade gold-lead-silver concentrates (229 g/t gold, 62% lead, 1,029 g/t silver) can be produced with reasonable overall recoveries (75% gold, 74% lead, 64% silver) using conventional lead-zinc differential flotation

·         Good zinc concentrates can be produced grading 50% zinc at 61% recovery

·         A moderate amount (45%) of gravity recoverable gold is present, albeit at lower concentrate grades (37 g/t gold)

·         Metallurgical results provided to RPM for inclusion in Strategic Options Analysis study

Altan Nar Preliminary Metallurgical Testwork Program

Link to release

 

Xanadu: Higher Grade Zones at Surface Provides Kharmagtai Upside

HIGHLIGHTS

·         Trenching significantly extends the strike and width of higher-grade surface copper-gold mineralisation at Tsagaan Sudal;

·         Trench KHTR056 intersects significant copper-gold mineralisation:

-       122m grading 0.49% Cu and 0.75g/t Au (0.98 CuEq);

·         Continued exploration success on many fronts around current resources continues to add significant insight and value.

September 21 -- Xanadu Mines Ltd (ASX: XAM – "Xanadu") is pleased to announce that a program of surface trenching being undertaken in conjunction with diamond drilling at the Kharmagtai copper-gold project (Figures 1 and 2) has identified a significant extension in strike and width of surface higher-grade copper gold mineralisation at Tsagaan Sudal.

The new trench results at Kharmagtai are regarded as extremely significant and extend the current highergrade surface resources at Tsagaan Sudal which will contribute to the potential development case at Kharmagtai.

Xanadu's Chief Executive Officer, Dr Andrew Stewart, said: "The surface higher-grade component of the Tsagaan Sudal deposit has been materially extended by over 250 metres to the northwest, where mineralisation remains open; and is further evidence that Xanadu is building a significant open-pit metal inventory and with further exploration drilling is likely to result in a very viable deposit given the favourable infrastructure nearby."

Link to full release

 

XAM last traded A$0.086 Thursday

Xanadu Mines worth more: broker report

September 16 (Proactive Investors) Xanadu Mines (ASX:XAM) has received an unchanged Buy recommendation but a new 12-month share price target of $0.29 from Sydney-based broker Bell Potter Securities.

The broker's target is 52.6% higher than its previous valuation of $0.19. Shares in the company last traded at $0.09.

The upgrade is due to revised commodity price and foreign exchange forecasts as well as the recent positive exploration results from the Kharmagtai copper-gold project in Mongolia.

The following is an extract from the report.

Longest intersection and highest grades from latest drilling

Recent drilling at XAM's Kharmagtai gold-rich porphyry copper project in Mongolia has intersected the longest continuous zone of mineralisation and the highest grade mineralisation to date, showing that XAM's increased understanding of the deposit is paying off at the drill bit. 

The recent drilling reinforces the view that tourmaline breccia has strong potential to host large scale high grade copper-gold mineralisation.

Significant intersections in tourmaline breccia included 415.2m at 0.63% copper and 0.24g/t gold (0.79% copper equivalent (CuEq)) from 88.8m down hole in KHDDH371 that contained 243.8m at 0.81% copper and 0.32g/t gold (1.0% CuEq) from 242.2m. 

A high grade core of breccia-hosted massive sulphide mineralisation was intersected in that hole with 50m grading 1.84% copper and 0.73g/t gold (2.31% CuEq) from 374m down hole included 27m at 2.55% copper and 0.94g/t gold (3.15% CuEq) from 384m down hole. 

Hole KHDDH374, a 50m step-out from KHDDH371, intersected the longest continuous zone of copper-gold mineralisation so far at Kharmagtai of 593m at 0.45% copper and 0.23g/t gold (0.6% CuEq) from 68m. 

Recent drilling success set to extend Kharmagtai Resource 

The latest drilling results at Kharmagtai are set to significantly add to the Kharmagtai Resource (203Mt at 0.34% copper and 0.33g/t gold (0.50% CuEq) including a higher grade zone of 56Mt at 0.47% copper and 0.59g/t gold (0.76% CuEq)). 

We anticipate that the total resource is now at least 240Mt at a grade of about 0.56% CuEq.

Production cutbacks helping to revive copper price

Recently announced production cutbacks and curtailments are reducing copper output, leading to a reduction in copper stockpiles at terminal markets and improved copper prices. 

While the short term oversupply has negatively impacted on the copper price, we continue to believe that the medium and longer term supply/demand fundamentals for copper are very positive and should support significantly higher prices. 

We continue to see a dearth of quality copper projects in the pipeline, which is why we see XAM's copper projects in Mongolia, particularly Kharmagtai, as so attractive.

Investment thesis: Speculative Buy, Valuation $0.29/share

XAM's strong technically-driven exploration programs on its advanced, world class gold-rich porphyry copper project at Kharmagtai continue to add significant value to the deposit, extending its size by successfully targeting shallow, higher grade copper-gold mineralisation. 

XAM has also done some very value-adding exploration at its Oyut Ulaan Project, with recent results pointing to a major mineralised porphyry system with similar geological features to Kharmagtai that is also close to infrastructure.

We have revised our equity diluted valuations of XAM to incorporate revised commodity price and foreign exchange forecasts, the recent positive exploration results and the offset of forecast dilution from the currently lower share price. 

Our valuations have increased. 

Our current valuation is raised by 53% to $0.29 per share after rolling it forward and changing the basis for it to a 12-month forward NPV-based methodology. 

Accordingly we retain our Buy recommendation with Speculative risk.

Link to article

 

Vontobel AM favors Mongolia's USD bonds as investors look beyond Fed decision

Get Fed Monkey Off Our Backs for Bonds to Rally, Europe Says

·         Key U.S. interest rate seen boosted sometime during 2015

·         Investors prefer high-yield assets, seeing rates staying low

September 16 (Bloomberg) BlueBay Asset Management LLP is buying Spanish and Portuguese bonds, unperturbed by the prospect that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates Thursday. Vontobel Asset Management Inc. is going a step further, favoring Mongolia's dollar-denominated securities.

Some of Europe's largest investors say they're looking past the Fed decision to hold a longer view: The first U.S. rate boost in nearly a decade probably will come this year, and even so, official borrowing costs will remain low. In this environment, riskier assets work for them.

"Still seems like it is going down to the wire, but we can be more certain that if the Fed does hike, it will be presented as a dovish move," said Mark Dowding, partner and money manager at BlueBay, which manages $60 billion. "We feel the market could do well with the Fed 'monkey off its back.' In this context, we believe that risk appetite can recover."

Even after China devalued the yuan, global equities sold off and emerging-market currencies continued sliding, these investors say they're clinging to higher-yielding debt. And they plan to cling right through Thursday's Fed decision. That's because they see a rate increase this year followed by the central bank stressing that future moves will be slow and steady, with rates remaining historically low for a long time.

Link to full article

 

FMG Mongolia Fund: -7.67% in August, -15.65% in 2015

Year

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Year

2015

-6.07%

0.50%

-2.97%

10.46%

2.31%

-2.93%

-9.07%

-7.67%

-15.65%

2014

-3.70%

2.12%

-5.27%

0.00%

-5.96%

-1.27%

2.36%

1.46%

6.19%

-8.16%

-4.44%

-5.31%

-20.74%

2013

-1.33%

-5.38%

-8.27%

-7.46%

-3.96%

-3.17%

-4.42%

-6.68%

-3.12%

3.22%

-4.40%

3.65%

-34.86%

2012

0.00%

-0.20%

-0.30%

-3.23%

-2.40%

-2.77%

2.63%

-8.13%

-2.56%

-4.66%

-3.26%

7.38%

-17.10%

Link to fund

Back to top

Local Market

MSE Weekly Trading Report: Top 20 +4.41%, Stocks ₮98.3 Million, T-Bills ₮8.7 Billion

September 18 (MSE) --

Link to report

 

10 Billion 12-Week 13.776% Discounted T-Bills on Offer at MSE

September 16 (MSE) --

1. The issuer's name: Mongolian Ministry of Finance

2. The purpose of the issuance of bond: State treasury cash management 

3. Offering scope of securities: Offering to the public

4. Type of securities: Government securities

5. Face value: MNT 100,000 

6. Discounted price: MNT 96,927.00

7. Total amounts issued: 100,000 Units 

8. Short-term securities performance:

 Government Securities name

Symbol

Amount /units/

Value /billion MNT/

Maturity /week/

Form of Interest payment

Interest rate (percent)

Starting date of the order

Closing date of the trading

ЗГХБ-Б-12-329

TMPG-BL-08/12/15-A0056-0

100,000

10.0

12

Discounted

13.776%

2015.09.16

2015.09.22

Link to release

 

Maturity Notice: 10 Billion 14.415% Discounted 12-Week T-Bills, 22 September

September 18 (MSE) Dear investors, please be advised that the following government bond is about to mature.

Symbol of Government Securities

Amount /units/

Maturity /week/

Form of Interest payment

Interest rate (percent)

Issued Date

Maturity Date

 ZGEB-BL-22/09/15-A0041-0

99,990

12

Discounted

14.415%

2015.06.30

2015.09.22

Link to release

 

621 Million Additional CHP3 Shares Registered, Total Outstanding 993.6 Million

September 17 (MSE) According to the resolution No.:347 of Financial Regulatory Commission on 2015 and the Order No.: 271 of CEO of MSE on 2015, an additional offered 621,503,902 shares listed at MSE's listing resulting amendment made to "Power Thermal Plant-3" JSC's /mse:DGS/ listing with total of 993,627,829 at MNT100.00 per share.

Link to release

 

Blue Sky Securities Offering 1.8 Million Shares to Shareholders at ₮554, Underwritten by UK's Bluecord

September 17 (MSE) According to the resolution No.:243 of Financial Regulatory Commission on 2015 and the Order No.: 270 of CEO of MSE on 2015, an additional offered 1,805,054 shares listed at MSE's listing resulting amendment made to "Bluesky Securities" JSC's listing with total of 1,892,540 at MNT100.00 per share. Existing shareholders of "Bluesky Securities" JSC have right to buy additional offered shares at MNT554.00 per share, and remaining shares will be purchased by UK's "Bluecord" Ltd under closed  subscription.

Link to release

 

Personal Deposits to Be Taxed 10% from 1 January, Government Securities Traded via MSE to Remain Tax-Exempt

September 17 (MSE) According to the No.: 13.1.4 of Mongolian Law on Personal Income tax, interest on savings of individuals refers as a taxable income. On 25 October 2012, amendments made to No.: 16.1.16 of Mongolian Law on Personal Income tax, interest income on savings of Mongolian citizen other than interest income from demand deposit and time deposit for a year or less than year total amount of which exceed 100 million MNT exempted until 1 January 2016.

Therefore, starting from 1 January 2016, all kind of individual savings will be taxed at the rate of 10 percent accordance with No.: 23.1 of Mongolian Law on Personal Income tax. 

However, income from Government securities trades through Mongolian Stock Exchange is tax free accordance with No.: 16.1.5 of Mongolian Law on Personal Income tax.

Link to release

Back to top

Economy

BoM MNT Rates: Friday, September 18 Close

 

 

9/18

9/17

9/16

9/15

9/14

9/11

9/10

9/9

9/8

9/7

9/4

9/3

9/2

9/1

8/31

http://www.mongolbank.mn/images/iconexchange/usd.png

USD

1,993.59

1,992.50

1,990.09

1,986.49

1,993.94

1,997.26

1,995.73

1,994.89

1,993.35

1,989.47

1,993.28

1,993.93

1,991.91

1,992.17

1,991.49

http://www.mongolbank.mn/images/iconexchange/eur.png

EUR

2,272.09

2,252.52

2,243.63

2,242.15

2,266.41

2,254.01

2,237.81

2,225.50

2,232.65

2,216.27

2,218.82

2,237.39

2,247.37

2,248.06

2,235.75

http://www.mongolbank.mn/images/iconexchange/cny.png

CNY

313.36

312.95

312.41

311.89

313.09

313.33

312.72

312.91

313.24

312.47

313.61

313.71

313.20

312.72

312.18

http://www.mongolbank.mn/images/iconexchange/gbp.png

GBP

3,104.82

3,090.17

3,051.90

3,060.68

3,080.94

3,084.57

3,063.45

3,067.64

3,061.89

3,021.71

3,036.36

3,045.53

3,046.23

3,067.94

3,071.67

http://www.mongolbank.mn/images/iconexchange/rub.png

RUB

30.19

30.60

30.06

29.46

29.45

29.53

29.00

29.51

28.96

28.99

29.58

29.86

29.72

30.65

30.11

Bank rates at time of sending: TDB (Buy ₮1,986 Sell ₮1,996), Khan (Buy ₮1,986 Sell ₮1,996), Golomt (Buy ₮1,986 Sell ₮1,996), XacBank (Buy ₮1,987 Sell ₮1,997), State Bank (Buy ₮1,987 Sell ₮1,997)

MNT vs USD (blue), CNY (red) in last 1 year:

Link to rates

 

BoM FX auction: US$14.2m sold at 1,991.91, CNY27.05m at 311, accepts $76.5m MNT, $18m USD swap offers

September 17 (BoM) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on September 17th, 2015 the BoM has received bid offers of USD 47.45 million in a rate between MNT 1986.58-1994.30 and CNY 58.8 million in a rate between MNT 310.06-311.00 from local commercial banks. The BoM sold USD 14.2 million in a closing rate of MNT 1991.91 and CNY 27.05 million in a closing rate of MNT 311.00 respectively.

On September 17th, 2015, The BoM has received MNT Swap agreement bid offer equivalent to USD 76.5 million and USD Swap agreement selling bid offer equivalent to USD 18.0 million from local commercial banks and the BoM has accepted the offers.

Link to release

 

BoM issues 125 billion 1-week bills at 13%, total outstanding +55.9% to ₮320.8 billion

September 18 (BoM) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 125 billion at a weighted interest rate of 13.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/

Link to release

 

GoM Treasury Auction: 10 Billion 12-Week 13.776% Discounted T-Bills Sold with 20 Billion Bids

September 16 (BoM) Auction for 12 weeks maturity Government Treasury bill was announced at face value of 10.0 billion MNT. Face value of 10.0 billion /out of 20.0 billion bid/ Government Treasury bill was sold at discounted price and with weighted average yield of 13.776%.

Link to release

 

BoM Monthly Statistical Bulletin, August 2015

September 16 (BoM) --

Link to report

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Politics & Legal

Deputy Speaker closes extraordinary session of parliament

Ulaanbaatar, September 18 (MONTSAME) The irregular session of the State Great Khural (parliament) was closed on Friday.

A Vice Speaker of parliament R.Gonchigdorj made the closing remarks at the irregular session, saying that this session has approved a parliamentary resolution on appointing some members of the cabinet and supported a veto of the President over some clauses of the law on amnesty.

The Vice Speaker noted the Chairman of the State Great Khural is participating in ceremonial events of the Autumn Session of the OSCE PA which was concluded on Friday in Ulaanbaatar. Hosted by the parliament of Mongolia, this year's Autumn Session attracted some 300 parliamentary delegates of 47 countries, he said.

Link to article

 

The Contested Politics of the Presidential Veto

by Julian Dierkes

September 16 (Mongolia Focus) In August,  parliament (State Ikh Khural) passed two separate amnesty bills: the first provides a one-time amnesty for all unregistered wealth from criminal investigations and taxation. The other applies to first-time offenders, minors, women with small children and people who haven't committed violent crimes.  This wasn't new for the parliament.  On the occasion of major anniversary, the state is used to issue the amnesty. The criminal amnesty bill was passed in 1991, 1996, 2000, 2006, and 2009 whereas the economic amnesty was introduced in 2008.  For this time, both bills were passed in honour of the 25th anniversary of the first democratic election of the country's legislature.

But this time, both bills triggered interesting rounds of politicking and contestation.  The economic amnesty bill (Economic Transparency Law) was quickly began to be implemented by the government (executive branch) in spite of  political opposition and public call for transparency – to disclose the amounts of declared wealth and names of wealth holders.  The criminal amnesty bill revealed strong disagreements among political institutions, elites, parties, and factions as well as public.

On the same day of the passage, former president, prime minister, and speaker N Enkhbayar returned from South Korea, where he was undergoing medical treatment, and declared his commitment to establish a new coalition government with the DP.  Under the amnesty law, his corruption related criminal case would be exonerated.  On the following day, the current president Elbegdorj announced his intention to veto the criminal amnesty bill, which included crimes related to corruption, during his speech at the 85th anniversary of the prosecutors' office.  At the same time, some DP members (esp., Kh Temuujin), MPP parliament members, three independent members, and Civil Will Green Party members expressed their objections to the inclusion of  corruption crimes in the amnesty bill.

On August 17, the President vetoed articles concerning  corruption and related crimes in the criminal amnesty law.  Parliament accepted the presidential veto during its special session of August 3-11.  Here are several observations:

First, the quick, non-transparent vote on and implementation of the economic amnesty law demonstrates the power and influence of oligarchs, kleptocrats, and business factions.  Given the difficulties of maintaining off-shore accounts and remaining under threat from their competitors, state institutions, and population, it appears to be a practical solution for the state to collect taxes incoming years and for property owners to be protected from further criminal investigation and potential expropriation.

Second, the law-making process is becoming too loose and vulnerable to interests and influences of various groups.  As indicated by MP Temuujin (DP) and Ts Nyamdorj (MPP), the initial (draft) bill, which was introduced by the government (Prime Minister), was completely changed at the standing committee and parliamentary deliberation.  This process was dominated by members with strong conflict of interests (esp., Justice Coalition).

Third, parliament members are appealing to the public (esp., social media and press).  The media listed pro and against votes of members in regards with the presidential veto and parliament members (esp., those were in support of the presidential veto) pressured the speaker to release minutes and recordings of the parliamentary deliberation on the amnesty bills.  Yes, on one hand, all members and parties are concerned with public ratings and upcoming elections; but, on the other hand, it pressures politicians, parties, and factions who were not willing to present their standings on important issues like fighting against the corruption.

Finally, political institutions remain vulnerable and have lost their steam because of unruly competition of the 'winner takes all' variety.  The presidential veto added a bit of steam into Mongolia's politics to strengthen democratic institutions and to uphold the principle of  transparency and accountability.  But, dangers for democracy are out there.  Political-economic factions continue to weaken the state institutions as each wants to take-over important ministries, agencies, SOEs, and provinces – for either wealth defence or accumulation.  The politicization of the security institutions (esp., intelligence, anti-corruption, police, marshal service) and judiciary (including prosecutor's offices) become more visible than it was earlier years of the democratic transition.  Key political institutions are bureaucratically weak; therefore, influential and charismatic agents could easily use for their parochial interests.

Link to post

 

Political Agendas Behind the Amnesty Law

By B.KHASH-ERDENE

September 21 (UB Post) The President's partial veto of the Amnesty Law was approved by Parliament earlier this week, after interesting debates between the Mongolian People's Party and Democratic Party.

As soon as the amended Amnesty Law was passed in August, President Ts.Elbegdorj placed a partial veto on sections of the law that allowed suspects and perpetrators of bribery, corruption, and abuse of state position to run free, and even end current ongoing investigations into such cases.

The sixth amendment to the Amnesty Law was originally meant to free those who were convicted of minor and accidental crimes and first time offenders, especially female convicts with young children and juvenile criminals, to decrease the prison population in Mongolia. The amendment was later criticized for being too broad, allowing those suspected and sentenced for bribery, corruption, and abuse of state positions to get away with their crimes. It would even stop ongoing investigations of corruption cases, as well as future discoveries of such crimes by the Independent Authority Against Corruption (IAAC), which works under the President of Mongolia.

Who masterminded the Amnesty Law?

After the President's partial veto, Parliament members of the Democratic Party, such as M.Batchimeg, pointed a finger at former President N.Enkhbayar's Justice Coalition, which developed the bill, as being responsible for the inclusion of the section granting amnesty to the corrupt.

"The Justice Coalition led the working group for developing the Amnesty Law and they worked very actively on it. Some Parliament and Cabinet members who were in the working group mentioned that the questionable provisions in the law were forcefully included by the coalition. It's quite clear to the public that former President N.Enkhbayar is behind all of this," she said in an interview with News.mn.

N.Enkhbayar was convicted of corruption and abuse of power in 2012, and later pardoned by President Ts.Elbegdorj after a prolonged hunger strike in a prison hospital. Many believe that N.Enkhbayar's recent return to Mongolia from South Korea, where he reportedly received treatment after the hunger strike, is a sign that he is ready to return to Mongolian politics.

A clash of ideals or agendas?

Indeed, the Justice Coalition and some Democratic Party members have been vocal about their opposition to the partial veto, but their arguments against it were found to be far too feeble in the eyes of the public and local media.

Democratic Party member MP R.Gonchigdorj implied that the IAAC has too much power, as it is able to investigate and arrest any state official, and that the Amnesty Law is needed to keep its power at bay.

"The President placed a veto on the wrong sections, it wasn't right. I don't want to separate people into those who support and don't support corruption today. Anti-corruption establishments should work to prevent crimes. The distribution of justice and power must be revaluated. Why were 22 police officials involved in corruption. This targeting has to stop. In other words, how these ex officio cases come about needs to be clarified. We need answers to these questions from the IAAC," said MP R.Gonchigdorj at the parliamentary discussion of the President's partial veto.

He went on to say that the President was not able to meet his goals through the partial veto, and raved on about how the veto violates the rights of those who were pardoned.

"I do not support this veto, as the President's goals and aims were clear. His veto did not achieve his goal… There was a principle that pardoned individuals will not be detained for even a single day. But it has been nearly a month [since the approval of the Amnesty Law]. How will their rights be ensured? Think about this. Approval of the veto is inappropriate."

The Mongolian People's Party has been in favor of the partial veto since it's placement, and members of the party in Parliament said they would vote in favor of the veto before the session began.

"The President's veto should be accepted. The veto was placed accurately, and its reasoning was sound. The President said that amnesty shouldn't be granted to those who were involved in bribery, corruption, and abuse of power," said D.Demberel of the Mongolian People's Party.

Disarming the IAAC

Some political observers believe that there was more to the Amnesty Law than a vaguely hidden agenda to pardon corrupt high ranking officials, and in the significance of the President's veto.

If the veto hadn't been made, one thing the Amnesty Law would do would be to disarm the IAAC, which is viewed by many politicians as the President's main weapon against political adversaries. The IAAC investigates, arrests, and files cases against anyone deemed corrupt, and the courts of Mongolia are under the President of Mongolia, giving him nearly total power over the country's judiciary system.

Some observers, and myself, believe that President Ts.Elbegdorj intends to continue his political career after his presidency, and that taking away the IAAC's power away would greatly hinder his political maneuvers in the future.

Mongolia's parliamentary election will take place next year, and many speculate what the Democratic Party will do to ensure its dominance after screwing up the country's economy and scaring away investors with harsh policies. Mongolia's GDP growth is at three percent, but when the Democratic Party took over Parliament in 2012, GDP had recorded 17.5 percent growth in the previous year.

Unless the Democratic Party has an ace up its sleeve, the Mongolian People's Party will surely come up victorious in the upcoming election. The current Ch.Saikhanbileg government doesn't have much it can claim to have achieved within its short reign. The start of the second phase of Oyu Tolgoi, made possible through a mildly controversial closed meeting in Dubai, is the only credit it can claim.

In contrast, the previous N.Altankhuyag was able to build roads, infrastructure, and factories with varying degrees of success, and laid the foundation for economic development, albeit with the heavy cost of government debt and the loss of foreign investment.

According to economist and UB Post columnist D.Jargalsaikhan, the government is not telling the truth about Mongolia's external debt.

"Mongolia's external debt is not equal to 55 percent of our economy as the government claims. It is actually as big as 90 percent of our economy if we take into account the currency swap agreement established with China, and the amount of debt owed by companies owned by the Development Bank of Mongolia," he asserted.

Instability in the economic and political arena of Mongolia is likely, as repayment of the government's debts is expected to place a heavy burden on the economy, with experts predicting that it will be paid back with more loans with less favorable conditions. All anyone in the government says, in an increasingly desperate manner, is that they want to increase foreign investment to boost the country's economy.

Despite the political turmoil, the President's reign remains strong, and some believe it is due to his ability to lock up and investigate his opponents through the IAAC, thereby discrediting them. But the IAAC and courts shouldn't be able to lockup the innocent, which further fuels the deep-rooted public distrust and the belief that everyone at the top is corrupt.

So was the partial veto on the Amnesty Law put in place to fight corruption, or so the President could keep his power through the IAAC? Either way, the results seems similar. Less impunity and leniency towards the plague of corruption at the top can only do good for the nation.

In Mongolia, Parliament sets the rules, government manages the money, and the President controls the military and justice system. In a state rotten with crooks, the man with the biggest stick seems to be the one with the power to impose "justice".

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"Dr. Gloom" Baabar Warns of Risk of Economic Crisis, Political Chaos & Rise of Institutionalized Organized Crime

September 17 (Mongolia Metals & Mining) Popular columnist Baabar (86K Twitter followers, his fullpage column is published by largest daily "Udriin Sonin") presented gloomy vision of Mongolia's short term future on September 9, 2015 at Frontier's Invest Mongolia conference. We have summarized in English his main points viewing that, besides being highly entertaining, his forecast provides excellent starting point for vigorous discussion and analysis of Mongolian economic growth & investment outlook and risks.

Mongolians got used to "Grey Goose", will not tolerate going back to old cheap vodkas "Kharaa" and "Yorool"

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Mogi: where was this Gankhuyag when he was mining minister 2012-2014?

MP D.Gankhuyag opposes 'politicization' of mining and energy sectors

Trans. by B.DULGUUN from Uls Turiin Toim

September 20 (UB Post) The 25th anniversary of Parliament in Mongolia was marked on September 11. Member of Parliament D.Gankhuyag was interviewed to provide a clear evaluation on the 25-year-old Mongolian Parliament, as he has been an MP since 2004, experiencing three parliaments headed by different speakers. The interview is about various issues related to the Mongolian political world.

How do you view the improvements and achievements that the Mongolian Parliament has made in the last 25 years? 

Twenty-five years is a long time. The parliamentary system is proof of democracy. Mongolia began electing representatives for governing bodies through free elections 25 years ago, when a new constitution was adopted. Parliament has become more experienced and achieved more than its failures.

It's better to make an assessment of Mongolia's Parliament based on studies related to parliamentary operations. This study would be helpful for improving the legal and political environment.

According to the Constitution, Mongolia has a semi-presidential system. It's necessary to perfect parliamentary governance and limit parliamentary authority and roles. I believe it's most important to enhance the allocation of responsibilities, functions, and coordination given to state institutions such as Parliament, Cabinet, and the President. Moreover, the executive branches should be stabilized and the Prime Minister's authority should be increased. I've heard that amendments are being made to the Constitution to determine these issues. 

The public is complaining that the current Parliament has forgotten its political responsibilities. Can you comment on this?

This Parliament isn't ruled by a majority group and is comprised of several parties. It's inaccurate to say that the current Parliament is irresponsible. It's completing its core functions well. It developed many legislative acts and renewed the legal environment for the economy, society, and judicial sectors, as well as administrative and law enforcement organizations. 

The President addresses the "double deel" (dual positions in Parliament and Cabinet) issue the most. Yet, the newly appointed ministers have worn double deels and are operating as both minister and MPs. What's your position on this matter?

The Prime Minister decides whether to appoint a government member from Parliament or an external institute. This is specified in relevant Mongolian legislation. It's common for MPs to function as ministers in countries with parliamentary governance. Appointing MPs that have been put in charge of implementing a political party's action plan as a minister makes the implementation of the action plan more efficient. Having MPs function as ministers links political responsibilities and is consistent with basic democratic principles. It's possible to have some members of the government appointed from different organizations. I also believe that it's reasonable for the public to be concerned that the supervision of the government and Parliament will weaken if all ministers are appointed from Parliament. 

Some critics disapprove of the new ministers for their inadequacy and being professional. You used to be a minister, what do you think of this disapproval?

It's obvious that it would be better to have people who are specialized and have experience in specific fields become ministers of certain sectors. However, a minister is a state official. Parliament discusses a wide range of issues connected to all sectors in the country. In this sense, it's possible for MPs to become ministers and collaborate with a professional team of a ministry. The new ministers shouldn't fear criticism, but accept this criticism and work hard and swiftly to eliminate people's doubts. 

Parliament accepted the President's partial veto on the Amnesty Law. However, the President's legal advisor stated that slanderous amendments were submitted by the working group. What is your position on the Amnesty Law issue?

I've already decided to accept the President's veto. Parliament passed that veto in accordance with the law. The President laid a veto within his full rights. I think it's best for the Democratic Party group to quickly come to a decision and make appropriate amendments. 

According to experts, major projects that are aimed to improve the economy of Mongolia are not advancing due to excessive politicization. As former Minister of Mining, what are your thoughts on this speculation and issue?

The fact that major projects were politicized is truly unfortunate. People should stop politicizing sustainable economic projects in mining and energy. 

Parliament and government are conflicted on the Tavan Tolgoi (TT) project. How is this project progressing?

The project and agreement developed by the current government for selecting investors for TT deposit was very poor. In other words, the TT agreement had seriously violated the interests of Mongolians and the project was inconsistent to the previous parliament's decisions related to the usage of the TT deposit. The TT parliamentary working group issued recommendations to the government for moving this project forward. I'm sure that the government is working to meet these recommendations.

A group of members expressed their views on attracting investments to the TT deposit to the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister responded that he'd do the relevant research. Up to 10 percent of Erdenes TT LLC's shares should be sold to strategic investors through the local stock exchange for starters. This will indirectly help determine the deposit rating. The fact that it's taking so long to make mining companies' stocks and operations transparent is attracting a considerable amount of interest. It's inappropriate to demand that these companies enhance their efficiency when their rights to trade, particularly to play in the stock market, haven't been provided. 

You mentioned that the draft agreement was poorly drafted at the meeting to select investors for TT project. Can you tell us why that is? Were investors badly chosen?

This issue isn't related to the investor's side. The main issue lies in why Mongolia agreed to not receive all post-tax profits for 60 years in exchange for a fee for using an additional two percent of reserves.

Instead of getting royalties for using two percent of reserves, estimates show that Mongolia will receive four to five times more profit from TT's 80 percent dividends that are under state ownership. There's no need to have this requirement related to two percent of reserves. On the other side, there's an opportunity available for attracting real capital and investment by selling two percent of TT shares through the stock market, instead of making the deposit collateral under the guise of investment. 

The Prime Minister announced the establishment of the TT agreement soon.  Will the TT draft agreement be discussed in the autumn session, or is it unnecessary for Parliament to discuss the draft?

It's best to quickly develop and establish the agreement. The government is obliged to introduce the draft law to Parliament, according to the Parliament resolution connected to the  investment of Erdenes TT deposit. Also, it is a deposit of strategic significance that's owned by the public, so it should be discussed by Parliament.

The additional financing for the state budget will be outlined during the autumn session. In general, how do you see the economic outlook?

Financial and fiscal situations aren't that good in countries where the mining sector greatly influences the local economy. The drastic downfall of international and Mongolian markets for coal, gold, copper concentrate, and iron ore has forced Mongolia to outline an additional budget.

It was clear that coal prices would be low when the 2015 state budget was approved. However, no one expected the price of copper concentrates to fall so abruptly. The Ministry of Finance makes these outlooks for mineral prices. The price drop in the oil market has significantly impacted the price decline of mineral products. It's appropriate to form an additional budget, freeze costs that aren't urgent, and start fiscal reform. Various expenses that don't need to be covered by the state budget should be transferred to the private sector. It's time for Mongolia to get rid of its wasteful system that spends as much as it earns, create savings, and transfer to a system that increases those savings. If possible, it's best to increase wages and pensions, even by a little, during this time when prices are inflating.

As for the economy, development of Oyu Tolgoi's underground mine has started. It would be advisable to complete the railway from Gashuunsukhait to TT, without associating it with TT deposit usage. This railway is a very profitable project itself, meaning that financiers and investors can be found. Once it's complete and ready, the value of TT will rise. This will also increase the value of Erdenes TT LLC's stocks. The Gatsuurt deposit should be put to work too. It's a deposit that hasn't been rehabilitated since the forest on top of it was removed and mined into a placer deposit.

According to archaeological exploration, it's been reported that there isn't any tangible cultural heritage underneath the ground. Estimates show that it's possible to raise foreign currency reserves to some 800 million USD by beginning operations at Gatsuurt. The only thing hindering this is Parliament and Cabinet's slow decision making process.

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DeFacto: The gap between Mongolia's poor and the rich

By Jargal DeFacto

September 20 (UB Post) It is said that Mongolia has developed most rapidly for the last 20 years. It was not a long ago that a statesman from Myanmar exclaimed, "Your country is a developed country, not a developing one," having seen the skyscrapers, wide and narrow roads, fancy cars, and uniquely named restaurants and hotels.

However, the high economic growth has not reached the majority of our population, which leaves a small number of people having too much income and the majority being battered by the price increases in consumer goods and weakening currency rates. It keeps highlighting the difference between the rich and the poor. The small group of people who have high income are controlling most of the wealth in Mongolia today.

As our mining-dependent economy repeatedly goes into crisis, the low-income majority are seeing more unemployment, leaving more people wanting to work abroad. An essential factor that defines the difference between the wealthy and the poor is access to infrastructure, which includes electricity, roads, fresh water, and sewage systems. In countries such as India and the Philippines, where one half of the population are poor, the difference between the luxury districts of the rich and the muddy slums of the poor can be easily seen. In Mongolia, although half of our population is living in the capital and tens of thousands of apartment blocks are being built, the number of people who reside in the ger district is not going down. In terms of access to fresh water and improved sanitation facilities, Mongolia is behind North Korea.

A democratic society provides everyone with an opportunity to work hard. However, if people keep working hard but are not able to improve their livelihood, they start losing faith in government and seek opportunities to express their discontent about the differences in income. On the other hand, only a small number of families seize ruling power while monopolies establish themselves in the economy. The Philippines, where the participation and involvement of ordinary people is weak, has been ruled by 17 families only. As instability emerges in the country, these families have decided to spend public funds on strengthening the military. As a result, the rich build walls around their homes and hire small armies to protect their families from getting kidnapped. Do we have to let the same situation take over in Mongolia?

INFRASTRUCTURE IS THE SOLUTION

GDP per capita is not the only indicator that shows the difference between developed countries and developing ones. Access to infrastructure, including roads, electricity, fresh water, and sewage systems, is an important indicator. The nations that provide good access to infrastructure talk about the quality of education and medical services, whereas the countries who have not ensured good access to infrastructure talk about access. In order for Mongolia to make infrastructure accessible, a lot of capital will be required.

The investment that has gone into Ulaanbaatar in recent years has definitely been necessary and timely. If the roads and junctions had not been widened, traffic in the capital would be at a standstill. Going forward, we need to provide half of the population of the capital with heat and fresh water, and to give every household an opportunity to buy an apartment that fits their purchasing power. The project to re-plan the ger district and build apartments in ger district areas close to downtown has basically stopped.

The reason why the project is on hold is funding. In the last three years, the supply side of many housing projects was funded by the Chinggis and Development Bank bonds, while the demand side was handled by printing currency and providing eight percent mortgage loans. However, this arrangement is neither stable nor sustainable, because the cost of government bonds is too high to spend on infrastructure.

The economic growth of Mongolia has decreased five times compared to the 17 percent it reached four years ago. Nevertheless, the construction of infrastructure should not stop. Where the required funding comes from has become a headache for the government.

INFRASTRUCTURE IS NOT FUNDED BY BONDS

Building infrastructure is the most important condition conducive to improving economic productivity. Infrastructure requires a great deal of initial investment, but it makes the economy grow after it starts being used.

The financial markets of most developing countries are based on commercial banks and lack insurance and pension funds because they are not developed. Also, there are only a few investors and most of the population does not have bank accounts. The interest rates offered by non-bank financial institutions are very high, and there are no joint funds. In addition, there is only a small number of daring investors. These factors make it difficult to find funding for infrastructure in developing countries.

Infrastructure can generally be funded in four ways. The first funding mechanism is funding by tax income from the government. The second is funding through state-owned banks using people's long-term savings. The third is funding by investors using insurance and pension funds. The fourth is to attract foreign investment.

Mongolia has been using the first funding mechanism to fund infrastructure in Mongolia, but it has not been enough due to a small tax-paying population, small economy, and huge territory. Also, the operating expenditure of the government is more than 800 billion MNT a year (400 million USD at currency rates today), which is clearly lower than the need.

The State Bank of Mongolia is basically a commercial bank that inherited previously established banks that went bankrupt. Also, a postal savings system has not developed in Mongolia.

Some countries that have small populations and lack a banking sector have been using a postal savings system where people can deposit money at low interest rates. In Mongolia, Khan Bank has a branch in every soum, however, it is a commercial bank and is not able to use long-term, low interest rate loans to make infrastructure investments. That is why Development Bank of Mongolia was established, to attempt issuing government-guaranteed bonds and fund infrastructure.

Mongolia's health and social care fund belongs to the government. These funds always run deficits, thus they are not capable of investing in infrastructure. However, if we manage to set up private insurance and pension funds, there is an opportunity for long-term investment.

Mongolia has only one choice: to attract investment from international development banks rather than foreign private investment. It would be better for Mongolia to raise funds for infrastructure from the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development. The investment from these institutions brings not only money but also highly detailed estimations, engineering blueprints, and performance monitoring.

These development banks all have AAA ratings, which means that they assess risk very carefully to meet their standards. When these banks provide loans, they study whether a country can repay them or not, and gives recommendations on what needs change and how it should be made. The Asian Infrastructure Bank, which is expected to be formed next month, opens up a new opportunity for Mongolia. If we acquire a 30-year loan with an interest rate of less than one percent to be repaid seven years later, it would be far more profitable than funding from bonds, the interest rates of which have almost reached almost 10 percent today.

Infrastructure mirrors the development of country and is key to removing the gap between the rich and the poor.

Trans. By B.AMAR

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TDBM out for second 144A outing of the year

September 18 (GlobalCapital) Trade & Development Bank of Mongolia (TDBM) is hoping to replicate the success it had earlier this year with a new 144A/Reg S offering.

The Mongolian bank has hired the same three banks – Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank and ING – that worked on its May outing, as it gears up for a second dollar trade.

Roadshow will kick off in Singapore on September 21, followed by Hong Kong and ...

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Moody's assigns (P)B3 ratings to TDBM's GMTN program

Hong Kong, September 18, 2015 -- Moody's Investors Service has assigned a (P)B3 foreign currency senior unsecured rating to Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia LLC's (TDBM) $500million Global Medium Term Notes (GMTN) Program.

The rating outlook is negative.

RATINGS RATIONALE

The (P)B3 rating is in line with TDBM's b3 baseline credit assessment (BCA). TDBM's BCA of b3 reflects: (1) its vulnerability to asset quality deterioration, given its high loan concentration and portfolio of corporate loans; (2) strong profitability, owing to its solid franchise, with expertise in corporate banking and foreign exchange; and (3) potential challenges related to corporate governance that could arise from its narrow shareholding structure. Offsetting these weaknesses is its solid market position as a leading lender in corporate banking; and diversified funding sources from both domestic depositors and foreign financial institutions.

Moody's has not incorporated any systemic support notching uplift to TDBM's (P)B3 foreign currency senior unsecured rating, given our assessment of the limited support capacity of the Mongolian government (B2 negative). This is despite the systemic importance of TDBM -- as the second-largest lender in terms of loans -- to the Mongolian banking system.

WHAT COULD CHANGE THE RATING -- UP

It is unlikely that Moody's will upgrade Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia's B3 issuer rating or raise its b3 BCA over the next 12 months, given the recent downgrade and ongoing negative outlook on Mongolia's banking system, driven by the challenging operating environment. However, Moody's would consider returning the outlook on TDBM to stable when the operating environment stabilizes, and absent deterioration in the bank's asset quality. Macro factors aside, Moody's would consider an upgrade of the B3 issuer rating if TDBM reduces its concentration risk and exposure to the relatively higher-risk mining and construction sectors, to levels more in line with its peers, while maintaining its asset quality, capital and liquidity.

WHAT COULD CHANGE THE RATING -- DOWN

Moody's would downgrade TDBM's long-term deposit and senior unsecured debt ratings if its baseline credit assessment is lowered.

The bank's baseline credit assessment could be lowered if: (1) its Tangible Common Equity (TCE) capital ratio falls below 9.0%; (2) its annual net income to tangible assets ratio falls below 1.0% due to a sharp increase in credit losses; (3) a significant deterioration occurs in asset quality; for example, new NPLs to gross loans exceed 4.0%; (4) a rise occurs in concentration or exposure to risky sectors, in particular, the construction sector; or (5) corporate governance-related problems cause a loss of depositor confidence, therefore increasing the threat of deposit flight.

The rating does not apply to any individual notes issued under the programme. Ratings on individual notes issued under the programme will be subject to Moody's satisfactory review of the terms and conditions set forth in the final base and supplementary offering circular, and the pricing supplements of the notes to be issued.

Moody's does not intend to assign ratings to individual notes issued under the programme with features linked to the performance of another obligor (credit-linked notes). Nor does Moody's intend to assign ratings to notes for which payment of principal or interest is variable and contractually dependent on the occurrence of a non-credit-linked event or the performance of an index (non-credit-linked notes). The only exception will be for notes whose principal and coupon payments are affected by standard sources of variation. For more information, please see Moody's Cross-Sector Rating Methodology, "Rating Obligations with Variable Promises," published in April 2014.

The principal methodology used in this rating was Banks published in March 2015. Please see the Credit Policy page on www.moodys.com for a copy of this methodology.

Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia LLC is based in Ulaanbaatar. It is the largest banks in Mongolia by assets. At 30 June 2015, the bank's consolidated assets totaled MNT5.9 trillion ($3.0 billion).

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Firebird and SEPCOIII Execute Joint Development Agreement for the Tevshiin Gobi Coal Mine and 600 Megawatt Power Plant Project

ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia, Sept. 15, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Firebird Mongolia Fund, Ltd. ("Firebird"), a fund managed by an affiliate of New York-based Firebird Management LLC ("Firebird"), via two of its subsidiary holding companies and SEPCOIII Electric Power Construction Corporation ("SEPCOIII"), a Chinese State-Owned Enterprise, are pleased to announce to have executed a Joint Development Agreement ("JDA") for the development and financing of the Tevshiin Gobi coal mine and mine-mouth coal-fired 600 Megawatt power plant project.

The signing ceremony took place during the World Economic Forum in Dalian, People's Republic of China, following the receipt of the Power Construction Corporation of China ("POWERCHINA"), the parent company of SEPCOIII, delegation by His Excellency Prime Minister Ch. Saikhanbileg, the Prime Minister of Mongolia. The signing ceremony was witnessed by Mr. D. Zorigt, Minister of Energy; Mr. Ts. Sukhbaatar, Mongolian Ambassador to China; several Members of Parliament; and Mr. Zeng Xingliang, Assistant to Group President and Executive President of Overseas Business Unit of POWERCHINA. Mr. Wang Lujun, the Chairman of SEPCOIII, and Mr. James Passin of Firebird executed the JDA on behalf of SEPCOIII and the Firebird entities, respectively.

Under the terms of the JDA, SEPCOIII will acquire a controlling equity stake in both the Tevshiin Gobi coal mine and power plant, which have a capital requirement of approximately USD 1 billion. The Tevshiin Gobi project is located in Saintsagaan Sum, Dundgobi Aimag, Mongolia. The power plant feasibility study was completed by American energy engineering firm, Burns and Roe Enterprises Inc. and approved by the Mongolian Ministry of Energy in 2013. The project has received a permit to construct from the Mongolian Energy Regulatory Commission and is on the Mongolian Government concession list as a preferred power project.

SEPCOIII Electric Power Construction Corporation, founded in 1985 is an international EPC power contractor and a leading subsidiary of China's energy services corporation, Power Construction Corporation of China ("POWERCHINA"). SEPCOIII, has broad experience in the international power sector - including gas and coal power plants, wind, solar, hydro, nuclear, biomass as well as substations and transmission lines. With a long list of awards and nominations, SEPCOIII has completed high quality works worldwide on over 39,600 MW of capacity as of 2014 and reached a revenue of RMB 13.89 billion ($2.18 billion) in 2014. Since 2013, SEPCOIII's strategy has broadened to include the Independent Power Producer business sector, hence SEPCOIII is now actively seeking power project investment opportunities internationally, including Mongolia in particular.

Based in New York, Firebird started investing in Mongolia in 2006 and is the largest foreign institutional investor operating on the Mongolian Stock Exchange.

James Passin, Principal at Firebird, stated, "This is an historic day for our project, which we created over four years ago. We are delighted to partner with one of the world's leading EPCs and believe that the project will benefit from SEPCOIII's operational expertise and financial resources." 

Mr. Lai Chen, President of SEPCOIII Investment Company stated, "We are very excited about the progress of the 600 MW Tevshiin Gobi mine-mouth coal-fired power project in Mongolia and are happy to be working with Mongolia's largest foreign institutional investor, Firebird and its affiliates. Under the "One Road One Belt" initiative and with the support of the Mongolian government, we are confident to bring this project to success and contribute to the growth of the Mongolian economy."

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EBRD board directors visit Mongolia

Representatives of EBRD shareholders to meet country's leaders, diplomats, businesses and NGOs

September 18 (EBRD) A delegation of EBRD Board Directors, which comprises representatives of the Bank's shareholders, will visit Mongolia on 21-25 September.

They will meet key decision-makers, top government and city officials, representatives of the diplomatic and business communities and civil society.

They will also visit EBRD clients, including the recently commissioned Senj Sant cement plant; IMC hospital; the Gobi cashmere factory; ice cream maker TESO; Gazar Shim, a canned vegetables producer; and clients in the financial sector, namely Khan Bank, Xac Bank and the microfinance institution, Transcapital.

The Directors will also visit the Oyu Tolgoi copper mine in the Gobi desert, the second stage of which may be financed by a banking syndicate led by the EBRD and the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

The delegation will include the host country representative Paul Vlaanderen (Director for the Netherlands, Mongolia, FYR Macedonia, Armenia); Anthony Bartzokas (Director for Greece and Portugal); Heinz Kaufmann (Director for Switzerland, Ukraine, Liechtenstein, Turkmenistan, Serbia, Montenegro, Moldova); Johannes Koskinen (Director for Finland, Norway and Latvia); Enrique Bal (Alternate Director for Spain and Mexico); Gustave Gauquelin (Alternate Director for France); Michel Grilli (Alternate Director for the European Investment Bank, EIB); Makoto Honda (Alternate Director for Japan); Abel Mateus (Alternate Director for Greece and Portugal) and Luyen Tran (Alternate Director for the USA).

A senior EBRD staff delegation, led by the Managing Director for Turkey and Central Asia, Natalia Khanjenkova, will also participate in the mission.

The EBRD is owned by 64 governments and two intergovernmental institutions: the European Union and the EIB. Shareholders are represented at the EBRD's Board of Directors which oversees the Bank's activities and strategies. Board representatives regularly visit countries of operations to discuss the implementation of EBRD country strategies and investments.

The EBRD's latest strategy on Mongolia was approved in June 2013. Its main priorities are diversification, sustainable growth, responsible mining and institutions, and infrastructure and private sector development.

The EBRD is currently the largest financial investor in Mongolia with over €1.1 billion invested to date. Nearly all EBRD-financed projects support private sector companies and banks.

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Environmentally Friendly Technology to Be Exhibited at "Green Technology 2015"

September 18 (gogo.mn) "Green Technology - 2015" fair jointly organized by City Administration, Ministry of Environment and Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry will be exhibited during September 21-22 within the scope of the meeting held by City Mayors of North Eastern Asian Cities.

The fair aims to promote products, services and technologies produced by companies conducting environment friendly operations. It also covers 4 environmental aspects titled "Green infrastructure", "Green consumption", "Green initiative" and "Green manufacturing".

Total of more than 50 participants (entities, individuals and communities) are expected to not only present their products, technologies and services but also exchange experiences and discuss current projects.

Also, visitors will be presented by best technologies being used in neighbor cities since the fair is to be held under the meeting by Mayors of North Eastern Asian Cities. During the fair, open discussion sessions are scheduled to be organized to let participants and visitors exchange their views and ideas on technologies and environment issues.

The fair will be open at 09.00 - 18.00 during September 21 - 21 at Exhibit Hall of MNCCI. Visitors are able to have free bus ride in front of City Administration Office at 11.00 am during opening days of the fair.

Link to article

 

CHTZ-Uraltrac exports bulldozers to Mongolia

CHELYABINSK REGION, September 15 (Rus.Business.News) CHTZ-Uraltrac (a subsidiary of the Uralvagonzavod Research and Production Corporation) continues exporting machines to Mongolia. Another upgraded B10M bulldozer has been shipped to one of the power companies of Mongolia.

RusBusinessNews has been informed by the Press Service of the Corporation that CHTZ has experience of supplying machines to Mongolian electric power producers. Three electric power plants in the vicinity of Ulan Bator have Chelyabinsk bulldozers in their fleet.

On the Mongolian market, CHTZ-Uraltrac has to withstand severe competition with Chinese machine-builders.

Link to article

 

Poland supports Mongolia's proposal to introduce European standards in agriculture

Ulaanbaatar, September 18 (MONTSAME) Mongolia wants to take technical assistance and to learn experiences of Poland in order to introduce European standard techniques and technologies.

The Mongolia's Minister of Food and Agriculture Ms R.Burmaa MP said it during a meeting on Thursday with Mr Eugeniusz Grzeszczak, a Deputy Marshal of the Polish Sejm (lower house of parliament), who took part in the OSCE PA Autumn Session here.

Saying that Mongolia intends to produce agricultural goods and to export it to its neighbor countries and South, Korea, Japan and European markets, the Minister pointed out Mongolia is improving the processing of food products. She put forward a proposal to cooperate with Poland in developing the agricultural tourism industry based on Mongolian pasture animal husbandry.

In response, Mr Eugeniusz Grzeszczak supported the proposal of the Mongolian Minister, and promised to contribute to this matter.

Link to article

 

AmCham Mongolia Selects Director of Policy and Advocacy

ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia, September 2015 (AmCham Mongolia) – The Board of Directors of the American Chamber of Commerce in Mongolia, or "AmCham Mongolia," is very pleased to announce that Mr. Adiya Oyungerel has been selected as its new Director of Policy and Advocacy. Before joining AmCham Adiya worked as a project coordinator at Artisanal mining project of Swiss Development Cooperation agency. He also has extensive policy experience in the private sector working with Oyu Tolgoi, the government, and a number of development agencies including EBRD, The UN and SDC. Adiya holds an MBA from the University of Sheffield in UK with major in FDI Promotion.

"I am privileged to join AmCham Mongolia as the Director of Policy and Advocacy and look forward to making significant contributions to improving Mongolia's business environment through targeted advocacy efforts. I am excited to be working with such an important organization that works to make Mongolia an attractive place for investment and promotes the U.S.-Mongolia commercial relationship," said Adiya.

Jackson Cox, Chairman of AmCham commented, "I am delighted that Adiya has joined AmCham as its Director of Policy and Advocacy. This is a time of great consequence for all businesses in Mongolia and AmCham reaffirms its commitment to strengthen the commercial relationship between the United States and Mongolia and promote Mongolia as a destination for global investment. Adiya will lead AmCham's efforts to ensure Mongolia's business environment is improved by advocating for pro-growth policies and giving voice to AmCham's diverse and excellent member companies."

Link to release

 

AmCham Mongolia Vacancy Announcement: Director of Events

The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Mongolia is an independent organization with the mission to build stronger commercial ties between the United States and Mongolia; actively promote Mongolia as a destination for global investment; and advocate for policies to improve Mongolia's business environment. AmCham is the official local affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is the largest business federation in the world with over 3 million member companies.

AmCham Mongolia is currently looking for a Director of Events, who will:

Manage all AmCham events including monthly meetings, networking events, signature events, committee meetings, and other special events to advance the mission of the organization;

Secure event venues, design events, secure speakers, oversee venue set-up, order necessary food and beverages, manage support staff, coordinate organization with venues, and handle all technical requirements such as lighting and sound; and

Execute the communications and marketing of all AmCham events including designing event invitations and social media materials, preparing all marketing materials, disseminating event invitations, building the audience, and facilitating media coverage.

Requirements:

Link to release

 

BCM Vacancy Announcement: Working Group Coordinator

JOB DESCRIPTION

The Business Council of Mongolia (BCM) has grown from 35 to 240 members with a total of approximately 40,000 employees. We have become a leading business representative organization among Mongolia's 1,400 NGOs. BCM is the premier business organization in Mongolia dedicated to meeting its member's needs, namely:

·         to get more business such as profits and clients;

·         to obtain information critical to their businesses;

·         to have a legal and regulatory environment conducive to doing business.

We seek to recruit a new Working Group Coordinator to manage the BCM working groups and the "BCM in the University Classroom" series. As of today, BCM has 7 active Working Groups (WGs) with over 350 volunteers working for reform of laws, policies and practices that inhibit economic growth. The WGs cover critical sectors including Capital Markets, Tax, Legislation, Energy & Environment, Education, Logistics and Risk. "BCM in the University Classroom" series provides lectures at universities to help inspire students and give them direction for their future careers. As of now, over 2,100 students and teachers have participated in this program.

Job description:

Link to release

 

Join Tengri at the London Design Festival – Khangai yarn exhibition

Join us for the Khangai Yarn Exhibition, an innovative and immersive exhibition taking place during the London Design Festival, 19-27 September. Exclusive pieces will make their debut – designed and created from all-natural noble yarns, hand-sourced and only available once a year from Mongolia's mountainous Khangai region.

The works of Tengri Collective designers and artisanal makers including Carlo Volpi, Catarina RiccabonaBertie Bertinez and Studio 180° will be featured. Come and discover lush interior furniture, furnishings and fashion, all designed in London and made with Tengri's Khangai noble yarns. This immersive and experiential journey enables visitors to experience the interconnected relationship between the fragile landscapes, wild animals and people of Mongolia.

On the evening of 24 September, Tengri will host a featured talk entitled 'Dichotomous Design'. Delivered in partnership and hosted by the UKFT, the evening will include talks by Orsola de Castro, sustainable fashion pioneer, co-founder of Estethica and the creative force behind Fashion Revolution Day, as well as Ladina Hardmeier and Denise Portmann, designer-makers and founders of Studio180°. The evening will also highlight successful examples from designers and fashion brands that have used their craft to design and make products with a harm-free ethos through careful selection of fabrics and fibres.  Click here to request your ticket.

The Khangai Yarn collection forms part of a wider movement called The Art of Progress. Organised by 19 Greek Street, this is an event not to be missed. Sign up for our newsletter or connect with us on Twitter or Facebook for more details and exclusive invites to events to be curated and announced as part of London Design Festival."

Link to release

 

How Your Cashmere Is Made

By Maura Walters, Bloomberg Pursuits

September 17 (Bloomberg) One of the rarest natural fibers in the world, cashmere's not a wool but a hair, which accounts for its unmistakable feel. With fast-fashion chains such as Uniqlo and Joe Fresh selling discount product in bulk, it's hard to tell the good stuff from the junk

Where It's From

Most cashmere comes from goats in the Gobi Desert, which stretches from Northern China into Mongolia. Beneath the animals' coarse hair lies an undercoat of superfine fibers concentrated on the underbelly. In May and June, when the goats molt, local workers comb the belly hair, sort it by hand, and send it to a dehairing facility (usually in China) to be cleaned and refined. Then it's baled and delivered to Europe, where it's spun into fine yarn and sold to designers for roughly $114 a pound. With adequate supplies of top-notch raw materials becoming scarce in Asia, Afghanistan has become an unlikely exporter: The country is rich in unadulterated product. As China increasingly blends different qualities of cashmere to achieve volume, Afghan goat farmers are filling the demand for completely pure knits.

The Cashmere Goat

Origin: Northern China, Mongolia, Afghanistan
Average weight: females, 88 lbs.; males, 132 lbs.
Typical yield of fiber from one goat: 180g to 250g (6 oz. to 9 oz.)

Buying Tips

1. Check the Weight 
A garment made of two plies, meaning it was knitted from double strands of yarn, or more, will often be longer-lasting. The heavier the sweater, the warmer (and more expensive) it will be.

2. Beware of Pilling 
Premium cashmere is made from the long hairs of goats—and it's combed, never sheared. Shearing yields shorter fibers that are prone to pilling. Before you buy, rub the surface of a garment with the palm of your hand and see if fibers begin to roll up and/or shed. This is an indication that there's excess short-fiber content.

3. Look for a Tight Knit 
Durable cashmere is tightly woven. If the construction feels loose, the garment will lose its shape quickly. Gauge quality by holding a piece up to the light—if you can see through, it probably won't be wearable for longer than a season.

4. Consider the Color 
Heavily dyed fiber loses some of its softness. Chinese white from Inner Mongolia is regarded as the finest-quality cashmere because it's not subjected to coloring or bleach. Outer Mongolia is developing a niche in natural cashmere in camel and brown hues.

5. Read the Label 
A garment labeled 70 percent cashmere/30 percent wool frequently contains no more than 5 percent cashmere. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission mandates only pure cashmere sweaters can be labeled "100 Percent Cashmere." If that's not indicated on the garment, move along.

How to Wash It

Step-by-step guidance from knitwear designer Margaret O'Leary

Launder cashmere at home, always inside out. Washing adds moisture back to the fabric; dry cleaning stiffens it.

Use the delicate cycle. Two teaspoons of The Laundress Wool & Cashmere Shampoo is enough.

Put your garment in the dryer for five minutes on the coolest setting. Then spread it on a flat towel to air dry.4.

Never hang anything made of cashmere. Hangers will stretch the fibers.

Where to Get It

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Ulaanbaatar

Air Astana to Start Mongolia Service from June 2016

September 14 (Airline Route) Kazakhstan's Air Astana in summer 2016 season is launching new link to Mongolia, as it plans 3 weeklyAstana – Ulan Baatar operation. This will be Mongolia's overall 2nd nonstop link to Central Asia, as Turkish Airlines currently operates Bishkek – Ulan Baatar route.

Air Astana will commence this route from 02JUN16, using Embraer E190 aircraft.

KC219 TSE0500 – 1125ULN E90 7
KC219 TSE0650 – 1315ULN E90 14

KC220 ULN1225 – 1325TSE E90 7
KC220 ULN1415 – 1515TSE E90 14

Link to article

 

Seoul Days in Ulaanbaatar, 20-23 September, 20th Anniversary of Twin-City Relations

September 16 (news.mn) This year marks the 20th anniversary of "Friendly Twin-City Relations between Ulaanbaatar and Seoul. Earlier in the year, "Ulaanbaatar Days in Seoul" was held on 1st-3rd May in the South Korean capital. The next scheduled event will be "Seoul Days in Ulaanbaatar", due to take place on 20th-23rd September in Mongolia. At the invitation of the UB Mayor E.Bat-Uul, a delegation from the "twin city", headed by Seoul Mayor Mr. Park Won-Soon will visit Mongolia for this event. Important parts of the celebration will be a photography exhibition entitled "Seoul Days" which will take part in the exhibition hall of the "Mongolian Artists' Trade Union" and a concert of the same name to be held in the "Central Palace of Culture" on 21stSeptember at 17.00 pm.

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Diplomacy

Joint Mongolia, China, Russia Forum on Economic Corridor Held in Ulaanbaatar

September 18 (gogo.mn) Today topics below will be discussed at "Economic Corridor" joint forum by Mongolia, China, and Russia (venue: Mongolia - Japan center):

·         Joint implementation of "One region-one road" project to mutually benefit Mongolia, China, Russia

·         Trade and economic cooperation between Mongolia, China and Russia

·         Mongolia - China - Russia: economic partnership based on infrastructure and potential challenges for Russia

·         Long term strategy of transportation - logistics development: Ulaan Ude - Ulaanbaatar - Erlian

·         Potential to establish economic tunnel between Mongolia, China, Russia: involvement of "Steppe Road" or "Silk Road"

·         Trilateral economic partnership based on culture and cultural exchange.

·         Mongolia, China, Russia economic corridor as role model for multilateral partnership in Eurasia

·         Multilateral cooperation and opportunities in agricultural technology

·         Impact of environmental change in region of "Lake Baikal"

·         Green Economy in regions of Russia: issues and future situation

·         "Meat export in foreign trade of Mongolia: opportunities in Russian and Chinese markets"

Report is to be delivered from the forum ending at 17.00 pm.     

Link to article

Related:

"Economical Corridor Forum" startednews.mn, September 18

 

Mongolia invites SCO members to attend Made in Mongolia forum in October

September 16 (gogo.mn) Minister of Industry of Mongolia D.Erdenebat today participates in 14th Trade and Economic Ministerial Conference of Shanghai Cooperation Organization. 15 representatives in total from member and observer countries, and dialogue partners of the organization attend the meeting.

Minister of Industry of Mongolia expressed the country's eager interest to cooperate on mutually beneficial investment in industry, energy, infrastructure and transportation fields with SCO member and observer countries.

Moreover, he mentioned: Mongolia plans to hold Industrial Investment Forum titled " Made in Mongolia" in October in Ulaanbaatar within scope of state policies towards industrial fields recently passed by parliament. He encourages member and observer countries to actively participate in the forum.

Also, Minister D.Erdenebat met Major of Shaanxi State of China, and exchanges views on possibilities of cooperating in infrastructure, construction and energy sectors. The state is leading region in the country, with spatial technology, energy, highway construction and electronics manufacturing. Major also expressed that the state is eager to cooperate with Mongolia. In return, Minister D.Erdenebat said that he fully supports investment from the state in Mongolia.

Additionally, volume of trade between Mongolia and Shaanxi state is continously increasing and reaches 9.7% of annual trade volume between two countries. 

Link to article

Related:

Minister of Industry at SCO MeetingMontsame, September 16

 

European Union team recruits 6 Mongolian interpreters to train for 2016 ASEM

September 18 (MONTSAME) As was agreed between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia and the European Union, a European Union team worked in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia on September 14-15, 2015 to select candidates for special training. This relates to simultaneous Mongolian English language interpreter training for the 11th ASEM Summit Meeting to be held in July, 2016 in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

The selection of the interpreters was made by Mrs Birgit Goetze, Project Manager of the European Union's General Board of Interpreters and Mr Tom Peart, Member of the European Union delegation to China and Mongolia.

The selection was conducted under EU methodology in the form of "free and thematic interviews." Six interpreters were selected from 25 candidates and they will be involved in training at a professional conference for interpreters at the EUs expense.

Link to article

 

Mongolian President, Parliament Chairman open OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Autumn Meeting

ULAANBAATAR, 16 September 2015 (OSCE PA) – Mongolian President Elbegdorj Tsakhia and Parliament Chairman Enkhbold Zandaakhuu today opened the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly's 2015 Autumn Meeting, which has brought together nearly 200 parliamentarians from across the OSCE's 57 participating States in Ulaanbaatar.

Hosted by the State Great Hural (Parliament) of Mongolia, the Meeting is focusing on continuing and emerging security concerns for the OSCE area and the role of parliamentarians in fostering co-operation to address those concerns. 

Topics to be addressed in presentations and parliamentary debate include the situation in and around Ukraine, refugee crises and human trafficking, counter-terrorism, food and water security, the development of democratic institutions and human rights issues.

In his opening address to parliamentarians, President Tsakhia said that despite acute challenges to Eurasian security, including the Ukrainian and refugee crises, there is cause for hope:

"Humankind still possesses the means and the opportunities to solve any emerging challenge… We [also] have the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Some of the challenges are spilling over the boundaries of one continent and this necessitates creating security and open co-operation mechanisms that cross [wide areas]. I am confident that the OSCE can serve as the best model for engagement and dialogue and cross-continental co-operation and shall be a leader in finding the solutions to the most pressing issues," he said.

Parliament Chairman Zandaakhuu noted that the 2015 Autumn Meeting coincides with the 25th anniversary of Mongolia's first democratic elections, which led to the establishment of a permanent parliamentary system in the country. The Parliament's decision to host the Autumn Meeting is a testament to its belief in democratic dialogue, he said:

"Today countless complicated issues still exist in many corners of the world. This calls for improved coherence and communication among international organizations, the furthering of close co-operation and the necessity to comply with decisions and recommendations… Honorable parliamentarians, the representatives of your people, I have full confidence in you all to reach a common consensus through thorough discussions and multiple approaches to the given issues," the Chairman said.

OSCE PA President Ilkka Kanerva also addressed the Assembly's opening session, offering wide-ranging remarks on pressing security issues that parliamentarians will discuss in the coming days.

"Regarding the crisis in and around Ukraine, our dialogue must also be in support of the Minsk Agreements, which are the only viable solution. I welcome the fact that the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine has largely held in the past several weeks. I look forward to the day when local elections can be held throughout all of Ukraine. And I look forward to the restoration of Ukraine's territorial integrity," President Kanerva said.

"There is another crisis now raging in the OSCE area, and it is also one that urgently requires constructive dialogue: That is the migrant and refugee crisis…Europe can and simply must do more to respond, and do so with solidarity and compassion," he said.

President Kanerva also congratulated Mongolia on its landmark anniversary and urged fellow OSCE participating States to learn from the country's swift adoption of democratic standards.

Russian Duma Speaker Sergey Naryshkin, Ukrainian OSCE PA Delegation Head Artur Gerasymov and Deputy Speaker of the Afghan Parliament Mohammad Nazir Ahmadzai were among parliamentarians from more than a dozen countries to participate in an opening general debate.

Later on 16 September, President Kanerva and OSCE PA Secretary General Spencer Oliver met with Speaker Naryshkin and other members of the Russian Delegation to the OSCE PA. 

The President indicated that he remains supportive of EU sanctions in response to Russia's actions in the context of the Ukraine crisis. He also informed Speaker Naryshkin of his efforts to ensure that sanctions against individuals do not inhibit parliamentary dialogue.

President Kanerva also hosted a separate meeting with members of the Russian and Ukrainian Delegations.

The sides held a constructive discussion regarding potential mechanisms for the parliamentary side to support implementation of the Minsk Agreements.

The 2015 Autumn Meeting will also consider trends and issues of particular relevance to countries in the eastern part of the OSCE area. A special roundtable on Central Asia featuring the Heads of OSCE field presences in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan is also scheduled for today.

Speeches, video, photos and more from the Autumn Meeting are available on: http://www.oscepa.org/meetings/autumn-meetings/2015-mongolia

Link to release

Related:

Opening Remarks by Ilkka Kanerva, President of the OSCE Parliamentary AssemblyParliament.mn, September 16

Speech of Elbegdorj Tsakhia, President of Mongolia, at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly 2015 Autumn MeetingParliament.mn, September 16

Speech by Zandakhuu Enkhbold, Chairman of State Great Khural of Mongolia at Opening of OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Autumn MeetingParliament.mn, September 16

 

Coercive Means Cannot Resolve Ukraine Crisis - President of Mongolia

Coercive means will not provide a solution to the conflict in southeastern Ukraine, and only peaceful means can end ongoing struggle, President of Mongolia Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj said on Wednesday.

ULAN BATOR, September 16 (Sputnik) — The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA) is currently underway in the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator.

"Speaking straightforwardly, the situation in Ukraine might instigate misunderstanding and deep conflict in Europe. And apparently, the situation in Ukraine cannot be resolved through coercive means. Especially, posting sanctions and rejecting dialogue and engagement will not be the means to solve the issue," Elbegdorj told reporters on the sidelines of the OSCE PA.

In April 2014, Kiev launched a military operation against independence supporters in the southeastern Ukrainian Donbass region who stood up against a new coup-imposed government.

Amid the Ukrainian crisis, Kiev, increasingly reliant on Western assistance, blamed Russia for interfering with Ukraine internal affairs. Russia has firmly denied the assertions, but the West imposed several rounds of sanctions against Moscow as a punitive measure for a fictional act.

Only peaceful actions such as ceasefire observance and "resolute enforcement" of the Minsk agreements will help resolve the ongoing confrontation, the president said.

In February, the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany crafted a ceasefire deal in Minsk, Belarus, signed by representatives of the Kiev government and Donbass militias. In recent weeks, the ceasefire has appeared to be effective.

Mongolia governs using a peaceful international policy based on negotiation and diplomacy, Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj said.

"Mongolia firmly upholds the policy of solving any international disputes by peaceful means, not interfering into internal affairs and without application of force," Elbegdorj told reporters at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA) which is currently underway in the capital of Mongolia, Ulan Bator.

He added that in the past 25 years the country recorded notable success in strengthening human rights and freedoms, rule of law and democracy.

Link to article

 

Mongolia More Advanced in Democracy, Rule of Law Than Old Europe Says Duma Speaker

The head of Russian delegation to OSCE PA Sergei Naryshkin urged the Assembly to focus on resolving the Ukrainian crisis through negotiations and immediately convene an inter-parliamentary contact group on Ukraine.

ULAANBAATAR, September 16 (Sputnik) — Russian State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin on Wednesday called on the participants of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA) to focus on resolving the Ukrainian crisis through negotiations and immediately convene an inter-parliamentary contact group on Ukraine.

"I urge the members of the Assembly to focus on the following specific tasks in ensuring security. Firstly, on the resolution of the Ukrainian crisis through negotiations and the immediate convocation of our inter-parliamentary group," the head of Russian delegation to OSCE PA said. "I believe that with the necessary attention being paid to this issue [Ukrainian crises] by the majority of the members of this assembly, we could reach results and it would be appropriate to work within the parliamentary Normandy format."

The decision to establish an inter-parliamentary contact group on Ukraine was adopted at the OSCE PA session in June 2014 in Baku, on the initiative of Naryshkin. The group still did not start to work, as the Ukrainian delegation ignored the OSCE PA decision.

Naryshkin has also thanked the leadership of Mongolia for promoting inter-parliamentary dialogue, for which no obstacles should exist, at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA).

Nearly 200 parliamentarians from 57 countries gathered in the Mongolian capital on September 16-18 for the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly's 2015 Autumn Meeting.

"The leadership of Mongolia understands that there should be no obstacles and barriers in the inter-parliamentary dialogue. And with that understanding and awareness of these important principles, Mongolia has confirmed being the country which has advanced much further in developing itself as a democratic state, and a state with the rule of law, than many countries of old Europe," the head of Russian delegation to OSCE PA said.

In July, Finland denied entry visas to several Russian lawmakers, including Naryshkin, who were invited to participate in a previous session of the OSCE PA being held in the country. After that the Russian delegation decided to refrain from participating in the summer session of the OSCE PA in Helsinki.

Naryshkin thanked the leadership of the country "for the hospitality and for the excellent organization and preparation of the OSCE PA session."

According to him, Russia does not refuse to participate in the work of the organization and would continue to defend its point of view in the framework of the session of the Assembly in Ulaanbaatar.

Link to article

Related:

Speaker Z.Enkhbold meets Sergey Naryshkin, Chairman of the State Duma of the Russian FederationInfoMongolia, September 16

 

MP Batkhuu meets Ukraine delegation to OSCE PA meeting

Ulaanbaatar, September 16 (MONTSAME) Head of the Mongolia-Ukraine inter-parliamentary group at the State Great Khural (parliament) G.Batkhuu MP Wednesday received a delegation headed by Mr Artur Gerasimov, a member of Ukraine's parliament.

G.Batkhuu thanked the delegation for taking part in the OSCE PA Autumn Session here, and said Mongolia--the youngest participating state--wants to contribute to the OSCE and to boost a cooperation with the OSCE members.

He mentioned about a big role of MPs in the security cooperation at international level, adding "this session gives the gathered an oppotunity to discuss the matter".

Mongolia and Ukraine have been maintaining traditional ties in the energy and cultural spheres, he said and proposed cooperating in the "state-private sector" sphere.

In response, Mr Gerasimov thanked the parliamentarian for the audience and appreciated Mongolia's hosting of the Autumn Session of the OSCE PA.

Link to article

 

Mongolia wants to step up friendly ties with Kazakhstan says Speaker

Ulaanbaatar, September 16 (MONTSAME) Mongolia wants to step up its friendly relations and cooperation with Kazakhstan, said the Speaker of parliament Mr Enkhbold during a meeting on Wednesday with Mr I.Adyrbekov, the head of the Standing committee of the Senate of Kazakhstan on foreign policy, defense and security.

Thanking Kazakhstan's delegation for participating in the Autumn Session of the OSCE PA, the Speaker said the ties with Kazakhstan play an important role in the foreign policy of Mongolia. He noted that a meeting between the two countries' Presidents during events of the 70th anniversary of the Victory in Great Patriotic War in Moscow and the visit of the First Deputy PM of Kazakhstan to Mongolia this May have given a great impetus to the intensification of the bilateral relations and cooperation in trade, economy and investment fields.

In response, Mr Adyrbekov said Mongolia is hosting the OSCE PA Autumn Session at a high level, and expressed a satisfaction with expanding of the bilateral relations and cooperation at all levels.

Then the sides discussed the bilateral trade, investment and economic cooperation matters.

Present at the meeting were A.Bakei MP, a deputy head of the Mongolia-Kazakhstan inter-parliamentary group at the State Great Khural, and others. 

Link to article

 

OSCE PA Closes Session in Mongolia by Issuing Statement on Migrant Crisis

OSCE PA closed the Fall Session in Ulan Bator, Mongolia on Thursday by issuing a joint statement proposed by The European People's Party group (EPP) and the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats on ways and means of dealing with mass migration into Europe.

By Svetlana Alexandrova, ULAN BATOR, September 18 (Sputnik)— The joint statement obtained by Sputnik contains comprehensive recommendations on "a common mechanism for the resettlement, the establishment of the swift procedure for the declaration of refugee status and the obligations of the EU Agencies to the most affected Members States at hotspots, the setting up a list of safe countries of origin."

It urges member-states of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE PA) to financially contribute to the best of their ability to this refugee reception effort and particularly urges to make international solidarity efforts against human trafficking networks that are making a profit by taking advantage of the pressing needs of people fleeing conflict areas.

The proposal addresses the need to set up legal and safe travel corridors, humanitarian visas, settlement programs and safe return protocols.

The joint statement also supports the idea of creating an International Conference on the migrant crisis.

A migrant humanitarian crisis conference was proposed in the context of coordinated international efforts, which the OSCE contributing its long experience in crisis management.

"It could be under the umbrella of the United Nations or the European Union or the Council of Europe," Ignacio Sanchez Amor of Spain told Sputnik.

The European People's Party group (EPP) and the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats drafted separate statements on Wednesday, but Amor said both European Parliament factions worked throughout the morning to issue a joint announcement.

OSCE PA President Ilkka Kanerva, Bold Luvsanvandan, a member of the Mongolian Delegation to the OSCE PA, along with UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative Beate Trankmann were among other keynote speakers on the development of human rights, freedom of media, religious tolerance and gender equality.

"In only 10 days, world leaders are scheduled to adopt a new development framework — the Sustainable Development Goals that provide a comprehensive blueprint for political, economic and social transformation of all countries — developed and developing alike — to eradicate poverty, reduce inequality, address climate change," Trankmann said addressing the OSCE PA.

He highlighted that Parliamentarians around the world have a major role to play in making these goals a reality.

Mongolia, the most recent country to become an OSCE participating State, was hosting an OSCE PA meeting for the first time.

Nearly 200 lawmakers from participating states met in Ulan Bator to focus on major continuing and emerging security concerns for the OSCE area such as a mass migration from the Middle East and North Africa into Europe, the threat of terrorism and the role of lawmakers in the process of fostering co-operation to address these challenges.

Link to article

Link to OSCE PA release

 

Non-European OSCE Members Should Participate in Refugee Resettlement

September 15 (Sputnik) Sergio Divina, Italian lawmaker, a member of Lega Nord Party, said that migrants should be relocated throughout all OSCE countries based on their religious beliefs and cultural traditions.

ULAN BATOR (Sputnik), Svetlana Alexandrova — Non-European members of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) should help their EU partners by participating in the refugee resettlement program aimed at easing the ongoing migrant crisis, an Italian lawmaker told Sputnik.

"Our party [Lega Nord] believes that all OSCE countries, including the non-European member-states, should take part in the refugee resettlement program," Sergio Divina, a member of Lega Nord Party, said Friday on the sidelines of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly meeting in Mongolia.

Migrants should be relocated throughout all OSCE countries based on their religious beliefs and cultural traditions, Divina added.

"For example, Kazakhstan that has a vast territory and a low population density, with a Muslim majority, can host refugees from Muslim countries," Divina said, stressing that the European Union will obviously pay the costs of the resettlement.

The European Union is grappling with a migrant crisis as hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants, mainly from the Middle East and North Africa, arrive in EU member states, fleeing violence and poverty in their home countries.

Over 500,000 migrants and refugees have arrived in the European Union since the beginning of 2015, according to the European Commission.

Link to article

 

MP L.Bold at OSCE PA Autumn Meeting: Parliaments-Guardians of Human Rights

THE ORGANIZATION FOR SECURITY AND CO-OPERATION IN EUROPE FALL MEETING

ULAANBAATAR September 17, 2015 (parliament.mn) --

Let me extend my warm greetings to all of you.

Philosophical principles of individual freedom and human rights would make a lively and long discussion. History confirms that many thinkers and politicians made ingenious ideas regarding the matter. Today I address you with not the general principles, nor the ideologies but with the practical lessons and implications of individual freedom and human rights based on the Mongolian political framework. I hope that others will opt to compare, learn, or disregard the lessons pertaining to Mongolia.

1.    Functioning of Mongolia's democratic institutions

2.    Indicators of individual freedom and human rights in Mongolia

3.    Why parliamentarism is the core mechanism that propagates human rights

Link to release

 

"Water Security in Mongolia: Mining-Energy-Water Nexus": Keynote Speech by MP S.Oyun

September 16 (Parliament.mn) --

Greetings

We all acknowledge that the world today faces an increasing number of challenges, which are complex in nature and require firm, concerted and coordinated efforts to resolve.

By the end of this century, the world is projected to reach 11 billion people. If our consumption patterns and ever increasing demand for food, energy and water continue, we will require far more resources than the planet has to offer. We will need multiple planets. Humanity must take lessons from history, and be more responsible and proactive to shift to the sustainable consumption and production that will allow our economies and societies to grow, and grow sustainably and within the means of the planet while creating equity and human wellbeing. Water is in the centre of the sustainable development.

Water is a complex resource. In the fast changing world, it is becoming more and more a security issue and also international cooperation issue. As you may know, the WEF 2015 global risk report which was launched in January, identified Water crisis and water security issue as the top risk both in terms of probability and its impact. 5 years ago and beforeWEF reports, the top risks were all related to financial and economic issues.

Worldwide, there is an imbalance between water supply and water demand. It is estimated that 1.2 billion people live in areas experiencing physical water scarcity, while another 1.6 billion face economic water scarcity- where governments are unable to provide basic infrastructure for water needs. At the same time, demand for water resources continues to grow. Population growth, urbanization, and the transition to higher living standards have affected the demand we place on our water resources.

Water is crucial to development. While the world population tripled in the 20th century, the use of water resources grew sixfold, mostly due to increased use in agriculture. This means that withdrawal of water will increase much more quickly than the global population, as people get wealtheir and consumption pattern rise. UN and FAO 2007 report indicating many countries are already extracting groundwater faster than it can be replenished. (2030 WRG McKensey Report)

I would like now to talk about the water challenges we face in Mongolia, the water management approaches we have adopted, and about potential areas for improvement.

Mongolia is a vast country, the size of Western Europe, yet with a small population of 3 million, we are the least densely populated country in the world. So, one may think that the problem of water security is not an issue. This is not the case, however.

Mongolia is considered one of the more water scarce nations in the world. Approximately 80 percent of our water supply is located in the northern quartile of our territory. Our annual renewable surface water resources are plentiful, but are scattered over large areas, however, most water resources are not readily accessible to major population centers, mining operations, and other industrial operations. Our most pressing water issue is the unequal geographical distribution of surface waters, which are also made unavailable when they freeze during the wintertime.

Mongolia's total surface water resources are estimated to be just under 600 km3. Rivers contain 34.6 km3 (6%) of surface water, lakes contain 500 km3 (82%) , and glaciers contain 62.9 km3 (10%). The surface waters are distributed unevenly over the country. 63% of the total surface water is stored in Lake Khuvsgul in northern Mongolia. The total renewable groundwater resources have been estimated to be 23.6 km3 , with potentially exploitable resources of 10 km3 .

Two major water stress areas in Mongolia are – first, Ulaanbaatar the capital CITY WHERE 40% of the population lives and the second is the Gobi region, where major mining operations are being developed.

Ulaanbaatar has a population of 1.3 million people.  Half live in apartment blocks with central heating and central water services, whereas half still live in Ger districts, which are suburbs of our traditional yurt dwellings, where there is no modern water and sewage system. Water there is trucked to water kiosks, which people then collect by hand.  With economy growing rapidly, thousands of apartments are built every year and as people transition to apartments, their water demand will increase substantially.  This will place further stress on the already vulnerable groundwater resources that are currently used to accommodate the water needs of Ulaanbaatar. Energy demand is going to quadruple in the country by 2030, and tens of thousands of housing units are being constructed every year in the cities. >90% of Ulaanbaatar's water resources are extracted from underground.

The mining sector is growing very rapidly, especially in our southern Gobi region, which is semi-arid and is scarce in water, and we expect a substantial increase in mining sector's water demand over the years. Some of the largest copper gold and coking deposits of the world are located in this area.(OT ,T.T)

Mining requires both energyand water. Both are in short supply in the areas where the mineral deposits are located. Majorenergy and water resource infrastructure is needed and is being planned to support miningdevelopment. Water demand projections show that expected water demand could exceed available resources in the high water demand scenario before 2030.

Even more complicating:

Mongolia is an example of a country that has not contributed much to the causes of climate change and yet is experiencing its disproportionate impact. The average temperature in Mongolia has risen by 2.15°C since the measurements started in 1940's – this is three times more intense warming than the global average.  As a direct affect, drying of some of the smaller rivers and flows, desertification, pasture degradation, but also melting glaciers and melting permafrost are threatening our nomadic pastoralism and the future balance of our ecosystems.

We, however, don't want just to complain and sit idle. We want to be the part of the solution. Mongolian Parliament approved in 2014 the country's Green Development Strategy which aims to change our development trajectory to smarter, more sustainable path. The new package of environmental legislation, including the Law on Water, upgraded to the new level the regulatory standards in the environmental sector.

In the Law on Water, but also importantly, in the National Security Policy document, water resources were identified as a strategically valuable wealth for the country. As in many countries, water was thought to be a free and abundant resource, however, with the new water law, an approval-based regulatory mechanism has been introduced, to maintain water use to a level that considers ecological factors and assures effective and efficient use of water.

So some of our solutions to the problem have been:

Integrated water resource management system has being introduced in the last 3 years and 29 river basin administrations have been created. (WB, WRG, ADB)

17 percent of the country is now protected area and our vision is to expand to 30%. By expanding our protected areas and restricting mining operations around Lake Khuvsgul, and the Hangai and Hentii mountain ranges, we will also protect our water at the source.

Law in 2009 banned mining and exploration in watershed and riparian areas – cca 20% of the country. Slowly it is being implemented, although for the placer operations that were already in place before the law was passed, government gave one off right to mine the reserves with the strict condition of proper environmental rehabilitation and re-cultivation of the sites.

Water royalties were increased 2-3 times – for industrial use and not for households – they only pay for water delivery services.

Higher charges for different water basins – more expensive in water scarce Gobi basins than in northern basins, underground water is also more expensive than using surface waters. However, we still need to improve and may be simplify the methodology – private sector has been complaining that it is complicated and also monitoring and implementation is still a major challenge.

Local governments – more incentives since more decision making and budget powers have been given to them. Revenues from water royalties go directly to village and provincial budgets from 2013 as opposed to the central government budget as it was previously. Important reform was that these revenues have to be used for environmental protection including water protection (30%)

SOUTH Gobi province with the population of 60,000 received almost 10 million in 2014 dollars just from its water royalty payments. 80% of the water currently is being recycled by the OT copper mine project. (UkhaaKhudagt)

Law on Water Pollution Fee – it was introduced in the legislation yet we found it very challenging to formulate the implementing regulations.

With the above mentioned changes in policies, we still face the following challenges: the establishment of a water resource management system, higher accountability of actors, enhanced integration between sectors, active participation of stakeholders, strict monitoring of our water supply, a robust water storage system.

Conclusion

Of course, when we are so focused on technical plans, and international meetings like this, we sometimes forget the water itself- the spirit of the water that supports our lives everyday. So, I encourage all of us, when we go home and continue to work on these issues, to know where our water- the water in our homes and offices-comes from- which river or stream or mountain, exactly – seek out the source of this water, and to praise the water and give it our thanks. Perhaps teaching our children, and ourselves, not to take clean water (KhatanTuul) for granted, is in fact one of the most important steps in protecting and conserving this magnificent resource.

Link to release

 

Keynote Speech by MP M. Batchimeg, Head of Mongolia Delegation to OSCE PA

September 16 (Parliament.mn) --

Mr. Chairman,

Dear Colleagues,

It is my distinct pleasure to welcome you all in Ulaanbaatar. As the youngest participating state of the OSCE, we are honored to host OSCE PA Autumn meeting in our capital city in the historical year of 40th anniversary of Helsinki Final Act.

Forty years ago, at the height of Cold War confrontation, perhaps no one participating state could have expected the Helsinki Final Act to eventually become foundation of the biggest multilateral security cooperation organization that includes countries even from NEA. As of today, Ulaanbaatar is the only capital city of the participating state that belongs to NEA within the OSCE. Geographically, Mongolia is situated at the juncture of Central and Northeast Asia. However, the reality is, politically and economically Mongolia is more integrated with Northeast Asia today.

I believe this conference will give us unique opportunity to feel and discuss about indivisible nature of Eurasian security. For the last two years, for understandable reasons, deliberations and debates within the OSCE were dominated by concerns around Ukrainian crisis. However today, I want to shift the focus of my talks a little towards to the east, to Northeast Asia. And here, at the table I am delighted to have our esteemed colleagues who represent OSCE regional offices in Central Asian countries as well as Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Again, I believe, this is unique opportunity for us to share views on inter vs. intraregional security issues within the broader Eurasian security context.

Link to release

 

OSCE Central Asia roundtable features at Parliamentary Assembly Autumn Meeting

ULAANBAATAR, 16 September 2015 – The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly's 2015 Autumn Meeting today hosted the heads of OSCE field operations in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan for a special roundtable event on security and co-operation in Central Asia.

The unique gathering of all five ambassadors offered region-wide as well as country-specific insight on security challenges, with a focus on terrorism, foreign terrorist fighters and human trafficking. 

The nature of relations between each Central Asian OSCE office and their respective host government, as well as the potential benefits of increased regional co-operation, were among other themes addressed in the ambassadors' presentations and the parliamentary debate that followed.

The session also featured addresses by Batchimeg Migeddorj, the Head of the Mongolian Delegation to the OSCE PA, and Shanghai Co-operation Organisation expert Bakhram Auanassov.

Following the Central Asia roundtable, parliamentarians considered economic and environmental issues within the OSCE area and, in particular, efforts to address those issues through co-operation with international organizations. 

Oyun Sanjaasuren of Mongolia's Delegation to the OSCE PA and Kevin Gallagher of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization offered remarks.

The OSCE PA's Autumn Meeting continues on 17 September with a meeting of the Standing Committee and presentations and debate on democracy and human rights issues. 

The Meeting, hosted by the State Great Hural (Parliament) of Mongolia, is the final major gathering of the Parliamentary Assembly this year.

Speeches, video, photos and more from the Autumn Meeting are available on: http://www.oscepa.org/meetings/autumn-meetings/2015-mongolia

Link to release

 

Chairman of Mongolia Parliament to Pay Official Visit to Russia, September 20-25

September 19 (parliament.mn) Upon an invitation of Chairman of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of Russia Ms. Valentina I. Matviyenko, a delegation headed by Chairman of the State Great Hural (Parliament) Mr. Zandaakhuu ENKHBOLD is conducting an official visit to the Russian Federation on September 20-25, 2015.

In the frameworks of his visit, Chairman 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 Chairman 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, Chairman 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.

Chairman 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.

Link to release

 

NATO invites Mongolia to participate in developing security program for Afghanistan

September 18 (infomongolia.com) Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg has received Mr. Alexander Vershbow, Deputy Secretary-General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), on September 17, 2015.

At the meeting, PM Ch.Saikhanbileg said: "The North Atlantic Treaty Organization plays an important role in keeping peace and democracy safe around the world. We collaborate with NATO based on the same concept to keep peace and strengthen security in the world.

Our country takes active participation in peacekeeping operations of UN to contribute to the world security. With the same motive, we became NATO's global partner and adopted its program in 2012.

The goal of our cooperation with NATO is to foster mutual understanding between countries through talks and meetings based bilateral interest and cooperation instead of direct-armed conflict. In the framework of Individual Partnership and Cooperation Program, we work with NATO on strengthening security, arms control and military training to improve skill of Mongolian officers."

In response, NATO Deputy Secretary-General noted that he is pleased with results of Partners across Globe programme and further expressed his interest opening new ways to Mongolian-NATO relations, and intensify military cooperation.

In addition, Mr. Alexander Vershbow informed that NATO invites Mongolia to participate in developing security program for Afghanistan that must be executed in 2017.

At the end of meeting, PM Ch.Saikhanbileg expressed his interest in intensifying collaboration with NATO on military technology and training, and experience exchange.

Link to article

 

NATO Deputy Secretary General to visit Mongolia

September 17 (NATO) NATO Deputy Secretary General, Ambassador Alexander Vershbow, will visit Ulaanbaatar on Thursday 17 September 2015.

Ambassador Vershbow will meet with the Prime Minister, Mr. Chimed Saikhanbileg, the State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Damba Gankhuyag, the Minister of Defence, Mr.Tserendash Tsolmon and other high level officials.

During his visit, he will also attend a roundtable hosted by the Institute of Strategic Studies where he will deliver a keynote speech.

Follow us on Twitter (@NATOPress and @NATOdsg).

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Foreign Minister Meets Foreign Minister of Sweden in Stockholm

September 17 (MFA.gov.mn) September L.Purevsuren, Mongolian Minister of Foreign Affairs met his Swedish counterpart Ms. Margot Wallström. During the meeting, Ministers exchanged views on Mongolian, Swedish relations and cooperation, especially enhancing economic cooperation. Minister L.Purevsuren noted that the people to people relations has a special place in the bilateral ties and further requested the assistance from the Swedish side in establishing a Mongolian Cultural center in Stockholm to protect the rights of Mongolian citizens living in Sweden and preserve its language and culture. The Ministers discussed international and regional issues of mutual interest. Minister Wallström mentioned to pay close attention to the issue of establishing a Mongolian Cultural center and confirmed Swedish side's support for Mongolia's candidacy in the UN Human Rights Council and its application to Observer status in the Arctic Council.

Also, the two sides agreed to strengthen democracy, broaden its cooperation within the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) and implement joint projects within the framework of Mongolia's International Cooperation Fund.

Link to release

 

Foreign Minister Pays Official Visit to Kingdom of Norway

September 17 (MFA.gov.mn) During the visit, L.Purevsuren, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia met and held official talks with his Norwegian counterpart Mr. Børge Brende. Minister L.Purevsuren touched upon enriching the economic aspect of the bilateral ties, especially in the area of wealth fund as well as organizing cultural events in relation to the forthcoming 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. Also, Minister Brende mentioned that the Norwegian side gives importance to their bilateral relations with Mongolia and further expressed his readiness to implement projects within the framework of the International Cooperation Fund, organizing training courses for Mongolian specialists regarding the legal environment and operation of the Norwegian pension fund as well as cultural events in both countries. The Ministers also exchanged views on Mongolia's policy towards neutrality and other international issues of interest. The Norwegian side reaffirmed their support for Mongolia's candidacy to the UN Human Rights Council.

On the sidelines of the visit, the Foreign Minister discussed bilateral ties, particularly the cooperation between the two legislative bodies with Ms. Marit Nybakk, Vice President of the Norwegian Parliament and other representatives of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence. The sides noted the significance of deepening the cooperation between the two Parliaments and further underlined the importance of sharing experiences on the allocation of revenue from the mining sector and state involvement. Minister L.Purevsuren officially presented the invitation of Mr. Z.Enkhbold, Speaker of the State Great Hural of Mongolia addressed to his Norwegian counterpart Mr. Olemic Thommessen.

Also, Minister L.Purevsuren met Mr. Paal Bjørnestad, State Secretary of the Ministry of Finance of Norway and exchanged views on wealth management, legal environment and sharing experiences. The Norwegian side agreed to cooperate in the fore mentioned areas and agreed to study the possibilities of investing in major projects in Mongolia.

In 1990, the Storting (Norwegian Parliament) approved the law on establishing the Petroleum Fund of Norway. The income from the extraction of petroleum and natural gas is invested in the international stock market, in order to diversify the economy and improve the competitiveness of other sectors. Even though the Norwegian Ministry of Finance manages the fund the Government has full rights to spend up to only 4% of the fund. The fund invests 60% of its portfolio in the stock market, 35% in government bonds and 5% in real-estate. Currently its current value is $1 trillion and holds one percent of global equity markets. The tax on extraction of oil is high in Norway (78%), but its policy on sustainable taxes and investment-friendly environment provides the opportunity to increase the revenue in this area.

Link to release

 

Foreign Minister attends 9th Extraordinary Council Meeting of International IDEA

September 18 (MFA.gov.mn) Minister of Foreign Affairs L.Purevsuren attended the 9th Extraordinary Council meeting of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) and spoke about Mongolia's policy and its measures towards strengthening democracy in its region as well as the projects implemented within the framework of the Mongolia International Cooperation Fund. Also, the Minister exchanged views with the delegates from other member countries on the objectives to put forth when Mongolia chairs International IDEA in 2016.

On the sidelines of the ministerial meeting, Minister L.Purevsuren met Mr. Yves Leterme, Secretary-General of International IDEA and discussed about the operations of the institute, Mongolia's participation and the objectives to propose when Mongolia chairs next year. The two sides also talked about the opportunities of cooperating to establish a Training center for election observers in Ulaanbaatar and the possibilities of including OSCE, European Council and Community of Democracies in this project.

In addition, Minister L.Purevsuren met current chairman of International IDEA Mr. Didier Burkhalter, Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland. During the meeting, the Ministers discussed the Mongolian-Swiss relations, in particular the projects and programs implemented within the framework of development cooperation. In relation to Mongolia's policy towards neutrality, the two sides agreed to cooperate and study the Swiss experience.

Link to release

 

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization's Growing Pains

The euphoria of summer is bumping up against some tricky political realities.

September 18 (The Diplomat) We now see that all this summer's talk about a resurgent Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was at least premature, if not enduringly overoptimistic. Earlier this month, the presidents of the leading Eurasian countries held important leadership meetings in Beijing on the occasion of the Chinese military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Tellingly, not even the Chinese hosts, traditionally the SCO's main boosters, highlighted the institution's supposedly new momentum following its mid-July leadership summit in the Russian city of Ufa.

The July 9-10 decision of the SCO Heads-of-State Council to, in principle, expand the institution's roster of full members to include India and Pakistan was admittedly newsworthy. For more than a decade the SCO had been deadlocked over the enlargement issue. The same six countries that founded the SCO in 2001 – China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan – are still its only full members, despite the growing number of formal observer countries, "dialogue partners," and other SCO affiliates and aspirants seeking that status.

Although the SCO has tried to enhance the status of non-members, there is no evidence that these other states have benefited much from their lesser status. Only full members can exploit the SCO's consensus-based decision-making to veto SCO activities, which they do by calling for further studies. The limited value of anything less than full membership has been evident in the case of Turkey, which welcomed its accession to formal dialogue partner in 2012 but has not even bothered to send high-level officials to the SCO annual leadership summits or other meetings.

At the time of the July summit, Sun Zhuangzhi, the secretary general of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Research Center of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, joined many local experts in rejoicing in the formal end of the protracted expansion gridlock. In his words, "with the expansion of its membership, the increasingly consolidated regional organization will be able to assume more responsibility for global stability and prosperity." Russian President Vladimir Putin boasted that a dozen countries without a current SCO affiliation want one.

India and Pakistan

For both Beijing and Moscow, allowing both India and Pakistan to enter simultaneously was a sensible compromise. Russia has traditionally been a strong economic security partner of India, while China has been a strong backer of Pakistan. In recent years, however, Russian-Pakistani ties have improved, with Russian diplomats no longer calling Pakistan a potential failed state that could present a more serious threat to Russian security than Iran. Russian-Pakistani defense ties are also expanding to include major arms deals and detailed dialogues on regional security issues.

Explaining Beijing's shift regarding New Delhi's SCO aspiration is harder since the China-India relationship remains troubled due to unresolved border disputes, Beijing's unease over New Delhi's defense ties with Washington and Japan, and Indian irritation at China's support for Pakistan's nuclear aspirations and blind eye towards Pakistani-linked terrorism in India. Beijing is still blocking New Delhi's admittance to the Nuclear Suppliers Group and Indian dreams of becoming a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

Most likely, Chinese leaders decided that letting India have full SCO status was a harmless gesture to win favor with host Putin, who desperately wanted his back-to-back SCO and BRICS summits at Ufa to appear as major successes. Thanks to its decades-long regional economic surge, Beijing has little to fear from an expanded Indian presence in Central Asia. China's unassailable economic supremacy in most of the region will only grow in coming years thanks to Russia's economic difficulties and Beijing's seemingly unstoppable "One Belt, One Road" initiative to integrate the Central Asian economies with each other and with China. Because of physical barriers and its technological and financial limitations, India is in no position to compete with China anywhere in Eurasia.

Moreover, despite all the publicity surrounding the formal invitation to become full SCO members, neither India nor Pakistan is likely to attain that status anytime soon. The elevation of Iran, Mongolia, or any other aspirant to full membership will take even longer due to residual worries among the Central Asian governments as to how Washington would view Tehran's promotion and Chinese and Russian distrust regarding Mongolia's quest for trans-Pacific ties with the United States. The SCO governments, jealous of their sovereignty, have long been divided over membership enlargement as well as the organization's functions, authorities, and collective policies.

The SCO Development Strategy adopted at Ufa challenged Western values and demanded respect for cultural-civilizational diversity, but the SCO governments have many other opportunities to make this critique, which is not supported by India or Mongolia. Russia and China do not appear to treat the other SCO members any differently from their other non-SCO partners, raising the issue of whether post-Soviet Eurasia would look any different if the SCO did not exist.

Link to full article

 

Murder in Malaysia

101 East investigates the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu and whether the real culprits remain at large.

September 10 (Al Jazeera) Shot, then blown to smithereens with military grade explosives, the 2006 killing of Altantuya Shaariibuu was one of Malaysia's most sensational murder cases.

Even though years have passed since the young Mongolian's death, it is one case that has refused to disappear. If anything, the mystery has deepened.

101 East investigates those who were involved in the case and asks whether the two men convicted of her murder are "fall guys" for others who ordered the killing of Shaariibuu.

Link to video report

 

Malaysian govt responds to Al Jazeera investigation

The Malaysian government has responded to a 101 East investigation into the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu.

September 10 (Al Jazeera) The office of Malaysia's Prime Minister, Najib Razak, has released an official response to an Al Jazeera investigation into the brutal murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu, a young Mongolian woman with alleged ties to Malaysia's elite.

101 East, Al Jazeera's award-winning Asia-Pacific current affairs programme, has produced a detailed report into Altantuya's murder. She was killed in October 2006 and her body blown up with military-grade explosives.

In a crime that captured local and international media attention, the story behind Altantuya's murder remains hidden in mystery almost nine years later, fuelling suspicions of a possible cover up.

The case remains so sensitive today that the reporter of the story, Mary Ann Jolley, was deported from Malaysia during her investigation.

One of two officers from the government's elite protection squad, who has been found guilty of Altantuya's murder, insists he has been made a scapegoat and maintains he was acting on the orders of others.

101 East has uncovered evidence that Sirul Azhar Umar, who fled Malaysia before the court's decision and is currently being held in Australia, is attempting to negotiate with mystery figures back in Malaysia - trading his silence on the details of the case for money.

The following is a statement sent to Al Jazeera by a Malaysian government spokesperson in response to 101 East's investigation:

"The Prime Minister did not know, has never met, has never had any communication with and has no link whatsoever with the deceased.

The two convicted individuals were not the Prime Minister's personal guards. This allegation is intentionally misleading, and has been used to perpetuate baseless conspiracy theories. They were members of a unit of the Royal Malaysian Police that provides rotating security for government officials and visiting dignitaries. The Prime Minister was not aware of the actions of the individuals until their arrest.

Comprehensive legal process has taken place, including police investigations and court trials, including at Malaysia's High Court, Court of Appeal and Federal Court. The guilty parties have been convicted and sentenced. At no point during any of these legal stages was the Prime Minister implicated, even indirectly. These malicious allegations are therefore also an affront to Malaysia's Judiciary.

Political opponents and their media allies have been trying to attack the Prime Minister on this issue for many years. But there is absolutely no evidence of any wrongdoing, and there never will be - for the very good reason that the allegations are entirely false smears motivated by political gain.

The deceased was never involved in the purchase of submarines for the Royal Malaysian Navy, as has been alleged. The purchase was directly negotiated between the Malaysian and French governments. Perimekar is 40 percent owned by the Malaysian Armed Forces Fund Board (LTAT), a respected government statutory body.

Perimekar was paid by the government of Malaysia to handle all logistics, training and coordination on behalf of the Royal Malaysian Navy. The training included that which was necessary for submariners and technicians to handle the submarines. The Navy did not have the manpower to handle these matters over the eight-year period of the construction of the submarines and coordination of the logistics. This was a services contract for work done and was transparent.

The purported French investigation pertains to the possibility of any 'kickbacks' that may have been paid by the French companies to Malaysian officials to secure the submarine contract. There were similar investigations into French defence contracts with Taiwan and India. The original deal was signed in 2002. There has never been any communication from the investigation's judges to the Prime Minister.

The reality is that there was absolutely no wrongdoing on the Prime Minister's part in the Government's purchase of the submarines. Absolutely no payments ever benefitted him. Again, these are baseless smears for political gain."

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Education

Inspired by Zaya: Ts.Khulan, Director, King's Kids Secondary School

September 16 (gogo.mn) "Future of Mongolia is not just mining. Instead I believe our future is dependent on educated, intelligent and multifaceted youth". I want to proudly introduce those talented and educated young professionals to others.

Editor E.Ariunzaya

Many Mongolians might be recognized that little girl on the picture. With this episode we are introducing Ts.Khulan, who used to teach English through Mongolian National Broadcasting System when we were child. Grown and beautiful Ts.Khulan became good wife and mother of a cute boy. She has been successfully managing her "King's Kids" secondary school until today and she is definitely one of the young representatives Mongolian youths should be proud of.

The full episode can be viewed here.

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Society

New World Bank Report Aims to Help Mongolia Spend More Effectively on Welfare Support

ULAANBAATAR, September 16, 2015—(World Bank)—A new World Bank report recommends that the Mongolian government improve the efficiency of welfare spending by consolidating various types of benefits and focusing on households in need of social assistance, especially during times of economic shocks.

The top 40 percent of the population by income receives 28 percent of the total welfare transfers, and just 56 percent of Mongolia's welfare spending goes to the poorest 40 percent of the population, according to the report released today entitled Review of Program Design and Beneficiary Profiles of Social Welfare Programs in Mongolia.

"As an institution devoted to ending extreme poverty, the World Bank strives to understand the drivers of poverty reduction and the factors affecting how prosperity is shared among the population," said James Anderson, World Bank Country Manager for Mongolia. "We hope that this review provides the evidence needed for Mongolia's leaders to create a more effective and efficient social welfare system, one that puts Mongolia's poor and vulnerable first."

Today's launch brought together representatives from government agencies, international organizations and civil society organizations to discuss ways to improve welfare programs in Mongolia.

The report reviews budgets for social welfare programs and analyzes its coverage and beneficiary characteristics. The Government of Mongolia, through the Ministry of Population Development and Social Protection and the General Office of Social Welfare Services, implements 71 social welfare programs. While some programs are needs-oriented, others are merit-oriented.

The report says the most effective way of containing the costs of social welfare programs while making them more effective is to add poverty targeting to existing programs that are currently categorically targeted. That means Mongolia can improve social welfare programs by eliminating or reducing benefits for the richer population using the readily available Proxy Means Test (PMT) database.

This report provides valuable analysis that will help us develop policy solutions for expanding coverage and improving the quality of our social welfare services. It also will be a great contribution to the process of developing a social protection sector strategy for Mongolia.

In 2013, the government spent 2.78 percent of gross domestic product on cash transfers for social welfare, compared with an average of 1.6 percent in developing and emerging countries.

Link to release

 

Mongolia's Rural Communities to Play Greater Role

The Government of Mongolia, World Bank and SDC launch the third phase of Sustainable Livelihoods Project

ULAANBAATAR, September 17, 2015—(World Bank)--Rural residents in Mongolia will benefit from a $34.1 million program funded by World Bank and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) that aims to make the government funding process more transparent and more responsive to community needs.

The program, the third phase of the Sustainable Livelihoods Project, was officially launched today in Ulaanbaatar with a workshop organized by the Ministry of Finance and the World Bank. The three-year program aims to help Mongolia implement the 2011 budget law, which gives rural communities a greater role in the government funding process.

"The project will empower rural communities by providing a transparent mechanism for funding to be transferred to support local development initiatives," said James Anderson, World Bank Country Manager for Mongolia.

The program will build on the success of the first two phases of the project, which have helped set up community development funds financing more than 6,000 projects, mostly investing in education and health. It will build local government's capacity for financing investments in infrastructure and services. Based on the budget law, funding allocations are decided each year through robust community participation.

"The Sustainable Livelihood Project has played an important role in developing rural areas in Mongolia through community participation. The Government of Mongolia and World Bank have worked together since 2002 to implement the project and increase the flow of public and private investment to herders' communities," said Kh. Gantsogt, State Secretary of the Ministry of Finance.

The project will also support local economic development by promoting investments for private sector growth in the more than 300 soums – or local administrative districts – throughout the country.

It will focus on financing based on governance performance, which awards additional funding for local development investments to local government entities that adopt participatory processes to reflect local needs and priorities in their planning, budgeting, implementation, monitoring and evaluation processes.

"The new phase of the project will ensure that the budget available at local level, especially Local Development Funds, will be managed and used effectively and efficiently, responding to the needs of local people. Strengthening capacities of local governments in rural areas will be key to achieving this goal," said Markus Waldvogel, Director of Cooperation of Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

The program is funded with a $22.7 million credit from the International Development Association (IDA), the Bank's fund for the low-income countries and a $11.4 million grant from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

Link to release

 

Class War: Filthy Rich v. Dirt Poor in Mongolia

By Paula Froelich, Editor-in-Chief

September 18 (Yahoo Travel) Last year, Mongolia topped many people's bucket lists, and slowly but surely tourists have been streaming into the land of Genghis Khan — but upon arrival in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, many are shocked. In a city of 1.3 million, over 60 percent live in utter poverty in the ger (tent) districts, some of which are nestled right next to gleaming new high rises that house newly minted millionaires and billionaires.

Related: How to be a True Nomad: Milking Camels in Mongolia

While sights like these are expected in places like India or China, Mongolia was, until 2009, 80 percent nomadic by some accounts. Ulaanbaatar, a former Buddhist monastic center, was a small capital full of Soviet-style buildings and industrial buildings.

Related: Hospitality or Hazing? A Vodka-Fueled Night in Mongolia

But in 2009 a mining boom hit the country — and a visible nouveau riche was created. Today, the average salary of Mongolians, according to Global Finance is just over $6,000, which ironically, is less than the cost of a Louis Vuitton bag sold in the brand-new high-end mall just off the main square in Ulaanbaatar. 

The few rich got wealthy so fast that several years ago they were buying sports cars and luxury SUVs — before there were even roads to drive them on.  

But most people — like the ones living in the ger district — are still waiting for housing.

"They are nomads and they love their gers," said Timur Yadamsuren from Intrepid Travel. "It's not that they want to give up their lifestyle, but they move to the city for work, education, and government services like healthcare. In the city living in a ger is different. There's no running water, no electricity, and no space. The government is building housing for them, but it will take years." 

Link to video article

 

Stories from Mongolia: Cal Brackin, Peace Corps Volunteer - Ordway Auditorium

at 125 Virginian Lane, Jackson WY 83001, Thursday, September 17th starting at 6:00 PM and ending at 7:30 PM MDT.

Brackin shares stories from his 2013-2015 Peace Corps assignment in Mongolia. He details the experience of living in an ex-Soviet military base in the Gobi Desert as a Community and Youth Development Volunteer at a grade school. Be prepared for tangents into art, the spirit of service, yak dairy products, and fishing! Brackin also discusses his research on establishing a mentoring program for students as part of his Masters International Program in NGO Administration at the University of Wyoming. Location: Ordway Auditorium. Free. Leah,adultevents@tclib.org, 307-733-2164 x229.

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Nature, Environment

Tassie cowgirl and photographer Jocelyn Flint takes Mongolia by the reindeer antlers

Setpember 15 (ABC Northern Tasmania) Tassie cowgirl Jocelyn Flint has tackled Mongolia on horseback, made it to the reindeer herders in the mountains of Tsagaannuur and brought a new world view back to her home town of Mengha.

There were huge challenges for the first-time overseas traveller, but the only test she failed was testicle soup.

"I actually liked the fermented mare's milk, she was good stuff," Ms Flint said, leaning over a map of Northern Mongolia on her kitchen bench.

"I didn't drink enough that I got turpsed, but yeah, it was good stuff. I liked all their food except the flamin' testicle soup; I couldn't come at that.

"Sheep balls. Oh no! Our cook, Moogi, she'd come and say 'yum-yum' and we'd all say 'yum yum' and as soon as she went round the corner, I had to turf that in the bush."

The expedition Ms Flint undertook involved a two-day road trip with a Russian truck driver followed by a 12-day horse ride to where the East Taiga herders — the so-called reindeer people or Dukkha — tend their stock on the high summer pasture.

The group of four travellers, accompanied by local guides, was led to a grassy plateau where children, dogs and reindeer roamed among herder family tepees, the whole scene ringed by dense native pine forests.

"We were in the saddle at eight in the morning and didn't get out until seven at night," Ms Flint said.

"They were the best little horses, tough as. They're hard on them — you're not allowed to pat them, they haven't got a name.

"I secretly named mine anyway. He was Pig's Arse because he was a pig of a horse, wouldn't do anything I wanted him to. But mostly they were great little animals."

Staying with the reindeer people was an eye-opener, even for a Tassie girl who grew up seeing and doing everything that happens on a farm.

Killing a sheep was daunting, sheep stomach salad more so

The meat-drying tent presented a strange sight and smell with dogs lying scattered across the grassland at night, watching for wolves.

Helping to kill a sheep for a banquet proved a more confronting task than Ms Flint had anticipated, especially when it was time to eat.

"They didn't want me to watch them kill it but I said 'look, I grew up seeing my dad kill sheep and we've killed sheep ourselves'," she said.

"I was shocked. They cut her, clean down in the centre of the breast bar and he put his hand in and he grabbed some main artery or something and snapped that off and bang, it was dead.

"So then we had stomach salad and I knew the minute they served it up in this big bowl, because you could tell by the texture, it was the stomach of the sheep.

"But... it was alright I suppose."

Impressed by peace, freedom and family

"They don't have much to do up there [the reindeer people)] but they've got lots of kids. There was hundreds of the little varmints," Ms Flint said, laughing.

"I tell you what, we are so spoiled here... and self-centred... and no time for anyone. Over there, everyone's family, everyone's friends.

"They've got nothing, but they just seem to have a peace about them [and] the children, they're running free.

"A feller came over, he had six kids — he said he'd heard that us Westerners can't afford to have kids."

Mengha, south of Stanley and Forest, is idyllic, rural green Tasmania.

Ms Flint and her husband Steven, who she only ever calls "The Flint", have a menagerie on their small farm, including 40 guinea fowl "to keep tiger snakes away".

The couple spend a lot of time on horseback on the wild coastline of north-west Tasmania and have joined the famous cattle drives across the tidal shallows between Montagu and Robbins Island.

A keen photographer, Ms Flint set up her own social media page, Mengha's back paddock, to celebrate the wild and traditional life she encounters daily in north-west Tasmania, even on the mail-run to Marrawah.

The popular page, featuring simple things like dairy cattle crossing roads and halting traffic, appeals to many people living in more urban environments.

Right now, the page is overflowing with Ms Flint's images from Mongolia: of families building yurts while an elderly matriarch sleeps under a cart, of a religious festival not staged for 92 years, of reindeers, dogs, tepees and children.

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Sports

Japan coach to train Mongolian women's U-14 team under MOU

September 16 (gogo.mn) On September 15, the President of Mongolian Football Federation A.Ganbaatar, the President of Japan Football Association Daini Kuniya and the FIFA Executive Committee Member Kohzo Tashima have signed on Memorandum of Understanding.

In scope of the memorandum, Japanese coach is to train Mongolian Women Football team of under the age of 14 for four years.

A.Ganbaatar - The President of Mongolian Football Federation

Mongolia, the country with harsh weather climate is enabled to train our female footballers in Japan during winter time. I am very glad for Japan is not only offering training but also providing demanded equipment for developing women`s football.

Daini Kuniya - The President of Japan Football Association

I am delighted to cooperate with Mongolian Football Federation. Major importance of signing on Memorandum of Cooperation is advancing development of women`s football in East Asian region. In particular, focusing on the development of women`s football and exchanging personnel are beneficial for development of women`s football for our two countries. Let`s mutually assist, develop together and cooperate for achieving Asian football to the highest level in the future.

Signing ceremony was attended by the following officials:

Link to article

Related:

Memorandum with Japanese Football Federationnews.mn, September 16

 

Men's Team No.1 wins silver at 3×3 Asian University Basketball Championship

September 18 (gogo.mn) The first edition of 3×3 Asian University Basketball Championship was held in Shenyang, China.

Men's Team No.1 headed by coach S.Tulga received silver medal from the first edition of 3*3 Asian University Basketball Championship.

Men's Team No.1 won over Team China, Team Hong Kong and Team Philippine and led the Group without loosing.

Congratulation to Team Mongolia for succeeding at the tournament and improving the prestige of Mongolia among the world.

Link to article

 

World wrestling silver medalist gifts 500g gold bar prize to sponsor

September 18 (gogo.mn) Mongolian Wrestling Federation awarded one kg bar gold to 2015 Wrestling World Champion S.Battsesteg and awarded 500 gram bar gold to silver medalists of 2015 Wrestling World Championship B.Nomin, P.Unurbat and S.Tserenchimed.

Silver medalists of 2015 Wrestling World Championship P.Unurbat gifts his 500 gram bar gold to his sponsor company "Hasu Megawatt" LLC for providing opportunities for trainings and supporting him until now.

Wrestler P.Unurbat and trainer Ts.Bayarsaihan initiated the idea and handed over the bar gold to the Director of  "Hasu Megawatt" LLC J.Tumen-Ayush.

Link to article

 

MNOC President Joins Executive Committee of the Asian Olympic Committee

September 18 (news.mn) The 34th General Assembly of the Olympic Council of Asia took a place in Ashgabat the capital ofTurkmenistan. During the assembly, the President of the Mongolian National Olympic Committee D.Zagdsuren officially joined the Executive Committee at the Asian Olympic Committee. He has been selected as the Director of the Information and Statistical Standing Committee.  Representatives from 45 countries attended the event.

The Mongolian National Olympic Committee has been participating in the Asian Olympic Games since 1974; in 1982 it jointly co-established the Asian Olympic Council. This is the first time that a Mongolian has been selected as the director a top continental Olympic organization.

Many topics have been discussed during the 34th General Assembly, one of the results being that the "Asian Olympic Games -2022" will take a place in Hangzhou China.

Link to article

 

Meet the Torontonian who spent 9 days on horseback riding across Mongolia

34-year-old Liz Brown took part in the annual Mongol Derby, involving 36 riders and 1,220 horses. She reflects on 'the experience of a lifetime.'

By: Liz Brown, Special to the Star, Published on Fri Sep 18 2015 (The Star) I thought I was hallucinating when I rode past the rotting horse carcass sprawled on a dusty trail somewhere in the middle-of-nowhere-Mongolia. But the swearing behind me confirmed my fellow rider Thomas Ellingsén had seen it too. We halted our horses and stared at the cracked, drying hide receding from the animal's skull, wondering if it was disease, predators or starvation that had ended its time on Earth. Buzzing flies provided the only white noise in the stillness as Ellingsén brought out his camera to snap a picture, a permanent reminder of the fragility of life in the wild.

It was mid-afternoon of the fourth day of the Mongol Derby and the sun was frying our helmet-clad heads. The next horse station, where we could get more water and new mounts, was more than 25 kilometres away across a wide-open plain and over a small cluster of mountains. Only 10 minutes before, Ellingsén, 38, a rider from Sweden not used to such extreme temperatures, had vomited from heat exhaustion. My other riding companion, Paddy Woods, a 52-year-old Irish jockey, was flushed and gasping as we pressed on. This was the third day of 40 C heat and my mouth felt like it was stuffed with wadded cotton balls, my vision was blurry and my balance was starting to go. As I calculated our speed and distance on my GPS, I let out a sob. It was going to take us at least two hours to reach our next destination.

As my horse plodded on, I closed my eyes, imagining a tall glass of ice water, then licked my cracked, sunburned lips and started laughing that I'd willingly signed up for this torture. This was the adventure I'd spent 12 months preparing for and in the moment, it didn't seem I would finish.

The Mongol Derby is a 1,000-kilometre race across one of the world's most sparsely populated countries. It's the longest, toughest horse race on the planet, so I hadn't taken preparation for it lightly. In the winter months I spent hours upon hours in the gym increasing my cardio fitness and weight training for my legs so I could endure the demands of the Derby — up to 160 kilometres of horseback riding per day. And in the six weeks before I departed for Mongolia, I took a leave of absence from my desk job and moved to southern Utah to train in the desert with an endurance-riding expert. There I rode eight to nine hours a day in temperatures that reached 45 C. But nothing could prepare me for the realities of this physical and mental test, where I had to navigate through the wilderness and ride 28 different, semi-wild horses for nine straight days.

When I heard about the Derby a few years ago, I filed it into my bucket list category. It was something I wanted to do, but figured I probably would never have the resources for (the entry fee is $17,000). However, my life circumstances changed — I received a small inheritance and decided not to become a homeowner — and I realized this adventure was obtainable. With a "now or never" attitude I dashed off an application, sat through two interviews and was offered one of the 36 spots to compete in the race. And so began the experience of a lifetime.

I rode unfamiliar feral horses in a foreign land for 13.5 hours a day, for nine days. I was chased by wild dogs, experienced a painful fall, wept from exhaustion and nearly fainted from dehydration. But in enduring these hardships, I left a piece of my soul in the heartland of Mongolia. On the ninth day, just five kilometres from the finish line, I began weeping. Some of that crying was due to having no skin left on my inner thighs, but most of it was caused by the realization that my journey was winding down. I finished in the unremarkable 50th percentile, but this achievement was still more satisfying than anything else I have ever accomplished.

Link to article

 

Mackay mountain biker films Mongolia Bike Challenge

A Mackay school teacher and mountain bike rider has recently returned from Mongolia after helping film one of the world's hardest mountain bike races.

September 15 (ABC Tropical North) Peter Lister is no stranger to competing in mountain bike races. Filming them however is another story.

The seasoned mountain bike rider says he was given the unique opportunity after a foreign film company asked him to film the race from his bike.

Following a lengthy flight overseas, he found himself riding next to some of the world's best mountain bike riders as part of the seven-day Mongolia Bike Challenge.

From there he was able to capture their 900km journey by attaching multiple cameras to his bike and helmet.

Stand out moments

After witnessing competitors ride between 130-140km a day up and down mountains, Peter says it was emotional watching people finally finish the race.

But he recalls one competitor in particular whose efforts really stood out.

"Beverley had only ever ridden 63km in her life in one day ... but every day was at least 130km on that event," he said.

He remembers the elite competitors finishing early on most days; having lunch, showering and then resting before having dinner.

"Then the organisers would say 'Beverley is arriving' and everyone would drop what they were doing and cheer this lady on," he said smiling.

One of the most challenging days for the riders was when they had to complete a 175km ride, which involved climbing up and down mountains.

While filming, Peter came across Beverley's finance who was also competing in the race. As he rode past he asked Peter to pass on a message to her because she was still three hours behind.

"He said 'tell her I love her'," Peter recalled.

True to his word, he waited for three hours in a valley until Beverley rode past on her bike.

"She was almost broken by now because it was day five of the event and she had a tough climb ahead," he said.

After passing on the message she broke down crying.

"She said 'he never tells me that, oh wow, thank you'," he said.

"She finished and they had a big hug and a kiss on the finish line, which was a lovely moment to be a part of."

Torn between competing and filming

Peter has been asked to by the foreign film company to help film further mountain bike races down the track.

"I love mountain biking and I understand how race dynamics work, but I would also love to go back and race as well so I have to weigh that up," he said.

In the meantime he plans on completing the Crocodile Trophy in October which runs over nine days around Cape York.

"I won't be stopping to take selfies, it is going to be race face for the whole event," he laughed.

Link to article

 

Graduates' 11,000-mile trip to Mongolia to deliver converted Land Rover

September 16 (Gazette & Herald) A GROUP of four graduate engineers have just completed an 11,000-mile journey from Southampton to Mongolia as part of a charity fundraiser, to deliver a 4x4 to a Mongolian hospital with the aid of GoHelp.

After tirelessly fundraising from dinners, auctions and marathons, the team raised the staggering amount of £20,000 for the journey. After converting a Land Rover Defender to have a stretcher system fitted and cupboards for donated medical equipment, the team started their journey.

William Sexton, 22, of Lacock, said: "It was a mind-blowing experience, truly epic. We had heard of friends driving older cars over to Mongolia to donate or sell for charity and it took off from there. We are blown away by the amount of support we were given.

"We have been given a huge amount of support. A massive thank you to all our sponsors for getting us on the road to help those in areas who need it."

The journey took two months and the team passed through Prague, Budapest, Butami and Kazakhstan.

"There were four of us in the 4x4 and about 15 to 20 other vehicles all heading to the same place. We have known each other for a while, we were all at university together so it was lucky we all got along for the duration of the journey," added Mr Sexton.

The car, which has been named Andy, has made a huge impact on the people working at the hospital in Mongolia. Andy will be working near Mongolia's western border with China, serving an area that is 300km wide with a sparse population of around 15,000 people. The terrain is mountainous and has very few roads. In the winter the weather is extreme with temperature below -30c and more than a metre of snow. The hospital currently has two old Russian vehicles which struggle off-road, do less than 10 mpg, and don't have room for a stretcher.

The team have posted a blog that chronicles the journey, which can be found at http://southampton2mongolia.com/. You can also check out the Facebook page 'Southampton2Mongolia'.

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Art, Entertainment

Mongolian Circus Performers win Silver Cup at Moscow Festival

September 16 (news.mn) "Idol 2015-World Festival of Circus Art" is an international competition currently taking place in Moscow. The event began on 9th September and features the best circus performers from 15 countries. A Mongolian team of 12 performers, led by coach M.Enkhbold performed their "Teeterboard Act", and "Group Voltage Act" in the acrobatic and board jumping categories respectively. Yesterday, at the awarding ceremony of "Idol 2015", the Mongolian team received the Silver Cup. The winners' show will be held at the end of the competition. "Idol 2015" lasts until 20th September.

Link to article

Related:

Circus artists receive a Silver CupMontsame, September 16

 

Film Review: Bid Gurvyn Bolzoo Might Make You Cry, If You Can Tolerate the Tropes

Disclaimer: I know the director of this movie, but I wasn't paid to promote it and I didn't watch it for free. I didn't even plan on reviewing this film until it happened to be the only film available for my time.

September 17 (So Why Mongolia?) --

Film Info

Bid Gurvyn Bolzoo (Us Three Dating), 2015

Romantic Comedy / Drama

Directed by: M.Enkhdalai

Screenplay by: Orgil

Starring: E.Todgerel, P.Shuudertsetseg, O.Amgalanbaatar

What's it about?

A hopelessly romantic guy with a failing heart decides to 'pass on' his true love to his best friend.

Basically

Seven Pounds meets Roxanne

Conclusion

Bid Gurvyn Bolzoo was based on an unoriginal premise, so I felt like I'd seen the film a thousand times already, especially at the beginning. The fighting scenes were sloppy and could use improvement. The comedy of misunderstanding, which should have been retired a long time ago, still does more here. But the visual comedy makes up a good portion of the film and some parts are thoughtful. So, if you can tolerate the tropes, which abound in the beginning, the ending might move you.

Bid Gurvyn Bolzoo is in theaters now.

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Travel

Intersections: Discovering a taste of Los Angeles in Mongolia

By Liana Aghajanian

September 16, 2015 (Glendale News-Press) It was midnight when I landed in Mongolia. The ice cold breeze coming through the airport doors from the outside world were a welcome and soothing relief from the Los Angeles heat, but "soothing" wouldn't exactly be the way a Mongolian would describe it.

Ulaanbaatar, the city's capital, is the coldest in the world, a place where temperatures reach minus-40 degrees Fahrenheit and below in the winter, a cold so severe that I, an Angeleno through and through, couldn't begin to understand.

I had left L.A. behind to embark on a monthlong reporting fellowship to Mongolia to report on pollution and its impact on maternal health. In addition to having the coldest capital, Mongolia not only has the lowest population density in the world, but is also one of the most polluted.

As hundreds of thousands of nomads have moved to the capital looking for jobs, the city has been enveloped in a thick cloud of smoke during winter. The pollution comes from the coal-burning stoves they use in their yurts, or "gers" which surround the city. As more and more people move to the capital every year, the pollution increases and has an impact on the population, especially women who are pregnant, as well as their children.

All of this sounds very far away from life in the U.S., but as soon as I got to Ulaanbaatar, I couldn't help but notice how much L.A. was trailing me in one of the most remote places in the world.

For one thing, my taxi driver turned out to have lived in Santa Monica for months. He told me his favorite thing about the city was Chipotle. "So much meat!" he said leaning from the front seat, a nod to just how incredibly rich the Mongolian diet is with meat and more meat.

When we pulled up to the center of the city, a glowing sign in the darkness announced the location of "Los Angeles Restaurant," complete with a cocktail lounge.

The next day, I walked into a cafe to get some lunch, and the owner, it turned out, had traveled all across Los Angeles, eventually staying in Long Beach for three months before heading back home to Mongolia. In the two words of Mongolian that I know, and the little English that she knew, we managed to establish how many cities in the L.A. area she had visited.

When I met with a woman for an interview soon after, she told me she had previously visited friends in La Cañada Flintridge.

It was very strange, having come all the way to the other side of the world, only to be reminded of Los Angeles in peculiar ways. But really, it was just a reminder of what a truly global world we're living in now, that even in the most far away locales, we have reached a place where we are more connected than ever before.

Los Angeles, for its part, seems to be returning the favor. I just learned of a U.S. restaurant chain called "Mongolian Hot Pot," which has opened locations in places like Pasadena and Torrance.

When I get back in a month from an experience I will likely end up treasuring for a lifetime, trying a bit of Mongolia in Los Angeles will be truly special.

--

LIANA AGHAJANIAN is a Los Angeles-based journalist whose work has appeared in L.A. Weekly, Paste magazine, New America Media, Eurasianet and The Atlantic. She may be reached at liana.agh@gmail.com.

Link to article

 

A ride on the wild side in Mongolia

Mongolia's formidable horses nourished nomads for centuries and helped Genghis Khan forge an empire

September 20 (Straits Times) The sun rises early on the Mongolian steppe. A cold light pierces through my ger. In my semi- dreamlike state, I fancy that I hear the soft thud of hooves outside.

Stumbling out of the door, I spy a flash of chestnut, a swish of a tail. Whirling around, I realise I am encircled by 60 horses. They look at me inquisitively. Barefoot in my pyjamas, I feel like Dorothy in the 1939 film The Wizard Of Oz when she wakes up in Oz and says: "Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore."

I am in a horse-trekking camp, just 30 minutes outside the capital, Ulan Bator. But the city's smokestacks feel like a universe away. We are nestled in an emerald valley flecked with white gers. There is no electricity or indoor toilet. To get a phone signal, I have to climb the nearest mountain. Goats, cows and sheep outnumber humans in these parts.

The Stepperiders camp (www.stepperiders.mn) is one of several in Mongolia that organise horse treks. A novice to riding, I plan to spend a day picking up the basics before taking a one-day trek to and from the nearby Bogd Khan Uul national park.

I immediately notice that there are no hay-filled barns at the camp. Mongolian horses are semi-feral. They bite and kick feistily. They run barefoot without horseshoes. They make their homes not in stables, but on the steppes.

Every morning, the camp's guides go to the hills and round up the horses they need for the day. But when the rides are over and the tourists are gone, the horses are let loose - free to roam, graze and sleep under the stars.

Living in the open makes Mongol horses fiercely independent. They forage for their own food and defend themselves from predators. They weather Mongolia's harsh winters in minus 40 deg C, pawing through the snow for fodder. They are tough. Fearless. Nothing like the My Little Pony variety, with sugary dispositions and rainbows for tails.

It is no wonder this camp attracts adventurers - wild dreamers drawn to wild horses.

There is Mitch, an American who plans to ride from Mongolia to China with no map, using only the stars as his guide.

There is Gonzales from Spain who is doing a four-week horse trek to eastern Mongolia with a friend. "We have no destination. We just plan to go as far as we can," he says.

My ambitions are more modest. First, I want to learn how to ride.

SINGING TO THE HORSES

Mongolian culture was built on the backs of horses. Sturdy steeds served commoner and conqueror alike. They provided nomads with transport, food and milk, and carried Genghis Khan across scorching deserts to conquer half the known world.

Today, horses are still an intricate part of Mongolian life. Horse racing is one of the three sports in the country's annual Naadam games, along with wrestling and archery. Many of the guides in my camp are Ulan Batorite teenagers on summer vacation. They slip easily from Calvin Klein jeans to the deel (a traditional overcoat) when on horseback.

I get a one-hour crash course in riding. On the harsh Mongolian steppe, the rules are drastically simplified: Say "chu" to go forward, and "hoosh" to slow down. Bring your reins to the left if you want it to go left, and vice versa.

"In Europe, there are many rules about how to sit and where to place your hands," says a Belgian travel mate. "But here...," she mimics waving the reins about haphazardly. In Mongolia, riding is about efficiency, not formality.

But the horses do not recognise anyone as master. Mine trots only halfheartedly when I say "chu", but mysteriously speeds up when my Mongolian guide, Hishig, appears wordlessly behind.

"Try singing to it!" Hishig suggests, before breaking into a lusty tune. I recognise the song with a start. It is U2's Beautiful Day.

REBELLION AGAINST NOVICES

Sadly, it is not a beautiful day when we set off for Bogd Khan Uul the next morning. The skies unleash a bone-chilling drizzle. But we press on, past mountains and valleys.

The horses have their own quirks. There is Speedy, a sprightly three- year-old that is always prancing at the front. There is Dreamy, an older horse that keeps drifting off the trail and slipping over rocks.

Mine is Greedy because he always stops to munch on grass. He breaks into a trot when the guides are nearby, but slows down to feed the minute they are out of sight.

The novice riders in the group soon have a rebellion on their hands. The horses are not listening. A Chinese woman is yelling "chu" repeatedly to her horse which refuses to move.

Dreamy's rider is whipping it with a strip of cloth to get it to move faster. It responds by unloading a gushing stream of urine.

My attempts to "discipline" Greedy fail. He tosses his head angrily when I tug the reins. He also learns to walk into tree branches - quickly chewing on the wild flowers while I am busy slapping twigs away from my face.

They obey only when our guides murmur softly to them. "How do you do it?" I ask in wonderment.

But these men have been riding horses since they were toddlers. There is a bond they have which I never will achieve.

FLYING WITHOUT WINGS

The guides often fall behind to help stragglers. But even with no one leading, the horses seem to have an in-built GPS.

At one point, I try to nudge Greedy back towards a dirt trail. He glances at me uncertainly as if to say, "Really?"

I soon realise that the path he has picked is gentler with fewer rocks. Eventually, I learn to trust his judgment.

For most of the journey, the horses alternate between a walk and a trot. But ever so often, they break into a gallop. And that is pretty magical.

It happens for the first time when we approach a vast stretch of grassland. Our guides start to trill and ululate. The high-pitched sounds excite the horses and without warning, they bolt.

Greedy streaks forward so quickly that I gasp. It is like going from a rickety bike to the purring engine of a race car. His jerky trot melts into a smooth, fluid, powerful motion. Every stride feels like a running leap. He glides through the air, lands and springs up again. The wind sings. The sky becomes a blur. I grip the reins for dear life as we fly across the steppe.

There is a Mongolian proverb: "A man without a horse is like a bird without wings." I fully appreciate its meaning then. At that moment, you do not ride. You soar.

Eventually, the horses slow to a trot. Mine throws me a look.

"Impressed?" he seems to say. Chastened, I let him duck down to munch on some grass.

We reach Bogd Khan after five hours. I am soaked and my muscles ache. But I must admit that Greedy has done most of the work, navigating ditches and mountains. The steppe is his domain. I am just passing through.

There is a certain hubris when humans say they have "tamed" a horse. As I lead my thirsty steed to a stream, I realise I have not really gone for a ride. He has taken me on one.

·         Jeanne Tai, features editor of Her World magazine, is currently on a work sabbatical.  

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From Mexico to Mongolia: Seven Far-Out Trips for Fall

These cultural festivals give visitors a chance to see places at their most interesting—and sometimes strangest—times

September 16 (WSJ) A VIOLENT thundering sound that seemed to grow louder by the second rudely roused me from a deep sleep. Alarmed, I threw off my covers, opened the door of my remote ger (a Mongolian yurt) and wondered if I was still dreaming. Before me was a vision straight out of the days of Genghis Khan: two Kazakh horsemen wearing fox-fur hats and brocade tunics galloping with about 60 horses across the steppe landscape of Mongolia. One of the men whipped his horse with a crop and the other let out a shrill "Yeeee-Eeeeeiiiiii!" as they kicked up clouds of dust and raced toward the snowy Altai Mountains in the distance.

The Kazakhs of Mongolia are seminomadic horsemen and herders. They live off the land and eat by training golden eagles to hunt fox and rabbit, a tradition passed down from their Turkic ancestors. I'd come to Bayan-Ulgii province, at the westernmost edge of Mongolia and a 3.5-hour flight from the capital of Ulaanbaatar, to see the Golden Eagle Festival, where Kazakhs from as far as 150 miles away converge each October to compete in a two-day display of their traditional hunting skills.

On the first day, my guide, Badral, and I drove from our campsite on a bumpy dirt road for half an hour to reach the festival. Looking out at the vast emptiness that surrounded us, I asked Badral how the people here can stand to live in such a remote place.

"Mongolians believe that joy is a wide-open, empty space," he said. "The nomadic way of life is to welcome everyone and offer hospitality," he said. "You can approach any ger and will be invited in for food and drink." What a lovely idea, I thought, sure that it was a story reserved for gullible tourists.

When we reached the festival grounds, we joined about 200 other spectators—most of them locals on horseback—on a plain bordered by cliffs. Suddenly, about 80 Kazakh hunters paraded toward us in elegant embroidered deels, or tunics, each with an eagle perched on his arm. The riders' red silk hats lined with fox fur were topped with owl feathers for good luck. The two-day competition is a cross between a sporting event and fashion show, with the hunters scoring points for their eagles' speed, agility and ability to pounce on prey as well as for their own outfits.

In the day's first event, the hunters rode their horses carefully up the boulder-strewn side of a 1,000-foot cliff. At the top, they handed off their eagles to a helper before riding back down the steep cliff face. Back on level ground with the spectators, each hunter called to his eagle, which then rocketed down (they can dive at speeds up to 200 mph) with a whoosh, spread its wings wide (they can span 7 feet) and landed on its master's arm. The eagles' long talons and sharp beaks looked as though they could tear through rhino hide like a piece of silk. Each time a raptor landed, the crowd shouted its approval.

There were several competitions that day, including an archery contest and a horse race for young boys. But my favorite event was thekyzguar (girl chase), a Kazakh game played on horseback in which the women whip the men while chasing after them. "It's a way for young men and women to meet," Badral explained, laughing. "If a man can't be whipped by his wife, he won't survive."

As I watched and rooted for the women, two horsemen, engaged in a fierce tug of war over a goat carcass, galloped straight toward me, sending other horses stampeding in all directions. I was sure I was about to be trampled and reflexively brought my hands up to my face while letting out a terrified scream. When I finally uncovered my face, I looked up to see a group of young boys on horseback unable to control their laughter.

Before I had time to regret my decision to come to the festival, a woman standing nearby in the doorway of her ger gestured to me to come inside. She offered me a stool and handed me a glass of sweet, milky tea and a plate of steaming mutton dumplings. I did my best to indicate that they were delicious, and we both giggled. Badral had been telling the truth about nomadic hospitality.

When I left, my hostess insisted that I take a bag of fresh goat's cheese with me. I pulled off my red wool NYC cap and handed it to her. She examined it thoughtfully and placed it on her head. We could not speak to each other, but we had found a common language. And both of us smiled as wide as Mongolia's joy-giving empty spaces.

OTHER FAR-OUT FESTIVALS WORTH TRAVELING TO THIS AUTUMN

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