Tuesday, October 27, 2015

[$4.7B mining deals signed at China-Mongolia expo; MPP stands against cutting salaries; and Italy to open embassy in 2016]

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

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Overseas Market

WOF last traded A$0.012 on 20 October, -76% in last 1 year

Wolf Petroleum: Notice of Annual General Meeting, 26 November

October 26, Wolf Petroleum Ltd. (ASX:WOF) --

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Local Market

MSE Trading Report: Top 20 -0.36%, ALL -0.22%, Turnover 8.39 Million Stocks

October 26 (MSE) --

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Maturity Notice: 265.2 Million 28-Week 15.8% Discounted T-Bills, October 27

October 26 (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








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Historic low ₮1,997.26/USD set September 11

BoM MNT Rates: Monday, October 26 Close


































































































Bank rates at time of sending: TDB (Buy ₮1,987 Sell ₮1,996), Khan (Buy ₮1,986 Sell ₮1,995), Golomt (Buy ₮1,986 Sell ₮1,995), XacBank (Buy ₮1,987 Sell ₮1,995), State Bank (Buy ₮1,986 Sell ₮1,995)

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

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BoM issues 244 billion 1-week bills at 13%, total outstanding +6.15% to ₮707.9 billion, highest since July 22

October 26 (BoM) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 244 billion at a weighted interest rate of 13.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/

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China, Mongolia seek mining cooperation

HOHHOT, Oct. 26 (Xinhua) -- China and Mongolia inked eight cooperation agreements on mineral-resource exploration last week during a week-long cultural expo, which opened in Hohhot, capital of north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, on Friday.

The agreements, which are worth over 30 billion yuan (4.73 billion U.S. dollars), were signed by government and enterprise representatives from the two sides during the first China-Mongolia Expo.

The projects include the exploration of nonferrous metals and unconventional gas, mining, smelting and the processing of other mineral resources.

In addition, the two countries also signed memorandums of understanding on the deep processing of a coal mine in Tavan Tolgoi, Mongolia, and on Oyu Tolgoi, a giant copper and gold mine in South Gobi, Mongolia.

A joint declaration was signed by President Xi Jinping and Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj in August 2014, on an all-round mutually beneficial cooperation relationship with a focus on mineral resource exploration, infrastructure construction and the financial sector.

The agreements signed Friday are part of efforts to implement the joint declaration.

Statistics in 2014 showed that China has been Mongolia's largest trading partner and largest source of foreign investment over the past 10-plus years.

In 2014, two-way trade volume between China and Mongolia stood at 7.3 billion U.S. dollars. Mongolia mainly exports mineral products and livestock to China.

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First Mongolia-China Expo to strengthen economic ties

Ulaanbaatar, October 26 /MONTSAME/ The first Mongolia-China Expo opened October 23 in Hohhot, the capital city of China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous region. It will complete on Tuesday.

The organizers of the Expo are China's Ministry of Commerce, Mongolia Ministry of Industry and the People's Government of Chinese Autonomous Inner Mongolia.

The sides considered that the event themed "Developing cooperation corridor by connecting the Steppe Road with the Silk Road" will not only have effect on economic and business cooperation, but also expand cooperation in education, health and culture.

The expo comprises four main events, including investment and trade agreement, exhibition, fair and cultural events.

Some 800 Mongolians, including businessmen and delegates from companies and academic institutions, and 2,000 delegates from China's trade and industry spheres are taking part in the ongoing action, with a total of 8,000 political and business figures from two Koreas, Philippines, Germany, France, Russia, Japan and Australia, as well as from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao of the People's Republic of China.

On Monday, Xinhua quoted the President Xi Jinping as saying in his letter to the Expo, "The first China-Mongolia Expo will serve as an important platform to improve economic cooperation and cultural exchange between China and Mongolia. China highly values the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries, and is ready to integrate China's 'Belt and Road' initiative with Mongolia's Steppe Road plan based on mutual respect, benefit, and win-win cooperation."

In his congratulatory letter, Mongolian President Ts.Elbegdorj also lauded the role the Expo will play in the bilateral pragmatic cooperation and the Mongolia-China comprehensive strategic partnership.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong said at the opening ceremony, that recent years have witnessed deepening political mutual trust, closer trade and economic cooperation as well as people-to-people exchanges between the two countries.

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Politics & Legal

Parliament Agenda for Oct 27: Standing Committee Meetings on 2015 Budget Amendment

October 27 (GoGo Mongolia) --

1. Justice Standing Committee meeting at 09AM.


·         Amendments to law on 2015 Mongolian State Budget, Amendments to 2015 Budget Law for Human Development Fund, Amendments to Budget Law for 2015 Social Insurance Fund

·         Annul the some articles of Law on the Court, annul the some articles of law on legal status of judges, annul the some articles of law on Prosecutor's Office, annun the law on anti-corruption, amendments to law on police, amendments to law on state registration, amendments to law on rehabilitation of victims of false political cases, draft resolution of State Great Hural on determining the amount of wages for the judges

·         Other

2. State Structure Standing Committee meeting at 09AM.


·         Amendments to draft law on Government`s Act, amendments to draft Law on Mongolian Administrative and Territorial Unit and its Administration, amendments to draft law on Automated Election System, amendments to draft law on state audit, draft law on the structure of the Government, draft law on Government members, draft law on annulment of the Law on the Cabinet members and law on structure of the Government, draft resolution of State Great Hural on approval of general scheme for state administrative organization`s system and strucuture

·         Amendments to law on 2016 Mongolian State Budget, Amendments to 2016 Budget Law for Human Development Fund, Amendments to Budget Law for 2016 Social Insurance Fund

3. Budget Expenditure Control Sub-Committee meeting at 10AM.


·         Amendments to law on 2015 Mongolian State Budget, Amendments to 2015 Budget Law for Human Development Fund, Amendments to Budget Law for 2015 Social Insurance Fund

4. Security and Foreign Policy Standing Committee meeting at 02PM.


·         Amendments to law on 2016 Mongolian State Budget, Amendments to 2016 Budget Law for Human Development Fund, Amendments to Budget Law for 2016 Social Insurance Fund

·         In scope of draft law on the status of permanent neutrality, amendments to draft law on Celebrating Public Festivals and Memorable Days, draft resolutions of State Great Hural on amendments to annex of resolution on approval of Mongolian Foreign Policy Concept and amendments to annex of resolution on approval of Mongolian National Security Concept

·         Draft law on joining the European Convention on Extradition

·         To establish working group

5. Budget Standing Committee meeting at 03PM.


·         Amendments to law on budget, amendments to law on special taxes, amendments to law on debt management, annul the some articles of civil service law, amendments to law on preventing the conflict of interest in the public service, amendments to law on Government of Mongolia, amendments to law on anti-corruption, amendments to law on science and technology, amendment to draft law on consession, draft resolution of State Great Hural on approval of general scheme for state administrative organization`s system and strucuture

·         Operation report for 2015 of the Mongolian State Budget, Amendments to draft law on 2016-2017 budget adjustment;

·         Amendments to law on 2015 Mongolian State Budget, Amendments to 2015 Budget Law for Human Development Fund, Amendments to Budget Law for 2015 Social Insurance Fund

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MPP caucus does not back cutting salaries

Ulaanbaatar, October 26 /MONTSAME/ At its regular meeting on Monday, a parliamentary faction of the Mongolian People's Party (MPP) discussed a draft clarification of the 2015 budget and a bill on the 2016 budget.

According to the draft law on 2016 budget, salaries of some 2,900 political and state administrative servants will be cut by up to 30% from the next year, "but we will not back this decision, because it will worsen the situation in times of crisis, in contrary, salaries must be added," said the faction head S.Byambatsogt

In order to do so, he went on, all possible expenses must be cut such as money for working trips to localities and abroad and for meetings and discussions. He also emphasized that the government must focus on minimizing petroleum prices instead of increasing the excise tax on petroleum. "Mongolians still buy very expensive petroleum, elsewhere its prices have already fallen twice," he noted.

He added that their faction reached an agreement to have parliament discussed a bill on reducing interest of pension loans.  

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E-governance: Breaking the chain of corruption

By Jargal "Defacto" Dambadarjaa

October 26 ( Estonia has finally reached its goal, set 20 years ago, to become the Baltic Tiger. Estonia's population is 1.5 million, half of Mongolia, and its territory is 45,300 hectares, close to that of Bayan Ulgii Province. But Estonia's GDP per capita was $26,000 USD, which is ten times higher than when the state split from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Former Prime Minister Mart Laar started an open economic policy in 1992, privatized state property, and enforced smart monetary and taxation policies. The country's politicians gradually realized the need to improve communicating technology to increase productivity of its small population. Their government eliminated bureaucracy and decreased human involvement their services, and even started to conduct electronic meetings instead of using paper.

Almost 20 years have passed since Estonian government ministries and agencies started electronic services that aren't confined to work hours or location.

Estonians' ID cards are the safest and most secure in the world, and allow individuals to access many databases. The country was the first to conduct online elections in all levels government in 2005. Since then, they have never reverted. Estonian bank transactions are conducted online 99 percent of the time, 95 percent of taxes are filed online, and 98 percent of medical prescriptions are made online. The country has even started granting citizenship electronically. Entrepreneurs can register their company in 20 minutes, access and change information about their assets and legal information, and connect information about their products and services to their state servers.

Wi-Fi services have reached rural areas of Estonia, and its capital, Tallinn, ranks among the top ten in the world in terms of wireless internet services. All of its state organizations and schools, and 80 percent of the general population have cable connections. Four out of five people in Estonia have access to a computer at home, and 3G and 4G services have spread throughout the country.

E-society and infrastructure

Estonians have started referring to themselves as an electronic country, or e-Estonia. State and private sector services have all transferred to an electronic format, and almost everyone speaks English. An e-Police service protects the livelihoods, safety and property of the citizens. For instance, traffic police can search car registration, technical assessment, all types of insurance data, and the validity of the vehicle driving in front of them in just a matter of seconds. A police officer could stop you just to remind that you have few days left until your permit expires.

Parents can monitor that their child has arrived at school, how well they are doing their homework and what grades they are getting, all via text messages. An individual spends seven minutes on average to pay their income tax. All medical data of patients can be accessed by doctors, and the information is not the property of hospitals, but of the patient's. All prescribed medication can be purchased at pharmacies by scanning their electronic ID cards. The amount of money in your retirement or health insurance can be checked any time. People use their cell phones to pay for, and find, parking spaces. Estonians believe that their personal information is more secure in the hands of businesses, as they are able to check which business has accessed their information, when, where and how many times.

School and kindergarten curriculums have been developed and tailored for their region by teachers, and special applications for testing and evaluating have been developed. Estonian children are taught programming from second grade, and little by little, they are being taught how mobile phones, tablets, computers and their affiliated programs work.

All electronic servers have a connected and open platform, rather than a centralized one. Individuals and organizations access all servers available to them through X-Road.

Since the Estonian government launched e-services, its staff and operation costs have dropped considerably and corruption has been eradicated. A law that verified electronic signature has rendered all accounts and services transparent. By using a secure and safe electronic signature, Estonia was able to cut costs equal to two percent of its GDP, which is the same as its defense budget.

On the path to e-Mongolia

Mongolia has been talking about e-government since the latter part of last century. Dozens of heads of state have traveled to many countries, including Estonia, to learn from their experience. But our e-governance is nothing more than a hit and miss of information sites, cause by a state that has a lower than average education level that considers its interests above the public's and where political parties have become mafias.

More than 100,000 Mongolian businesses file their social insurance report electronically. They have to file a physical document to their district social insurance inspector within the first five days of the month. The document needs to have the signature of the inspector to be verified. On the following day, companies have to report payment on the social insurance books of all of their staff. If a company has more than several hundred staff, they will need to line up at the accountant's desk for three to four hours to have their social insurance books signed. When lunch time hits, they will be escorted to the corridor to wait for an additional hour.

Due to all of this manual work, an incident was discovered recently in which state officials were found to have been defrauding money from the pensions of more than 500 people. When a person dies, the law states that pension for the month after their death has to be issued. The defrauders not only transferred 1.5 billion MNT through 1,000 transactions, but even took out pension loans and had been paying it from their account. Commercial banks gave loans equal to 750 million MNT through the accounts of dead people, according to Unuudur newspaper on October 9.

What is the real interest of ministers and deputies who claim to have brought e-governance to the country, if they are allowing an environment to exist where such blunder can occur?

In Estonia, health and social insurance are paid electronically by each business. The authorized organization and individuals can check their reports and account balances using their electronic signature.

The fact that Estonia's neighbor Finland has adopted the system, indicates the universal acceptance and embrace of electronic infrastructure and productivity. Nobody can foretell the future, but it can be planned with precise calculations. Estonia is a place where the future begins today.

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What social media can do for democracy

October 26 (Devex) For a country to be democratic, it's no longer enough to hold elections every four or five years, Mongolia's Minister of Foreign Affairs Lundeg Purevsuren told Devex associate editor Richard Jones in this #DemocracyMatters interview.

"We should secure the trust of young people," Purevsuren said, pointing to the high rates of unemployment among youth as a key driver of the public's mistrust and disappointment in government. "It's the responsibility of politicians to listen to their voices and to pay attention, which also means securing the future and quality of the democracy."

Social media is an opportunity for politicians and government officials to quickly and comprehensively demonstrate accountability to the public, Purevsuren said. And social media works both ways, he added, allowing modern governments to "listen to the opinions of the public and young people every day."

"Even myself and my president are tweeting, using Facebook," he said.

For Mongolia — which in July celebrated 25 years of free and democratic elections — the path to accountability has not been easy, Purevsuren said. But looking forward, the challenge will be "sustainable and inclusive growth and development," achieved through maintaining online accountability and creating a "modern" government.

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How to manage the extractives sector? There's a book for that!

October 26 (World Bank Governance for Good Blog) Let's assume you are a Finance Minister or ministry official of a country that has newly discovered oil or minerals.

What actions lay ahead? Or, if oil and mineral production is ongoing, how can you strengthen the public management of the extractive sector, which is a mainstay for national economies around the world?  

Planning for the development of an unfamiliar and complex sector can be daunting. How should sector policy objectives be determined?

Which economic, accounting and taxation principles should be considered? What kinds of laws and regulations would a government need to adopt? What roles do various ministries and government agencies play in administering these laws? How do technical, environmental and social considerations fit into the scheme of things? What about the investment of resource revenues, or the potential for new industry linkages?

The World Bank's handbook: The Extractive Industries Sector: Essentials for Economists, Public Finance Professionals, and Policy Makers – aims to address these questions.

The study provides an overview of issues core to the economics at play in extractive industries. These include topics that may suddenly become vital to the management of a discovered resource: the meaning of "cut-off grade," the valuation of subsoil assets, the economic interpretation of ore, and the structure of energy and mineral markets.

It also addresses key components of the sector's governance, policy, and institutional structure, as well as the monitoring and enforcement of mineral exploration and production contracts.

The first in a two-volume series, the handbook is designed to help policymakers work through critical questions that don't always garner the attention they need. It maps the responsibilities of relevant government entities, and outlines the characteristics of the sector's legal and regulatory frameworks. It also informs the establishment of financial structures required  to underpin environmental safeguards and ensure that mining companies take responsibility for costly mitigation efforts, such as the decommissioning of toxic mine sites.

For example, according to South Africa's auditor general, the government's contingent liabilities associated with the rehabilitation of abandoned mine sites amounted to $2 billion, in addition to high recurrent costs of long-term treatment of acid mine drainage.

In spite of the recent slump in oil and mineral prices, the extractives sector still occupies an outsize space in the economies of many resource-rich countries. In many cases, the slump has brought their resource dependence into sharper focus.

For economists, public finance professionals, and policy-makers in these resource-rich countries, an in-depth understanding of the sector, its economics, governance, and policy challenges, as well as an understanding of the implications of natural resource wealth for fiscal and public financial management, is essential. This practical guideaims to point these professionals in the right direction.

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Promise of Mongolia Mining Boom Lures Consumer Brands


ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia, October 26 (AP) — Burger King has opened its first store in landlocked and sparsely populated Mongolia, joining companies from Pizza Hut to Porsche in anticipating an economic boom from the Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine.

Sandwiched between China and Russia, Mongolia has long been dependent on mining and animal herding and still has no McDonald's or Starbucks. But it has begun to see an influx of foreign fast food and other brands. KFC came in 2013, then Pizza Hut last year, and now the world's second-largest burger chain.

The interest in the country of 3 million people comes despite a deep deceleration in growth rates to about 3 percent in the first half of this year from 17.5 percent earlier in the decade. However, after years of deadlock over taxes and royalties, a deal reached in May between the government and mining giant Rio Tinto over the $5.4 billion Oyu Tolgoi mine could help spur renewed growth.

"Now is a good time to be coming in," said Jim Dwyer, executive director of the Business Council of Mongolia.

On the edge of Chinggis Square in the capital Ulaanbaatar, luxury brands Louis Vuitton and Ermenegildo Zegna already have set up boutiques. While these stores are largely empty now, they and others are banking that better times will come.

International car brands that have trickled into Mongolia include Volkswagen and BMW. Porsche opened a showroom in Ulaanbaatar in February with models ranging in price from $70,000 to $300,000.

Jason Broome, in charge of Porsche's Mongolia business, said the local franchise now serves 30 customers.

Burger King has partnered with Mongolian franchisee, Max Group, one of the country's largest conglomerates, engaged in mining, food and beverage, agriculture and real estate. Meal prices range from about $2.5 to $5.5, less than 1 percent of the average monthly salary of $734.

Media company worker Banzragch brought his son to the launch of the Burger King store because he remembered sampling the chain's food overseas and being happy with both the taste and the price.

"Even during harder economic times like now, the price is reasonable," Banzragch, who gave only one name, said at the outlet that opened earlier this month in a busy commercial district of Ulaanbaatar.

Max Group President Ganbaatar Dagvadorj said it plans to open 10 Burger Burge stores in Ulaanbaatar and then expand elsewhere in the country.

"By bringing Burger King here, we are providing jobs for hundreds of people and looking to expand it to employ thousands," Ganbaatar said.

Also at the launch was student Nyamdavaa, who said she first went to a Burger King while studying in France. "It tastes as good here as it did there," she said.

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Mongolia - Laboratory equipment and supplies for four higher education institutions (HEIs)

Higher Education Reform Project - Procurement of Laboratory Equipment and Supplies for four HEIs (Higher Education Institutions).

Mongolia has received a loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) towards the cost of Higher Education Reform Project, and it intends to apply part of the proceeds of this loan to payments under the contract No.15/01, Procurement of Laboratory Equipment and Supplies for four HEIs.

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science of Mongolia (the "Purchaser") now invites sealed Bids from eligible Bidders for supply of Laboratory Equipment and Supplies for four HEIs (namely, National University of Mongolia, Mongolian University of Science and Technology, Mongolian University of Life Sciences, and Mongolian National University of Education). The Bidding consists of the following lots:

Lot No.1: Laser Laboratory

Lot No.2: Research and Training Laboratories

Lot No.3: Digital Fabrication Laboratory 

If you interested please contact our team in Mongolia

Opportunity Type: Major Projects

Response deadline: 20/11/2015

Deadline: 23/11/2015

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Talk with Me: Battushig Batbold, Board Director, Altai Holdings

October 25 (Star TV) --

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Capital city launches website on new 1% capital city tax

October 26 ( New capital city taxation law adopted by the State Great Khural (Parliament of Mongolia) took effect on October 01, 2015.

The new law imposes 1% tax on each payment to services at restaurant, bar and resorts, and all alcohol products and tobacco in territory of Ulaanbaatar city. The capital city administration is scheduled to pay income from the new taxation to the state budget on November 11, 2015. (Mogi: wait, I thought this is going straight to the UB budget, or perhaps, by law, it has to go through state budget)

Therefore, a special website is launched to provide detailed information on capital city taxation to citizens and companies.

In addition, capital city administration has signed contracts with 13 companies that sell cash machine as the development of system to include tax value into the bill is finished.

Currently, relevant organizations are working to install the system on cash machines used by stores and supermarkets in Ulaanbaatar.

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Board members of UB Housing Corporation appointed

Ulaanbaatar, October 26 /MONTSAME/ A meeting of the Presidium of the Citizens' Representative Khural of Ulaanbaatar city Monday appointed new members of the Board of the UB's Housing Corporation.

The Board has included B.Otgonbayar, S.Ochirbat, Ts.Odontungalag, N.Bayaraa, members of the City Council; T.Enkhtuya, a deputy head of the City's Department of Properties; E.Gankhuu, a head of the Finance and Economic Section at the City's Administration; and O.Odbayar, a head of the General Planning Department.

The UB Housing Corporation was established by the 136th resolution of the UB Council's Presidium of 2015 with aims to organize a providing of targeted groups' people with apartments and to improve apartments' conditions.  

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UB project ideology reflect in Asia-Pacific Urban Forum joint appeal

Ulaanbaatar, October 26 /MONTSAME/ The Sixth Asia-Pacific Urban Forum (APUF-6), which ran October 19-21 in Jakarta of Indonesia, issued a joint appeal.

With 25 clauses, the joint appeal's 19th clause has a complex methodology for using water, energy, foods and lands--an ideology of a "Complex management for reserves" project that is being implemented in Ulaanbaatar.

Mongolia was represented at the APUF-6 by a delegation headed by S.Ochirbat, the UB city's Deputy Mayor in charge of urban development and investment affairs. Our representatives attended sub-meetings of the forum to express views.

The capital city of Mongolia plans to realize the joint appeal by collaborating with cities of the region and international organizations. The forum has been organized prior to the end of the Millennium Development Goals' (MDGs) implementation and a launch of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The joint appeal also reflects a significance of understanding and collaboration of local administrative bodies, the private sector, scientific and research organizations and citizens.    

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Citizens' Khural donates books to UB Central Library on 35th anniversary

Ulaanbaatar, October 26 /MONTSAME/ The "UB citizens are reading" book donation campaign launched early October on the occasion of the 376th anniversary of establishment of the modern capital and 35th anniversary of the Central Library of Ulaanbaatar. It has been initiated by the Youth Union of the city's Sukhbaatar district and supported by the Citizens' Representatives Khural of the Capital City. The action will complete on November 7.  

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Kuwait Int. Min. emphasizes depth of bilateral relations with Mongolia

KUWAIT, Oct 26 (KUNA) -- Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Mohammad Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah on Monday stressed the depth of relations between the State of Kuwait and Mongolia.

Sheikh Mohammad Al-Khaled during his meeting with the head of Mongolia's National Security Council Khurts Bat (Mogi: the very same Khurts who kidnapped a Mongolian out of Europe, later arrested in UK, here's his wiki page, yes, he has a wiki page) stressed the need to strengthen security ties in view of the current developments on the regional and international arenas, Interior Ministry's Public Relations and Security Information department said in a statement.

For his part, Bat expressed thanks and appreciation to Kuwait for the cooperation during the bilateral talks and the results achieved that promote the process of cooperation between the two countries.

The meeting was attended by Assistant Undersecretary for external state security apparatus, Sheikh Mubarak Salem Al-Ali Al-Sabah.

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Italy to open embassy in Mongolia by 2016, restore art scholarships

Ulaanbaatar, October 26 /MONTSAME/ Mongolia's Minister of Foreign Affairs L.Purevsuren exchanged views on the Mongolia-Italy cooperation with his Italian counterpart Mr Paolo Gentiloni during the official visit to the country October 23-24.

Noting that the countries celebrated this year the 45th anniversary of their diplomatic relations, Purevsuren underlined a successful development of the Mongolia-Italy relations and cooperation, and affirmed that Mongolia wants to strengthen these ties and cooperation.

The parties discussed all opportunities that may broaden the cooperation, including regularizing high level mutual visits and a cooperation mechanism, activating the bilateral commercial and economic collaboration such as in food and agricultural spheres, for expamle, also supporting the cooperation between private sectors, and intensifying cultural and educational exchanges. They also shared views on the international and regional issues.

Mr Purevsuren spoke about a preparation for the 11th ASEM Summit which will run in Ulaanbaatar next year.  

Mr Gentiloni pointed out that his country plans to open its Embassy in Mongolia by 2016 and intends to help Mongolia in hosting the ASEM Summit and restoring scholarships for trained staffers in the classical arts.

He affirmed Italy's willingness to support Mongolia in seeking a membership in the United Nations Council for Human Rights and the Non-Permanent Membership of the UN Security Council.

After this, Purevsuren met Mr Benedetto Della Vedova, the State Secretary of Italy's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to consider issues of promoting the collaboration between the two Foreign Ministries, supporting each other within international organizations, and cooperating in a preparation for the 2016 ASEM Summit.  

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Mongolia will boost ties with Italy in parliamentary, cultural and arts spheres

Ulaanbaatar, October 26 /MONTSAME/ In a scope of his official visit to Italy October 23-24, Mongolia's Minister of Foreign Affairs L.Purevsuren held meetings with Mr Pier Ferdinando Casini, a Chairman of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Immigration of the Senate, and with Ms Antonia Pasqua Recchia, the Secretary-General of the Ministry of Heritage and Cultural Activities and Tourism.

The FM Purevsuren and Mr Casini emphasized a significance of the inter-parliamentary ties in boosting the bilateral relations and cooperation. It is important to back the direct relations between the Parliamentary Offices in order to forward the ties between, they added. Italy's Senate will support opening of the Embassy in Mongolia, Mr Casini pointed out and said he will fulfill necessary works in near future for ratifying the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between Mongolia and the European Union, at the Italian parliament.

The FM shared views with Ms Antonia Pasqua Recchia about intensifying the bilateral cooperation in the cultural sector, for example, opening the Mongolian Cultural Center in Italy, co-organizing concerts and joint exhibitions and collaborating in preparing linguists, cultural experts and professional translators in order to deliver languages and culture of the countries.

Mr Purevsuren proposed co-organizing complex measures of culture dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the bilateral diplomatic relations to be marked in 2020, and expressed a willingness to launch a preparation for it.

Within the visit, the FM also got acquainted with Italian experiences in hosting the ASEM Summit-2014 and the EXPO 2015 in Milan. He met the secretary-general of the EXPO-2015 Organizing Committee to share views on organization of such big events.

He also addressed an opening of the Mongolian Cultural Days in Milan.

At a meeting with Mr Giuliano Pisapia, the Mayor of Milan, the sides exchanged views on boosting cooperation with Milan, supporting the collaboration in the small- and middle-sized productions, developing cooperation with the La Scala Theatre, and in preparing professional singers, producers and conductors.  

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Expo Milano 2015 hosts Mongolian Cultural Day on 45th anniversary of Italy-Mongolia diplomatic ties

October 24 (Expo Milano 2015) Celebrating the 45 years of diplomatic relations between Mongolia and Italy, the Expo Centre hosted Mongolia's Cultural Day, during which speeches were made by the Expo Commissioner General Bruno Antonio Pasquino, the Mongolian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Purevsuren Lundeg, and the Honorary Consul of Mongolia for the Tuscan Area, Piero Bardazzi. The authorities reminded their listeners of the ancient origins of trade between Italy and Mongolia, "thanks to which today our countries have solid relations and an intense interaction focused on finding solutions to the food issues raised by the Theme of Expo Milano 2015," declared Minister Lundeg. The history of relations between Italy and the Central Asian country was  variously evoked to explain the cultural links which have reciprocally influenced each other's national markets and cultures.

The colors of a millennial tradition

Once the official speeches from both sides were concluded, the festive celebrations continued with a rich and varied program of artistic performances on the stage of the Expo Centre during two different periods of the day: in the morning, to greet the arrival of the authorities, and in the evening, to conclude the day's events. Among the artists were Batsaikhan Battsetseglen, who sung traditional ballads, accompanied by Khadkhuu Damdin on the ancient two-stringed instrument called 'morin khuur'. They were followed by the dancers Tovuujav and Tsatsralsuren, who demonstrated the choreography of the "Biy Bielghee", one of Mongolia's most ancient folk dances, listed as an intagible world heritage item in 2009 by Unesco. After this came the singer Khuumii Ariunbold, the Yatga player Chovjoo Amarbayasgalan, on his zither-like instrument, and the opera singers Sambuu Ayana and Adya Sainbayar… all of whom delighted and inspired the public of Expo visitors with their art, their colorful costumes and the breadth of Mongolia's cultural heritage.

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President's Chief of Staff at WEF Summit on Global Agenda 2015 in Abu Dhabi

Ulaanbaatar, October 26 /MONTSAME/ A delegation of Mongolia headed by P.Tsagaan is taking part in the WEF Summit on the Global Agenda 2015, which kicked off Monday in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Within the Summit, 80 sub-meetings are to run on urgent problems to the world. Mr Tsagaan and  S.Oyun MP, a president of the United Nations Environment Assembly of the UNEP (UNEA), will take part in sub-meetings dedicated to mining, metallurgy and water issues. Other sub-meetings will touch upon issues such as innovation's future, economic growth and capability, sustainable development of the coal sector, future of cities, the fourth revolution of industrialization, climate change and immigration.

The Summit on the Global Agenda, established as a unique partnership between the World Economic Forum and the United Arab Emirates since 2008, is the annual gathering of the Network of Global Agenda Councils. It brings together 1,000 leaders and influencers to assess critical global, regional and industry challenges. In light of the World Economic Forum's new status as an international institution for public-private cooperation, the Summit will serve as a global brainstorming for innovative ideas to unlock some of the world's most protracted global challenges. It also marks the second meeting in the two-year term of Global Agenda Councils, providing an opportunity to showcase and contextualize the councils' achievements since the beginning of the term.

By focusing on the unique breadth of knowledge and expertise represented within the Network of Global Agenda Councils and facilitating active collaboration and exchange between councils, the summit emphasizes the need for networked solutions for an increasingly networked world. 

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From Ulster to Ulaanbaatar – is Mongolia the new Qatar?

October 27 (Irish News) THE choice of Mongolia as an export market for Northern Ireland companies isn't one that may obviously spring to mind.

Yet this dynamic Central Asian state, situated between Russia and China and with a population of almost three million, has consistently been ranked as one of the world's fastest growing economies in recent years.

Mongolia has undergone a truly remarkable transformation since the fall of communism in the early 1990s, and coupled with the subsequent transition to a stable multi party democracy, Mongolian economic growth is now projected to exceed 8 per cent in 2015.

This upward trend in economic activity that has witnessed even double digit growth in recent years, is projected to continue into the foreseeable future, leading to a wealth of opportunities both for exporters as well as those seeking foreign direct investment (FDI) opportunities in this rapidly emerging Asian market.

Many will therefore ask, with a world recently mired in recession, rising unemployment and other negative growth factors, what has led to the meteoric rise of Mongolia to become the star performer not only in the Asian economic sphere but amongst all other global economies, outshining the US, UK and even the previously stellar Chinese markets?

The key to the Mongolian economic miracle lies underground. Mongolia is a treasure trove of natural resources in the metals and minerals sector, with the resultant wealth arising from substantial new mining projects now generating an ever increasing demand not only for industrial and commercial products but also for consumer goods and services amongst a population that becomes wealthier with every passing year.

Exploitation of copper and gold resources in one particularly significant mining project, Oyu Tolgoi, has been identified as the key driver for Mongolian economic growth in the years ahead.

Located in vast expanses of the arid South Gobi region and close to the main market in China, Oyu Tolgoi will, when fully operational, become one of the world's largest copper mines. With major UK mining companies including Rio Tinto already key investors in the Mongolian market, opportunities also exist for others involved either as exporters or foreign investors in this particular industrial sector.

Agriculture is the other mainstay of the Mongolian economy with animal husbandry, rather than crop production, being the main focus of agricultural output. More than one third of the population still follow a traditional nomadic lifestyle moving with their herds of sheep, goats, camels, cattle and yak across the vast steppes that make Mongolia in overall terms, a country seven times larger in land area than the British Isles.

It is the humble goat in Mongolia, however, that produces the most valuable product, with fine quality Mongolian cashmere being in significant demand worldwide both as a raw material for the garment industry and in the form of finished articles from Mongolian luxury brands such as Gobi Cashmere.

Tourism, too is an expanding industry with the unique heritage and culture of this Buddhist nation making Mongolia a popular destination for travellers, especially those stopping over on the epic train journey from Moscow to Beijing.

In recent years more than 7,000 British tourists have visited Mongolia annually, a figure that is likely to grow further given the expanding opportunities for eco tourism within the country in the years ahead.

Unlike larger export markets such as China, which can involve visits to multiple locations, doing business in Mongolia is logistically much more straightforward with virtually all commercial activity centred in the capital city Ulaanbaatar.

What was once a byword for the very essence of a remote city, Ulaanbaatar or 'UB' as it is commonly known, has been totally transformed by the ongoing economic boom. With construction cranes filling the skyline, chic boutiques and foreign restaurants now cater to an increasingly expanding Mongolian middle class and visiting foreign investors alike.

With a stream of other mining projects due to come on stream in the near future including the Tavan Tolgoi coal deposit, some commentators contend that Mongolia could evolve into the next Qatar or Brunei, a country with a relatively small population supported by substantial wealth based on natural resources. With this mind, a newly formed economic development agency, Invest Mongolia has been formed to facilitate inward investment and improve the ease of doing business in Mongolia.

Driven by the current economic boom, UK exports to Mongolia have therefore been steadily increasing each year and the inclusion of Mongolia as the next target market for Northern Ireland exporters is worthy of consideration particularly amongst those companies already experienced in supplying other Asian markets including China.

Although not a destination currently offered by Invest NI, a number of other UK regions already run a dedicated trade mission to Mongolia. Alternatively a joint mission visiting Mongolia combined with another market, most logically China, is certain to be a proposition worthy of consideration by Invest NI in the near future.

And given that Mongolia's GDP per capita is forecast to quadruple by 2020, UK Trade & Investment have also identified Mongolia as one of the world's fastest growing economies in the years ahead.

With the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations having recently been celebrated between the governments of Mongolia and the United Kingdom, Mongolia looks set to confirm its place as a key emerging market for the UK business sector and its attractiveness as a potential export market for Northern Ireland businesses should not be overlooked.

:: Further information on Mongolia can be obtained in the first instance by contacting Richard Holmes, Honorary Consul of Mongolia in Northern Ireland, at

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Health, Education

Fulbright Alumni Talk: Mendsaikhan Dashjil, Brandeis University, November 6

(Mongolian Association of State Alumni) Our speaker for November will be Mendsaikhan Dashjil, a 2013-2015 Fulbright Fellow. Mendsaikhan earned his master degree in Business Administration from the International Business School at the Brandeis University, Massachusetts, USA. Currently, he is working for the National secretariat for the development of the second Compact Agreement between the Government of Mongolia and the Government of the USA as a private sector expert. Today, he will talk about earning master degree at the Brandies University under Fulbright scholarship. Talk will be in Mongolian

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Tsetsee Gung Rotaract announced 3rd annual scholarship program

October 26 ( "Tsetsee Gung" (Tsetsee Gun) NGO, Rotaract Club of of Rotary International, has announced its scholarship program "Everyone has right to learn" for a third year. The program goal is to promote skilled future leader students who are interested in enhancing world peace and partnership between international and local communities using their skill and profession.

The scholarship program is open to students of all professions from Mongolian accredited universities with bachelor's degree program. However, the program gives priority to six main areas of focus - promoting peace, fighting disease, providing clean water, saving mothers and children, supporting education and growing local economies - of Rotary International.

The best students will be selected depending on their leadership skill, social engagement, academic achievement and financial status. Selected students will be granted scholarship of one-year tuition fees.

In addition, "Tsetsee Gung" is hosting contribution concert jointly with "Zurkhnii Ulaanbaatar" NGO and Mongolian Morin Khuur Ensemble to create fund for scholarship from November 27-28, 2015 at Independence Palace.

We welcome you to contribute to best Mongolian students who are the future leaders of our country!

For more information, please visit:

Tel: (976) 94538089

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Mongolia: Elyx Meets the Youth of Ulaanbaatar

October 24 (#Elyx70Days) Today Elyx is happy but very cold! Indeed our digital ambassador is in Mongolia,  in Ulaanbaatar city which is the coldest capital on earth.  But Elyx knows that Mongolian people are warm and welcoming, and he can't wait to meet them! On arrival Elyx learns that in 1961, during the 16th Session of the General Assembly the issue of admission of Mongolia was considered in the Security Council on October 25, 1961.

Our digital ambassador's first stop is at the UN House in Ulaanbaatar. Elyx was very excited to see the SDG flag blowing in the winds and talk of the goals on many lips.  Mongolia and the UN have a history of strong cooperation, the United Nations Development Assistance Framework is a strategic programming framework for UN system to support the national priorities and goals of Mongolia in 2012-2016 years to help it achieve its aims.

After this very instructive visit, Elyx is excited to meet the youth of Mongolia! Indeed one in every five people in Mongolia are young people between the ages of 15 and 25, while people aged 15-34 form 37.5 percent of the total population. UNYAP, established in 2008, advises UN programmes designed and implemented from a youth perspective and works to bridge the gap between UN, government, and youth.

That's why the SDG's are so important in Mongolia, indeed, the MDG's adopted in 2000 were very well received and acted on, helping the development in Mongolia, and the UN agencies have been strongly supportive of this process through technical guidance and a needs assessment based approach.

It's already time to leave, Elyx wishes good luck to the youth and Mongolia, and knows they have the power to achieve the SDGs!

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Together for women's empowerment: Kazakhstan and Mongolia sharing good practices

October 9 (UNDP) Kazakhstan and Mongolia shared experiences and good practices in promoting women's empowerment in public and private sectors. A group of 18 Kazakh women entrepreneurs, representatives of the National Commission for Women Affairs, Family and Demographic Policy, Ministry of National Economy, the Agency for Civil Service Affairs and Combating Corruption, and the JSC "Fund for Financial Support of Agriculture"; civil society leaders; and UNDP Kazakhstan staff visited Mongolia from 7 to 9 October 2015. The first woman-Kazakh General and Secretary of the National Comission, Ms. Saule Aitpaeva, headed the delegation.

The visit, facilitated jointly by UNDP Kazakhstan and UNDP Mongolia, had a busy schedule. Kazakh delegation met with Mr. Koblandinym Kabylbekov, the Kazakh Ambassador to Mongolia, and with the representatives of the Kazakh women's NGOs in Mongolia to discuss the ways of cooperation in work for women's empowerment.

The international conference on women's participation in public, private and civil sectors took place at the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Mongolia on 7 October, 2015. The conference participants discussed the role of women as active participants in modernization of the state, promotion of women in business, the prospects of development of "green economy", how traditional crafts of Mongolia and Kazakhstan can serve as a factor of integration, and the countries' participation in the international exhibition "EXPO-2017" in Astana, Kazakhstan.

"This is the first event which brought together women representatives of the two states. I am confident that in the future, women of Kazakhstan and Mongolia will be implementing joint projects and will be able to closely collaborate in the business, mining, trade and other fields," noted M. Oyunchimeg Director from National Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Mongolia.

Women in Kazakhstan and in Mongolia play a crucial role in the public and private sectors, but face a number of challenges. In some regions of Kazakhstan, half of the enterprises are run by women, while 50% of the midlevel management of businesses are also held by women. However, while women constitute 55% of the civil service, there's only one female minister out of 10 ministers.

Women's representation on the decision making levels in the Cabinet and Public agencies in Mongolia is low, despite the fact that the Gender Equality Law stipulates at least 15-40% of women in the public leadership positions. In private sector, there are 38.9% of firms with female participation in ownership and 36.6% employing a female top manager. Although women account for significant part of the private sector in Mongolia, their access to finance is limited due to under-realization of their property rights and engagement largely in the informal sector.

During the study visits in and around Ulaanbaatar, the participants went to female-run businesses ranging from textile production to food processing to leather production. They also met with the leadership of the Association for Mongolian and Kazakh entrepreneurs. The visits enabled the participants from both countries to exchange valuable information, from how to ensure the best quality of leather products to the best ways of processing cashmere, which even led to forming business partnerships between the two parties.

Mongolia and Kazakhstan had the opportunity to learn from each other, build partnerships, share experiences and see the practical implications of women's involvement and leadership in private and public sectors. Both counterparts agreed on the need to implement best practices for achieving gender equality in both public and private sectors.

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10 Reasons Genghis Khan Was NOT a Genocidal Maniac

By Saikhnaa Amarsaikhan

October 26 (So Why Mongolia?) Genghis Khan (or "Chinggis Khan" as he's known in Mongolia) has been a reviled historical figure throughout the world for almost 800 years. The wars he waged spanned nearly the entire Eurasian continent from the East China Sea until the Black Sea and resulted in over 30 million deaths by some estimates. Also his conquests led to the destruction of numerous cities and settlements across this vast landscape. However, a closer look into the life of Genghis Khan reveal a more complex man than the usual image of him as a brutal barbarian. This list shows 10 reasons why Genghis Khan wasn't a simple warmonger; if you know any other notable accomplishments of Genghis Khan, please let us know in the comment section. 

10. Religious Tolerance

Mongols at the time predominantly believed in a form of shamanism called Tengrism. Tengrism is an animistic belief that holds that the land, rivers, lakes and mountains hold spirits within them that are both powerful and ancient. The head deity in Tengrism is called Munkh Khukh Tenger or the Eternal Heaven. Genghis Khan himself was a devout follower of Tengrism even going so far as to believe that a powerful spirit of the mountain, Burkhan Khaldun, had blessed him and his family. Although the Mongols were devout people, they did not forcibly convert their conquered subjects; instead, they emphasized religious freedom. This was due to both the incompatibility of Tengrism to peoples and lands outside Mongolia as well as a genuine curiosity in other religions. The Mongols would hold debates between believers of diverse religions like Buddhism, Christianity and Islam to understand more about them. Many of Genghis Khan's advisers were also men of diverse faiths. Genghis Khan's son and heir, Ogedei Khan, eventually built a capital in Mongolia, Karakorum, that had religious buildings catering to the previously mentioned religions.

9. Creating a National Code of Law

Genghis Khan decreed a national law called "Yassa" or "Ikh Zasag" that governed all Mongols. While it's problematic that no actual copy of the Yassa has ever been found, there are numerous records of the Yassa's laws being noted upon by different scholars. The law itself stressed equality between ethnic Mongols and prisoners of war who wanted to become a soldier in the Mongol army, hospitality for strangers by requiring hosts to offer their guests food and accommodation, preservation of the environment (with punishments for Mongols who washed their clothes or bathed in rivers), respect for local traditions (non-Mongols were permitted to bath in rivers) and women were given priority in managing the property of the household. It is, however, interesting to note that the Yassa also stressed loyalty to Genghis Khan while having severe punishments (death) for most transgressions.

8. Establishing a Meritocratic Society

As opposed to his ancestors or contemporaries in the Mongol political scene, Genghis Khan prioritized rewarding people based on merits rather than family history and reputation. This also had a positive effect on military morale as even soldiers from unknown families could rise to prominence. What was especially valuable to Genghis Khan was loyalty and bravery in battle. A particularly prominent story of this meritocratic system was how Subutai, a blacksmith's son, eventually became a general in the Mongol army. However, these positive changes to Mongol society and politics would not last forever and within a few decades after his death, a strong culture of nobility had resurfaced. This would especially prove problematic after the fall of the Mongol Empire due to numerous rival nobles fighting against each other.

7. Contributing to Diplomatic Protocol

Genghis Khan was a firm believer in diplomatic immunity and even began a war against the Persian Khwarazmid Empire due to their mistreatment (read: execution) of Mongol diplomats and traders. Interestingly enough, after the Mongols captured the Persian noble responsible for the death of the Mongol diplomats they melted and poured gold and silver into his eyes and mouth as a punishment for his greed. This was possibly the inspiration for the infamous scene of Khal Drogo killing Viserys Targaryen in Game of Thrones. Also the Mongols had a rudimentary passport used by messengers and nobles called either the Paiza or the Gerege that was used as proof of that person's diplomatic immunity. The Gerege also could be made of different materials to denote the status of the person holding theme. These materials included gold, silver, bronze etc.

6. Encouraging Global Trade

Genghis Khan and his descendants were mindful of the importance of trade to the management of an empire and were keen to revive the Silk Road after it had fallen into disrepair and disuse due to the Crusades. While Genghis Khan died before the Silk Road was safe enough to use properly due to the war with the Khwarazm Empire, it would enter a new age of prosperity under his grandson, Khubilai Khan, and would allow numerous explorers including Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta to document the world. It would also revive the trade between the West and China. Through the Silk Road, numerous inventions common in China were brought to Europe including, but not limited to, paper, gunpowder, printing (not press printing) and the compass.

5. Setting the Foundation of Modern Mongolia

Before Genghis Khan, Mongolia was divided into numerous tribes that fought against each other for dominance with the occasional support from China (especially the Jin Dynasty). Even Genghis Khan's father, a respected noble, was poisoned by a rival tribe. Therefore an important priority for Genghis Khan was to unite these disparate tribes into a single political entity. He did this by effectively reorganizing the country by enforcing a decimal system of military organization by putting soldiers into units of 10, 100, 1000 and 10000. Within a unit of 10, men from different tribes were put together to serve on the front line. Desertion and cowardice were severely punished and after the many decades of warfare, the tribal differences had basically dissolved and a tribal structure would never again achieve prominence in Mongolia.

4. Promoting Literacy and Learning

Genghis Khan also decreed that the Uighur script (the same Uighurs living in Xinjiang, PRC today) would be the official alphabet of the Empire and promoted literacy. He was also especially lenient towards scholars, engineers, scientists and architects working under his enemies. Yelu Chucai, a subject of the Jin Dynasty in China, and Shikhikhutug, a man of the tribe that killed Genghis Khan's father, were all taken into his inner council and helped him formulate national policy. Genghis Khan himself had a teacher known as Tata Tonga who was responsible for adapting the Uighur script into the Middle Mongolian language, which is still used in the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region to this day (while Cyrillic is employed in Mongolia).

3. Not Starting Wars Out of Bloodlust

Contrary to popular belief, none of Genghis Khan's wars began as an attempt to simply destroy. While we cannot deny the devastation that his wars caused, we must also be mindful of why they started in the first place. The war against the Jin Dynasty began due to the Jin's consistent meddling in Mongol internal affairs by pitting one Mongol tribe against another. The war against the Kara Khitai (a kingdom that existed in China) started because a Mongol lord that launched an unprovoked attack on Genghis Khan escaped and usurped the throne of the Kara Khitai. The war with Persia started because a Mongol trade mission to Persia was slaughtered. The war with kingdoms around the Black Sea began as an expeditionary force to scout, pacify and secure the north front in the war against Persia. A final war against the already subjugated Xi Xia occurred because they did not send Genghis Khan his promised reinforcements. Genghis Khan was not a mindless maniac. He was a calculating statesman with a keen eye for strategy.

2. Forgiving Jamukha

Jamukha was a childhood friend of Genghis Khan and assisted him many times during his early wars. When a rival tribe, the Merkits, kidnapped Genghis Khan's wife, Borte, Jamukha helped him to get her back. However, Jamukha had ambitions of his own, betrayed Genghis Khan and fought against him for the rule of Mongolia. After he was defeated, Genghis Khan offered to forgive him and accept him back into his inner council. However, Jamukha refused knowing that he had already dishonored himself by betraying his friend and asked for a clean death. Genghis Khan obliged and allowed him to die a bloodless death by having his back broken (a death reserved only for people of nobility in Mongolian tradition.

1. Raising Jochi

9 months after Borte, Genghis Khan's first wife, was rescued from the Merkits, she gave birth to a baby boy named Jochi (meaning "guest" in Middle Mongolian). There were questions relating to his parentage and such doubts would plague Jochi for the rest of his life. Jochi's younger brother, Chagatai, was especially suspicious of him and this eventually created a rift in the family not to mention the questions concerning succession. Genghis Khan, however, treated and raised Jochi as his first born. Eventually, while he chose another of his sons, Ogedei, as his heir, but Jochi was still given a sizable land to govern between Xinjiang and the Ural Mountains. It is curious to speculate on why Genghis Khan chose Ogedei over Jochi as well. While Jochi died soon after this decision and was actually not in Mongolia during the meeting that decided the succession, it does make one wonder whether this is how Genghis Khan had planned the succession in the first place. We may never know.

About Saikhnaa Amarsaikhan 

Saikhnaa is a writer who's passionate about history, philosophy and culture. He's spent the last 5 years working on youth leadership development in Mongolia, Thailand, Pakistan and China. He is now writing his own blog ( as well as working on the Untold Mongolia podcast with SoWhyMongolia. • Facebook  • Twitter • 

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Nature, Environment

Grant enables pioneering research of vast river systems in Great Plains and Mongolia

LAWRENCE, October 26 (University of Kansas)— It's hard to exaggerate the importance of rivers to sustaining life for animals and people. Rivers provide drinking water, food, crop irrigation, recreation and even regulation of air temperatures.

But until recently, much scientific inquiry into river systems has focused on the small scale: looking at water quality in specific river areas or investigating populations of individual river species, for instance. As the influence of climate change takes hold, however, understanding the condition of large riverine "macrosystems" that support life across entire regions is increasingly important.

Now, a five-year, $4.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation will empower researchers from multiple institutions in the U.S. and Mongolia to develop wide-ranging scientific knowledge of river  systems spanning two continents. Of that grant, half of the funds will support work at the University of Kansas, the lead institution on the project.

"River macrosystems represent larger spatial areas than studied in the typical ecosystem or landscape study," said James Thorp, KU professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and senior scientist with the Kansas Biological Survey, who is the lead principal investigator on the new grant. "In our case, we're studying river macrosystems within ecoregions — mountain steppes, grasslands, desert shrub-forests — enclosed within temperate steppe biomes distributed in the U.S. in North America and Mongolia in Asia."

Thorp said he and his co-investigators are interested in the importance to ecological processes at different spatial scales — ecoregions down to valleyscale patches within rivers, dubbed "Functional Process Zones" — and how they interact. "For example, what are the appropriate scales to study system metabolism, food webs and biodiversity traits within macrosystems?" he said.

Researchers will sample nine rivers spread between the U.S. Great Plains, Great Basin and Mountain Steppes. These include the Platte, Niobrara, Humboldt, Bear and Snake rivers, among others. In Mongolia, they'll investigate nine rivers within similar ecoregions as those in the U.S.

Thorp said that studies of each continent could reveal the future of the other: North American river systems, with their dams and presence of non-native fauna, could foreshadow the future of rivers in Mongolia; in turn Mongolia, which has "one of the strongest warming signals in the North Temperate Zone," could indicate changes U.S. rivers will undergo in a future of boosted temperatures.

"Mongolia offers us the ability to look at rivers which have not been unduly altered by dams or introduced species and ask what will happen if our climate changes much more in the future," Thorp said.

Under sway of a changing climate, the KU researcher said that scientific expectations for Great Plains rivers include more erratic precipitation that brings greater flow and floods along with droughts and higher temperatures.

"Organisms living in our mostly easterly and somewhat southerly flowing rivers could find it difficult to escape rising temperatures because they will have to swim long distances to reach a pathway north to cooler temperatures," Thorp said. "Those in rivers flowing from the south to the north — like the Red River of Minnesota and the Dakotas — or flowing mostly south, like the Mississippi and much of the Missouri, provide an avenue for fish to move northward to cooler waters. This process will be easier for fish living in large rivers but harder for those confined to headwater streams. Our temperatures are already increasing in the Great Plains, and the precipitation pattern may also be changing."

Thorp has studied aquatic systems for his entire academic career as well as rivers since about 1989. While he researches other aquatic systems such as reservoirs, ephemeral wetlands and small streams, rivers are his main focus today.

"Much of my research has been on a large scale, but this surpasses anything I have tackled in my career," he said. "In part, this reflects budgetary limitations in the past, but it also reflects the evolution of  ideas many scientists experience in their careers. Large-scale research has been undertaken by a minority of scientists working on lakes, oceans, terrestrial habitats and streams, but all of us together represent a minority of the scientists in our fields."

One of Thorp's main jobs supervising the grant will be organizing research activities and "getting everyone and all the equipment where they need to be when we are ready for expeditions to start," he said.

"Each expedition will involve eight to 10 scientists and students, with some overlap of people from one summer to the next," Thorp said. "A given expedition will last probably five to six weeks, including travel to sites and back. The Mongolian expeditions will be longer because of the additional travel time for U.S. participants and additional difficulties reaching field sites from lack of paved roads — or any roads sometimes — bridges in some areas and airports in many regions."

Thorp outlined challenging fieldwork conditions in Mongolia: "Working on Mongolian rivers is vastly more difficult from a logistical standpoint compared to working on U.S. rivers," he said. "You have to contract with one of three outdoor travel companies specializing in field expeditions. They provide vehicles, drivers, boats, camping gear, translators — it is a Cyrillic language — cooks and general camp workers. You have to adapt to some logistical constraints, such as banks are rare, ATMs cannot be found except rarely in the capital, and our cell phones won't work there at all or at least not outside of the capital."

According to Thorp, teams will sample differences among sites in system metabolism (fluctuations in oxygen production by algae and plants and consumption of oxygen by bacteria, algae, plants and animals); food webs (sources of organic energy, food chain length and food web structure); biodiversity traits of fish and invertebrates (for example, feeding groups like predators, herbivores, omnivores, etc.); and physical and biological characteristics of the riparian zone and basin.

"The equipment we'll use isn't particularly novel," he said. "For example, we'll employ a standard acoustic doppler to measure flow and discharge in rivers combined with data sondes that measure oxygen content of the water; together, they'll enable us to determine ecosystem metabolism — from algal production of oxygen and consumption of oxygen by all living organisms from bacteria and algae [at night] to fish. We'll use backpack and boatmounted electro-fishing gear as well as nets and seines to collect fish for tissue samples. Some of the fish tissue samples, such as fin clips, will be analyzed for amino acid stable isotope analysis — a very new technique — to evaluate food webs in these rivers. Invertebrates will be collected by hand and with sweep nets."

Using results from the field, Thorp then will oversee compilation of all data and information, and see that resulting syntheses and conclusions are available for team members to publish in journals and present to science conferences, governments and the public.

"Weaving all the information together will require the intellectual abilities of most of the scientists and graduate students involved in the project," he said.

"Different people will have different focal areas. Some of us who enjoy looking at large-scale concepts will have primary roles in bringing much of the ideas together and building a coherent picture of the whole."

National Science Foundation's Macrosystem Biology program in the Division of Environmental Biology is supporting this work. KU provided a vital grant of more than $20,000 for a February 2014 workshop that brought together scientists from the U.S., Mongolia and France to develop the ideas for this proposal.

Co-principal investigators on the project are Mark Pyron, Ball State University; Jon Gelhaus and Alain Maasri, Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University; Walter Dodds, Kansas State University; Bazartseren Boldgiv, National University of Mongolia; Olaf Jensen, Rutgers University; Scott Kenner, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology; Dan Reuman, University of Kansas; Sudeep Chandra, University of Nevada Reno; and Barbara Hayford, Wayne State College.

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Ser-Od B. wins bronze at Osaka Marathon

Ulaanbaatar, October 26 /MONTSAME/ A State Honored Sportsman and long-distance runner B.Ser-Od won a bronze medal in the 2015 Osaka marathon took place last weekend in Osaka, Japan.

Our athlete finished the distance in two hours, 15 minutes and 35 seconds. A Kenyan runner Daniel Kosgei won the race in two hours, 13 minutes and 46 seconds, while a Japanese athlete Ito Taiga grabbed the silver medal.

B.Ser-Od plans to compete in the Fukuoka marathon-2015 to be held in beginning of November. 

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Mongolian judokas grab three medals at Junior World Championships

Ulaanbaatar, October 26 /MONTSAME/ Young judokas have captured medals in the 2015 Junior World Championships which is running in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates.

The World Championship attracted 555 judokas from 82 countries, Mongolia has been represented by 17 from the "Avragch" club (National Emergency Management Agency), the "Genco" club and from localities.

On the first day of the events, B.Amartuvshin won a bronze medal in the boys' lightest weight category (-55 kg), while G.Narantsetseg claimed a bronze medal in the girls' 44 kg. Ts.Tsogtbaatar won a silver medal in the boys' -60 kg division. He got a back injury during a bout at the semi-finals against a French. After the finals, he took a medical care.

As the team results, the Mongolians took a ninth place among 21 countries that grabbed at least one medal. The team of Japan topped the World Junior Championship, capturing five gold, three silver and one bronze medals. 

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Sports Ministries of Mongolia, Brazil Hold First Consultative Meeting in Brasilia

Ulaanbaatar, October 26 /MONTSAME/ Mongolia's Ministry of Health and Sports and Brazil's Ministry of Sports held their first consultative meeting on October 21 in Brasilia city of Brazil.

The sides exchanged views on having their athletes participate in international and continental tournaments held in Mongolia and Brazil, supporting the cooperation between sport federations and specialized clubs, preparing specialists, co-organizing international conference and consultations on sports medicine and management, sending their specialists to these events.

They also concurred in principle to hold joint trainings for athletes who will compete in the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Summer Olympics.

Present at the consultative meeting were Kh.Bakhytjan, a head of the Regulatory Department for public physical culture and sports policy implementation; P.Bat-Erdene, a director of the Development Center for Physical Culture and Sports; Ch.Sosormaa, the Ambassador of Mongolia to Brazil; diplomats of Mongolia's Embassy in Brazil; also Renan Paes Barreto, a head of the External Relations Department of Brazil's Ministry of Sports, and other officials.

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Art, Entertainment

Mind Thief nominated to Asian World Film Festival

Ulaanbaatar, October 26 /MONTSAME/ A Mongolian film of 2012--"Thief of The Mind" (Bodlyn Khulgaich), directed by J.Sengedorj and produced by B.Amarsaikhan--has been nominated to the Asian World Film Festival (AWFF), which will take place in Arclight Cinema–Culver City of Los Angeles, the USA, this October 28-29. This festival, initiated and run by the Asian community in LA, brings closer the Asian and Hollywood film industries by championing excellent films from 50 countries across Asia.

"Thief of the Mind" is an action movie based on true story of B.Gansukh whose nickname is "90 million" that has shocked the whole nation by deceiving the President of Mongolia in 1994. The idea of making this movie first came to producer, Amarsaikhan, when he watched a testimony video of Gansukh on YouTube.

In true story, Gansukh had heard an interesting talk about the Mongolian unique rare findings that are brought to America by Roy Chapman Andrews, who is an American explorer and naturalist, in the earliest of 20th century, from two old scientists talk. He found an incredible idea to bring back these findings to Mongolia, and sought for finance. But accidently, Gansukh met the President of Mongolia and got 90 million togrog of funding. At the time 24-year old guy was doing things seemed right to his sight but did not know that his unimaginable luxurious life would quickly change into a cold maximum security prison life. He became a Christian in prison and established the first Christian church and library there. After 14 years, in 2008, he was released from prison, since then became a member of "Living word" church, the biggest of its kind in Mongolia.

According to the AWFF organizers, all films that participate in the Festival will have a unique chance to be guided through the challenging awards season, showcasing their foreign films to the Oscar Academy, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and all Guilds for enhanced exposure, media attention and awards consideration.

Link to article


Standup Comedy - English Night - No.6, November 12

UB's one and only English comedy night is happening the sixth time on Thursday the 12th, November! 

NEW LOCATION: C&C Lounge (they're relaunching)

Tickets sold at the door. 
Tax: 10,000 ₮

Where is C&C Lounge?

- Top floor of Gurvan Gal centre next to Monnis Tower.

Link to Facebook event


10 ESSENTIALS of Zolboo Gankhuyag, Architect, CEO, Skinny Studio

October 26 ( We will introduce you most creative, intriguing, visionary and entertaining locals & foreigners in this section every two weeks. But we will not interview them with typical questions – instead, they will show and lead us to get to know them through what they cannot live without everyday – what they use (practically 10 things) to make their everyday works tastier.

The coolest architecture solution & interior design in Ulaanbaatar  are being developed by group of guys, founders of Skinny Studio. Lately, the studio has been exposed to the public by numerous media outlets, so that people have hopefully known what they do best. But the main man behind the studio is a little known.

Since we decided to appreciate cool people with an eye for cool things, we reached out to Mr. Zolboo Gankhuyag, Co - Founder and CEO of Skinny Studio, and asked him to talk about some of the stuff that he cannot live without.

Link to article

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