1. Mongolia is a developing country in Asia, landlocked between two great powers. Together with Russia and since first publishing its 1994 National Security and Foreign Policy Concepts, Ulaanbaatar has identified its relations with China as its top foreign policy priority. However, Mongolia has also featured prominently in Western media over the past several months as an important strategic partner for the U.S. “pivot” to Asia.
Development of friendly relations with Russia and China is a priority direction in Mongolia’s foreign policy. In accordance with itsForeign Policy Concept, Mongolia seeks to promote balanced relations with its two neighbors while not adopting the line of either of these two countries. We think that we have been quite successful in adhering to this principle of a balanced relationship in general.
Mongolia is developing strategic partnership relations with both of our neighbors. Strategic partnership is the highest level of cooperation Mongolia so far has reached with a foreign country. Nonetheless, we think, there are huge potentials to further boost our cooperation with both Russia and China.
Mongolia’s geographic location has long been regarded as somewhat of a disadvantage, given by landlocked location. However, today we tend to see our location as an advantage bearing in mind the vast opportunities that Chinese and Russian markets offer us. China’s demand has hugely contributed to the rapid economic growth Mongolia has witnessed over the last years. Russia is also seen as an important market for our market.
Priority we attach to relations with our neighbors is not in contradiction with our “Third Neighbor” policy. While the relation with China and Russia is one of our top foreign policy priorities, one of Mongolia’s important foreign policy priorities also stands in our ‘third neighbor’ policy. The main goal that we strive for concerning this policy is to build closer ties with partner countries in all aspects of possible cooperation, besides our dominant neighbors. In this regard, our relationship with our third neighbors including the United States, Japan, Canada, South Korea, India, Kazakhstan and the EU have been holding strong and bilateral relations and cooperation has been continuing to develop.
Concerning the United States in particular, Mongolia highly values the continued bond of friendship and is grateful to the U.S. for supporting our policies and endeavors in building and strengthening democratic institutions as well as developing our economy on the basis of market principles for the past 25 years. The U.S. is our utmost important partner in terms of democratic principles, political and economic systems and our relations have come to encompass more areas of active cooperation, which has contributed to the strengthening of the Mongolia–U.S. comprehensive partnership.
Mongolia and the U.S. have been actively cooperating in areas of trade and business, strengthening and spreading democracy, international peacekeeping and defense. Cooperation in important sectors, especially concerning international peacekeeping and Mongolia’s mining sector has caused media hype over Mongolia-U.S. relations. We stand for further expansion of our cooperation as a trusted, longstanding strategic partner from Asia to the U.S., perhaps, because we are the only nation in North East Asia that has no territorial or political disputes with its neighbors and having good bilateral relations with both South Korea and North Korea.
This gives Mongolia a willingness to play a more active role in regional affairs and make its contribution to resolving some regional issues. For this especially important reason, maintaining good relations and cooperation with our valuable neighbors including Russia, China, Japan, South Korea and the U.S. is of utmost importance if we are to work towards a more peaceful and better future.
2. Mongolia is an observer in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s Regional Anti-Terror Structure and a regular contributor of peacekeeping troops to the United Nations.
Since its joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as an observer state in 2004, Mongolia has been pursuing a policy of active involvement in the activities of this multilateral organization. Within the SCO, we are primarily interested in matters related to economic cooperation, particularly energy, infrastructure and transit traffic.
As our priority direction in the SCO is economy rather than terrorism, we have not been actively involved in the activities of the Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure of the SCO. Our cooperation with the Structure to date has been limited to sending observers to some of SCO anti-terrorism drills in the past years.
As for the UN peacekeeping activities, last year, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of Mongolia’s participation in the UN Peacekeeping Operations. If we started in 2002 by sending only two military observers, over the past ten years more than 5000 peacekeepers have participated in different PKOs. At present, Mongolia has deployed 850 troops in South Sudan which constitutes the largest contribution of Mongolia to peacekeeping operations.
In recent years the United Nations peacekeeping operations have evolved from traditional peacekeeping tasks such as patrolling buffer zones and monitoring ceasefires into multi-dimensional processes. They include the facilitation of political dialogue, reconciliation, protection of civilians, conducting disarmament, demobilization and re-integration of combatants, support for the organization of national elections, prevention of human right abuses, and restoring the rule of law.
The UN Security Council adopted on 21st January 2013 the Resolution 2086 on Multidimensional peacekeeping. Mongolia will support the implementation of this resolution by contributing military and police personnel with the professional skills, training and integrity required to fully implement their mandates and operate in ever challenging environment.
Mongolia is making every effort to facilitate the training of peacekeepers, to enable their rapid deployment to peacekeeping operations around the world. Thus, we established a National Peacekeeping Center “TavanTolgoi” near the capital city of Ulaanbaatar. We are working to transform this Center into a regional peacekeeping training site in order to strengthen the capacity of the United Nations to sustain and manage peacekeeping operations.
3. In line with the foreign policy objective stating that Mongolia shall pursue an open and nonaligned policy; as matter of fact, the second direction of Mongolia’s foreign policy activity shall be developing friendly relations with highly developed countries of the West and East such as the United States of America , Japan and the Federal Republic of Germany to mention few. Mongolia’s Third Neighbor Policy, which calls for reaching out to states besides its two neighbors China and Russia, is often cited as the rationale behind its engagement with the U.S. although many suggest that its important is decreasing. Ulaanbaatar is also deepening its military ties with India.
Ever since it embraced an independent foreign policy in the early 1990s, Mongolia has aspired to develop good-neighborly relations with partners besides its two immediate neighbors. Third neighbors’ are primarily those countries that have invariably supported Mongolia’s democratic transformation. Shared democratic values are, hence, at the heart of Mongolia’s relationship with its ‘third neighbors’.
As stated in the foreign policy concept, Mongolia shall continue to pursue a peaceful, open, independent and multi-pillar foreign policy. The revised foreign policy concept sets top priorities for Mongolia’s foreign policy, which are as follows: maintaining friendly and balanced relationship with the two neighbors remains our top priority, expanding our partnership in line with our “third neighbor” policy with countries and blocs of countries in the East and West, such as the United States, Japan, the European Union, India, the Republic of Korea and Turkey and developing bilateral relations and cooperation with other Asian countries, participate in multilateral cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as support efforts to strengthen strategic stability and expand security cooperation in East Asia, Northeast Asia and Central Asia.
However, the ‘third neighbor’ concept is not only confined to a community of countries or blocs in the East and West. It also comprises international organizations and other stakeholders that support Mongolia’s democracy. The presence of investment, modern technology and communications from our third neighbors helps create more jobs and fuel economic growth in Mongolia.
The scope of our cooperation with ‘third neighbors’ is ever widening. Comprehensive partnership between Mongolia and India is strengthening. There are great opportunities for increased Mongolian-Indian cooperation in mining and energy, infrastructure development, steel production, business consultancy and use of Indian high technologies. In defense sector, both sides have regularly organized joint military training since 2004. Recently we agreed to cooperate on information technology of the defense sector.
4. 2012 marked the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Mongolia and Japan and as it often happens, this can be a defining point and the chance to boost further diplomatic, commercial and trade initiatives. The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mongolia paid a working visit to Japan and the outcomes.
Japan has supported democratic transformations in Mongolia from the very beginning and provided valuable assistance and support in strengthening democracy, developing the market economy, and laying the basis for the modern development. The Government and people of Mongolia are deeply grateful to the Japanese Government and people for their assistance and support.
The development of friendly and relations and cooperation based on mutual trust and confidence with Japan is one of top priorities of the foreign policy of Mongolia and the Government of Mongolia attaches a high political significance to consolidating good relations and cooperation with third neighbor – Japan.
During a state visit of the President of Mongolia to Japan in 2010, the two sides issued a Joint Communique and agreed to forward bilateral relations and cooperation in line with strategic partnership principle. As a Minister of Foreign Affairs I am happy that the mutual trust and confidence deepen between Mongolia and Japan and bilateral ties advances at the strategic partnership level thanks to efforts undertaken by both sides.
In 2012, we marked the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our countries. The Government of Mongolia gave a great importance to the anniversary and took a decision to celebrate it throughout the year. A large number of activities were organized last year. I believe that the activities plaid a prominent role in deepening mutual trust between the two peoples.
As Foreign Minister of the Government for changes, I paid my first foreign visit to our third neighbor – Japan. The visit played a prominent role in translating the content of the 2010 Joint Communique into reality and elaborating further courses of the cooperation.
We are taking effective steps towards consolidating political relations with Japan and boosting economic cooperation. Of course, I have no doubt that our cooperation will expand in other fields in line with the principle of Strategic Partnership.
5. The restructuring and reforming of the country’s political, social and economic systemsprovide it with favorable conditions for conducting a foreign policy based on realism andaccording priority to its national interests. The third direction of Mongolia ‘s foreign policyactivity shall be strengthening its position in Asia and securing a constructive participation in the political and economic integration process in the region, for example in relation to APEC but also, with other organizations such as the UN, International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.
Mongolia has a vested interest in taking a constructive part in integration processes in the Asia-Pacific region. Mongolia is currently a member of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) and ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). In addition, Mongolia is an observer in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
Our regional agenda is also centered on becoming a dialogue partner of ASEAN and joining the East Asia Summit, which has become a crucial part of Asia-Pacific integration. Mongolia has been seeking APEC membership since 1993. Mongolia supports foreign investment in all sectors of the economy. It has one of the lowest tax rates in the Asia-Pacific region.
6. Foreign economic activities should be focused on enhancing the country’s potential, increasing export resources, developing economic infrastructure and producing import substituting goods. Another important aspect is the development of scientific and technological capabilities.
Mongolia has enjoyed steady economic growth over the recent years. It is rich in mineral resources such as coal, copper, iron ore and uranium. The GDP growth accelerated from 6.4 per cent in 2010 to an unprecedented 17.3 percent in 2011, one of the highest rates in the world. Last year, the growth slowed to around 12.4 per cent.
Despite these positive developments, the Mongolian economy remains vulnerable because it depends on mineral exports.
As stated in the foreign policy concept of Mongolia, its foreign economic activities focus on securing sustainable growth of the national economy, assuring economic security and improving investment environment for foreign investors.
Mongolia will carry out economically sound and developmentally efficient projects and programs in accordance with national security goals such as establishment of free economic and trade zones, large-scale joint ventures or foreign investment enterprises, concessions and new infrastructures.
In line with the long term strategy the Government set a goal to build a competitive and diversified economy, reduce reliance on the mining sector and spur middle class growth through equal distribution of natural wealth. To achieve these goals, the Government is planning major development projects, such as constructing new railways and roads, developing coal processing and steel smelting industries. International expertise, investment, and cooperation are welcomed to these projects.