L.Purevsuren: There are economic difficulties in opening an embassy

Trans. by B.DULGUUN

President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj announced to host the 11th ASEM Summit of Heads of State and Government (ASEM 11) in 2016 in Ulaanbaatar, during the final press conference of the 10th ASEM Summit of Heads of State and Government, held in Milan, Italy on October 16 and 17, 2014.

The following is an interview with Minister of Foreign Affairs L.Purevsuren about the preparation work for hosting ASEM 11, as well as other international issues. 

The whole world will assess Mongolia depending on how ASEM11 is organized next year. At what percentage is the preparatory work progressing? 

Not much time is left. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is working in the working group led by the Prime Minister. The working group is divided into six sub-working groups, including for welcoming guests and ensuring security. I’m in charge of the working group on contents and documents to be presented at the summit.

Most importantly, hosting ASEM11 will open a huge opportunity for promoting Mongolia. The ASEM11 Summit will also be the 20th anniversary since the Asia-Europe Meeting dialogue process was inaugurated in 1996. So all the works completed in the past will be assessed and future works will be decided. 

What sort of challenges are surfacing within the preparatory work? 

Beginning from the airport, there are many difficulties. We’re planning to accommodate guests using the opportunities we have now. 

Hasn’t the Japanese side signed agreements to issue the second stage loan for constructing the new airport? 

Yes. Unfortunately, the new airport will be commissioned in 2017. The airport runway is said to be completed by the end of 2016. During this economically difficult time, we’re aiming to construct the airport with low costs by utilizing private sectors and youth volunteers. We’ll make use of the current airport and conference halls. As ASEM11 is a significant event, Mongolians will have to show that we can organize events exceptionally well. 

Just recently, a Mongolian student was killed in Malaysia. When will Mongolia establish an embassy in Malaysia? 

Over 350 Mongolians live in Malaysia. Mongolia is actively cooperating with Malaysia. Economic situations are causing difficulties for establishing an embassy. Mongolia is paying attention to cooperation with Malaysia on preventing Mongolians from becoming victims of crimes and losing their lives. As for Sh.Altantuya’s murder case, there isn’t much progress domestically. Most recently, a woman who was staying three other Mongolian women died. The cause of her death is still unknown; we’re still investing.

In France, five Mongolian men died in a traffic accident. They were driving after working for many hours and collided with a big car. Individual responsibility issues of Mongolians residing abroad is very important. For example, not over smoking and drinking, and taking care of themselves appropriately. Our ministry is focusing especially on promotions for people to comply with the respective countries’ regulations. For example, Mongolians are held in Russian police stations for trespassing over borders with forged documents. Some have been caught for gang theft. We’re organizing training and promotions for preventing these issues. A 24-hour surveillance is running on information released on the internet and situations of people connected with embassies. Immediately after an aircraft accident is reported, we first check if there was a Mongolian passenger aboard. 

Tavan Tolgoi (TT) negotiation was supposed to be contracted with investors, but it was delayed due to an announcement from the Speaker of Parliament. As a member of the government, do you think that it’s correct to advance TT? 

Mongolia’s been discussing to move forward with major projects for many years. As the Foreign Affairs Minister, I tell fellow cabinet members that we should talk about advancing projects after resolving it domestically. Also, ministers shouldn’t be allowed to travel abroad before the issue is settled. What would they talk about, right? Advancing and beginning Tavan Tolgoi and Oyu Tolgoi (OT) project has been discussed countless times. How many times are we going to talk about this? In the end, we’re branded as liars. Therefore, TT should be advanced urgently. TT and OT are a bridge to bring in future major projects. Political parties should speed these projects within scopes of national unity and consensus. 

The majority of the public believe that you’re suitable for the Minister of Foreign Affairs position since you were an adviser to the President on national security and foreign policy. Despite holding successive visits to large countries, Mongolia is yet to see results of the visits. How are the global perspectives on Mongolia’s foreign policy?

Mongolia has a great history. In one sense, they have a basic clue and reference about Mongolia. For example, we have the great history of our ancestor, Chinggis Khaan. However, we do have a drawback, which is the fact that Mongolia was strong only during Chinggis Khaan’s rule. Modern concept about Mongolia is very poor worldwide. Therefore, we must change Mongolia’s image of always discussing about attracting foreign investors. 

Can you give an example on how Mongolia’s image should be changed?

Firstly, we must inform that modern Mongolia is an independent democratic country that’s walking at the same pace as other nations. Mongolia created an image of a leading example of a democratic state that’s been newly developed in the past 25 year. What we need on top of this is to become a modern country. We must mainly promote that Mongolia as a modern country. In other words, it’s important to make others understand Mongolia as a country with businesses that are able to accept and increase investments, and not as the Chinggis Khaan’s Mongolia of the 13th century.

Secondly, people think of mining as the only business in Mongolia. This is wrong. Projects to promote, introduce and inform people that Mongolia has different sectors other than mining are necessary for diversifying the economy and ensuring national security. Particularly, introducing the agricultural sector. A country with 50 to 60 million livestock can extract wool, hides and skins. These are products that can be renewed in our neighboring countries, China and Russia. Furthermore, crop production and tourism have huge potentials for development. I believe opening and introducing these sectors is an urgent issue for foreign policy.

Mongolia needs to establish a television channel that broadcasts internationally. We must work closely with both of our neighbors. For instance, understanding of Mongolia among average Chinese people should be well studied. We should find out how Chinese middle schools teach Mongolia’s history to children. Later, develop a long-term policy for finding out Russian people’s understanding of Mongolia. This way we can change Mongolia’s image. 

Regarding investment issues, the Mongolian government and Parliament pass new laws every now and then. Economists highlighted that instability of legal environment is causing investors to leave Mongolia. Can you comment on this?

As for investment, the whole world has a specific direction and trend, which differs depending on time. A few years ago, it was the age of mining products when prices of gold and copper soared. Mining itself brings a large sum of investment. Stable legal and regulatory environment is required. People starting businesses will definitely demand a stable environment. These people aren’t interested in places with high taxes and low investment flow. For instance, Norway put a 78 percent duty on crude oil, and yet all the businesses there are working efficiently. Simply put, if the legal and regulatory environment is stable, people can calculate profits for the next 20 to 30 years and invest.Rather than taxation, the biggest drawback of Mongolia is that new governments change the decisions of the previous government and members of Parliament and government say different things. These discussions don’t provide consistency for the legal and regulatory environment, incurring loss and error. Mongolia needs to attract foreign investment by improving these aspects and ensure state continuity. Also, Mongolia needs to attract investment from third neighbors in accordance with the National Security Concept. Investment is crucial for the development of Mongolia. We can use practices of other countries that successfully attracted foreign investment. Not to mention, Mongolia hasn’t fully promoted one of its biggest advantages. 

Which is?

More than mining and other factors, our strong point is our people. In general, having young and educated people is a huge investment environment. In other words, a key factor for Mongolia’s future isn’t mining or agriculture, but educated people. Now, people are talking about the economy based on knowledge. So it’s necessary to develop policies aimed at the future of higher education. The state and government should do projects that are farsighted. Mining can be managed for today and tomorrow. However, if we want to look centuries ahead, we must do something farsighted and focus on providing higher education to young people of Mongolia. 

Source: http://politics.news.mn/content/210424.shtml

Short URL: http://ubpost.mongolnews.mn/?p=14331

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